Originally: Findings and Recommendations, Mission 2
(Commission organized by the International Republican Institute but includes prominent Democrats as well.)
The Haiti International Assessment Committee [i] undertook its second mission to Haiti November 11-13, 2005. The second of four missions, [ii] this trip focused on examining the infrastructure and institutional challenges a newly-elected Haitian government will confront. Building upon an earlier finding that ?the international community is undermining its own chances of success by failing to expend some energy on a mid-term, post-election package of goals,? the Haiti International Assessment Committee (HIAC) reaffirmed the need for support and specific recommendations to achieve this goal.
A. MISSION SEQUENCE
HIAC realized its objective in a series of meetings in Cap Haitien and Jacmel, two important urban areas. In various discussions throughout Cap Haitien, the largest community in northern Haiti, the committee met with the mayor, the departmental delegate, religious leaders and business leaders about their regional priorities. The committee members also visited the departmental election bureau (BED) to discuss election logistics with its director and regional representatives of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, (MINUSTAH).
On the southern coast in Jacmel, the committee visited local initiatives sponsored by the international community, including a women?s food and crafts cooperative and a community radio station. The members also interacted with local officials and community representatives, including the mayor, departmental delegate, BED director and business leaders. To compliment discussions with current officials, the committee discussed the state of political campaigns with several women and youth candidates running for the national assembly.
The committee concluded its mission in Port-au-Prince, where members discussed the state of the elections and post-electoral priorities with the Canadian and American Ambassadors, ministers of the interim government, senior-level representatives of the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), officials of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and various Haitian community leaders.
In each city, committee members briefed and answered questions from local and western press.
From its second mission to Haiti, HIAC draws the following set of observations and areas of recommended action:
B. FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS
The Haiti International Assessment Committee noted significant progress in election preparations between its first and second missions. The recent appointment of a Director-General to oversee the Provisional Election Council (CEP) has produced important results, including the release of presidential and legislative candidate lists and election dates, [iii] and the beginnings of a regular information exchange between the CEP and the Haitian electorate.
However, significant problems still exist. Local election offices frequently do not have any resources, including chairs and desks. There is a marked lack of communication between the central election office in Port-au-Prince and its local and regional offices. In addition, the identification cards that permit Haitians to vote may not all be produced in sufficient numbers or disbursed in time for the elections. Rather, the card that was promoted by the international community and the CEP as a prerequisite to vote will not make it into the hands of a portion of the electorate. Reliable sources estimate that this could affect as much as 15 percent of the electorate.
Recommendation: With most decisions related to the elections complete, the international community [iv] must now work to encourage the existing national CEP structure to better coordinate the acquisition and distribution of resources to its regional elections offices and local voting sites. In addition, the international community should help facilitate the communication of a clear election procedure to local voting sites. Without better technical and managerial coordination between national and local officials, it is unlikely that trouble-free elections can be administered.
Election officials must also undertake a widespread radio civic education campaign to clarify where, when and how eligible Haitians should vote. To increase voter turnout and the legitimacy of the election results, voters must be encouraged to participate in the elections. The potential absence of ID cards for some voters must be explained, and the remedy made clear. Election workers as well as polling observers will have to be sensitized to these additional procedures. The CEP will also do well to communicate more effectively with the political party community so as to avoid confusion on Election Day and contested results in its aftermath.
The upcoming elections mark a critical moment in Haiti?s history. For this reason, the international community has focused the majority of its resources on election preparations. However, now is also the time to focus attention on continued foreign assistance after the elections.
Lacking a firm international commitment, any new government will be ill-prepared to address the country?s critical economic, institutional and infrastructural needs. Failures by a new government in these arenas will seriously jeopardize democratic gains made during the course of the elections. This problem may be further exacerbated if the elected president or parliament does not enjoy widespread support among Haitians.
Recommendation: The committee?s initial observations suggest a focus anchored by three targeted areas of activity. In later statements, the committee intends to identify several other priority areas of attention. The immediate priorities of a new government, and short-term, targeted attention of the international community, should include infrastructural development, institutional support and decentralization.
I. Infrastructure Development
Haiti?s broken-down infrastructure discourages trade, economic growth, and the promotion of jobs and industry. A new government must repair key infrastructures and these priorities should be a focus of international support.
