From: Bob Corbett
Date: Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 1:58 PM
Subject: 35006: Morse (comment) Rules of Engagement (fwd)
To: Bob Corbett's Haiti list
Photo by John Carroll
I'm trying to get a better understanding of why the United Nations could keep so silent about the fraud during Haiti's April Senatorial elections and the June runoffs and my mind keeps drifting back to Rwanda and the genocide which saw the killing of 1,000,000 people, all under the watchful eye of the UN. That's right the UN witnessed the killing of one million people and yet, did nothing. Why? It's a standard phrase that comes up during interventions and occupations: "Rules of Engagement". The UN is invited by a host country and the "rules of engagement" are determined with the host country. In Rwanda the genocide was seen as an "internal political conflict" and under the "Rules Of Engagement", the UN was not permitted to "Engage". One million people died and the UN did nothing. I can't stress this enough.
I don't want to put the deaths of one million people on the same scale as senatorial election fraud but perhaps these failures by the UN have similar starting points. Perhaps there is an intrinsic weakness in the UN intervention process that leads to failure.
In Haiti there are a couple of things to consider:
1) The UN is here at the "invitation" of the Haitian government, so the UN doesn't want to embarrass "the hand that invites them".
A successful UN mission may mean
Brazil's becoming a part of the UN Security Council. The Brazilians may not want to open a can of worms by criticizing the hand that is so tied to their future; the "hand" that could potentially get them membership to the UN Security Council.
A conflict with the Haitian government could mean the end of the UN mission. If the invitation to the UN is withdrawn, a lot of UN jobs and careers will be sidetracked; the UN mission will be seen as a failure. What will happen to all those resumes (curriculum viteas)? What will happen to Brazil's standing with the UN Security Council and with the international community?
2) If things are perceived as "moving along nicely", then the UN, the UN Special Envoy along with all UN employees will be seen as having had a successful diplomatic intervention; more jobs for all. A "cover up" or "spin" is not the same as making things better but some at the UN may see spin and cover up as necessary evils; an alternate political truth or reality at the expense of the Haitian people.
Unfortunately, the UN seems to have become blinded by some of it's earlier successes. Overseeing the 2006 Presidential elections and the ensuing political calm has given the UN in Haiti the false impression that they can do no wrong in this impoverished nation. The impression that the UN is "so smart, they can get away with anything" is not the impression
to have when dealing with a country like Haiti. Haiti's population is so politically astute that in the long run, they'll make the UN pay for it's miscalculations.
The very thing wanted by ruling authorities in Haiti (factory investment), will be the very thing they're not going to get. Who wants to invest in a volatile country where workers are demonstrating in front of factories; where factory owners are going to embassies for protection; where the very family visited by the US Secretary of State was seen going to the Spanish embassy for protection after a particularly aggressive demonstration? A US embassy car was even attacked last week.
This isn't an investment climate. It could be an investment climate, but the current decision making process is leading us away from political calm.
Issues that have to be addressed and investigated for Haiti to get on track:
1) The election fraud of April and June. When I say the election fraud has to be addressed, I mean those implicated in the execution of the fraud as well as those involved in the cover up. Haitian Presidential elections are coming up next year and if this election process isn't put back on track immediately, we're all in for a long bumpy ride.
2) Economic development for the rural sector has to be initiated rather than si
mply bringing more factories to Port au Prince. Haiti's cities cannot support an influx of people coming in from the provinces looking for work. The infrastructure in Haiti's cities cannot absorb the people already living there; why attract tens of thousands more people now?
3) Why do St Mark and Gonaives still have sub human living conditions? What happened to all the money that has been allocated to these regions since 2004? Since 2004 at least five hurricanes (four in one month) have decimated the region.
We have to find out what's happening to the aid and why the intended recipients aren't getting it. Is it "local politics" or is it "corruption" that keeps these cities in their current states.
I've recently been to Gonaives and St Mark and I don't see how the UN can keep quiet about the current living conditions.
In conclusion, I have to say that things are deteriorating in Haiti right now and the signs tell us that they're going to get worse before they get better and the reason for this is not the Haitian people but the collective leadership of local decision makers along with the international community. It's time to make some significant changes; now.