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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 13 min 14 sec ago
For Immediate Release For More Information Contact:
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson on the Third Anniversary of the Dominican
Constitutional Court’s Decision to strip Citizenship from Dominicans of Foreign Descent
Today marks the third anniversary of the Dominican Constitutional Court’s decision to strip the hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of foreign descent of their citizenship, the majority of whom are of Haitian descent. They are also being denied the legal rights and protections to which they were previously entitled. The court’s decision has created a devastating human rights crisis and an unprecedented level of statelessness. It is particularly devastating for children who can no longer attend school or seek medical care.
According to a report from the International Organization for Migration, more than 100,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent have been forced to return to Haiti. In addition to not speaking the language or having any familial connections to Haiti, they are living in deplorable conditions. Those who have not yet been deported or forced to flee from the Dominican Republic live each day in fear that their time will soon come.
As the proud congressional representative of one of the largest Haitian populations in the United States, I am committed to doing whatever I can to help mitigate the court’s ruling, which is causing significant harm and simultaneously affects generations of Dominicans of Haitian descent. That includes calling on my congressional colleagues to join me in a letter urging President Obama to address this growing crisis and working with advocates.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson is a third-term Congresswoman from Florida representing parts of Northern Miami-Dade and Southeast Broward counties. A former state legislator and school principal, she is the founder of the 5000 Role Models for Excellence Project, a mentoring program for young males at risk of dropping out of school. Congresswoman Wilson also founded the Florida Ports Caucus, a bipartisan taskforce that coordinates federal action in support of Florida’s harbors and waterways. The Florida lawmaker sits on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and is the Ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.
This has been a year of first steps towards justice for Haiti’s cholera victims. For the first time since cholera was brought to Haiti by United Nations peacekeepers in 2010, a Haitian leader (interim President Jocelerme Privert) has made a statement demanding justice. About a month before that, a UN spokesperson finally admitted the UN’s involvement in causing the epidemic. Hopefully the Haitian government can keep the ball rolling towards cholera eradication and reparations.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti calls on UN to eradicate cholera, assist victims
Valéry Bennett, Haiti Sentinel
September 23, 2016
NEW YORK, New York, US (sentinel.ht) – For the first time since its introduction, a Haitian leader has joined the calls of its citizens in demanding the United Nations eradicate cholera and provide reparations to those affected by it.
Haitian President Jocelerme Privert, Friday, called on the United Nations to eradicate the cholera disease introduced by its peacekeepers and that has killed more than 10,000 and sickened millions.
Privert made the declaration during his speech to the 71st General Assembly. He made reference to the world organization’s recognition of its role in the outbreak and the “moral responsibility” the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had declared.
Click HERE for the full text.
September 23, 2016
Friday morning, Provisional President of Haiti Jocelerme Privert addressed the 71st General Assembly of the United Nations. In his speech, he pledged the country’s support for the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, stressed the importance of the U.N.’s efforts to address the global refugee crisis, and made the case that Haiti was ready for its October 9th elections despite financial, technical, and logistical problems. It was the final portion of his remarks, though, that victims of cholera introduced by U.N. peacekeepers were most pleased to hear:
(translated from French)
“Over recent years, my country and people have suffered tremendously from waves of infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera, Zika, chikungunya, dengue, and I spare you more. In order to overcome these scourges, declarations of good intent, comforting though they are, are of no effect. We need real and effective support when it comes to drinking water systems, waste treatment, etc. The outbreak once again of cholera over recent months is one of the challenges which is most acute in Haiti. It is a clear illustration of the perceptible deterioration of the humanitarian situation, as was emphasized by the Secretary General in a recent report to the Security Council. Here, the government of the Republic of Haiti has noted and welcomes the statements of the Secretary General on two situations which have caused discomfort for the United Nations: the many cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by the blue helmets, and the introduction of cholera in Haiti. The recognition of the United Nations for its moral responsibility in this latter instance opens the way for real discussions regarding the obligation to definitively eliminate cholera in Haiti. In this sense, we would like to hope that the urgent appeal of the Secretary-General in favor of the implementation of a substantially strengthened program of fighting cholera and assistance to victims and their families will be heard and will fully meet the expectations of the Haitian people.”
In the wake of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s historic statement, Privert has affirmed that the Haitian government stands with cholera victims in calling on the U.N. to truly fulfill its moral responsibility.
The audio of Privert’s full remarks in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish, as well as the prepared remarks written in French are available on the U.N.’s website HERE.
After the 2010 earthquake, Haitians were welcomed into Brazil to find new opportunities. Now that the economy there is in a downturn, thousands have started coming to the U.S. to seek a better life. At first, border agents were allowing them to come in through Southern California. Now, the Obama administration has decided to tighten its immigration policies regarding Haitians and deport most of those without visas as soon as they reach the border. Many of the people at risk of deportation have crossed through several countries–as many as nine–to reach the U.S., facing incredible obstacles and costs along the way.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haitians, After Perilous Journey, Find Door to U.S. Abruptly Shut
Kirk Semple, The New York Times
September 23, 2016
TIJUANA, Mexico — They passed the corpses of other migrants who had tried to cross the Americas. They were cheated by smugglers and fleeced by armed bandits, and they suffered long stretches of hunger.
Finally, after months of traveling across nine international borders, the Haitians made it to Tijuana, where thousands of their countrymen had already been allowed to enter the United States this year. All they had to do, they thought, was wait for their appointments with immigration officials and they, too, would be allowed on American soil.
Then, suddenly, they learned that their journey — and the hopes of thousands of others like them heading toward the American border — had most likely come to an abrupt, crushing end.
On Thursday, the Obama administration, in an effort to halt an extraordinary wave of Haitian migrants streaming to the United States, announced that it was tightening its immigration policy on Haitians. Those who appeared at the American border without visas would almost certainly be sent back to Haiti.
The unexpected change sowed deep disappointment and confusion among the hundreds of Haitians at the border who thought they were only days away from entering the United States. Thousands more are still on their way, risking their lives on a perilous trip, probably in vain.
Click HERE for the full text.
Pòtoprens, 20 Septanm 2016
Lèt tou louvri Viktim Kolera yo pou Prezidan Repiblik Dayiti a
Objè : Mande prezidan Jocelerme Privert pran pozisyon piblik pou kòz Viktim kolera yo
Prezidan Repiblik la,
Nou menm, 5000 viktim Kolera Misyon Nasyonzini pou Estabilize Ayiti (Minista) pote nan peyi a, ki te pote plent kont Loni, ekri w pou mande Leta Ayisyen pran pozisyon piblik ki marande ak revandikasyon viktim yo, kont Nasyonzini. Epi chita sou sipò entènasyonal la, kit se nan okazyon Asanble Jeneral Nasyonzini kap kòmanse 13 septanm pou bout 26 septanm nan, pou rive jwenn nan men Nasyonzini yon repons ki koupe fache ak zak vyolasyon dwa moun lap fè sou nou depi lane 2010 ak maladi kolera li pote a.
