October 25, 2011
Mario Joseph, Esq. on the UN’s Universal Periodic Review Hearing in Geneva, October 13 — Bureau des Avocats Internationaux & Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti


United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

On October 13 human rights activists for Haiti and representatives from 40 countries met in Geneva to make recommendations to Haiti to improve its human rights record.  The role of Haitian civil society organizations in relating to the UN was also discussed.  The culmination of a many-month process of consultations with Haitian civil society organizations, a summary document of findings compiled by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) informed the proceedings.  The three-hour session in Geneva was debriefed in a follow-up call organized by IJDH , which featured:


Mario Joseph, the Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI, IJDH’s affiliate), Nathalie Nozile, a Jolie-Pitt Foundation Fellow, Sarah PaolettiAssociate Professor Director, Transnational Legal Clinic, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and moderator IJDH staff attorney, Nicole Phillips.


With the exception of Mario Joseph and Nathalie Nozile, Haitian civil society leaders were notably absent due to difficulties obtaining visas and funding for travel.  (American Jewish World Services provided funding for Joseph and Nozile.) 


Moderator Phillips noted that the Government of Haiti failed to send representatives to the review other than members of its UN Permanent Mission staff. Likewise, the three-hour review avoided discussion of “the undemocratic power shift between 2009 and 2011 and the importance of having an accountable and democratically elected government.”  She noted that an effort will be made to bring more Haitian civil society organizations to testify at the next UPR session in March. 


Mario Joseph remarked, “It is not a big surprise that the Government of Haiti was not present.  It happened before and it means that neither current nor previous governments want to comply with the UN standards. The government refuses to establish a dialogue with civil society. The information about the upcoming UPR session in UN was not publicly announced in Haiti.”


Haiti advocates were encouraged that the 40 countries represented in the Universal Periodic Review Process evidenced broad awareness of human rights needs in Haiti.  Special offers of support were made by some African countries.


Click here for notes and recording of Part 2 of the UPR conference call series as complied by IJDH intern Eka­te­rina Bessonova.


Mario Joseph of Bureau des Avocats Internationaux and Nicole Phllips of Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti are 2011 grantees of the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation.