Haiti Now Under Effective Control Of Bill Clinton-Led United Nations Commission
It’s been roughly four months since the massive earthquake that struck Haiti and, predictably, the story has slipped from the headlines. Among the other things you may have missed is the fact that a United Nations Commission headed by former President Clinton is now effectively in control of the country:
On April 15, the Haitian Parliament ratified a law extending by 18 months the state of emergency that President René Préval declared after the earthquake of January 12. The Parliament also formally ceded its powers over finances and reconstruction, during the state of emergency, to a foreign-led Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH). The CIRH’s mandate is to direct the post-earthquake reconstruction of Haiti through the $9.9 billion in pledges of international aid, including approving policies, projects, and budgeting. The World Bank will manage the money.
The majority of members on the CIRH are foreign. The criterion for becoming a foreign voting member is that the institution has contributed at least $100 million during two consecutive years, or has cancelled at least $200 million in debt. Others who have given less may share a seat. The Organization of American States and non-governmental organizations working in Haiti do not have a vote.
The CIRH is headed by U.N. Special Envoy Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. The only accountability or oversight measure is veto power by Préval. Few expect him to employ his veto option, both because his record is not one of challenging the international aid apparatus, and because of possible repercussions, in terms of the dollar flow, by the CIRH.
The Parliamentarians further abrogated constitutional process when they granted Préval and other elected officials the right to extend their terms in office until May 14, 2011, (five years to the day from when Préval was inaugurated) if new elections do not occur before the end of November. The constitution was approved in 1988 by a population which had just emerged from the 30-year dictatorship of ‘presidents-for-life’ FranÃ§ois and Jean-Claude Duvalier, and as such contains curbs against concentration of power by the executive. The possibility of extension of Préval’s term, combined with Préval’s right to rule by decree through the extended state of emergency and Parliament turning its power over to the CIRH, has brought Haitians into the streets in repeated demonstrations.
The CIRH has the quite obvious feel of old-style Western colonialism, but it seems to be the best possible response to an incredibly bad situation. The earthquake left large parts of the most populated areas of Haiti destroyed, and quite literally brought at least the buildings housing the government crumbling to the ground. Without outside assistance like this, it’s easy to see the entire nation descending into chaos even worse than anything its seen in the past several decades.
Additionally, and it won’t be politically correct to say it, the sad fact of the manner is that Haiti has proven nearly incapable of governing itself even in the best of circumstances, there’s no reason to believe that they’d be able to do so in a post-disaster climate where the temptation for graft and corruption (in a country with a history of graft and corruption) would be extremely high.
So, yes, democracy is losing out temporarily in Haiti, but that may be far better than the alternative.