Sa fè sis (6) lane depi sòlda Minista yo vini ak kolera nan peyi a, nan jete matyè fekal (poupou) nan flèv latibonit lan. Nan moman nap ekri lèt sa, maladi sa deja touye 9300 moun epi kite ak maladi plis pase 780 000 lèzòt. Chak semèn ki pase, kolera kontinye ap touye Ayisyen. Plis pase 227 konpatriyòt nou mouri ak kolera pou ane sa, san konte plis pase 24,000 lèzòt ki tonbe malad.
Pandan 6 lane, nou te rete mobilize pou nou mande Nasyonzini Jistis ak Reparasyon : nou te pran lari a, fè anpil konferans pou laprès, ekri anpil lèt, epi depoze plizyè plent kont Loni. Nou te mande twa (3) bagay : 1) pou Loni rekonèt se li ki responsab kolera vini nan peyi a epi prezante eskiz piblik li bay viktim yo ak pèp Ayisyen ; 2) pou Loni dedomaje tout viktim kolera yo pou soufrans yo sibi ak ak vyolasyon dwa fondal natal yo ; 3) pou Loni mete yon fon pou dlo pwòp ak asenisman pou elimine kolera nan Peyi a.
17 dawou 2016 la, nou fini pa genyen yon gwo viktwa. Pou premye fwa, Loni rekonèt piblikman se li ki vini ak kolera nan Ayiti, e pran angajman nan 2 mwa l ap vini ak yon repons tou nèf pou viktim yo. Men, nou konnen yon deklarasyon Loni pa menm bagay ak Jistis. Loni dwe respekte pawòl li nan poze bon jan aksyon, kote l ap reponn ak 3 revandikasyon nou sot site la yo.
Nou konnen tou leta Ayisyen gen yon gwo wòl pou l jwe. Paske li klè Loni pwal defini repons li an nan tèt kole ak Leta, kidonk se Leta ki pwal reprezante enterè pèp Ayisyen an.
Pou rezon sa, nou mande w 2 bagay sa yo : 1) profite entèvansyon Ayiti nan okazyon asanble jeneral Loni nan New York la, pou fè yon deklarayon piblik an favè kòz viktim kolera yo ; 2) Angaje peyi vwazen Ayiti yo ak tout lòt zanmi pèp Ayisyen an, nan mande yo apiye tout demach kap pouse Loni bay yon repons ki respekte dwa moun viktim kolera yo
Nap fini pou n di w mèsi pou konsiderasyon w, pandan nap tann ak enpasyans repons ou. Tanpri, montre nou angajman ou genyen pou revandikasyon nou yo, nan tabli yon rankont ak reprezantan nou Mèt Mario Joseph Biwo Avoka Entènasyonal yo (BAI), nan yon ti tan tou kout.
Tanpri souble , Prezidan Repiblik la, resevwa salitasyon espesyal nou.
Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. (FANM)/Haitian Women of Miami
100 NE 84th Street, Suite 200, Miami, FL 33138
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Conference: Obama Administration Betrays Haiti and Haitian Americans
When: September 22, 2016 at 3:15 PM
Where: FANM 100 NE 84th Street, Suite 200, Miami, FL 33138
The Haitian American community and allies are outraged by today’s announcement of the completely inappropriate resumption of deportations (“removals”) to Haiti of persons with no criminal record. A press conference to register that displeasure will be held today.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s statement that conditions in Haiti had “improved sufficiently to permit the U.D. government to remove Haitian nationals on a more regular basis” is completely inaccurate, unsupported by any economic or political facts, and flies in the face of Haiti’s cholera epidemic. On the contrary, Haiti is unable to receive, house, feed or employ additional numbers. Resuming removals now will add to Haiti’s troubles and threatens to further destabilize the nation, which is in the midst of a political crisis; it’s also bad for U.S. national security. Haiti has not recovered from the devastating 2010 earthquake and it has been and remains in political turmoil as well.
Click HERE for the full press release.
The Obama administration announced Thursday that the six year post-earthquake pause on the deportation of undocumented Haitian migrants will end, with deportations resuming in full. Thousands of Haitian migrants who have dangerously made their way to the San Diego border crossing in the last year are now facing deportation. The Obama administration claims there has been sufficient progress in Haiti to warrant the change in policy, but political stability, and therefore the safety of repatriated migrants, is already questionable and could deteriorate quickly depending on what happens in the upcoming elections on October 9th. This policy change also leaves thousands of Haitians currently en route to the US-Mexico border in dangerous limbo in the hands of non-sympathetic Central American governments.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.U.S. shifts Haiti deportation policy, and gives a warning
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
September 22, 2016
The U.S. Department of Homeland and Security has a warning to undocumented Haitians enroute to its southwestern border with Mexico — turn around. Otherwise, you will be deported back to Haiti.
After a six-year moratorium on deportations to the earthquake-scarred country, the Obama administration is resuming them, citing “improved conditions in Haiti” since the devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake and “a significant increase in Haitians arriving at the Southwest border in San Diego, Calif.”
“The United States has recently witnessed a sharp increase in the number of Haitian nationals taking dangerous smuggling routes to apply for admission to our country in the San Diego, California, area without advance authorization,” said an official with DHS, which announced the policy shift Thursday.
In fiscal year 2015, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol only apprehended 339 Haitians at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the world’s busiest border crossing, officials said. But that number jumped sharply from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 4, with officials processing more than 5,000 Haitians at the California entry point, overwhelming the facility, which is undergoing construction.
“Effective immediately, enforcement decisions with respect to Haitian nationals should be consistent with the practice regarding other nationalities,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.. . .Click HERE for the full text.
In a policy reversal, the Obama administration announced Thursday that it will remove the limitations on the deportation of undocumented Haitian migrants. Thousands of migrants have faced a perilous journey through Central America after losing work in Brazil to make it to the Southern California border crossing. Many now face deportation back to Haiti, regardless of criminal record or threat to American security.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.U.S. to Step Up Deportations of Haitians Amid Surge at Border
Kirk Semple, New York Times
September 22, 2016
MEXICO CITY — The Obama administration, responding to an extraordinary wave of Haitian migrants seeking to enter the United States, said on Thursday that it would fully resume deportations of undocumented Haitian immigrants.
After an earthquake devastated parts of Haiti in 2010, the United States suspended deportations, saying that sending Haitians back to the country at a time of great instability would put their lives at risk. About a year later, officials partly resumed deportations, focusing on people convicted of serious crimes or those considered a threat to national security.
But since last spring, thousands of Haitian migrants who had moved to Brazil in search of work have been streaming north, mostly by land, winding up at American border crossings that lead to Southern California.
. . .
Click HERE for the full text.
UN Chief Issues Historic Statement on Haiti Cholera, As Experts Call For A Robust UN Response to Victims
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UN Chief Issues Historic Statement on Haiti Cholera, As Experts Call For A Robust UN Response to Victims
New York, September 21, 2016 – Before a gathering of the world’s leaders yesterday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used his opening statement to the UN General Assembly to acknowledge the tremendous suffering wrought by cholera and commit to ‘a new approach’ that would fulfill the UN’s obligations to Haitians. The Secretary-General also vowed to return to the General Assembly with more details, expected next month.
