A unique meeting to discuss humanitarian perspectives
In the 1990s, Dr. Charles Mérieux hosted exchange seminars on humanitarian action at the Pensières Conference Center in Annecy.
In January 2009, Jean-François Mattei, the then President of the French Red Cross, Philippe Ryfman, honorary Professor and Associate Researcher at the Department of Political Sciences at the Sorbonne, and Benoît Miribel, the then Director General of Fondation Mérieux, thought of inviting the leaders of approximately forty French International Solidarity Organisations (ISOs) – NGOs and the French Red Cross – to a forum, where, in a congenial working group atmosphere, they could exchange wide-ranging views on the development and the governance of humanitarian action, and the positioning of their organisations within the international humanitarian community.
This pioneering initiative was so well received by the participants that they asked that the gatherings be repeated every 18 months. Seven forums have subsequently been held each generating ever greater positive feedback from attendees on the innovative format and the focus of this meeting. Leaders of humanitarian organisations (NGOs and the French Red Cross) indeed already enjoy numerous opportunities to participate in seminars and conferences on a wide range of topics. However, given the hectic pace of their everyday lives, there are few initiatives that allow them to step back and spend time together during encounters in which they can voice their points of view in a straightforward, confident, and informal manner.
Since 2013, the “Forum Espace Humanitaire” (FEH) has welcomed leaders of humanitarian organisations located in countries other than France, and more especially those in developing countries of the South, and this should help to provide an even broader perspective on the latest challenges facing humanitarian action today.