We salute those Civil Society Representatives from CARICOM states who met at the Pan African Commission on Saturday March 20, 2004, to consider the question of what can be done to help Haiti and seek to identify with this effort in principle.
For some reason not totally unknown, we have been led to believe that we should fight unrest with military or police force. Of course, the world?s policeman did not hesitate to fulfil its role to send in the troops.
However, the kind of force that Haiti needs is not even a peace-keeping force, but a team of resource persons made up of senior administrators and experienced civil society leaders who should be put at the disposal of the Haitian Government for about ten years.
A body of two Permanent Secretaries and two or three Civil Society representatives from each state to make up a team of resource persons, sponsored collectively by the CARICOM States is all the force that Haiti wants now.
Their mission: To bring some semblance of hope to the people of Haiti by developing social programmes and systems of governance, accountability and transparency to ensure that Haitians enjoy maximum benefits from financial and other contributions which are being pledged to the development of Haiti. Haitians do not need military assistance, they need developmental assistance.
One can argue that the level of frustration and helplessness which the Haitian masses experience keep them in a permanent state of volatility. The Haitian people are not terrorists, there are fighting for survival. Therefore bouts of violence represent the symptoms and not the disease itself.
What is the disease? ?Bad Governance?! It is the failure of Government to address the developmental needs of Haiti. The choice of the new Prime Minister, Mr. Gerard Latortue, a UN technocrat, suggests that Haiti is crying out, not simply for a leader, but for hope that through good governance and management, better times will come for the people.
Haiti is lacking the governance to deliver such programmes as compulsory education for all children up to secondary school including a school meals programme; free health care; timely delivery of social services; physical infrastructural development including a road system and access to transport and utilities.
When we take a serious look at the meaning of ?good governance? Haiti is on the extreme end of the spectrum, but it is a reminder to politicians, civil servants and all those in whom power and authority is vested, of the importance of understanding that power and authority is derived from the people, for the people.
Power and authority is about regulation and co-ordination of people as much as it is about enforcement of laws. Further, underlying the exercise of power and authority is the spirit of democracy and freedom which informs the meaning of the constitutional provision that, laws shall be made for the ?good governance? of the people; rather than for ?Lording? over the people.
(Submitted by the Barbados association of Non-Govermental Organisations.)