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Project on Policy Advocacy and Facilitation in Haiti
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Late in 1997, PICCR was asked by the International Peace Academy (IPA) to participate in a series of Consultations amongst Haitians concerning the political impasse in Haiti. PICCR's experience of facilitation in conflict situations was one source upon which IPA sought to draw in order to provide a perspective to the Haitian participants in their attempts to grapple with a political crisis which had stalled economic development in that country.

PICCR's Chair 's Terje Rød-Larsen participated in the second and third dialogue Consultations in 1998 and visited Haiti briefly in 1998. PICCR's Programme Director Mark Taylor participated in all five Consultations beginning in January 1998 and has visited Haiti several times as a co-director of the project along with IPA and the Canadian Centre for International Studies and Co-operation (CECI). From mid-1998, both Canada and Norway agreed to provide financial support to the project, with Norway supporting PICCR's involvement in the IPA initiative.

At the final Consultation in June of 1999, participants asked, both informally and formally that IPA, CECI and PICCR continue to support the process through the provision of advisors. IPA and PICCR have done so, although at a reduced level of involvement. Despite the conclusion of the project, participants continued meeting on a monthly and sometimes bi-weekly basis. With the advent of the election campaign in early 2000, the meetings in Port-au-Prince were put on hold while a number of participants became active in the elections in one way or another.

While the overall objective of the dialogue process has been to improve Haitian policy-making in general and, in particular, with respect to social and economic development, a number of lessons have been learned by the sponsoring organisations.The IPA project was based on the assumption that the restoration or re-creation of constructive political discourse in Haiti is a necessary condition for setting national development priorities and for addressing the political paralysis which had gripped the country between 1997 and 1999. The project's strategy was to contribute to re-building political discourse among some elements of the political classes. However, the leadership of the most significant political grouping, LaFanmille Lavalas, chose to remain outside the process.

The dialogue process did manage to promote political dialogue in concrete ways and with some tangible results. However, Dialogue among the political classes is not a sufficient condition of democratic renewal. Popular trust and confidence in Haiti's political institutions and processes has been undermined by their failure of to deliver an improvement in governance. Haiti's political classes have been unable to agree on or implement economic and social policies that might deliver an improvement in living conditions or deliver an improvement in the social performance of the state. The extreme poverty of Haiti de-legitimises elite-based efforts at political and economic governance and the political fabric is such that the progressive agendas of mass based movements are compromised by internal divisions and/or elite power struggles which hinder implementation. The IPA evaluation of the Project found "…a lack of communication between the political class and a vast majority of the population…the political class has hardly ever felt the need to articulate a substantive political discourse." IPA's project evaluation report outlines the projects objectives and some of the challenges which remain.

Fafo's involvement in Haiti's social and economic development expanded in early 2000 with the launch of a living conditions survey (LCS) project by Fafo, Institute for Applied International Studies (AIS). CIS is working closely with the Institut haïtien de statistique et d'informatique (IHSI) and UNDP. The project is part of Norwegian assistance to Haiti.

 

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