“This statement by the Secretary-General during his final address to the General Assembly affirms the UN’s significant shift in position on the Haiti cholera issue after six years of denial and stonewalling, and is a victory for the Haitian cholera victims and advocates worldwide who have brought the UN to this point,” said Brian Concannon, Jr. Esq., Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, which has been advocating for justice for cholera victims since 2011.
The statement comes one month after the world body finally acknowledged its role in bringing a devastating cholera epidemic to Haiti in October 2010 that has killed at least 9,300 people and sickened over 800,000. Since the acknowledgement, victims, advocates and experts have repeatedly implored the UN to follow the announcement with concrete steps that meet victims’ rights. Yesterday, United States Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) wrote to the Secretary-General to urge him to provide “the material resources necessary to end the threat of cholera and financial assistance to the victims and their families…”
On Monday, more than 40 former UN officials, experts in international law, human rights and public health sent a letter to the Secretariat calling for a robust and human rights based UN response to cholera victims.
“In order to discharge its duties to victims, the Secretariat must build on its acceptance of responsibility through concrete actions [that] include a public apology, compensation for victims, and full funding for cholera elimination. Moreover, the process must be inclusive and transparent, and involve participation of Haitians throughout,” the letter reads.
In Haiti, victims joined together in a joyous but determined protest outside the UN’s Port-au-Prince base, calling for compensation, a public apology, and elimination of the disease that continues to kill in Haiti. The victims also called on the Haitian President to publicly support these demands in his address to the General Assembly on Friday, September 23.
“The Secretary-General must still address Haitians directly and provide a full accounting of the UN’s responsibility for cholera, and apologize for its refusal to engage with victims and their demands for years following the outbreak”, said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, who is a lead advocate for victims of cholera.
“It is also critical that the UN provides compensation to the victims who have lost loved ones and breadwinners, and who suffered immense pain and hardship as a result of cholera,” Joseph added.
Attention will now turn to the elaboration of the UN’s new response package. Victims and advocates are calling for a transparent process and victim-centered approach, including consultations with affected communities, as well as the robust financing necessary to support both financial compensation to victims and effective cholera elimination efforts.
Unofficial transcription of the Secretary-General’s Statement:
The outbreak of cholera in Haiti shortly after a devastating earthquake heaped misery upon misery. I feel tremendous regret and sorrow for the profound suffering of Haitians affected by cholera. The time has come for a new approach to ease their plight and better their lives. This is a firm and enduring moral responsibility. We are now developing a package of material assistance to those most directly affected, and intensifying efforts to build sound water, sanitation, and health systems—the best long-term defense against the disease.
This work cannot succeed without strong political and financial support from member states. I will return to this assembly with further details. Let us work together to meet our obligations to the Haitian people.
Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America. The Secretary-General thanked President Obama for the strong and consistent support of the United States for the United Nations on many issues, in particular climate change.
They discussed ways to end the appalling crisis in Syria and to resume the intra-party talks.
The two leaders discussed the alarming situation on the Korean Peninsula and in South Sudan.
Turning to Haiti, the Secretary-General expressed regret and sorrow at the outbreak of cholera and the profound suffering of Haitians affected. He informed President Obama of the package of material assistance being developed for those most directly affected and said he hoped he could count on the support of the U.S.
New York, 20 September
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the cholera epidemic in Haiti during his opening address to the UN General Assembly. Ban expresses his “tremendous regret” in regards to the outbreak, but had first acknowledged in 2014 the UN’s “moral responsibility” to provide aid to those affected by the outbreak. Recently a spokesperson said that the UN was putting together a “significant new set of actions” to help Haiti in the fight against the cholera epidemic.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.UN chief feels ‘regret and sorrow’ over Haiti cholera outbreak
Jaqueline Charles, Miami Herald
September 20, 2016
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday expressed “tremendous regret,” over the cholera outbreak in Haiti as part of his opening address to the United Nations General Assembly.
“I feel tremendous regret and sorrow at the profound suffering of Haitians affected by cholera,” he said. “The time has come for a new approach to ease the plight and better their lives. This is our firm and enduring moral responsibility.”
It was the first time since the cholera outbreak began in 2010 that Ban, who has four months left on his 10-year tenure as the head of the United Nations, mentioned the deadly epidemic in his annual address to the General Assembly.…Click HERE for the full article.
Ceci est une partie du transcription du discours de Ban Ki-moon, à l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies le 20 septembre 2016. Pendant le discours, il exprime le regret au sujet de choléra, que l’Onu a introduit en Haïti en 2010. Il exprime aussi le regret au sujet de violences sexuelles commis par les Casques Bleus.
This is part of the transcript of the speech Ban Ki-moon made at the UN General Assembly September 20, 2016. During the speech, he expressed his regret regarding cholera, which the UN brought to Haiti in 2010. He also expresses his regret regarding sexual violence committed by peacekeepers. The English translation of the cholera portion is below the French.
20 septembre 2016
Je saisis cette occasion pour exprimer mes regrets au sujet de deux situations qui ont terni la réputation de l’Organisation et, pire encore, traumatisé les nombreuses populations que nous servons.
Premièrement, les actes odieux d’exploitation et de violence sexuelles commis par certains soldats de la paix et d’autres membres du personnel des Nations Unies ont aggravé les souffrances de populations déjà prises dans un conflit armé et sapé les efforts accomplis par tant d’autres agents de l’ONU dans le monde. Les protecteurs ne doivent jamais devenir des prédateurs. Les États Membres et le Secrétariat doivent redoubler d’efforts pour faire appliquer et renforcer la politique de tolérance zéro de l’Organisation.
Deuxièmement, Haïti a cumulé les épreuves : peu après un tremblement de terre dévastateur, le pays a été frappé par une épidémie de choléra. J’ai beaucoup de regret et de peine face aux terribles souffrances du peuple haïtien affecté par le choléra. Une nouvelle stratégie s’impose pour atténuer sa détresse et améliorer ses conditions de vie. Nous sommes fermement résolus à nous acquitter durablement de cette responsabilité morale.
Nous élaborons actuellement un ensemble de mesures d’assistance pour les personnes les plus directement touchées et redoublons d’efforts pour établir de solides systèmes d’approvisionnement en eau, d’assainissement et de santé, qui sont la meilleure défense à long terme contre les maladies. Nous n’y parviendrons qu’avec l’appui politique et financier sans faille des États Membres.
Je vous donnerai plus tard des précisions sur cette stratégie. Unissons nos efforts pour honorer nos obligations envers le peuple haïtien.
Cliquez ICI pour le discours complet (en anglais et français).
Secondly, the outbreak of cholera in Haiti shortly after a devastating earthquake heaped misery upon misery. I feel tremendous regret and sorrow at the profound suffering of Haitians affected by cholera.
The time has come for a new approach to ease their plight and better their lives. This is our firm and enduring moral responsibility.
We are now developing a package of material assistance to those most directly affected and Intensifying efforts to build sound water, sanitation and health systems — the best long term defense against the disease. This work cannot succeed without strong political and financial support from member states.
