Kouchner, Bernard

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Kouchner, Bernard

Bernard Kouchner (bârnär´ kōōshnâr´), 1939–, French physician, diplomat, and politician. A gastroenterologist by training, he earned his medical degree in France in the late 1960s. He practiced first at Cochin Hospital, Paris, and then as a volunteer doctor with the International Red Cross during the Biafra crisis. An advocate of "humanitarian intervention," Kouchner was (1971) a founder of Doctors Without Borders and served as its president until 1979. That year he founded a similar humanitarian group, Doctors of the World, was its president (1980–88), and organized medical operations in such nations as Malaysia, Lebanon, El Salvador, and Somalia. A Socialist, he also has been active in French politics. He served as a state minister with responsibilities for humanitarian affairs (1988–93) and health (1992–93), and was also (1994–96) a member of the European Parliament. Between appointments as France's health minister (1997–99, 2001–2), Kouchner served (1999–2001) as chief of the UN administration in Kosovo. From 2007 to 2010 he was foreign minister under conservative French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Kouchner has written several books.

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