The international community should not focus solely on Haiti’s physical infrastructure and its government institutions as it convenes for the March 31 donor conference in New York. Michel Forst, a United Nations expert on Haiti reminds donors to also pay attention to the rights of the country’s citizens. The U.N. Human Rights Council said in a news release that excluding rights from Wednesday’s conference would recreate the conditions that made the earthquake very devastating.
“The hand of man played a major role in this disaster, most obviously in the policies and poor governance that had led to so many Haitians living for so long in a state of poverty in inadequate housing,” Forst noted, explaining that stakeholders in Haiti’s reconstruction should avoid recreating the rampant inequality and extreme poverty that plagued the country before the earthquake.
“Generous assistance from the international community is clearly indispensible,” Forst added. “However, the plans and strategies that are developed need to be driven by the needs and rights of ordinary Haitians all across the country, rather than imposed according to some external model. Donors need to promote the access of Haitians to social, cultural and economic rights, as well as civil and political rights.”