I will return to this Assembly with further details. Let us work together to meet our obligations to the Haitian people.
Click HERE for the complete speech, in English and French.
This article provides an interesting analysis of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s tenure including his successes and failures and the challenges he faced in making changes within the United Nations. On the “failure” side, the author highlights AIDS-Free World’s campaign for justice for sexual abuse by peacekeepers (particularly in the Central African Republic) and IJDH’s fight for justice for the cholera epidemic peacekeepers brought to Haiti in 2010. One thing Ban highlights as a goal before his term ends is establishing concrete environmental policies. Will he also address cholera and sexual abuse before the next Secretary-General steps in?Ban Ki-moon Reflects on the Successes and Frustrations of His 10 Years as UN Secretary GeneralIn his decade in office, Ban never overcame his aloof image. But in many ways he modernized the United Nations, and pushed it to confront its deepest challenges.
Barbara Crossette, The Nation
September 20, 2016
Ban Ki-moon became the eighth secretary general of the United Nations in January 2007, in a world that was a much quieter place than it would soon become. Unforeseen ahead was the Great Recession, explosive civil protests in the Arab world and the deadly government backlashes that followed. The explosion of refugees from the Middle East, in the largest numbers since World War II, added fuel to the global rise of ultraconservative, xenophobic politics. The Islamic State was soon to rise as a major global threat.
As Ban’s 10-year tenure winds down, and the Security Council prepares to nominate his successor, he looked back in an interview with me for The Nation in his UN office and reviewed what he managed to do in these tumultuous years, and regretted that there were “fires burning still” beyond the UN’s control. But he also showed flashes of anger in describing the procedural obstacles and pointless blocking techniques that stood in his way in both the Security Council and General Assembly. He acknowledged the frequent criticisms directed at him and the organization by critics who get little news about the UN and then say, “Mr. Ban is not visible.”
“I learned a lot,” he said.
In his decade in office, which ends on December 31, Ban, a 72-year-old former foreign minister of South Korea, has never overcome his aloof image and the annoyance caused by the often uncommunicative style of his tight circle of aides. This has opened the door not only to negative coverage but also—and more important—to civil society advocates with more effective public-relations skills who have exposed the UN’s reluctance to engage or react quickly to numerous crises.
Among the most influential of these advocacy efforts is AIDS-Free World, co-directed by Paula Donovan and the Canadian diplomat Stephen Lewis, both with experience in the UN, who pursued relentlessly the story of sexual abuse in the Central African Republic by UN peacekeepers and French troops in the country with Security Council authorization. In Haiti, reports of UN negligence following the introduction of a South Asian strain of cholera by Nepali peacekeepers stayed in the news because of a long legal campaign by the Institute for Justice and Democracy. On the issue of civilian causalities in conflict, particularly children caught up in irregular warfare in the Middle East, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders is often the first to report atrocities.
There are other organizations, working on other issues, and many of them have forced the UN to confront its responses, which even if defensible, are often too late. Though Ban may not have been personally responsible for organizational failures when underlings hunkered down behind denials and cover-ups, he symbolizes the UN in the eyes of critics.
Yet Ban has been a quiet force behind significant policy changes, among them some on socially progressive issues facing the UN that are opposed by conservative governments and the Vatican. He has presided over the most ambitious global anti-poverty agenda in UN history, the Sustainable Development Goals, which were driven by national priorities, not handed down peremptorily from the UN hierarchy.
From the start of his tenure, Ban sought to make an international pact on addressing climate change a signature legacy. That came together last December in Paris. Almost.
“The agreement in Paris last year was quite encouraging, the solidarity shown by the world community—but it has a long way to go,” he said. “We have just agreed to a framework. This framework should be translated into action. It must be entered into force as soon as possible, preferably by the end of this year. I’m hopeful, I’m optimistic that this can be done.” He has called for a summit of world leaders on September 21 to make a final push
Ban has backed President Barack Obama’s efforts to advance arms control and nuclear nonproliferation, particularly the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which Republicans have blocked in Congress since its signing in 1996 (and a Senate vote against it in 1999). No other arms treaty in more than 80 years has met this shamelessly partisan roadblock.
On social issues, Ban has made emergency contraception universally available in UN operations for women raped in conflict areas and other crises. Defying opposition in the General Assembly, he approved benefits to spouses of UN staff in single-sex marriages. He has publicly supported LGBT rights internationally. When a group of nations tried to derail the establishment of an organization for women in the UN system—finally grudgingly creating it in 2010 as an “entity,” not a full agency or program—Ban held out for the appointment of Michelle Bachelet, the former (and now again) president of Chile, as its first executive director. Bachelet, a seasoned politician, turned down the offer at first, Ban’s aides say. But he declined to move on to other candidates, and she was persuaded to relent.
Ban’s biggest challenges have been in management reform. “We can sharply reduce the current bureaucracies or decision-making processes if we make decisions by consensus,” he said, adding that the frequent demands for unanimity, a zero-sum game, in the 193-member General Assembly and an unwillingness to accept a consensus, which may require compromise, has meant that “even a single country can block very good decisions and ideas. Then people outside simply don’t understand why the United Nations is not moving.’”
As an example, he mentions his “mobility system,” a plan to move UN staff around from place to place or job to job to prevent the kind of sinecures the organization is known for. “You know how long it took me until I got this mobility proposal adopted? Seven years! It takes only one or two voices to do this kind of damage,” he said. “That makes me angry. I had been speaking passionately, emotionally, to member states then only after seven years have they reluctantly agreed.”
“There are many issues for which I’ve been fighting to make this complex organization into a modern organization—more efficient, more accountable, and more transparent,” he said, listing the strengthening of the UN ethics office and the introduction of required annual reports from senior officials on priorities and performance. He also added a gender balance goal, not a popular issue in the General Assembly.
Modernizing a government or a corporation is much easier, Ban said, since both have centers of power—a president or prime minister and political parties in government, and a board of 20 to 30 members in companies, with a board chairman and a CEO. “Here in the United Nations, we have 193 board members,” he said. “The problem is that each and every board member seems to believe that they are the chairman. Everybody’s a chairman.”
Outsiders who study the UN say that in choosing and managing the staff Ban’s record is mixed. On the positive side they cite the rotation system as well the new practice of releasing (voluntarily) financial disclosure and declaration of interests statements. His appointments to top positions in the Secretariat and his choices of “Special Representatives of the Secretary-General” (SRSG) to oversee field missions or report on thematic issues such as children in conflict zones, food security, pandemic diseases and migration, have occasionally been bewildering, however.
In numerous appointments, he accommodated demands of regions and governments for good jobs though their nominees were not always the best candidates. His first choice of deputy secretary general, Asha-Rose Migiro, a lawyer and politician from Tanzania with virtually no credentials, hit a low mark. She was eventually replaced by Jan Eliasson on Sweden, a brilliant appointment.
“It is true that there are some political pressures,” Ban said. “But as a matter of fact, I have been quite firm with member states.” He said he has rejected nominees on occasion and has reconsidered and refused to renew contracts of people pressed on him who prove to be unqualified. But the demands from both big powers and small developing countries for UN positions continue.