Among more ambitious long-term projects, a new government must target short-term ?democratic deliveries? that can quickly improve the average Haitian?s quality of life, simultaneously reaffirming citizens? support for the new democratic government. Democratic deliveries might include:
· Penetration roads to improve inter-country commerce and facilitate inter-city travel;
· Port improvements, including reigning in corrupt port authorities, to increase trade capacity;
· Electricity cooperatives and restoration of the electric grid;
· Local projects to improve hygiene standards, including regular garbage collection and increasing the availability of potable water; and
· Vocational/skills/apprenticeship training for Haitian workers in conjunction with these projects. [v]
II. Institution Building
Haiti?s few remaining institutions are weak. In particular, the shortcomings of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) have been made abundantly clear in the course of election preparations. Infighting, miscommunication, slow decision making, and a lack of a clear leadership structure have caused problems and delays.
The role of a Permanent Electoral Council (CEP) is clearly outlined in Articles 191 through 199 of Haiti?s 1987 constitution. The CEP is intended to be a permanent, rather than provisional, body. However, the CEP has been dissolved and reincarnated in its provisional form multiple times since 1987.
· To establish continuity between election cycles and to avoid the repeated involvement of the international community in Haiti?s elections, the CEP should be made permanent and should abide by the regulations set forth in the Constitution. This implies instilling within the CEP the capacity for long-term and non-partisan professional and technical management. The international community should be prepared to continue supporting the CEP both financially and technically after the upcoming election.
Port-au-Prince’s overwhelming pull in all sectors of national life robs resources from the rest of the country. It also redirects political dynamics to the capital city, draining from the rest of the country a sense of empowerment. Mayors and departmental delegates have little autonomy from Port-au-Prince and are frustrated that they cannot better serve their constituents given the government?s centralized decision-making apparatus.
Local governments should be given sufficient authority and funding to manage their communities, and in turn, be accountable to their local electorate. Local officials currently have insufficient capital to sustain social services like garbage collection, road maintenance and education. Only a small percentage of the taxes intended for regional projects are re-distributed to the governments of the communities in which they were collected. Yet, the north’s key city of Cap Haitien, or rough equivalents in the south (Les Cayes) represent significant poles of economic activity and political momentum. Supporting regional poles of socio-economic development also would begin to redirect the demographic and migration trends, which currently creates a near-unmanageable environment in Port-au-Prince. International funding institutions should play an important role in better administering and allocating assistance resources on a departmental basis.
· What the Haitian interim government characterizes as a policy of ?decentralization? should be translated quickly into a targeted, feasible, and manageable initiative to better distribute authority and funds throughout the Haitian state. In addition, with hundreds of individuals poised to assume local and municipal roles in the next government, it is critical that newly elected officials receive governance training. The international community should play an active role in this regard. Success in this arena would have a ripple effect to other rural towns and communities.
These three priorities are among additional issues requiring immediate attention by the new Haitian government and the international community. They include improving security, reducing corruption, reforming the judicial system, and increasing governance standards. HIAC will further address these questions in its next mission statement.
For further program information about HIAC, please contact Lindsay Arnold, Haiti Program, International Republican Institute (email@example.com) [202 572-1577], or for media requests, Lisa Gates, press secretary, IRI (firstname.lastname@example.org) [202 572-1546].
[i] Members include former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), former Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY), former Canadian Minister of External Affairs Barbara McDougall, and former Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States Ambassador Christopher Thomas. Ambassador Christopher Thomas did not travel on the second mission. The strategic objectives of HIAC are two-fold: first, to indicate through its bipartisan and international composition and its schedule of repeated missions, a commitment by the international community to Haiti?s long-term democratization process. Second, HIAC constitutes an expert committee with outreach capabilities to key actors in Haiti and in the hemisphere. Its members will provide support, offer assessments, highlight issues and express concerns if necessary.
[ii] The committee?s first mission took place July 23-24, 2005. A third mission will likely take place in January 2006, with a fourth mission to take place following the inauguration of a new government.
[iii] At the time of the mission, Haitian presidential and legislative elections were scheduled to take place on December 27, 2005 with a runoff on January 31, 2006. Elections have since been further delayed until January 8 (presidential and parliamentary elections), February 15 (run-off elections) and March 5 (local and municipal elections). The inauguration is currently scheduled to take place on February 24, before the last round of elections.
[iv] The U.N. and OAS both have dedicated elections teams on the ground.
[v] The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was previously engaged in infrastructure building in Haiti. A similar effort that couples projects with apprenticeship or vocational training would help develop a skilled Haitian workforce.