Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Lawyers Worldwide Warn Against Danger of “Electoral Charade” in Haiti

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte

This past week saw outcry from legal professionals around the globe against the election fiasco unfolding in Haiti after the Provisional Electoral Council’s exclusion of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas Family party (FL) and 13 others from parliamentary elections set for Feb. 28 and Mar. 3, 2010.\

On Dec. 11, the Miami Herald published an Op-Ed in which lawyers Brian Concannon, Jr. and Ira Kurzban urged the Obama administration, the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS) “to step up and head off this disaster by refusing to finance the electoral charade.” With Washington’s support, the UNDP promised, prior to the widely-condemned exclusions, to provide $18 million for the election.

Saying the unjustifiable disqualifications were without “constitutional legitimacy,” Concannon and Kurzban note that the Provisional Electoral Council or CEP “tried the same thing earlier this year, and got away with it” when it excluded the FL from partial Senate elections held in April and June.

The U.S. and U.N. both initially criticized FL’s exclusion last spring, but then backtracked and supported the massively boycotted elections, which drew less than 5% participation according to most independent estimates. “By dropping their principled objections to the April election’s flaws, the international community gave the [CEP] a green light to keep excluding the government’s political rivals,” Concannon and Kurzban conclude.

Also on Dec. 11, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), which assembles lawyer committees from 90 countries, wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to warn that UN approval of next February’s elections could result in popular protest, which the UN has often suppressed with lethal violence. This warning comes just days before thousands are expected to march through Port-au-Prince on Dec. 16, the 19th anniversary of Aristide’s first landslide electoral victory in 1990. That demonstration will target the latest election exclusion.

IADL members have a mission, their website explains, to protest “racism, colonialism, and economic and political injustice wherever they interfere with legal and human rights, often at the cost of these jurists personal safety and economic well-being.”

While we do not recognize the legitimacy of the occupation force’s UN Charter-violating mandate in Haiti nor its right to arbitrate Haitian affairs, we think the IADL’s letter to Ban Ki-moon does a good job of exposing how the UN is trampling the goals and terms of conduct set forth in its own mandate by supporting the “flawed elections” now underway. It also articulates the frustrations and alarm of most Haitians about the planned elections. The full text of the letter is available at

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