The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier's Newly Translated Book Now in Stores

New York, April 10, 2002 — Every day, somewhere in the world, violations of international humanitarian law are taking place. How these violations are defined—something as simple as using the word "massacre" instead of "genocide"—may decide whether rights are granted or denied, whether lives are saved or destroyed.

In "The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law," Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier draws on her expertise in humanitarian law and her experience as legal director for the international humanitarian relief organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to explain in clear, precise language the rights of victims and humanitarian organizations in times of conflict, tension, and crisis. In reader-friendly alphabetical entries, she defines the responsibilities of warring parties in these situations and highlights the traps, which can turn relief actions into illusions that conceal dehumanization and extermination.

For the average reader who is interested in international issues to legal professionals, "The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law" will be an invaluable resource. For those on the front lines of international humanitarian work, it will be essential.

Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier, an expert in the field of humanitarian law, has been legal director of MSF in Paris since 1991 and research director of the MSF Foundation since 1995. Bouchet-Saulnier has been pivotal in shaping MSF responses to conflict situations such as Rwanda, Somalia and Kosovo and in educating MSF aid workers on humanitarian law issues. She frequently travels to MSF field locations to support negotiations and international advocacy campaigns.

In addition to her work with MSF, Bouchet-Saulnier has been teaching law at the University of Paris since 1992 and is engaged in research on international justice. She is the coauthor of a book about the Rwandan genocide and has written numerous articles on humanitarian law. Before joining MSF, Bouchet-Saulnier acted as a consultant for several organizations including the United Nations Disaster Relief Office and Amnesty International. She holds a doctorate in international law from the University of Nice.

Praise for Bouchet-Saulnier's work has come from many sources. Below are a selection of quotes regarding the book:

"A valuable contribution to our ceaseless quest for a more compassionate humanity." — David A. Hamburg, M.D., President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of New York

"Anyone who works or lives in the world zones of danger needs to have a practical knowledge of international humanitarian law. This guide is clear, accessible, and reliable. So it is invaluable." — Michael Ignatieff, Director, Carr Center for Human Rights

"Unique... As violent conflagrations erupt in many parts of the world, this book provides a very useful guide to exceedingly difficult territory, including the specific organizations and institutions that deal with these harsh problems.

'The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law' is clear and not technical, yet precise and well documented. Altogether, it is a valuable contribution to our ceaseless quest for more compassionate humanity." — David A. Hamburg, M.D., President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of New York

"An indispensable handbook for all human rights practitioners." — Robert P. DeVecchi, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

"This work, which gathers together in simple and clear terms a set of laws from multiple and misunderstood international conventions, is also in its way a response to the current malaise of the "humanitarian" world. In essence…what else is there to fall back on except the law?" — Le Monde

"The great merit of Francoise Saulnier's work is to help us use international humanitarian law as a practical tool to help people who are abused and victimized in conflict." — Nicolas de Torrente, Executive Director, Doctors Without Borders USA.