As we give from our own pockets and encourage our government to fund relief and reconstruction in earthquake-devastated Haiti, we can’t let skepticism about the past success of aid efforts dissuade us from responding. But at the same time, we can’t ignore real concerns. Groups involved in human rights and health related work in Haiti issued a call for Haiti relief and reconstruction efforts to respect the following principles:
- Respect human rights and follow the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement at all stages of planning, implementation, and evaluation of humanitarian assistance;
- Adopt a rights-based approach, ensuring the goals of transparency, accountability, capacity development, participation, and non-discrimination; and
- Incorporate long-term planning and ensure all assistance is coordinated with the government of Haiti, focusing on building a stronger Haiti with a government able to guarantee human rights to all Haitian people.
These principles, issued in a statement by the Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, TransAfrica Forum, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice/NYU School of Law, the Center for Cosntitutional Rights, and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, offer a good starting point.
“There is no doubt that Haiti’s hungry, thirsty, injured, and sick urgently need all the
assistance the international community can provide, but it is critical that the underlying
goal of improving human rights drives the distribution of every dollar of aid given to
Haiti,” said Loune Viaud, Director of Strategic Planning and Operations at Zanmi
Lasante. “The only way to avoid escalation of this crisis is for international aid to take a
long-term view and strive to rebuild a stronger Haiti—one that includes a government
that can ensure the basic human rights of all Haitians and a nation that is empowered to
demand those rights.”
As we call for generous support for both private and U.S. government relief and reconstruction, we’ll be urging adherence to these principles.