Sam Daws, director of the Project on UN Governance and Reform in the Center for International Studies at Oxford University, wrote in an e-mail that while Ban has maintained good and non-controversial relations with member states, his decision-making was questionable. “He has made some good appointments, but also some poor ones, and decisions such as that on his first deputy secretary general were seemingly taken in haste and without proper consideration of a range of candidates,” Daws said.
Daws is among a majority of UN experts who believe that communication may be the organization’s weakest link with the global public, a serious drawback in an exploding media age, and that Ban has not given this high priority. “He has not come across as an articulate voice in the international media, and nor has he had much behind the scenes influence in conflict mediation,” Daws said. “The SG needs to articulate well what the UN is doing, and why it matters, to a global audience. If an SG is a good manager of people then he or she can use this to compensate for any weaknesses—e.g., in communications—by appointing USGs and SRSGs who can perform well with the media.”
There is the impression in New York that under the Ban administration, the UN has also withdrawn from its host city, to the organization’s disadvantage.
Stephen Schlesinger, the author of Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations and a frequent commentator on the organization’s evolution, said in an interview that Ban—not the first secretary general to keep a low profile—had the misfortune to follow Kofi Annan, a popular Ghanaian and his Swedish wife, Nane, who were celebrities in New York, known and admired in many circles and institutions. Annan also had skilled spokespeople and visible communications specialists on his staff. “They got out there and were talking to people and seeing people,” Schlesinger said in an interview. “You don’t have a sense that his [Ban’s] staff is doing that much, except for Eliasson, who has made a big effort to get out and about. “
It is well known that Ban often struggled with English and French, the UN’s two working languages, which may have curbed spontaneity and oratorical style. The view from Asia, however, challenges the critiques of Ban as shallow. Was Western cultural arrogance in play?
Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and a former Singapore ambassador to the UN—also the author of the famously provocative book Can Asians Think?—said this in an exchange of e-mails:
“Like the legacy of any other world leader, we will have to wait for the dust to settle before we have a clear idea of how Ban Ki-moon changed the world. Yet, a few points will stand out. He had the courage to speak out strongly for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, when everyone else dodged the issue. He was also forceful on climate change. That helped the Paris conference to succeed. He pushed for the creation of UN Women as a separate agency. More importantly, he promoted more women to leadership positions than any other UNSG.”
“He may also be recognized for an unusual reason,” he added: “The Anglo-Saxon media was cruel towards him. He handled this challenge with remarkable equanimity.”
Thalif Deen, a Sri Lankan who has been covering the UN since the 1970s and was until recently bureau chief at the UN for the Inter Press Service, which has a large following in the developing world, suggests that language has become a test in the secretary-general election, fairly or not. Deen, a former Fulbright scholar, said in an interview that while Ban “successfully maintained a policy of dodging tough questions at UN press conferences most of the time,” there was more going on in this story on the media side. “The lack of English skills should not be held against any UN secretary general, who heads an institution which recognizes six official languages—English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese.”
Dan Plesch, director of the Center for International Studies and diplomacy at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said: “Not conforming to Western desire for film star charisma that borders on racism against the slightly built Asian, he has nevertheless worked tirelessly under the political pressures of the P5 that crush almost any initiative. It is they and not he that carry the heavy responsibilities of the UN’s failures.” The P5 are the Security Council’s powerful permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States.
In the interview Ban, who as a boy suffered with his family through the Korean War in the 1950s, described his distress at recurrent inaction in the Security Council. “When North Korea has launched a missile, the Security Council in several instances have not been able to do anything, even in a press statement,” he said, referring to the lowest level of expression to emerge from Council meetings. “I have been raising this issue with member states: If you continue like this your authority will be challenged.”
An Asian had been UN secretary general only once before: the contemplative U Thant, a Burmese educator who, colleagues remember, began every day with 30 minutes of meditation. Ban is not infrequently, if wrongly, compared with U Thant, who held the office from 1961 to 1971. Is this racial profiling? They were, in fact, very different in important ways. Ban, a Korean Christian, built his career in a hierarchical political and diplomatic system that some call Confucian. U Thant was a Buddhist who specialized in communications and wanted the UN to be more open to the world.
Samir Sanbar, a retired former under secretary general and head of the department of public information, said in an interview that U Thant created the daily UN media briefing in spite of opposition from numerous governments. As late as the 1980s, Sanbar recalled, the General Assembly denied him as head of the department of public information the funds he needed to develop a UN website. “Even in the secretary general’s office they were afraid of giving too much information to the public. I said: ‘This is what our job is! We need to reach the public; we need the public to support us.’”
Ban did assemble noteworthy, credible independent panels to examine what had gone wrong—the most damning of which was the report in December 2015 on the sexual abuse allegations in the Central African Republic. That study, led by a former Canadian Supreme Court justice, Marie Deschamps, described an institution hobbled by secrecy, buck-passing, and general dysfunction.
Ban also began to make more pointed public statements. In February 2016, Ban wrote an opinion article in The New York Times calling Israeli policies in Palestinian lands “shortsighted or morally damaging,” which drew vitriolic criticism from Israeli leaders. In June 2016, he surprised everybody by saying publicly that Saudi Arabia had been scratched from a list of countries whose military kills and maims children—documented in many reports from Yemen—because the Saudis had threatened to withhold financial support for several UN missions.
Each new secretary general not only takes on a truly diverse, multicultural mandate but also brings with him (they have all been men so far) a distinct personal political, cultural, economic, and operational background. There have been others as reticent or seemingly uncommunicative as Ban.
In her book Lonely at the Top: What It’s Like to Be the UN Secretary-General, Lucia Mouat, a former UN bureau chief for the Christian Science Monitor, quotes Brian Urquhart, a legendary UN figure who worked early in his career with Dag Hammarskjold, the second secretary general, an aristocratic Swede who was killed in a plane crash while on a personal peace mission in Congo.
“He was a shy, quiet, awkward intellectual who was spectacularly bad at dealing with people,” Urquhart said of Hammarskjold. “But the most amazing thing about him was that you could go to Rio, New Delhi, or Cape Town and the taxi driver would have heard of him and have an astonishingly clear idea of what he was trying to do.”
American intellectuals seem to have lost interest in the UN, said Jeffrey Laurenti, who has analyzed the organization for the United Nations Association after the end of the Cold War (UNA-USA) and the Century Foundation. “It remains off the radar screen to which is was consigned two decades ago, when the Clinton administration soured on it in the Balkans,” he said in an interview. “It had a bit of a resurgence when Bush’s blunder in Iraq made it seem that maybe the UN was right. But I don’t see the UN now as the subject of serious academic research or interest.”
Jean Krasno, a political scientist who curated and published Annan’s official papers and will do the same for Ban, has seen the latest surge and then collapse of support for the UN in academia, due often to the influence of external factors beyond a secretary general’s control. An upward trend started after the end of the Cold War, when hopes were high. “For example, at Yale, United Nations studies was established in 1993-1994 with a huge grant from the Ford Foundation,” she said. “Foundations play a role in this, because if you can get grants to do things related to the UN, then academia is interested.”
