Mediation as a tool for the effective resolution of conflicts in Haiti

Note on how to cite this journal: Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight )

  1. Introduction

Haiti remains a country of conflict since its independence from France on 1 January 1804. During the period of 1986 to the present time, the situation of Haiti become worse because all sectors in the population struggle for power and the control of the economic’s system. The main problem of Haiti is the disparity between the privileged and nonprivileged in the Haitian’s society. The privileged’s groups are  foreigners, people who established in Haiti for many decades, most of them came from Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Israel and Egypt); they have controlled the political and commercial activities. The politicians’ actors are also members of these privileged’s groups even their power is limited because they work for  those foreigners to protect their interests and allow them to be wealthier in detriment of the whole population who are living in extreme poverty. All members of this privileged’s groups included the politicians’ actors have their own gangs’ group to remain in power and have totally the control of the country.  Two or multiple rival groups gangs fight very often against each other and terrorize the population; the national police is not able to stop them because they have officials’ support while the opposition leaders have encouraged the population to remain in the street to block the country until the President Jovenel Moise leave the power. To solving this conflict, all actors should recognize that this conflict can affect negatively all sectors of the population, and accept a mediation process for an effective resolution of this conflict.             

  • The negative impact of  haitian ‘s conflict in all sectors

The governments of the United States and Canada have warned people not to travel to Haiti as violent protests against President Jovenel Moïse continued on Friday (Feb 15, 2019) in the capital and other cities in the Caribbean nation for the ninth straight day.[1] According to U.S. State Department, there are currently widespread, violent, and unpredictable demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti. Protests, tire burning, and road blockages are frequent and unpredictable. Violent crime, such as armed robbery, is common. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents, and emergency response, including ambulance service, is limited or non-existent. Travelers are sometimes targeted, followed, and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince airport. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens due to reduced staffing and security concerns.[2]  

The United States and Canada governments travel warning would affect negatively the Haitian economic system. Miami Herald has reported that, Richard Buteau, owner of the Karibe Hotel in Petionville, Haiti, said the travel warning is affecting the country’s tourism industry and is unfair to the Haitian people.[3] The travel warning would affect all sectors of the population because a large percentage of revenue of Haiti depends on daily regular flights.

  1. The isolation of Haiti from the International Community

The security is an important factor allowing people of a country to do their daily activities; if the security is not guaranteeing no one is able to conduct his/her activities. Then it would not be fine for foreigners to travel in this country. According to CNN, due to ongoing street protests sweeping  through Haiti have left 24 Canadian missionaries and another group of nurses among the visitors stranded in the Caribbean country. The missionaries have been confined to their compound in Grand Goâve, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the capital of Port-au-Prince. ‘We have nowhere to go, roads are blocked, rioting all over the streets and businesses are being destroyed,’ a man referred to as Marc says in a video posted on the group’s Facebook page.[4]

The International Community does not choose to isolate Haiti, but its social turmoil allows the IC to do so. No one is really safe in Haiti. According to a document from Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Responses to Information Requests), several sources report cases of kidnapping in Haiti (Canada 5 June 2018; France 21 Apr. 2018; US 28 Mar. 2018). According to the government of Canada, ‘members of the general Haitian population, regardless of rank of social class, are at risk of being kidnapped’ (Canada 5 June 2018). The OSAC report notes that “the breakdown in reported kidnapping victims from the last few years is spread fairly evenly among men, women, and children” (US 28 Mar. 2018). The same source adds that “all who are perceived to have wealth or family with assets (in Haiti or abroad) are vulnerable” to kidnapping (US 28 Mar.2018). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an assistant professor of social work from the University of North Carolina who has conducted research on armed groups, security forces and human rights in Haiti, and who also taught at a social work institute in Haiti for four years, stated that almost all kidnapping targets are wealthy people who have ties to the diaspora and who often have foreign citizenship or have lived abroad (Assistant Professor, 1 June 2018).[5]

  • Consequences of the isolation of Haiti from the International Community

The consequences of the isolation of Haiti from the International Community will increase the cruelty of many people. The rate of kidnapping will increase; the insecurity also will increase included alimentation insecurity. That situation would allow all important actors to sit down and think about a mediation system.

  1. The privileged group included the politicians

The privileged’s groups are foreigners, most of them, came from Middle East. They constitute the high elite’s class of Haiti because they have right to choose who should be President. They have money; they control the commercial system. No one, outside this core, can be a distributor. Those who have tried cannot stay too long in their commercial activities; they have to quite or die. They have armed low class people to execute anyone they want to. However, for how long this situation can stay like that? This situation would also affect them because they would not be able to increase their commercial activities due to the travel warning, and the level of the insecurity also would affect them because the people who are deprived of food and protest all over the streets in the capital and other towns always mentioned that they would not accept to be the only victims in the society but everyone in the country included the high elite class (the privilege’s groups). The politicians also who constitute the middle elite class of the society would be able to resist with the insecurity even they have created it. As a result, those privileged’s groups who have created the insecurity would not be resisted with it. In this case, all entities in the society should megotiate to change the statu quo and allow all social classes to have at least a life’s standard.      

