April 5, 2010
Since the disastrous earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, Georgetown alumni from many disciplines—medicine, law, business and more—have been quick to answer the call for help.
As director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Brian works with the institute’s Haitian partner, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, to provide immediate aid including the distribution of information about the rights of internally displaced people. Brian also established the Lawyers Earthquake Response Network to defend the legal rights of earthquake survivors—on housing, environmental, labor and immigration issues—in the long term. The network includes 330 lawyers and law school members. On March 23, he testified about Haiti and human rights before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
“The biggest and perhaps most underreported story of the quake is the way that the Haitian people came together to dig their friends, family and neighbors out of the rubble, provide food and medical care, and establish informal order. I lived in Haiti for nine years and know the country well enough to routinely expect extraordinary acts of charity, compassion and solidarity; but the earthquake response was remarkable even by Haitian standards. The international response has also been gratifying. Just in our work, we hear every day from lawyers who want to pitch in to help—not to mention doctors, nurses, builders, writers and other people with all sorts of skills. This generosity gives me hope that Haiti might come out of this earthquake stronger than before.
“I would not be nearly as effective at any of my work, including the earthquake response work, without having had the opportunity to learn to critically analyze facts and shape them into compelling arguments at Georgetown. I use the advocacy and client relations skills I learned in the Juvenile Justice Clinic all the time, and my experience at the clinic is the template for all our training of Haitian lawyers. I value having learned to work long hours without sleep at Georgetown, since the last six weeks have been like an extended exam period. The total amount and urgency of the work has been enormous.”