Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed September 25, 1996
Contact: Mark Nickel

Haiti Held Hostage

Joint Brown/UNU research group releases study on intervention in Haiti

A joint Brown University/United Nations University study group assessed the roles and contributions of many groups to Haiti's struggle toward democracy during the 10 years following the Duvalier regime. Although the international community has been effective since 1994, the study is critical of efforts during the 1991-1994 era of de facto military rule.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- As the United Nations peacekeeping presence is scaled down in Haiti and insecurity worsens, a major study of Haiti's struggle toward democracy warns that short-term gains in political stability will be sustained only through long-lasting international investments in economic and social change. The study, Haiti Held Hostage: International Responses to the Quest for Nationhood 1986-1996, was a joint undertaking of the Humanitarianism and War Project at Brown University's Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies and the United Nations University.

Haiti Held Hostage provides a wide-ranging review of events in Haiti and related international actions during the 10-year period following the demise of the Duvalier dictatorship. It assesses the respective contributions of the Organization of American States and the United Nations; key governments such as the United States and Canada; and humanitarian, development, and human rights organizations. The role of the Haitian people at home and in the diaspora is also examined against the backdrop of the election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the coup that toppled him, the intervention that restored him to power, and the peaceful transition earlier this year to the regime of his elected successor, President René Garcia Préval.

Although the international community receives generally high marks for helping restore democratic governance in 1994, the study is critical of half-hearted, contradictory and delayed diplomatic and humanitarian efforts during the October 1991 through September 1994 period of de facto military rule. The failings of several sets of economic sanctions come in for close scrutiny.

The study is based on several hundred interviews by a seven-person team, including Larry Minear and Thomas G. Weiss, co-directors of the Humanitarianism and War Project, conducted earlier this year in Haiti and the United States. Members of the team will hold a series of briefings in Washington and New York in mid-October for policy-makers and practitioners, analysts, nongovernment groups, and U.N. officials. The full text of the report is available from the Watson Institute. Later translations into French and Créole are planned.

For further information, contact the Brown News Bureau (401/863-2476), call Nancy Soukup at the Watson Institute (401/863-3438), or contact the Office in North America of the United Nations University (212/963-6345; fax: 212/371-9454; e-mail: [email protected]).