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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

HAITI INTERIM RECONSTRUCTION COMMISSION: HAITIAN MEMBERS EXPRESS OUTRAGE WITH FOREIGN COUNTERPARTS by Stanley Lucas





After the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, the international community worked with the Haitian Government to establish an interim reconstruction commission, the IHRC, to manage the disbursement of international aid in Haiti.  The IHRC is co-led by former President Bill Clinton, the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, and Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive.  They pushed through the creation of that commission in such a way that allows them to bypass the Haitian Parliament and all other Haitian institutions that provide checks and balances to the allocation of aid and funds for a period of 18 months.  Essentially, the IHRC sits above the Haitian state and has carte blanche to proceed however they want.

When the IHRC was established, most Haitians were critical of the structure because it essentially gave the foreign actors full control putting aside the Haitian Government, Haitian actors and Diaspora, and actually violated Haiti’s Constitution. See:
1. http://solutionshaiti.blogspot.com/2010/06/haiti-interim-reconstruction-commission.html
2.  http://solutionshaiti.blogspot.com/2010/03/haitian-free-rebuilding-plan-continued.html

Almost a year later, the 12 Haitian members of the IHRC are expressing frustration and outrage with the awarding of contracts and projects to foreign actors.  The projects do not meet the needs of the country and are not strategic.  Further, the process has excluded Haitian companies, government institutions and the Diaspora missing a critical opportunity to build capacity and economic opportunity in the Haitian community.  President Preval has largely used the IHRC as a political tool believing that awarding no bid contracts will buy him support for his electoral coup and attempts to maintain power.

Overall, the rebuilding efforts have been progressing at an unimaginably slow pace.  Still 1.7 million people are living in 1,370 makeshift camps without regular access to basic services, food or water.  This is in spite of historic private and official donations to recovery and rebuilding.  The American people gave $1.2 billion in private donations, and the American government gave approximately $2.9 billion.  Of that, $1.2 billion was used by the US military in the aftermath of the earthquake to deploy troops for security, search and rescue, and immediate medical aid through the USS Comfort.  Another $1.15 billion was approved by Congress in July but is languishing in the State Department bureaucracy awaiting release.  There is another $500 million being held in the Senate pending elaboration of how the US Government will pay for it.

The following speech was delivered by the Haitian members of the IHRC during the last meeting of the organizations in Santo Domingo last month.  The members are expressing outrage to the co-Presidents, Mr. Clinton and Prime Minister Bellerive, at their treatment and the secretive awarding of lucrative contracts to foreign companies.  The following is a translation of their speech.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF HAITIAN MEMBERS’ OF IHRC SPEECH:

Dear Mr. Co-Presidents:

We the 12 Haitian Members of the Haiti Interim Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) present, in regard to the experience we have accumulated within the aforementioned commission since its creation, feel a duty to express concern about the strategic framework put forward in today’s agenda.

The 12 Haitian members present here today feel completely disconnected from the life of the IHRC.  Even in this IT era, there exists a critical deficit of communication and information flow on the part of the Executive Secretariat and even more so with the Executive Committee despite our role in the governing structure of this institution, we have to this day, received no report on the activities of the IHRC.

Contact is established only the day before board meetings.  As a result, as members, we have no time to read, analyze, or digest the information and even less time to react intelligently to the projects which are being presented to us at the last minute despite all the official complaints and all the promises made to address this issue.

Moreover, we are unable to answer, for lack of essential information, elementary questions from the public or from any interested persons.  A good number of interlocutors think that there is a complete hold on information.

Mr. Co-Presidents,

No effective functional bond exists between the Executive Secretariat and the Haitian section of the council, or between the latter and the Executive Committee. Projects are transmitted to the council in the form of summaries the day before meetings.  Procedural changes to the online submission of bids for projects are changed without any consultation.

The recruitment of the personnel and the choice of the consulting firms were made without the knowledge of the Haitian members of the Board of Directors.  No documents were received informing the council of the criteria for recruiting or the profiles for the candidates.  This is also true for the firms which have received contracts, the Haitian members of the council are unaware of even the name of these firms that work for the IHRC or their roles.

Taking into account this deficiency, Mr. Co-Presidents, the Haitian members of the IHRC invited the Executive Director to give a progress report on the status of collaboration between the two sides (Haitian and foreign).  The invitation was ignored.  

In reality, the Haitian members of the Council appear to fulfill a puppet role, which is to rubberstamp the decisions adopted by the Executive Director and the Executive Committee.  The comments of Professor Jean-Marie Bourjolly in his memorandum of October 4, 2010 summarize the situation well.  And we quote: “We must devote the greatest part of our energies to build a plan with a strategy and tactics that conforms with the general principles stated in the Action Plan.

Our role was restricted to approving projects, in so far as I can judge, on the basis of first come, first served.  We risk finding ourselves with a panoply of disparate projects, certainly interesting and useful when considered in isolation, but which collectively do not respond to the urgency of the situation or provide the foundations for the sustainable rebuilding of Haiti, much less our long term development.”

