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OAS Offers to Host Annual Meeting of the Haitian Diaspora

  March 23, 2010

The Organization of American States (OAS) today offered to host an annual meeting of the Haitian Diaspora so that it may follow-up on its renewed efforts for the short- and long-term post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction of Haiti. The announcement came at the closing of a three-day Haitian Diaspora Meeting that successfully concluded when its some 500 participants issued a series of recommendations for nation-building, recovery and development in post-earthquake Haiti with the goal of contributing towards a comprehensive plan for the future of the Caribbean country.

In his closing remarks, OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin emphasized the importance of the new role the Haitian Diaspora seeks to play in the future of Haiti, and in response to a request by the Diaspora offered the support of the hemispheric organization for an annual Haitian Diaspora meeting “as long as it is done with the close collaboration of the Haitian government, the private sector and the international community.”

“My dear friends, you have engaged in constructive deliberations over these two days, but deliberations are not an end in themselves,” Ramdin said in his closing remarks. “Now is the time for implementation, now is the time for action. Far from being an end, this forum in our view is just a beginning. It is a beginning of your constant involvement in the affairs of Haiti. It is the beginning of an increasing investment in Haiti to create jobs and wealth for all. It is the beginning of an engagement to concretely help your brothers and sisters shoulder the burden. Let me assure you that the OAS, together with our inter-American partners, stands ready to support your efforts in whatever way we can.

“We stand ready as we did in the past to accompany President René Préval, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and the whole government of Haiti in its determination to forge a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous nation. I can promise you we will keep Haiti high on the political agenda of the Organization of American States and the inter-American system, and you can be sure that in that process we will keep reminding heads of state of the promises we made to the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake."

For his part, Edwin Paraison, Haiti’s Minister of Haitians Living Abroad, said the time had come for the Haitian Diaspora to play a more prominent role in Haiti’s decision-making.

“The economic contribution of the Diaspora, as well as its capacity to respond during the critical moments of our history, has always been demonstrated, and it has been appreciated by everyone in Haiti and abroad,” he said. “The recent earthquake of January 12 once again illustrates this. However, when it comes to another sphere of decision-making and participation, the role of the Diaspora has often been relegated to a second level. Today, the moment has come for the Diaspora to be able to exercise fully and completely its role in all of our country’s initiatives, as well as its participation in the processes of decision-making.”

The Haitian Diaspora Meeting was coordinated by the OAS with the collaboration of the Haitian Government through its Permanent Mission to the OAS and with the financial support of the Governments of the United States and Canada as well as the Kellogg Foundation. The role the OAS played in convening a large and diversified constituency such as this one is evidence of its significant capacity as the regional political forum of the Hemisphere. Haitian Diaspora participants at the meeting hailed from the United States, Canada, France, Dominican Republic and the Caribbean.

“The Haitian Diaspora has tremendous human capital that they want to put at the disposal of the Haitian government and society,” said Irene Klinger, Director of the OAS Department of International Affairs. “This is human capital that the government of Haiti should engage in the development of the country, both in the economic and social sectors.”

Several Diaspora representatives stressed that the Haitian nation was 12 million strong, including the three million spread out in the Diaspora. All are united in the effort to provide a better future for all Haitians based on the values of equality and promotion of human dignity embodied by Toussaint Louverture.

Diaspora representatives emphasized the need to join forces in this historical moment so that the country would be better prepared to confront natural disasters, to ensure a dynamic and transparent reconstruction process, to strengthen governance, and promote sustainable social and economic development for all Haitians. Today, the Haitian Diaspora remittances to the Haitian Republic are estimated to be in the order of $2 billion and represent about 30 percent of Haiti’s GDP.

The OAS Haitian Diaspora’s recommendations will be made public at a Haiti Donors Conference March 31 in New York City. They are part of Haiti’s Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), launched by the country’s government.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-085/10