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Japan Makes Substantial Contribution to OAS Efforts to Strengthen the Right to Identity in Haiti

  February 8, 2024

The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Government of Japan today announced their partnership to continue strengthening the capacities of the National Identification Office of Haiti (ONI) through a substantial contribution of the Japanese Government to an ongoing OAS project.

Through this cooperation, Japan joins a history of OAS commitment to consolidating Haiti’s identification system, starting with the OAS-supported introduction of the country’s identification card in 2005. The OAS also helped establish ONI and its 141 registration offices located throughout Haiti; assisted ONI in managing its database and in updating the electoral roll for five elections; Supported ONI in positioning the identification card as the required document not only to vote, but also to access public services and programs, and for citizens’ daily administrative and commercial transactions; and trained more than 2,000 ONI operators, coordinators and management staff.

Most recently, in 2023, the OAS launched a new effort with support from the Government of the United States, through USAID, to strengthen ONI’s capacities, expanding ID card distribution and registration system thanks to the deployment of mobile units throughout the country. The project "Supporting the Office of National Identification of Haiti in the re-registration, issuing and distribution of the new national identification card”,scheduled to conclude in 2025, is the one Japan is joining today.

The Permanent Observer of Japan to the OAS, Koichi Ai, said: “When the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in 2011, the Embassy of Haiti in Japan participated in volunteer activities in the affected areas. ´ friend in need is a friend indeed.´ We are very happy to be able to stand by our Caribbean friend, Haiti this time”. “With increasing uncertainty in the world and fundamental values of democracy and the rule of law in peril, the OAS's efforts to promote democracy, human rights, security, and development in the Americas are more important than ever. Japan remains committed to cooperating with the OAS to the full extent of our capacity”,he added.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said: “We are deeply thankful to the Government and people of Japan for this generous grant contribution and their steadfast support for Haiti. This project began with a contribution from USAID, and we acknowledge them here too. Japan’s funding will become even more important as Haiti’s National Identification Card is also crucial for the exercise of the economic, social, and political rights of Haitians. This is what we do: ‘More rights for more people’”.

The Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS, Leon Charles, said: “The identification of citizens remains one of the major challenges facing the Haitian state. The authorities are aware of this and are working to provide definitive answers. Any support from outside is a crucial step in the right direction. On behalf of the Haitian government, I would like to express my gratitude to the Japanese government for its generous contribution in support of the work of the National Identification Office.”

The announcement ceremony was also attended by members of the OAS Permanent Working Group on Haiti, established in February 2023 as a mechanism for regular meetings of the OAS on the situation in Haiti.

Japan’s decisive involvement in this project will reinforce current efforts, enhancing the registration and issuance of identification cards while contributing to the improvement of data management and technological infrastructure. This new component also aims at strengthening capabilities to face crises that may impact access to the right to identity. In this regard, this contribution will also be dedicated to securing the energy autonomy of key offices for ONI operations.

This partnership reflects the alignment between the Japanese, the US and the OAS commitments to the stabilization of Haiti, working together for the betterment of governance and democracy, and to guarantee access to fundamental rights for all citizens, including the right to identity.

The project to support Haiti’s ONI is the latest of a long list of OAS efforts to support the right to civil identity throughout the Americas. Since 2008, the Universal Civil Identity Program in the Americas (PUICA, for its acronym in Spanish) ,has implemented technical cooperation projects in 19 Member States in Central and South America and the Caribbean. With the Program's support, more than 19 million birth certificates and national identification cards have been issued.

Japan is a Permanent Observer of the OAS since 1973. The OAS currently has 75 Permanent Observers.

Reference: E-009/24