Haitians have a right to minimum standards of safety

Haitians have a right to minimum standards of safety

Months before the damaging quake of 12 January hit Port-au-Prince and neighbouring cities, human rights lawyer William O'Neill -- one-time senior advisor on human rights in the UN Mission in Kosovo, former chief of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda, and who once led the legal department of the UN/OAS Mission in Haiti -- had urged international donors working in Haiti to empower Haitians to demand that elected officials “stop squabbling and start focusing on protecting their constituents’ lives.”

At meeting organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada in November 2009, he remarked that the average Haitian was “much likelier to die from the acts of omission of building inspectors, transport officials, health inspectors, school administrators and the bureaucrats responsible for insuring that houses, shops, restaurants and roads are safe and sound.”

Donors should insist that ministries work to provide services and support to Haitians and that the state use its revenues and donor funds to achieve this objective, he added.

Mr. O'Neill is currently Program Director for the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council. He spent several weeks in Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake as a consultant with the UN.
The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015 The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015.
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