Advocate or Expert: In Search of an Alternative to "We versus They" Mentality

Maki Katoh


In this article, the author interrogates
the "we-versus-they mentality" which
divides refugee advocates from hosting
governments and their representatives.
The author demonstrates how this bifurcation
operates in the context of the
NGO Doctors of the World. Physicians
and mental health professionals provide
volunteer services, assessing and
documenting evidence of torture and
maltreatment. The author argues that
there is a misconception amongst government
representatives that the documentation
is not objective, and that the
NGO advocates on behalf of its clients
irrespective of whether the applicant is
a genuine torture survivor. This misperception
assumes that experts cannot
also be advocates, and denies what is in
fact a shared goal between refugee advocates
and government representatives,
that is, that those who have a
well-founded fear of persecution receive
adequate protection. Only recognizing
this shared goal will break down the
"we-versus-they" mentality.

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