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


  • Maki Katoh Doctors of the World



refugees, human rights, advocacy, Doctors of the World


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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How to Cite

Katoh, M. (2001). Advocate or Expert: In Search of an Alternative to "We versus They" Mentality. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 19(2), 3–5.

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