Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 1, 2009
Civil society groups seek commitment to Haiti
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Canadian civil society groups, including the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), have urged the international community to avoid past mistakes in rebuilding Haiti.
A statement signed by about 20 groups welcomed the "strong leadership" Canada had shown in organizing the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti in Montreal Jan. 26.
At this meeting, a group of nations calling themselves Friends of Haiti pledged a coordinated, 10-year commitment to rebuild the island nation after the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake. The civil society groups participated as observers.
"But the international community, as a donor to Haiti over more than two decades, also bears responsibility for ill-conceived and poorly-conducted development, political interference, and unfulfilled promises," said the civil society groups.
"This time, the reconstruction of the country must be done in a way that is effective and accountable to all Haitians, addresses their immediate needs, and helps to create a positive environment for long-term sustainable development."
The groups also include KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Amnesty International and Care Canada.
The groups praised and welcomed the "strong leadership" Canada had shown in hosting the meeting that brought Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive together with delegates from around the world and other major development and relief organizations.
The Friends of Haiti pleaded for an initial 10-year commitment to Haiti's reconstruction.
"Sustainable development, including environmental sustainability, climate resilience, disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness, will be a cornerstone of our joint approach," said the meeting's closing statement.
Though immediate relief efforts continue, the international community pledged to strengthen democratic governance and institutions for the long-term; to create conditions for sustainable development and poverty reduction; and to ensure security and the rule of law as Haiti rebuilds its police, justice system and military.
PRIORITY ON HAITI
Participants agreed to maintain a priority focus on Haiti. They plan to meet again in the United States in March.
No dollar figure was attached to the 10-year commitment, but some reports have floated a $3 billion U.S. figure for initial reconstruction costs.
"The generosity seen over the past two weeks is a testament to the kindness and compassion that unites humanity in the face of catastrophe," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the gathering's opening.
"Thanks to decisive international action, medical and humanitarian support is pouring into the country and saving lives."
Clinton, following a meeting with Harper Jan. 25, applauded Canada for her "tremendous leadership" and the generosity of the Canadian people.
The meeting did not directly address problems of corruption that impeded development and contributed to Haiti's being among the world's poorest countries before the earthquake hit.
The civil society groups stressed the importance of civilian agencies in delivering humanitarian assistance. Their statement resisted any approach to development that places too much emphasis on security and the military.
The groups also urged Canada and the other countries to cancel Haiti's debt.
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