Bernard Kouchner

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Bernard Kouchner : biography

1 November 1939 –

Bernard Kouchner (born 1 November 1939) is a French politician, and doctor. He is the co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Médecins du Monde. From 2007 until 2010 he was the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs in the center-right Fillon government under president Nicolas Sarkozy, although he had been in the past a minister in socialist governments.

Candidate for UN positions

In 2005, Kouchner was a candidate for the position of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), but lost the appointment in favor of former Portuguese Prime Minister, António Guterres, who was nominated by then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In 2006, Kouchner was also a candidate to become Director-General of the World Health Organisation. He lost before the final election round, and (Hong Kong) Chinese candidate Margaret Chan was later elected.

On the US-led invasion of Iraq

Kouchner is a long-time advocate of humanitarian intervention. In early 2003, he pronounced himself in favour of removing Saddam Hussein as President of Iraq, arguing that interference against dictatorship should be a global priority, and continued to say that now, the focus should be on the actual people themselves, and that they are the only ones who could answer yes or no to war.

In a 4 February 2003 editorial with Antoine Veil in Le Monde, entitled "Neither War Nor Saddam", Kouchner said that he was opposed to the impending War in Iraq, and, as the title suggests, to the remaining in power of Saddam Hussein, the removal of whom should be accomplished via a concerted UN, preferably diplomatic, solution.Le Monde, 4 February 2003, Le Monde, 18 May 2007,

On Europe

Kouchner is a well-known pro-European. He supported the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty when it was threaten to be rejected by the Irish in referendum. Bernard Kouchner : "Tout le monde se tourne vers l’Europe au moment où on la refuse à l’intérieur", retrieved on 13 February 2012. Recently, he co-signed the Soros call for a strengthening of the European prerogatives as an answer to the eurozone crisis.,Authorised=false.html? As concerned Europeans we urge eurozone leaders tounite retrieved on 13 February 2012.

Humanitarian actions

Kouchner was born in Avignon, to a Jewish father and a Protestant mother, he began his political career as a member of the French Communist Party (PCF), from which he was expelled in 1966 for attempting to overthrow the leadership., The Economist, 31 May 2007 On a visit to Cuba in 1964, Kouchner spent the night fishing and drinking with Fidel Castro., The New York Times Magazine, 3 February 2008 In the protests of May 1968, he ran the medical faculty strike committee at the Sorbonne. Kouchner has three children (Julie, Camille and Antoine) by his first wife, Évelyne Pisier, a professor of law, and one child, Alexandre, by his present wife Christine Ockrent, a television journalist. He worked as a physician for the Red Cross in Biafra in 1968 (during the Nigerian Civil War). He co-founded Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in 1971, and then, due to a conflict of opinion with MSF chairman Claude Malhuret, the Doctors of the World (‘Médecins du Monde’) in 1980. What made him co-found Médecins Sans Frontières was his experience as a physician for the Red Cross during the Nigerian Civil War that took place in Biafra, 1968. Kouchner worked as a humanitarian volunteer during the Siege of Naba’a refugee camp in Lebanon in East Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War taking risks that "other foreign aid workers weren’t, even worked closely with the Shia cleric Imam Musa al-Sadr."