Recent Feature Articles

By Rosa Freedman & Nicolas Lemay-Hémert, The Conversation, April 26, 2016

What happens when a humanitarian organisation meant to protect people instead causes them grave harm? That has long been the question where it comes to the UN’s peacekeeping operations. From sexual violence to looting, from deaths caused by drink-driving to property damage, a great many individuals have been harmed by peacekeepers, and the structures to provide protection and remedy range from threadbare to non-existent.

But it’s another thing altogether when the harm done is attributable not to individual peacekeepers, but to UN operations in general. Two of the gravest examples of this have occurred in recent years: the Haiti cholera epidemic, and the poisoning of Roma in displaced persons camps in Kosovo.

For years, there have been fights to secure justice for both sets of victims. But while Haiti’s struggle goes on, in the Kosovan case, it looks like a major breakthrough has been made.

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, April 23, 2016

Once more, Haiti is missing an election deadline Sunday — and will not have an elected president in office by May 14, the date stipulated in a Feb. 5 political accord to transfer power from the country’s current caretaker government to an elected one.

According to the political accord, Haiti’s 5.8 million voters should be heading to the ballot box. But a weeks-long political battle over the formation of the interim government, the late seating of a new elections body and the calls for a vote recount led to no official scheduling of the date by the Provisional Electoral Council, and no presidential decree officially calling voters to the polls.

“Today for the elections to happen you have to ask ‘Do the conditions exist?’ ” provisional President Jocelerme Privert told the Miami Herald during a visit to the United Nations where Haiti was among 175 countries Friday that signed the Paris climate agreement. He expects an elections calendar to be published by the end of May, he said.

By Mario Hernandez & Camille Chalmers, Libya 360, April 12, 2016

Mario Hernandes interviews Camille Chalmers. 

M.H.: Communication in Montevideo with the Haitian Human Rights activist, Camille Chalmers. I would like to know your comments on your country’s situation and what are your reasons for the visit to the Eastern Republic of Uruguay.

C.Ch.: We are going through a very difficult time in Haiti as a result of 12 years of occupation by the MINUSTAH forces, allegedly to maintain peace that has had a large negative effect.In this situation we are in the midst of an electoral crisis that led to popular movements of protest in Haiti against attempts to manipulate the election and block expression of a popular vote.

There have been two elections in 2015; the last on October 9 in which there was a democratic majority and reports and evaluations revealed they were totally fraudulent with gross manipulation, including cartoons of a ballot with only one candidate. This was because the second place winner refused to present himself considering it a total farce.

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), April 14, 2016

Interim President Jocelerme Privert has announced his intention to move forward with the creation of an electoral verification commission. But the commission faces significant pushback from both international actors who provide the bulk of the funding for Haiti’s elections and Haitian politicians connected to former president Michel Martelly.

Responding to the “unanimous expression” of civil society and political leaders, Privert declared on Monday that a new round of consultations would be held this week, aimed at establishing common terms of reference and identifying potential members for a verification commission. The body, which has yet to be formally organized, would be tasked with reviewing previous election results and electoral court decisions before moving forward with the as-yet-unfinished electoral process. A verification process is necessary, Privert said, to establish confidence and encourage “players to trust the [electoral council] and to participate in the upcoming elections.”

By Ed Pilkington & Joe Sandler Clarke, The Guardian, April 14, 2016

The devastating Haiti cholera epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives and will cost more than $2bn to eradicate could have been prevented if the United Nations had used a basic health kit for a total of less than $2,000, scientists have found.

A team of Yale epidemiologists and lawyers has looked at how the cholera bacterium was introduced to Haiti by United Nations peacekeepers relocated there in the aftermath of its 2010 earthquake. Yale’s startling finding is that simple screening tests costing $2.54 each, combined with preventive antibiotics at less than $1 per peacekeeper, could have avoided one of the worst outbreaks of the deadly disease in modern history.

The Yale experts warn that the catastrophe in Haiti could be repeated as the UN appears to have failed to learn the lessons of its lack of preventive screening of peacekeepers. Some 150,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed from cholera-endemic countries each year but there is still no routine procedure to ensure they are free of the infection before being moved.

By Javiera Alarcon, Foreign Policy in Focus, April 4, 2016

They called it the Parsley Massacre.

Directed by the ruthless Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, soldiers rounded up thousands of people along the Dominican Republic’s borderlands with Haiti, demanding that they identify a sprig of parsley. The story goes that when French- and Creole-speaking Haitians failed to mimic the Spanish pronunciation, perejil, they were murdered. Estimates of the number killed range as high as 20,000 to 30,000.

The 1937 massacre is a haunting flashpoint in a long tradition of anti-Haitian politics — anti-haitanismo — on the eastern half of the island shared by the two countries. Now there’s a different kind of test for Dominicans of Haitian descent. And the price for failure is deportation.

By The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), April 7, 2016

Haitian-American diaspora organizations and 32 political, religious and community leaders wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry today calling on the U.S. to support an inquiry into electoral fraud during the 2015 elections in Haiti. American officials have staunchly opposed the establishment of a verification commission to examine fraud allegations, a stance which has “undermined democracy while harming the United States’ credibility in Haiti,” according to the letter.

Haiti’s electoral process has been stalled since January 22 when massive street protests forced the suspension of the vote. After singer-turned-politician Michel Martelly stepped down as president on February 7, a transitional government was put in place and a new electoral council formed, tasked with restarting the democratic process. The creation of a verification commission is currently under consideration by the interim authorities.

By Kim Ives, Jacobin Magazine, April 11, 2016

Haiti is no stranger to political crises — and it is in the midst of its most severe one in decades.

The latest upheaval, which looks set to last many months, began in January 2016, when massive demonstrations aborted the final round of patently fraudulent, US-sponsored elections. An unelected interim government stepped in to try to reestablish an elected and constitutional regime, but it’s still too early to know if the outcome will be revolutionary or a further tightening of US imperialism’s chokehold on the country.

Although Haitian progressive forces are splintered and weakened after twelve years of foreign military occupation and internal turmoil, the shifting social and economic terrain in Latin America and the United States may offer the Haitian people an opportunity for change.

By Yves Pierre-Louis & Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, April 6, 2016

After installing a new government led by Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles, Haiti’s interim president Jocelerme Privert has now passed a second hurdle: setting up another Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) on Mar. 30, 2016. This is the sixth CEP formed in the past four years.

The new CEP has as its president Léopold Berlanger, formally the representative of the National Association of Haitian Media (ANMH) and the Association of Haiti’s Independent Media (AMIH). Berlanger is also the informal representative of Haiti’s bourgeoisie and the so-called “Core Group,” the ambassadors who follow U.S. leadership in Haiti.

By Joe Sandler Clarke & Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, April 5, 2016

The United Nations uncovered serious sanitation failures in its Haiti peacekeeping mission just a month after a deadly cholera outbreak erupted in the country, killing thousands, a leaked report has revealed.

The UN has consistently refused to accept that it is responsible for compensating victims of the disaster. But the report, which was commissioned a month into the cholera crisis in November 2010, found a series of alarming problems in several UN peacekeeping bases including sewage being dumped in the open as well as a lack of toilets and soap.

The authors of the review alerted the UN leadership that the failure to dispose of sewage safely at a time when the cholera epidemic was raging “will potentially damage the reputation of the mission”.