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It is easy to write inspiring words to define an organization’s mission – it is much harder to put those principles into practice. At the core of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)'s identity is a commitment to independence, neutrality and impartiality. These are the MSF principles.

These ideals have driven every aspect of our work – from medical care and logistics to finance and communications – since MSF was established in 1971.

Our commitment to these principles, and the impact of the organization built on them, was recognized in 1999 when we were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The prize was accepted by then MSF International President, Dr. James Orbinski. 

"For MSF, this is the humanitarian act: to seek to relieve suffering, to seek to restore autonomy, to witness to the truth of injustice, and to insist on political responsibility..."

Dr. James orbinski,Former president of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Impartial

We provide free medical care to people who need it. It doesn’t matter which country they are from, which religion they belong to, or what their political affiliations are. All that matters is they are human beings in need. Learn more. 

Neutral

In a conflict situation, we don’t take sides, but go where people’s medical needs are greatest. In the ward of one of our field hospitals, you might find wounded civilians alongside injured soldiers from opposing sides. Hostilities and weapons must be left at the gate. Learn more. 

Independent

We rarely take funds from governments or public funds for our work. We rely on private donations, mainly from individual members of the public. Over 90 percent of our income comes from private donors. Learn more. 

Medical ethics

MSF’s actions are first and foremost medical. Quality medical care for the individual patient is central to our humanitarian objective. We seek to provide high-quality care and to act always in the best interest of patients; to respect their confidentiality, their right to make their own decisions and above all, to do them no harm. When medical assistance alone is not enough, we may provide shelter, water and sanitation, food or other services.