Addressing Racism in MSF


The Black Lives Matter movement has triggered strong mobilisation and discussions about racism in our own organisation. It has led to debates and calls for action among MSF staff and members.

There have been many internal contributions and reflections by our colleagues across the globe. A repository of contributions (reflections, opinions, letters, statements etc.) is available on the right  (contributions). Discussing openly, in a way that is not polarising and that is accessible to everybody, and taking action against racism in our organization is crucial. 

End of June, both OCB and MSFB Board members and members of the executive agreed on the creation of a joint working group to tackle this issue and to develop a concrete action plan.  (check on the right: Asso-Executive working group) to tackle all forms of racism in MSF OCB, starting by mapping the structural barriers to decision making participation and recourse within the organisation. Many of these barriers are known and were identified in different testimonies that have been given by MSFers.

In its last meeting on 1st of July, the OCB Board agreed on the 3 axes for action, and on the need for an external consultancy, which will assist the executive in carrying out this work. Replay the OCB Board session of 1st July 2020 and read the detailed meeting minutes.

The asso-exe working group conducted an in-depth selection process and have identified an external constultant who has the expertise needed to help us map and take actions. Read here more on Professor Margo, our external consultant.

The next steps will include mapping who we are as a benchmark; examining our policies and collecting input and feed-back to further identify barriers to participation, representation and decision-making; as well as creating safe spaces for discussion and debate. This should lead to an action oriented agenda and roadmap of change to become a better anti-racist organisation. 

The Working Group will have an oversight role but we need your input and have created an Advisory Group as well. 

This group will support the identification and mapping phase. The initial objectives of this advisory group in the coming 6 months would be: 

  • To advise the CoDir in explaining and implementing the roadmap developed by Margo to address racism in MSF-OCB. 
  • To support the CoDir in ensuring that all concepts and proposals in the roadmap are understood when discussing the topic of racism. 
  • To organise the input of a diverse group of staff into the process of addressing racism in OCB as outlined in the roadmap. 
  • To translate the experiences of the GAREC in dealing with discrimination into lessons learnt for the executive in implementing more systemic changes. 
  • Accompanying the executive in the transformation process.

Also if people are interested to join the Advisory Group, they can take contact with the group via this e-mail:

If you want to contribute this can be through organising discussions in the field and offices. Check the guiding document with links to background material. 


These next steps will be discussed at the next OCB Board and we will keep you updated on new developments. 

Racism exists in MSF, we have to acknowledge, understand and face it. We can and have to do better, to be better humanitarians.





By: Sophie Guillaumie