2018 – Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier

Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier

Françoise Bouchet Saulnier holds a doctorate in Law, is legal director of Doctors without Borders (DWB), a member of the editorial committee of the International Journal of the international Red Cross as well as of the editorial committee of the collection of historical studies on the public statements of DWB.  She has also acted as consultant on human rights for various NGOs, and as Director of Crash.  She has devoted herself for more than twenty years to the development of the principal position and policy statements of DWB with regards to humanitarian action, the protection of populations against mass crimes and the challenges posed by international military interventions and international penal justice.

Françoise Bouchet Saulnier is the author of several books and articles on humanitarian law and action, in particular the Practical Dictionary of Humanitarian Law (4th edition, La Découverte, 2013), a work of reference on humanitarian action for international relations and humanitarian actors (NGOs, international organizations, etc.), journalists, students and law professionals, as well as citizens wishing to understand the scope and means of this new law.   The chapters of this dictionary propose a precise definition of each term, of the rights attached to it, an explanation of the concrete problems that arise in each situation, the processes of the most frequent violations and practical advice to guarantee the respect of the law.  A reference system, a bibliography, addresses, fax and phone numbers of various organizations complete this essential tool for actors of humanitarian law.  This disctionary is translated from French in 7 languages: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish.

The board of the Fondation Prix Henry Dunant has awarded the 2018 Field Prize to Françoise Bouchet Saulnier firstly to acknowledge her contribution to a better understanding and knowledge of international humanitarian law through her scientific work and many publications, and secondly because Françoise Bouchet Saulnier has led a profound cultural revolution at the heart of DWB with positive repercussions for a large number of victims of war.  DWB, by the words of its founders, was born partly as a reaction against what they judged an excessively cautious attitude of the ICRC; they interpreted international humanitarian law beyond what the law effectively said, which caused negative reactions from States whose own responsibility it is to apply and enforce respect for humanitarian law. Today, this is no longer the case.  The legal analyses of DWB are without reproach and the voice of the organization is listened to and widely respected.  This transformation is fundamentally the work of a woman, who has incarnated for over twenty years the legal conscience of DWB and whose influence surpasses widely the scope of the organization itself.

Whether through her many publications or the influence she has exercised at DWB and beyond, Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier has contributed to bring a better understanding and value to the spiritual legacy of Henry Dunant ; she has pursued and prolonged the determined action of the founder of the Red Cross and the promoter of the first Geneva Convention.

For these reasons, the board of the Fondation Prix Henry Dunant decided unanimously to award to Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier the Prix Henry Dunant – Field 2018.


Read  François Bugnion’s speech (in French).