International President, Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva
Joanne Liu is the International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since October 2013. A Canadian-born physician specialised in paediatric emergency medicine, she started working with MSF in 1996 – on missions in Mauretania, Kenya, Haiti and Sudan. As the organisation’s International President, she led the global efforts to contain the recent Ebola outbreak, and continues to push international policy makers towards better emergency response plans. Her outstanding leadership during the Ebola crisis earned her a place among the top 10 World’s Greatest Leaders (Fortune).
BREAKING THE WALL OF INDIFFERENCE IN WAR AND DISEASE. How Aid Organisations Call On World Leaders to Protect the Humanitarian Space
From the Ebola epidemic, where health staff stood alone for months, warning the world that this disease would not go away without concerted global action; to millions of refugees and migrants, desperately seeking a safe life away from bombs and attacks, who are endangering their lives as they flee; to the deliberate targeting of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical infrastructure in Kunduz, numerous recent events have prompted us to ask: How can we call on local and global leaders to respect the humanitarian imperative? How do we break down the walls of indifference? Just over a month ago, in a grave violation of international humanitarian law, US airstrikes targeted the MSF trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The attack completely destroyed the hospital, killing 12 MSF staff members and 10 patients and cutting off access to emergency trauma care for hundreds of thousands of people in northern Afghanistan. MSF launched a petition urging citizens to call on President Obama and the United States to consent to an independent investigation into the bombings. At Falling Walls, Joanne Liu argues for a radical rethink on how political leaders can break down the walls of indifference to bring at least some humanity to the worst of circumstances, now and in the future.