PIH is one of six prominent rights groups that issued a statement calling for relief efforts to be grounded in human rights principles, transparency, and respect for the human dignity of all Haitians. The groups warned that failure to do so could aggravate the already disastrous impacts of the earthquake.
“There is no doubt that Haiti’s hungry, thirsty, injured, and sick urgently need all the assistance the international community can provide, but it is critical that the underlying goal of improving human rights drives the distribution of every dollar of aid given to Haiti,” said Loune Viaud, Director of Strategic Planning and Operations at Zanmi Lasante (PIH’s sister organization in Haiti) “The only way to avoid escalation of this crisis is for international aid to take a long-term view and strive to rebuild a stronger Haiti—one that includes a government that can ensure the basic human rights of all Haitians and a nation that is empowered to demand those rights.”
The groups cited past relief efforts in Haiti that were uncoordinated, unpredictable, and lacked community participation, often leading to increased suffering. They called on the international community to seize on this opportunity to advance human rights and sustainability in the ravaged country.
In their statement, the groups call on the international community to employ a rights based approach at all stages of the relief effort, from planning to implementation and monitoring by:
- Following the UN’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which include the right to assistance from the government and the right to return;
- Complying with the Paris Principles on Aid Effectiveness, which aim to ensure aid harmonization, alignment, and management for results with monitorable indicators;
- Recognizing the human rights context that existed prior to the earthquakes and take steps to ensure that humanitarian and development efforts do not exacerbate or reinforce the marginalization of vulnerable groups such as women, children, and the landless;
- Ensuring that relief is coordinated and provided in a transparent process including through shared needs assessments and a high level of coordination with the government of Haiti itself; and,
- Empowering all strata of the Haitian population to participate in decision making at each level of the aid and development process, from the initial needs assessment to project planning, implementation, and evaluation.
In addition to Partners In Health, the six groups include the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ), the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), and TransAfrica Forum.