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Alain Boinet
Founder and Managing Director of Solidarités International - President of Humanitarian and Development Cooperation

Alain Boinet
Founder and Managing Director of Solidarités International
President of Humanitarian and Development Cooperation

Happy birthday to Groupe URD, an essential player in the humanitarian field. 20 years means something - and what a long way they have come. So, happy birthday to Groupe URD and all its members! My first important dealings with Groupe URD, which I was already familiar with, took place about ten years ago, during the heated debates sparked by the Sphere project which, at that time, promoted a quantitative and mechanical approach which did not take specific contexts into account. This showed the differences in approach which existed in the field of humanitarian action, and the importance of operational research in the international debate and of defining the direction and the relevance of quality in humanitarian action. I can personally testify that Groupe URD played a major role in this area.

It was both brave and intelligent to do what we did together with Groupe URD and a number of NGOs, whereas a certain conformism, or even simply a tendency to fall into line, is becoming more and more common. Due to our history and the Sans Frontières movement for access to people in danger, we believe that we are - and should remain - complete humanitarian actors, responsible, above all, for providing concrete aid, but also for defining what humanitarian aid is.

From this point of view, Groupe URD has been a very important player and ally. It should be commended for the pioneering role it has had in terms of operational research aimed at continually improving humanitarian action. The volume of humanitarian aid has constantly grown and it needs to improve in the same proportion, if not more, in terms of quality. It is also an obligation to use each Euro optimally – resources need to be used optimally for people in danger to accompany them to the post-crisis phase and development, while being aware that they are the main actors, despite their destitution.

As such, I was particularly happy to take part in the scientific committee of Groupe URD’s Quality COMPAS, an excellent alternative quality approach, placing local people at the centre of the compass and covering all the major stages of a programme. Of course, much of the approach can not be applied in extreme emergency contexts, where the most urgent cases need to be dealt with. And, of course, it requires a certain level of qualification and experience, but it is still completely relevant. These days we are still moving forward with Groupe URD and other NGOs with the SIGMAH project.

We have worked together on numerous occasions over the years, whether in Chad, in Afghanistan with the COFA, in Mali or when I asked Groupe URD and François Grünewald to take part in the scientific committee for the report I wrote with Benoit Miribel, the General Director of the Fondation Mérieux and an eminent member of ACF, “Analysis and proposals concerning emergency and post-crisis humanitarian aid”, at the request of Bernard Kouchner, the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs. A dynamic was created by this report, with Alain Juppé and then Laurent Fabius, which has not weakened since, with the very positive contribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Crisis Centre. This report has led to a very successful National Humanitarian Conference, a French Humanitarian Strategy which recognizes our principles and practices, and a humanitarian consultation group with the government. Groupe URD has played an extremely active and positive role in this dynamic, which will continue in the future.

20 years … a time to take stock, to put things in perspective and to look ahead. I hope Groupe URD will continue in this direction, will continue to innovate and will establish more partnerships with humanitarian organizations while maintaining its independence in promoting the quality and effectiveness of humanitarian action.