Mr. Co-Presidents,

In terms of protocol, the treatment accorded to the Haitian section of the Executive Committee reveals an effort to minimize this branch of the council.  As proof of this assertion, the unacceptable reception during the September 20, 2010 meeting in New York where several of the Haitian members of the Commission were omitted from the seating at the discussion table.

As Haitian members of the Commission, we believe we have a special responsibility for the proper functioning of the Commission in its mission to work for the reconstruction of the country and to do so in the interest of Haiti and its People living both inside the country and overseas.

Signatories:

Joseph Bernadel
Lucien Bernard
Jean-Marie Bourjolly
Jean Renald Clerisme
Lucien Francoeur
Claude Jeudy
Gary Lissade
Suze Percu Filippini

State Department: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1705667530?bctid=741964226001

FRENCH TEXT OF HAITIAN MEMBERS’ OF IHRC SPEECH:

Messieurs les co-présidents,

Nous les 12 Membres haïtiens de la CIRH ici présents à cette réunion, au regard de l’expérience que nous avons accumulée au sein de ladite commission depuis sa création, nous nous sentons dans l’obligation d’exprimer ce qui suit dans le cadre de l’analyse du plan stratégique inscrit à notre ordre du jour.

Les douze membres de la partie haïtienne ici présents se sentent complètement débranchés de la vie de la CIRH. À l’heure des TIC, il existe un déficit crucial de communication et d’information de la part du secrétariat exécutif et encore plus du Comité Exécutif en dépit de notre fonction dans la structure de gouvernance de l’institution, nous n’avons ce jour, reçu aucun rapport de suivi des activités de la CIRH.

Le contact s’établit seulement à la veille des réunions du Conseil d’administration. Le conseiller n’a le temps ni de lire, ni d’analyser, ni de comprendre et encore moins de réagir intelligemment aux projets qui lui sont soumis à la dernière minute malgré toutes les doléances formulées et toutes les promesses faites à ce sujet.

De plus, le conseiller n’est pas en mesure de répondre, faute d’informations essentielles, à des questions élémentaires du public ou de toute personne intéressée. Bon nombre d’interlocuteurs pensent qu’ils sont avares d’informations.

Messieurs les co-présidents,

Aucun lien fonctionnel effectif n’existe entre le secrétariat exécutif et la partie haïtienne du conseil, ou entre cette dernière et le comité exécutif. Les projets sont transmis au conseil sous forme de tableaux de synthèse, la veille des réunions. Les changements de procédures dans les formalités de soumission de projets online varient sans aucun avis.

Le recrutement du personnel et le choix des firmesconseil se sont réalisés à l’insu de la partie haïtienne du conseil d’administration. Aucun document n’est venu informer le conseil sur les critères d’embauche et sur le profil des candidats. Cette remarque est aussi valable pour les firmes qui ont été sélectionnées, La partie haïtienne du conseil ignore même le nom des firmes qui travaillent pour la CIRH et leurs tâches respectives.

Au regard de ce malaise, Messieurs les co-présidents, la partie haïtienne du conseil avait invité le Directeur Exécutif à faire le point sur le mode de collaboration entre les deux instances. L’invitation a été ignorée.

En réalité, les membres haïtiens du conseil ne remplissent qu’un rôle de figurant qui consiste à entériner les décisions arrêtées par le directeur et le comité exécutifs. Les commentaires du Prof. Jean-Marie Bourjolly dans son mémorandum du 4 octobre 2010 résument bien la situation. Et nous citons : « Nous devrions consacrer la plus grande part de nos énergies à bâtir un plan avec ses volets stratégiques et tactique, conforme aux principes généraux énoncés dans le Plan d’ Action.

Notre action s’est bornée à approuver des projets sur la base, pour autant que je puisse en juger, du premier arrivé, premier servi. Nous risquons de nous retrouver avec une panoplie de projets disparates, certes intéressants et utiles pris chacun isolement, mais qui collectivement ne permettent ni de maitriser l’urgence ni de jeter les bases du relèvement d’Haïti, encore moins de son développement ».

Messieurs les co-présidents,

En terme de protocole, le traitement accorde, à la partie haïtienne non membre du comité exécutif, est très révélateur de la volonté de minimiser cette branche du conseil. On en veut pour preuve, l’accueil inacceptable à la réunion de N.Y. le 20 septembre 2010 ou on a omis de réserver des places à plusieurs membres haïtiens de la Commission à la table de discussion.

En tant que membres haïtiens de la Commission, nous considérons que nous avons une responsabilité particulière quant au bon fonctionnement de la Commission dans sa mission d’oeuvrer pour que la reconstruction du pays se fasse de façon dans l’internet d’Haïti et de son Peuple vivant tant à l’intérieur qu’a l’extérieur.

Signataires :

Joseph Bernadel
Lucien Bernard
Jean-Marie Bourjolly
Jean Renald Clerisme
Lucien Francoeur
Claude Jeudy
Gary Lissade
Suze Percu Filippini
Georges Henry, fils

1 comment:

Kevin Hakney said...

Thanks for sharing this.I agree with all of the points keep up the good work.

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