OAS Assistant Secretary General sees Haiti as a country with opportunities
WASHINGTON, USA — Speaking in Washington at a high-level conference on Haiti organized by the United States Institute of Peace, OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin advocated for a more positive characterization of Haiti, and called for a shift in the way people see this country. “The negative and often incorrect stereotype of Haiti is something that needs to be changed. Despite many challenges, I look at Haiti as a country with opportunities, as a country with a future, where things are possible, and where good relations can be established within society.”
OAS Assistant Secretary
General Albert Ramdin
Ramdin emphasized that Haiti cannot depend on foreign aid and assistance to develop its capacity, and that it is the responsibility of the Haitian government and people to take ownership of the nation’s development process.
Discussing present and future perspectives on Haiti’s economic recovery, Ramdin observed that Haiti needs the international donor community as a partner to assist in the process of recovering and reconstruction but noted that “aid provided by the international community should be based on the priorities and the needs of the Haitian people and in consultation with the Haitian government.
Haiti’s decision to put its own priorities and needs together in a National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction Plan provides a useful reference for donors.
The OAS Assistant Secretary General underscored the importance of a higher level of civil society engagement in the political process and applauded the relative political stability that has prevailed as a result of the inclusive approach of President Préval as well as the improved relationship between the executive and the legislative bodies.
According to Ambassador Ramdin, Haiti’s improved political environment, stronger commitment and solidarity from many Latin American countries and an improvement in the security environment with the help of MINUSTAH and the increased presence of the national police have improved citizen safety.
Ramdin suggested that efforts should be made to maintain current political momentum, especially in the context of the 2010 presidential elections. He also recommended keeping focused attention on Haiti through high level visits and highlighting issues of education, health, job creation, environmental sustainability, investment, institution strengthening and capacity building.
During the recent Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago at which the Heads of Government of 34 countries discussed international support for Haiti, the OAS was mandated to coordinate inter-American programming to support Haiti’s development. The issue will be further advanced during the OAS General Assembly, June 2-3, in San Pedro de Sula, Honduras.
Other experts who participated in the event panel included: David Harland, Chief, UN Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit, Department of Peacekeeping Operations; Dora Currea, General Manager, Country Department Caribbean of the Inter-American Development Bank; Deborah Kennedy-Iraheta, USAID Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean; and Robert Perito, Director of the Haiti Working Group at the US Institute of Peace.