French politician and doctor Bernard Kouchner was born on November 1, 1939. He is best known as one of the founders of Médecins sans Frontières (maydsahn sahn fron-tea-air), or Doctors Without Borders, and Médecins du Monde (maydsahn due mohnd), Doctors of the World. In the first half of the Sarkozy presidency, socialist Kouchner was the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, a prize for the center-right government to demonstrate ouverture, or openness to a variety of political viewpoints. His cooperation with Sarkozy got him kicked out of the Socialist party.
Kouchner has been a colorful figure for years. In 1964, he spent an evening fishing and drinking with none other than Fidel Castro. In 1966, he got kicked out of the Communist Party for an attempted leadership coup. He was in the thick of things in the May 1968 student protests in Paris. Later that year, he worked with the Red Cross in Biafra. His experiences on the front lines of the humanitarian disaster led to the creation of the world-famous medical relief agencies. Kouchner put his life on the line again working at a refugee camp during the Lebanese Civil War.
Prior to his stint with Sarkozy, Kouchner held various positions in Socialist governments, including Minister of Health. He was also appointed as a Special Representative to Kosovo during the bloodbath in 1999 and was instrumental in creating a civil administration from the rubble. In the post-Sarkozy years, he’s been a front-runner for a few high profile positions, but they went to another of the candidates on each occasion. This may be because Kouchner has seriously put his foot in his mouth on a number of high-profile international issues, despite his incredible humanitarian record.
Read more about him – Bernard Kouchner: La Biographie
- Bernard Kouchner, what? (boardpad.typepad.com)