  1. The civil society

The civil society that is composed of religious’ groups named ‘religion pour la paix’ (Religion for the peace); they are Roman Catholic, Protestant, and vodou leaders. Those religious leaders are important for a mediation to resolve the conflict even the population does not trust any of these groups because, for the population, they do not contribute in any social aspect to ameliorate their lifestyle.  

  • Mediation process

Mediation is a process whereby a third party assists two or more parties, with their consent, to prevent, manage or resolve a conflict by helping them to develop mutually acceptable agreements.[6] This process would not be well-done without knowledgeable and spartial mediators. According to Smith and Smock, the first step in any mediation effort should be to assess the conflict. …The mediator frequently works in muddy waters in regard to the knowledge at his or her disposal; required information may be ambiguous, flawed, or unavailable. The mediator may often have to navigate relying not on hard information but on experience, intuition, and common sense, but it helps to know what questions the mediator would ideally like answered. Generally, this step involves four activities: (1) understanding what the conflict is about, (2) understanding who the actors are, (3) understanding the larger context, and (4) understanding sources of power and leverage.[7]The mediation process in Haitian’s conflict should be easy because all main actors are visible, but they all need to contribute for an effective conflict resolution.

  1. Civil Society as Facilitator

The mediator should assess the organization of civil society, including patterns of civic engagement and representation. What civic organizations or associations continue to operate (e.g., political parties, professional organizations, labor unions, village councils, religious institutions, social clubs)? Some of these may be capable of bringing pressure to bear on militant groups. Some may have cross-cutting memberships and could initiate or house early, low-profile contact between parties. Some may possess relevant skills for negotiating oradministering portions of a peace agreement. Some might evolve into political parties and offer a workable alternative to combatant-based political parties. …Societal participation in a peace process can include many different activities and degrees of engagement. Some individuals or groups may play an active role, representing civil society in negotiations.[8] Even though all actors in the Haitian’s conflict can be identified easily, but there are so many political parties and organizations that can complicate the mediation process until they accept to be represented by sectors such as democratic sector with two branches (Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines of Moise Jean Charles), Duvalierist’s sector, Parti Haitien Tet Kale (PHTK), Fusion of Haitian Social Democrats (Fusion des Sociaux-Democrates),  Respect Respè), Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (Rassemblement des Democrates Nationalistes et progressistes, RDNP), Christian Movement for a New Haiti (Mouvement Chretien pour une Nouvelle Haiti, MOCHRENA), Latibonit an Aksyon (LAAA), Democratic Alliance (Alliance Democratique), and so on. To facilitate the task, the religious’ leaders (Roman Catholic, Protestants, and Vodou leaders) should be able to educate the population about the importance of the mediation to have a better social contract allowing all Haitians to live better.

  • International Community

The International Community has intervened directly in Haitian Politics since after the Armed Forces of Haiti overthrew the elected President, the former Catholic priest, Jean Bertrand Aristide, on 29 September 1991. The IC served as the mediator between Haitian Politicians’ actors to resolve the conflict.[9] Then they still have their role as mediator in Haitian’s conflict because the conflict is not over since they came to restore President Jean Bertrand Aristide on power. They well-informed and know very well all Haitians’ actors; they should be able to help Haitians’ mediators to conduct an effective mediation.

  • Construct a peace agreement

A peace agreement cannot be well done if the needs of the actors are not satisfied. Weeks asserts that needs are the foundation of existence and the building blocks of effective conflict resolution. Many people and groups locked in conflict focus their energy on making demands they want the other party to meet, or on assumptions they make about the other party, or on the perceived desires and interests incorrectly assumed to be the heart and the soul of oneself and of the other party. Only when the energy of conflict resolution focuses on the four sets of needs operating in every relationship – personal needs, the partner’s needs, relationship needs, and the critical area of shared needs – will the conflict resolution process be effective and the relationship improved.[10] All mediators should know that the Haitian people need a fair society where everyone has the same right and possibility to be successful. They need security. Consequently, all gangs’members should accept to bring their weapon to the National Police, and they should follow a program of reintegration in  society. The constitution of 1987 should be amended; all Haitians included those who are living abroad should have full right to exercice their right as citizens; they parliamentary’s members should be reduced, and their privileges should decrease.

