Dr. Paul Bouvier



After schools and medical studies in Geneva, Switzerland, Paul Bouvier specialised in Paediatrics (Swiss Boards of Paediatrics FMH) and in Child Public Health (MSc in Community Paediatrics, University of London).

Since 1989 he has been working with the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, and now the Institute of Global Health, University of Geneva. He has conducted epidemiological and evaluation research on mother and child health in West Africa, notably on the determinants of child health, mortality and survival, malaria in pregnancy, childhood and adulthood, access to child health services. In Switzerland, he conducted research on food habits and lifestyles in adolescence, prevention of sudden infant death, epidemiology and prevention of child sexual abuse, and violence in children.

Paul Bouvier started working for the International Committee of the Red Cross – ICRC - in the late 1970’s and early 1980's, for medical missions in Southern Africa, Central America and the Caribbean in medical care and public health, health in detention, health assistance and relief operations for refugee and displaced populations.

In 1997, he became the director of the Children and Youth Health Services of Geneva, in charge of protection, prevention and promotion of children’s and adolescent’s health in schools and institutions of the Canton of Geneva. In this capacity, he developed innovative programmes on school integration and chronic diseases, child sexual abuse, violence prevention and the promotion of resilience in vulnerable children.

In 2007, he was appointed as the ICRC Senior medical advisor, with responsibilities involving the health and ethical issues in the ICRC humanitarian activities. Until 2017 his role involved advising the ICRC President and Assembly, the Directorate, and the ICRC units and delegation, on health and ethical issues. He chairs the ICRC advisory Group on ethics in the practice of humanitarian action, a unique space for deliberation and enlightening decisions in front of practical ethical dilemmas in humanitarian action, which he created in 2011.

Since 1990, Paul Bouvier contributed to original works on ethics in preventive medicine, and chaired the ethical review committee (ERC) for epidemiological research in Geneva from 1991 to 2006. He has been a member of the Ethics of Research Committee of the World Health Organisation – WHO, from 2009 to 2016, and a member of the Ethics and Compliance Committees of AO-Foundation since 2014.

In November 2011 he was appointed the coordinator of the Health Emergencies in Large Populations – the HELP courses. This 2 weeks course for professionals involved in response to crises, was created in 1986 by the ICRC with Geneva University and the WHO, with a focus on public health, ethical and practical challenges and decision making. This course is organised in 12 countries, in partnership with Schools of public health, the WHO and various academic, humanitarian and public health institutions around the world.

After retiring from the ICRC in September 2019, he is currently teaching ethics in the Master courses in Public Health, in Global Health, in Humanitarian Action and in Ethics, Responsibility and Development, with the Universities of Geneva and Fribourg. His current activity with the Institute of Global Health involves teaching, tutoring and advising in research projects related to violence, trauma and resilience, humanitarian crises and response, and humanitarian ethics and public health ethics.


Scientific articles

Saxena A, Bouvier PA, Shamsi-Gooshki E, Köhler J, Schwartz LJ. : WHO guidance on ethics in outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic: a critical appraisal. J Med Ethics. Epub ahead of print, April 2021:

Bouvier P. Compassion et action humanitaire : quand l’humanité de l’humanitaire est en jeu.
[Compassion and Humanitarian Action: when humanity itself is at stake].
Cahiers de recherche sociologique, 2020; 65:2018-03, 153-174.

Cyrulnik B, Bouvier P. Memory, trauma and resilience: Interview with Boris Cyrulnik. International Review of the Red Cross (2018).  
Published online August 2018.

Bouvier P. Sexual violence, health and humanitarian ethics: Towards a holistic, person-centred approach. International Review of the Red Cross (2014), 96 (894), 565–584.

Bouvier P. Humanitarian care and small things in dehumanised places. International Review of the Red Cross, 2012, 94 (888), 1537-1550.

Bouvier P. „Yo lo vi. Goya witnessing the disasters of war: an appeal to the sentiment of humanity. International Review of the Red Cross, 2011. 93 (884), 1107-1133.

Book Chapters

Bouvier P. (2017). Objects of prisoners: Art, Communication and Humanity.
Chapitre in : Prisoners' Objects : The Collection of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. 5 Continents Editions, 160 p.

Bouvier P. (2018). Épidémies, crises et conflits armés : enjeux pour la santé publique et l’action humanitaire. Actes du colloque « Epidémies et sociétés, passé, présent et futur », Maison de la Paix à Genève, Organisé par la Société Genevoise d’Utilité Publique, en juin 2016.

 Bouvier, P. (2013): The Duty to Provide Care to the Wounded or Sick Enemy. Chap. In Baer, H., Messelken, D. (eds.): Proceedings of the 2nd ICMM Workshop on Military Medical Ethics, Bern/Zurich. LBA-BLA, 2013, 100p, p. 35-60.

 Bouvier P. Perception of Humanitarian Medicine by Military and Political Stakeholders. 

Chapter in: Caroline Abu-Sada ed. “In the Eyes of Others: How People in Crises Perceive Humanitarian Aid”. Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Humanitarian Outcomes, NYU Center on International Cooperation, 2012, 198p, p 154-163.