By the mid-1990s, Krasno was teaching courses on the UN at Yale. She was also president from 1999 to 2003 of the Academic Council of the UN System (ACUNS), created in 1988 to encourage academic research. Then grants dwindled and disappeared. The rotating headquarters of ACUNS, after terms at Dartmouth, Brown, and Yale, migrated to Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and has never returned because no American campus offered to support it as generously. “Now nothing is being offered at Yale related to the UN.”
Krasno, now teaching at Columbia, says that a new generation of more cosmopolitan students is very interested in the UN, and are flocking to UN studies where they can be found.
Interest among young students of international affairs is a start. But the issues surrounding a revitalization of the UN both inside the organization and—probably more important—in the general public demands a very broad effort among multiple sectors if the institution and what it stands for will have anything to celebrate on its 75th anniversary in 2020.
First, the UN, where many member nations do not come from open societies, needs to revamp the Department of Public Information and appoint a professional media head as the under secretary general in charge. That position has most often been occupied by a political appointee; i.e., someone foisted on the secretary general by a government seeking a plum job for one of its citizens. This is grossly inadequate in a fast-changing media age.
Leading national and international media organizations are frequently in thrall to government officials and, over the decades since the UN’s founding, have stopped treating the UN as a valuable beat in its own right. This is unfortunate, given the wealth of talent and knowledge within the organization and the unique diplomatic corps based in New York, now the center of international diplomacy. Instead–and here I write from years of direct observation as UN bureau chief of The New York Times—when an American president comes to the UN, as Barack Obama will in a few weeks, a press corps of spoon-fed reporters come with him from Washington, and the result is inevitably a US, not UN, story. Ambassadors and even presidents from around the world are rudely ignored, and UN officials are pushed out of the way. Editors take their cues from the traveling pack.
* * *
There are many NGOs working with the UN in the world’s most dangerous and heartbreaking places. Their staff understand well what is possible and what is not when dealing with societies unlike those in the rich, industrial world. They are the realists (often regarded unfairly as cynics) and are effective in what they do. But their stories are rarely told. The UN could use its resources in public relations better to demonstrate to the American public, which knows little to nothing about the organization, how intertwined Americans are in the UN’s work. There are no strong, genuinely nationwide civic organizations doing this in the United States, to judge from community groups I have spoken to around the country—ordinary people who come out to hear the UN story, but come loaded with accusatory questions when a talk ends. As Krasno noted, it takes money to mount campaigns on behalf of the UN, and foundations as well as private donors appear to have lost interest.
In arms control and on a crucial issue like climate change, hard-working citizens groups have been very effective in martialing wide public support, and have succeeded in affecting international policy. Advocacy groups on important world issues are indispensable and a force for accountability and transparency when the UN is engaged in a cover-up. However, on progressive social issues advocates sometimes fuel strident opposition that can slow progress of local NGOs in cultures not able or ready to meet their demands. If these well-meaning, often legally based Western advocates, particular in women’s and LGBT rights, humanitarian responses and freedom of expression feel thwarted, they may blame the UN. Their support for the organization is lost.
Yet the UN itself has often advanced these rights, and met the same backlash from member nations, who accuse the organization of intrusions into their sovereignty or neocolonialism. The UN is not the only focus of criticism. It should be no surprise that numerous governments are closing the space for foundations and other NGOs in places as different as democratic India, or thinly veiled dictatorships like Cambodia. This is a situation that demands more attention from civil society everywhere.
In 2016, an unprecedented effort to bring nations together across divides and put the UN on the media map was led successfully by a dedicated president of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark. With only minor opposition to overcome, he created the first openly transparent election campaign for a new secretary general, with hearings and vision statements and meetings with reporters. Half the candidates nominated by their governments were women. The campaign got international attention, with public forums and a televised town-hall broadcast around the world by Al Jazeera. The UN has the interest and the tools to revitalize itself, Lykketoft told me in an interview. But, he said, the UN, its member nations and its supporters need to make better use of them.
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The UN has acknowledged its role in the cholera epidemic that began in Haiti in 2010. Through scientific evidence, the case was made that the particular strain of cholera present now in Haiti came from Nepal, presumably with Nepalese peacekeepers. The question remains: what could have been done to prevent this outbreak, and how can it be remedied now?
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.The UN’s Role in Haiti’s Cholera Crisis
Sim Shuzhen, Asian Scientist Magazine
September 19, 2016
Together, the epidemiological and DNA sequence evidence made a solid case that the outbreak was imported from Nepal. Besides the moral and legal implications this conclusion may have for the UN, it also drives home the importance of taking precautionary measures to prevent future outbreaks.
Another study found that conventional measures such as diagnostic testing of personnel from cholera-endemic areas, vaccination, and chemoprophylaxis—the preemptive use of drugs to prevent disease—would have dramatically reduced the chances of introducing cholera to Haiti. In particular, chemoprophylaxis would have cut the probability of the outbreak by 91 percent—at the cost of less than US$1 per peacekeeper.
Will things change?
Now that the UN has admitted to a degree of culpability, will things change?
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New Report: Biased international observers failed Haiti in 2015, neutrality and independence essential for upcoming October elections [Eng+Fr]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nicole Phillips, Esq., National Lawyers Guild Haiti Committee, Nicole@ijdh.org, +001 510 715 2855 (in U.S., speaks English and French)
New Report: Biased international observers failed Haiti in 2015, neutrality and independence essential for upcoming October elections
(NEW YORK, September 19, 2016) – As Haiti prepares for presidential and legislative elections on October 9, 2016, a new report by voting rights advocates charges that international observation efforts in previous rounds were a “monumental failure.” Despite clear evidence of fraud, violence and other irregularities during the August 9 and October 25, 2015 elections, international observers hailed the two rounds of voting as a successful exercise of democracy, the report shows. “The failure to uphold international standards for free and fair elections raises serious questions about the objectivity and independence of international observers,” said Nicole Phillips, a member of the National Lawyers Guild and one of the report’s authors.
The report, entitled Democracy Discouraged: International Observers and Haiti’s 2015 Elections, documents how the Organization of American States (OAS) and European Union (EU) electoral observation missions ignored reports of electoral problems from Haitian observers, journalists, two governmental commissions and, at times, even their own observers. “How is it possible that the OAS and EU observers did not see what everyone else did?” said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, based in Port-au-Prince, and a member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers’ governing Bureau. “Their unjustifiable endorsement of the 2015 elections has badly damaged international observers’ credibility in Haiti.”
Despite mounting evidence of fraud, OAS and EU observers persistently opposed calls from a broad spectrum of civil society within Haiti for an independent verification, and defended the election results. The international observers’ position closely mirrored that of the United States and other large donor nations, which used the flawed assessments of the OAS and EU to justify their opposition to verification, the report shows.