  • conclusion

The outcome of an effective mediation for a resolution conflict is the implementation of all decision that has been taken during the mediation process by all actors. This outcome is a reconciliation allowing all inhabitants to respect the right of each other even we can have different views on religion and politics, but we all are Haitians and condemned to live in the land that our forefathers let for us. Even the foreigners who are living in Haiti for many decades, they should consider themselves as Haitians. A foreigner, whatever where s/he comes from, who are living in another country and following the process to become a citizen of that country should contribute to the development of it. All Lebanese-Haitians, Syrians-Haitians, Israelis-Haitians, Egyptians-Haitians, and so on, all are members of Haitian’s society; they should contribute to the development of Haiti, their second country. However, they should not think, because of their skin’s color, to mistreat the Haitian’s people. They also should change their mentality which is getting control of the political and commercial activities. Furthermore, the politicians’ actors should think about protecting their country and thinking that the country belongs to all inhabitants; consequently, everyone has the same rights: rights to eat, to get security, to go to school, to speak, and to have a standard’s life. The gangs’members also should think that Haiti belongs also to them; if they like Haiti and respect their forefathers who fought for liberty and freedom, they should protect that liberty and freedom by respecting the right of everyone in society.              

bibliography

Pericles, Wisly. United Nations Mission in Haiti: Failure or Success, World Mediation Organization, 28 January 2019.

Smith, Amy L. , and David R., Smock. Managing a Mediation Process, United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C. , 2008.

United Nations. United Nations: Guidance for Effective Mediation, 2012.

Weeks, Dudley. The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution: Preserving Relationship at work, at home and in the community, 1994.

U.S. State Department. Travel Advisory Haiti, level 4, February 14, 2019.

Picheta, Rob, Rose, Shelby, and Marquez, Miguel. Missionaries and nurses trapped in Haiti as protests sweep country, February 16, 2019.

Canada Government. Responses to Information Requests – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada,2018.

Semple, Kirk. U.S. and Canada warn Against Travel to Haiti as violent Protests Continue, Feb. 15, 2019.

Charles, Jacqueline, and Dolven, Taylor. Haiti economic lifeline has taken a hit. Expedia just made it worse, February 19, 2019.


[1] Semple, Kirk. U.S. and Canada warn against travel to Haiti as violent protests continue, New York Times, Feb. 15, 2019.

[2] U.S. State Department. Travel Advisory Haiti, level 4, February 14, 2019.

[3] Charles, Jacqueline, and Taylor Dolven. Haiti Economic Lifeline has taken a hit. Miami Herald, Feb. 19, 2019./

[4] Picheta, Rob, Rose,Shelby, and Miguel, Marquez. Missionaries and nurses trapped in Haiti as protests sweep country, CNN, February 16, 2019.

[5] Canada Government. Responses to Information Requests:Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 2018.

[6] United Nations. United Nations: Guidance for Effective Mediation,2012,4.

[7] Amy L. Smith, Smock, David R. Managing a Mediation Process, USIP, Washington, D.C. 2008,9.

[8] Smith & Smock, 2008, 13.

[9] Pericles, Wisly. United Nations Mission in Haiti: Failure or Success, WMO, 29 January 2019

[10] Weeks, Dudley. The Eight Essential Steps to conflict resolution, 1994, 145-146.

2 Comments on Mediation as a tool for the effective resolution of conflicts in Haiti

The author gives a comprehensive insight into the conflict of Haiti. The basic issue as was stated is that Haiti’s problems stem primarily from the disparity between the rich elites of the country and the poor and impoverished masses who form the majority of the population. It is interesting to note that there is a foreign element in Haiti, who compounds the social problems and living conditions for the people. The fact that the rich foreign elite, along with clever politicians exploit the people, suggest that mediation can be a powerful medium, with the right mediators.

The United States and Canada have issued warnings to their citizens about travel to Haiti because they observe the extreme violence in the country. In this regards it is up to these countries among others to come to the aid of Haiti and offer effective international mediation. They are powerful enough to use their leverage to make an impact in relation to a situation that in the past sixty years has gotten worse. The author quite rightly states that the international community knows the actors and players in the Haitian conflict. This is especially so for countries in Europe and France in particular, where Haiti was a French territory up to 1804, when they seized their independence. The battle for justice and equal rights have been long and hard with Haitians fleeing their country daily and losing their lives to seek a better way of living. They run to many of the Caribbean nations, especially The Bahamas, The Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Barbados to name a few. These small island nations cannot afford to bear the economic burden for Haiti, when there are rich powerful countries like the United States and Canada, Europe and France and even the Eastern countries mentioned in the article.

Let the skills of professional international mediators be sponsored by the international community, (US, Canada, Europe, France), to facilitate justice, fair play, and equal opportunities, and stop the violence in Haiti.

Thank you so much Bernadette for your comment. I really appreciate it. However, I partially agree with your last statement: “Let the skills of professional international mediators be sponsored by the international community, (US, Canada, Europe, France), to facilitate justice, fair play, and equal opportunities, and stop the violence in Haiti.” I think you should also include the skills Haitians’ professional who have expertise in conflict resolution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Additional Information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close