The Foreign Service Journal, November 2006

living abroad totaled more than one billion dollars, or a quarter of Haiti’s GDP. Haitian-Americans form a dis- tinctive and increasingly active political force in many U.S. communities, particularly in Florida and New York. This community represents a ready reserve of needed skills and financial resources that has never been fully tapped. Successful Haitians such as businessman Dumas Simeus, CEO of Simeus Foods International, are involved in their homeland through charity organizations, medical missions and village improvement projects. Such efforts do little, however, to raise national living standards, create permanent jobs or improve the economy. Currently, legal red tape and bureaucratic inefficiency discourage invest- ments by expatriates. Haiti’s newly-convened Parliament should make it a priority to update and streamline laws governing foreign involvement and the creation of new businesses. For his part, Pres. Préval should encourage overseas Haitians to return home by simplifying adminis- trative procedures for travel and investment. Moment of Opportunity The success of Haiti’s new government is of vital importance to the United States. Given its location, Haiti remains a potential source of mass, unregulated migra- tion. A repeat of the “boat people” crisis of the 1970s is possible if conditions deteriorate. In addition, Haiti re- mains an important conduit for the flow of narcotics into the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administra- tion estimates that 10 to 15 percent of cocaine entering the U.S. transits Haiti. Finally, Haiti is a potential source of public health problems, as demonstrated by the previ- ous experience with HIV/AIDS. Haiti is also important to the United Nations. The country has become a poster child for the failure of international interventions in crisis states. This is due largely to the revolving-door nature of U.N. missions and the fecklessness of multilateral involvement in the past decade. In March 1996, the U.S.-led Multinational Force handed off to the first U.N. Mission in Haiti; it was an extremely well-prepared and seamless transition that should have been the model for subsequent U.N. involvement. Instead, UNMIH (1994-1996) handed off to a “revolving door” of follow-on peacekeeping mis- sions: the U.N. Support Mission in Haiti (1996-1997); the U.N. Transition Mission in Haiti (1997); the U.N. Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (1997-2000); and, final- ly, the current International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti. With each new mission, the U.N. peace- keeping force actually became smaller and its influ- ence waned. The last U.N. mission in this series, the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti, was authorized by the General Assembly (not the Security Council) in March 2000 to avoid Russian and Chinese vetoes. MICAH’s mandate was to “consolidate progress” already made in developing the Haitian National Police and in promoting respect for human rights. It was authorized to field 36 U.N. police officers; but five months into the mission, only three had arrived. At the time, Haiti was at the beginning of the power struggle over the results of the May 2000 parliamentary and local elections that would eventually doom Pres. Aristide’s second term. As the country headed toward political crisis, the U.N. mission was reduced to irrelevancy. With the installation of Haiti’s new government, a turn- ing point has been reached which the U.S. and the inter- national community cannot afford to ignore. The lessons learned during previous episodes of international inter- vention should be recalled and applied. • Above all, international assistance should be coher- ent, consistent and implemented through the Haitian gov- ernment. Circumventing it by channeling international assistance through nongovernmental organizations will be counterproductive. Haitian ministries must be engaged and held accountable. There is no other way to create sus- tainable administrative capacity. • International assistance must be provided for the long term. Another attempt to execute an “exit strategy” of quick fixes to chronic problems will be self-defeating. Toward this end, Canada has proposed an assistance pack- age extending over five years. Other donors have similar- ly indicated an intention to remain engaged for the fore- seeable future. • Finally, as the largest donor, the U.S. must take the lead in improving the capacity of the Haitian government to provide effective governance and ensure the rule of law. Such programs must result in the creation of a civil service that can plan, budget and implement effective programs. The U.S. must also help create a police force, courts and prisons that perform in a manner consistent with internationally recognized human rights and judi- cial standards. Nothing is more important than finally providing justice to Haiti. F O C U S 50 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 6