The apparent influence wielded by powerful states over electoral assessments raises doubts about the neutrality and independence of international observers, the report states. In May 2016, an independent commission confirmed that “massive fraud” had badly distorted the October 25 election’s outcome and ordered the presidential race rerun. In response, the U.S. government cut off election funding and EU observers withdrew in protest. The OAS mission has announced it will stay to observe the next round.
The report recommends that international observation missions report objectively and honestly on the electoral process, refrain from political interference, and incorporate the views of Haitian civil society observers into their evaluations of the upcoming October 9 vote. Shodona Kettle, Chair of the Haiti Support Group, states: “Our civil society partners are deeply concerned by the reluctance of international organisations to address serious allegations of fraud and irregularities during the elections. Rather than sweep this issue under the carpet, we urge the EU and OAS to acknowledge and respond to the contributions of local observers in the monitoring of elections in their country.”
The National Lawyers Guild and International Association of Democratic Lawyers’ November 2015 report calling for an independent investigation to address widespread allegations of fraud is available at https://www.nlg.org/news/releases/nlg-and-iadl-election-observers-establish-flaws-haitis-october-25-vote-call.
POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE
Contact: Nicole Phillips, Esq., National Lawyers Guild Haiti Committee, Nicole@ijdh.org,
+001 510 715 2855 (anglais, francais)
Bulletin d’Information : Préjugé des observateurs internationaux a échoué Haïti en 2015;
Neutralité et l’indépendance sont essentielles pour les prochaines élections d’Octobre
(NEW YORK, 19 septembre 2016) – Pendant qu’Haïti se prépare pour les élections présidentielles et législatives prévues pour le 9 octobre 2016, un nouveau rapport par les défenseurs des droits de vote conclut que les efforts internationaux d’observation dans les cycles précédents étaient un « échec monumental ». Malgré des preuves évidentes de fraude, de violence et d’autres irrégularités lors des élections du 9 août et 25 octobre 2015, les observateurs internationaux ont salué les deux tours de scrutin comme une opération réussie de la démocratie, indique le rapport. « L’incapacité de maintenir les normes internationales pour des élections libres et équitables pose de sérieuses doutes quant à l’objectivité et l’indépendance des observateurs internationaux » a déclaré Nicole Phillips, un membre du National Lawyers Guild et l’un des auteurs du rapport.
Le rapport, intitulé « Democracy Discouraged : International Observers and Haiti’s 2015 Elections » (Démocratie Découragée: Les observateurs Internationaux et les Élections 2015 Haïti), documente comment les missions d’observation électorales de l’Organisation des Etats Américains (OEA) et l’Union Européenne (UE) ont ignorées les problèmes électoraux rapportés par les observateurs Haïtiens, les journalistes, les deux commissions gouvernementales et, parfois, même leurs propres observateurs. « Comment est-il possible que les observateurs de l’OEA et de l’UE ne voient pas ce que tous les autres ont vu ? » a déclaré Mario Joseph, avocat du Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), basé à Port-au-Prince, et membre du conseil d’administration de l’Association Internationale des Juristes Démocrates. « Leur endossement injustifiable des élections de 2015 a gravement endommagé le crédibilité des observateurs internationaux en Haïti. »
Malgré les preuves croissantes de fraude, les observateurs de l’OEA et de l’UE ont constamment opposé des appels d’un large spectre de la société civile Haïtienne pour une vérification indépendante tandis qu’ils défendaient les résultats des élections. Selon le rapport, la position des observateurs internationaux ont étroitement reflété celle des États-Unis et autres pays donateur puissants, qui ont utilisé les évaluations erronées de l’OEA et l’UE pour justifier leur opposition à la vérification de vote.
L’influence apparente exercée par les états puissants sur les évaluations électorales soulève des doutes quant à la neutralité et l’indépendance des observateurs internationaux, le rapport indique. En Mai 2016, une commission indépendante a confirmé que « la fraude massive » avait grandement faussé les résultats des élections du 25 octobre et a ordonné la reprise des présidentielles. En réponse, le gouvernement américain a coupé leur financement des élections, et les observateurs de l’UE se sont retirés en signe de protestation. La mission de l’OEA a annoncé qu’elle va rester pour observer la prochaine ronde.
Le rapport recommande que les missions d’observation internationales rapportent objectivement et honnêtement sur le processus électoral, s’abstenir de toute ingérence politique, et d’intégrer les points de vue des observateurs de la société civile Haïtienne dans leurs évaluations des élections de 9 Octobre. Shodona Kettle, Président de Haiti Support Group, a déclaré: « nos partenaires de la société civile sont profondément préoccupés par la réticence des organisations internationales d’adresser les graves allégations de fraude et d’irrégularités lors des élections. Plutôt que de balayer cette question sous le tapis, nous demandons à l’Union Européenne et l’OEA de reconnaître et de répondre instamment à la contribution des observateurs locaux dans la surveillance des élections dans leur pays. »
Pour le rapport de National Lawyers Guild et Association Internationale des Juristes Démocrates daté de novembre 2015, visitez : https://www.nlg.org/news/releases/nlg-and-iadl-election-observers-establish-flaws-haitis-october-25-vote-call.
In this op-ed, famous actor and humanitarian Danny Glover tracks the progress Haiti has made towards democracy during the current, long-delayed election cycle. While voter participation has been declining in Haiti, Haitians took a stand against international interference in the elections that were originally scheduled in 2015. There was so much backlash against that election process that the results were discarded and it was rescheduled to October 9, 2016. Now, Haitians have a chance at truly electing their next leader and pushing for a more progressive government that responds to the needs of Haiti’s poor majority.
——–Haiti’s First Free Elections In Years Hold Promise Of Bold Progressive Change
Danny Glover, The World Post
September 19, 2016
The United States isn’t the only country in the midst of a drawn out election campaign marked by voter discontent and demands for bold, new policy directions that genuinely respond to the needs and aspirations of ordinary citizens. It is also election season in Haiti, and by the end of the year, both countries could elect their first ever female presidents, both of whom will face strong grassroots pressure to shift governance away from elites and take into account the interests of the majority.
Unfortunately, Washington has not always played a helpful role in Haitian democracy. Since Haiti’s first democratic elections in 1990, the U.S. has become more and more deeply embedded in Haiti’s political system, funding elections and judging their legitimacy, at times in a completely arbitrary fashion. But while international involvement has increased, Haitian citizens have become less politically proactive and less and less interested in going to the polls. By 2010, participation was just 20 percent, down from close to 80 percent in 2000.
In 2004, the U.S., Canada and France formed an alliance with members of the former Haitian military and the country’s economic elite to oust the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whisking him into exile aboard a U.S. government jet. While Aristide and his wife were prevented from returning to the country they hold dear, Haiti’s sovereignty was further eroded and his popular Fanmi Lavalas party blocked from participating in politics. United Nations troops, sent to consolidate the 2004 coup, remain there today. When a devastating earthquake struck in 2010, killing hundreds of thousands, Haiti’s government was almost entirely bypassed by an international reconstruction effort that gave more money to Beltway contractors than to any Haitian entity.
But the upcoming October 9 election represents an opportunity for Haitians to begin winning back the sovereignty that they fought so hard for more than 200 years ago.
