June 22, 2011
“The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth; it’s justice.” — Brian Concannon, IJDH from the World Justice Forum

Brian Concannon, Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), delivered his first podcast from the World Justice Forum in Barcelona, Spain yesterday.  The forum has drawn leaders from myriad disciplines to highlight how “the rule of law is essential for creating communities of equity and opportunity throughout the world.”

Brian comments, “It is important that countries like Haiti be engaged in these kinds of processes…. so that people understand what is going on in Haiti and some of the roots of problems that extend beyond Haiti’s borders.”

A high point of the conference, he said, was yesterday’s remark: “The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth; it’s justice.” 

For example, “People aren’t poor just because they don’t have enough money.  People in Haiti certainly aren’t poor because they don’t work hard.   

We see across the board that it is injustice that keeps people poor… 

Whether the injustice of workers who are not able to enforce labor standards;

Or the injustice of the poor unable to enforce contracts against the wealthy;

Or the injustice of prisoners who are not able to enforce access to speedy trials, which keeps them in prison and their families poor;

Or the injustice of women who are not able to enforce their right to protection from sexual violence, keeping them from fulfilling their full obligations and activities in society, as mother, spouse, caregiver, as a business owner.  All of these roles are affected by women’s vulnerability to sexual violence.

We really think that’s a great way of looking at poverty:  through the lens of injustice.”

Concannon also described how the President of the World Federation of Engineers, who is from Tunisia, spoke about intentions to establish a Pan-African Forum that will illuminate how corruption weakens both buildings and society.  He said corruption must be attacked not only at the level of officials receiving bribes, but also among those offering bribes, e.g. multinational corporations.  As Mario Joseph, Director of IJDH’s Haitian partner organization, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti has stated, “There would be no corruption without corrupters.”  Listen today for a podcast from Barcelon in French from Mario Joseph.

For a link to the podcast click here:  recording from Brian Concannon.

For a fuller article on IJDH’s participation in the World Justice Forum click here:   http://ijdh.org/archives/19422

Brian is the founder and director of IJDH, a 2011 grantee of the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation. He helped pre­pare the pros­e­cu­tion of the Raboteau Mas­sacre trial in 2000, one of the most sig­nif­i­cant human rights cases any­where in the West­ern Hemi­sphere and rep­re­sented the plain­tiff in Yvon Nep­tune v. Haiti, the only Haiti case ever tried before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.