Humanitarian Alternatives/Alternatives Humanitaires is a bilingual (French/English) review devoted to humanitarian action.

The creation of the review pursues the following ambitions:

  • Encourage and participate in the global reflection concerning the humanitarian sector, its practices and its evolution, with a digital open access distribution and a printed edition available by subscription.
  • To create a meeting place and a space for dialogue, proximity and a dynamic exchange between researchers in humanities (sociology, history, economics, anthropology…) and practitioners of humanitarian action concerning the challenges that this sector is confronted with.
  • To give a broader international audience to a specific approach of humanitarian action rooted in the “without borders” movement, through the pooling of resources, thinking and projects.
  • Stimulate the dialogue and exchanges in these fields between researchers and practitioners from the countries of the North and the South.

In its issues published three times a year, Humanitarian Alternatives hosts original articles validated by an Editorial Board that operates independently from its financial partners. Each issue revolves around a specific theme called “Focus” and also includes some of the following sections: Perspectives, Ethics, Transitions, Innovations, Reportage, and Culture.

These articles are freely accessible online, and hard copy versions are available by subscription or purchase of individual issues.

The review’s beginnings: a staunchly collective project

 

The idea for this initiative was sown in September 2013 at the 4th Forum Espace Humanitaire (FEH) in response to the observation that the voice of French-speaking humanitarian organisations was being drowned out globally by the many English-speaking publications.

In order to make an effective contribution to the debate on humanitarian issues in a rapidly changing sector, a bilingual review, published in French and English and accessible to all stakeholders, including funders and students, came to mind.

This project was intended as a continuation of the Humanitaire review (published by Médecins du Monde) or as a complement to Humanitaires en mouvement (published by Groupe URD), while widening the number of partner organisations. The objective was both to deepen collective analysis and reflection between humanitarian practitioners and the world of research and social sciences, and to secure the resources needed to ensure the initiative’s long-term future.

A working group was then formed to define the shape such a publication might take and its feasibility with input from various French-speaking foundations interested in the project. At the very outset, Jean-François Mattei, Benoit MiribelJean-Baptiste Richardier and Jean-Christophe Rufin confirmed the support of the French Red Cross Foundation, the Action Against Hunger Foundation, the Handicap International Foundation (now HI Institute for Humanitarian Action) and the Mérieux Foundation. A legal French association was then created and, two years later, in February 2016, the Humanitarian Alternatives review published its first issue with a focus on the humanitarian consequences of the Ebola health crisis.

Today, the pool of partners has broadened, and in 2019 the association has taken on the organisation of the Forum Espace Humanitaire (FEH) as one of its activities. The FEH was established in 2009 at the initiative of Philippe Ryfman, Jean-François Mattei and Benoit Miribel, and regularly brings together the main leaders of French NGOs working in the field of international humanitarian aid to discuss the issues to which the sector needs to respond. The proximity and the back and forth between the review’s editorial content and the themes discussed at the FEH have been mutually beneficial.

The Board of Directors bases its decisions on the views and recommendations of the review’s Orientation Council and the FEH Organising Committee. The review has an Editorial Board which is independent from the financial partners, which are represented in the association’s governing bodies. It also has a Scientific Council composed of representatives from universities, training centres and research organisations, who are committed to promoting ties between social scientists and humanitarian actors.

From the outset, the review has benefited from the publishing experience of Bernard Michel, the director of publication, and Boris Martin, editor-in-chief, after fifteen years in charge of the Humanitaire review. Caroline Voisine (who took over from Audrey Sala in May 2022) is responsible for coordinating all the parties involved, while Stéphanie Durdilly (who joined the team in July 2022) is in charge of communications and editorial support.

The Orientation Council

The review’s key administrative body, the Orientation Council, is regularly consulted and includes representatives of its financial partners and outside parties along with the Board of Directors of Alternatives Humanitaires association.

The review’s editorial line and its expansion through the diversification of its operations is decided on by the Orientation Council. The Council also provides input for the financing, communication, and growth strategies of this initiative, which can be defined as a common good for professionals in the humanitarian sector.

Members of the Orientation Council

Vincent LEGER

French Red Cross Foundation

TBC

Action Against Hunger Foundation

Karine MEAUX

Fondation de France

Anne-Lise LIERVILLE

HI Institute on Humanitarian Action

Thierry MAURICET

Première Urgence Internationale

Joël WEILER

Médecins du Monde Foundation

Bénédicte PANSIER

Fondation Mérieux

Emanuela CROCE

CARE-France

Hélène DANIEL

Secours Catholique - Caritas France

Françoise DUROCH

UREPH - MSF Suisse

Jean-Pierre CLAVERANNE

Fondation Bullukian

Francis CHARHON

co-opted member

Yvan CONOIR

co-opted member

Bruno-Georges DAVID

co-opted member