Bernard Kouchner Profile

Former French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and co-founder of Doctors Without Borders, Bernard Kouchner is one of the most admired people in Europe and influential humanitarians of the last 50 years. The physician and politician has travelled to the scene of numerous natural and political disasters worldwide to assist and alleviate the pain of civilian victims of wars and other catastrophes.

Dr. Kouchner’s humanitarian work started in 1968 when he traveled with the Red Cross to Biafra, Nigeria. This experience moved him very deeply. Dr. Kouchner did not agree with the Red Cross’s policy at the time to stay out of warring countries, a dissonance that led him to establish the non-governmental organization, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). The 1999 recipient of the Nobel Peace Price, Doctors Without Borders has set the standard of humanitarian aid by taking risks and removing geographical and political barriers in order to get help to those who need it the most. Dr. Kouchner has organized humanitarian operations in Somalia, El Salvador, Lebanon, and Vietnam, as well as led field operations in Cambodia, Thailand, Uruguay, Peru, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Dr. Kouchner has been a UN Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (1999-2001). He served as Frances’s Minister of Foreign Affairs under Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration. He has also published numerous books, articles, and essays, and his consul is continuously sought regarding how to aid people in difficult situations such as the war in Syria and other tragedies unfolding throughout the world.

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      • A medical doctor by training, Bernard Kouchner is best known as the co-founder and former president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization made up of voluntary medical personnel who contribute their time and expertise to assist in situations of emergency or inadequate medical care in the developing world. He has organized humanitarian operations in Somalia, El Salvador, Lebanon, and Vietnam, as well as led field operations in Cambodia, Thailand, Uruguay, Peru, Guatemala, and Honduras.

    The first person to challenge the Red Cross′s stance of neutrality and silence in wars and massacres, Kouchner has played an important role in international humanitarian efforts for more than 20 years. As France′s Minister of Health and Humanitarian affairs, he convinced the UN to accept “the right to interfere” resolution, and after devastating civil wars in the Balkans, served as Special Representative to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Kosovo.

    An influential person in the French political scene, having held a number of ministerial positions in different French governments for more than 18 years, he served as France′s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs until November 2010, and before that as minister in charge of both health and humanitarian action. He was also the professor of public health at the Health and Development Department of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM). He is the author of several books and the co-founder of the news magazines L′Evénement and Actuel. He is the recipient of several human rights awards, including the Dag Hammarskjold Prize and the Prix Europa.

    Bernard Kouchner continues to promote universal access to medical care and to take part in international efforts in the fight against AIDS. In his unique keynotes, he shares what happens behind the scenes and what he feels can be done for a better future.

Bernard Kouchner Speaking Videos

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Bernard Kouchner's Speech Descriptions

Outspoken humanitarian advocate and activist, Bernard Kouchner takes audiences behind-the-scenes of U.N. politics as he discusses the challenges the international community faces in preventing and policing humanitarian tragedies. Drawing from his field experience in several places that have been torn apart by war, he presents a compelling and emotionally moving case for why the international community has not only the right but responsibility to intervene in other nations whose governments are committing crimes against humanity.

Dr. Kouchner does not shy away from addressing the difficult geopolitical, economic, and humanitarian issues that the international community faces today. He brings hope to a dark topic by focusing on the steps we can take to aid vulnerable populations and create a brighter future.

    Topics include:

    • Humanitarianism & the Responsibility of Developed Nations
    • Universal Access to Healthcare
    • The Peace Process & the Middle East
    • Europe & the Eurozone: What Are the Issues for the Future?
    • Managing Aid in Catastrophes & War-Torn Countries
    • Globalization, International Politics & Society
    • Conflict Resolution


    Humanitarianism and Reality
    Bernard Kouchner does not shy away from difficult discussions about the responsibility of developed nations to assist communities in crisis. He candidly explores the intersection of government and humanitarian organizations as it relates to delivering assistance to those most in need. His perspective is unprecedented and irrefutable – from co-founder of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) to his tenure as Minister of Foreign and European Affairs for France – Kouchner has a true insider’s perspective. During this high-energy program, Kouchner explores the issues of most importance to audiences, including: how current crisis are being managed, how to prepare for future catastrophic events, healthcare and assistance for the impoverished, AIDS, crisis management, and geopolitical insight into areas most at risk.

    A Candid View from Europe
    During this timely and thought provoking presentation, Bernard Kouchner presents penetrating and incisive commentary on the international political scene, offering a glimpse into what the future holds for the European Union, world trouble spots and our global community. This presentation is tailored for the specific needs of audiences.

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