In March 2011, I flew to South Africa, where President Aristide had lived for the previous seven years, to accompany him on his return to Haiti. Thousands of Haitians greeted their former leader, who told the crowd that the times of political exclusion were over, that what Haiti needed was true political inclusion. After five years, and despite ongoing political persecution, a burgeoning grassroots pro-democracy movement is finally succeeding in making good on that pledge.
Upon returning home, Aristide, who remains one of Haiti’s most popular political figures, kept a low profile, focusing on efforts to strengthen his university and foundation which has struggled for years to improve the lives of the vast majority, who have for so long been excluded from Haitian society. But the previous government, led by Michel Martelly, continued the decade long persecution of Haiti’s first democratically elected president. In 2014, old trumped up charges were dusted off and trotted out again. With legislative elections around the corner and as it was no longer feasible to keep Lavalas off the ballot, many believed the Haitian government was afraid of facing a strengthened opposition in free and fair elections. Aristide was placed under house arrest, despite it not being allowed under the Haitian constitution; and his government-provided security detail was withdrawn, putting him and his family at risk.
But the 2014 elections didn’t happen. Martelly, who himself owes his presidency to the intervention of the United States and its international allies in the 2010 election (which, again, excluded Lavalas), failed to hold scheduled elections during his first four years in office. In 2015, with the parliament no longer constitutionally functional due to the expiration of legislators’ terms, Martelly began ruling the country by decree. One can only imagine the reaction from the U.S. and others if this had happened under Aristide, or indeed any left government in the hemisphere.
When elections finally did take place, in late 2015, they were so plagued by fraud, violence and abuse that it led to the formation of a grassroots protest movement that advocated for a full investigation of the vote. Haitian election observers documented a “massive fraud” designed to benefit Martelly’s hand-picked successor, banana plantation owner Jovenel Moise. The U.S. and other international actors, however, simply wanted to move on — regardless of how undemocratic the election was.
The new group has a rallying cry: “Nou Pap Obeyi” (We Do Not Obey). Dissatisfied by a flawed election that saw the relatively unknown Moise come in first place in the initial round of the elections, many thousands of Haitians braved tear gas and batons and took to the streets, eventually succeeding in having the fraudulent elections canceled.
This was an unprecedented victory for democracy in Haiti, in the post-dictatorship era. An independent investigation, taking place under a caretaker government after Martelly’s term ended, confirmed what everyone knew — the vote had indeed been plagued by massive irregularities and so-called “zombie votes” that couldn’t be traced to any real person. By not simply obeying the dictates of the U.S. and its allies, the historic pro-democracy movement has given Haiti a second chance. New elections are scheduled for October 9.
No longer under the thumb of Martelly, Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party have begun campaigning in earnest on behalf of their presidential candidate, Dr. Maryse Narcisse, a medical doctor and longtime activist, who could be Haiti’s first woman president. Together, Aristide and Narcisse led a peaceful march through Port-au-Prince, followed by thousands of cheering supporters. They want a government that will restore dignity to the Haitian people, that will fight for the decent schooling and health care, and that can provide real hope for the millions who have been excluded for far too long.
For decades, Haiti has been tightly controlled by a small clique of economic elites (the .001 percent) and their international allies. Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Haiti’s poor majority, threatens to upend that dynamic. Fed up with the gains of Haiti’s pro-democracy movement, the U.S. has decided not to fund the upcoming elections. Good. Haiti’s democracy must be in the hands of Haitians. Haiti’s leaders need to inspire its people, to send a message that through political inclusion, active citizen participation and progressive policies, Haiti can indeed enact bold change in favor of the needy majority of its citizens. Many powerful interests are working to prevent this from taking place, but that’s why those fighting for a real democracy need our support so that their commitment to progressive change can be put to the test.
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September 20 will be the first televised debate between six hopefuls for Haitian president, including the lead candidates in the results that were dismissed: Jude Celestin, Moïse Jean-Charles, Jovenel Moise and Maryse Narcisse. The second live TV debate will be September 29 at 6pm, with moderators from Le Nouvelliste and Challenges Magazine.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti – Elections : 4 confirmed candidates at the presidential debate of the CCIO
September 19, 2016
After the success of the October 2015 debate, the private sector is mobilizing again to allow the public to know the position of presidential candidates, face the major problems of the country and particularly those in the economic and social field.
5 candidates, positioned leading in the polls and already in electoral campaignhave been invited by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry West (CCIO). 4 of them have responded present and wil debate to less than 10 days of the first round. Maryse Narcisse, however indicated that she will not be able to participate.
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BAI and Haitian cholera victims held a demonstration outside of the National Palace on Tuesday. They called on acting president Privert to include a call for justice for victims of UN-introduced cholera in his upcoming address to the General Assembly. Now that the UN has publicly admitted its role in introducing cholera, it is time for the Haitian government to publicly advocate for justice.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.President urged to demand cholera reparations at UN General Assembly
Samuel Maxime, Haiti Sentinel
September 16, 2016
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – Haitians held a sit-in protest outside of the National Palace, Tuesday, the occasion of the opening of the 71st United Nations General Assembly, to demand their president call for damages from the UN for its role in the cholera outbreak during his speech to the body.
Following years of denial, in the face of countless research and investigations, the UN finally admitted its role in causing the epidemic that has killed more than 10,000. For this reason, victims and citizens believe nothing should hold back the State from finally acting on their behalf.
. . .
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BAI’s Mario Joseph, along with about 100 cholera victims, protested in front of Haiti’s presidential palace this week. They asked the Haitian government to speak in favor of justice for Haiti’s cholera victims, especially now that the United Nations has finally admitted its involvement in the epidemic. Many believe the Haitian government has been afraid to speak out in the past because of its reliance on Haiti’s UN force, MINUSTAH.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti cholera victims protest against UN
September 13, 2016
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) — Around 100 Haitian cholera victims protested Monday in front of the presidential palace demanding that the Government obtain damages from the United Nations, whose peacekeepers are blamed for the epidemic.
“We are here so that (interim president) Jocelerme Privert finally takes the victims’ side during the UN General Assembly next week,” said Mario Joseph, a lawyer representing several people who contracted the disease.
In mid-August, nearly six years after the epidemic first spread in this impoverished island nation, the United Nations recognized that it had a “moral responsibility” toward the victims and promised material aid.
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As the UN began a cholera epidemic in Haiti almost six years ago, many may not realize that it is still a major problem. Recent reports show that 96% of cholera cases in the Americas are in Haiti. The rates of cholera death and infection have also been higher in 2016 than in the same time period in 2014 and 2015. Much work needs to be done to slow and end the epidemic.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti – Health : 96% of all cases of cholera in the Americas Region are in Haiti
September 13, 2016
For the first 34 weeks of 2016, a total of 27,839 cholera cases were reported in three countries of the Americas: the Dominican Republic (1,039), Ecuador (For isolated cases of cholera), and Haiti (26,799), which alone accounts for 96% of all cholera cases reported in the Region of the Americas up to EW 33 of 2016.
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