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CIAO Focus, September 2012: Haiti Looks to the Future

Haiti has been subject to recurrent crises for
more than a century. Political instability, a state
that has multiple institutional failings, historically
rooted social divisions and pervasive poverty
are the country’s dominant traits. The depletion
of economic resources due to misguided
policies and corruption has severely weakened
Haiti’s economy, and increased dependency on
flows of goods and resources from outside the
country. Vulnerability to natural hazards is high,
as shown by the 2010 earthquake. Insecurity is
also an important part of the picture: while Haiti
is experiencing neither the aftershocks of an
all-out war nor the level of violent crime that is
threatening parts of more stable countries in the
Caribbean and neighbouring Central America,
social grievances and the absence of the state
have turned the country into fertile territory for
transnational crime. The lack of credible channels
to resolve disputes has time and again led to
politically motivated violence. Although unlikely to
materialise, the threat of a coup d’état cannot be
dismissed entirely.

On various occasions in Haiti’s history, visionary
leaders and popular aspirations seemed to
coalesce around a common national goal,
only for this to succumb later to authoritarian
and corrupt rulers operating at the behest of
vested interest groups (Manigat, 2009). An era
of renewed hope began in the late 1980s after
decades of ruthless dictatorship under François
and Jean-Claude Duvalier and then a slew of
short-lived military or de facto governments finally
gave way to participatory elections and a process
of democratisation. Fraught with difficulties
and contradictions, this process nevertheless
put an end to the worst abuses and offered
new avenues for free expression and political
representation, albeit without guaranteeing either
reliable governance or the prospect of a dignified
livelihood to all Haitians.

--Blanca Antonini
  Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre

From the CIAO Database:

Putting the pieces together: Haiti's path to a working state

Relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

President Martelly – call on Haiti's youth!

Haiti: Turning the Page?

Issue Brief: What Army for Haiti?

Addressing Corruption in Haiti

Haiti Country Briefing


Outside Sources: *

Country at a Glance: Haiti (World Bank)

Haiti: Country Specific Information (U.S. Department of State)

Haiti Country Profile (BBC News)

The ICRC in Haiti

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.