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Caribbean scholar and journalist Norman Girvan addressed a letter to former Jamaican Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson, resuming the regional stand for the international conference on Haiti to begin Monday in Montreal, Canada.

Congratulating Patterson on his appointment as CARICOM’s representative on the organizing committee of the conference, Girvan says he is an invaluable asset in achieving that reconstruction respecting the Haitian people’s own capabilities, leadership and the sovereignty of Haiti in the relief and rebuilding efforts.

Girvan says he supports the view that on this occasion the reconstruction of the country should be effective and accountable to all Haitians and assigns to Haitians the responsibility for identifying their immediate and long-term needs.

The expert argues strongly against an approach that is "security-centred", that militarizes relief and rehabilitation and that undermines Haitian ownership, initiative, responsibility and sovereignty.

Rather, he adds, it should be based on the principles of solidarity, respect for their rights and respect for their country’s sovereignty.

Girvan backs recommendations proposed by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Oxfam Canada and Oxfam Quebec which include the priority to delivery of humanitarian assistance by civilian agencies, to protect the rights of vulnerable
populations, to ensure Haitian leadership, ownership and decision making as well as focus on ending poverty.

The Caribbean scholar concludes that he strongly supports the view that Haiti needs to be rebuilt "from the bottom up" and that donors and friends of Haiti must ensure the voices and perspectives of Haiti’s poors are heard and their rights respected.


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