The Challenge of Haiti's Future: Report on the Conference Sponsored by U.S. Army War College, Georgetown University, and the Inter-American Dialogue

  • August 01, 1997
  • Dr Peter Hakim, Dr Abigail Horn, Dr Robert Maguire, Dr Max G Manwaring, Dr Donald E Schulz

This Special Report contains an account of a conference on "The Challenge of Haiti's Future," sponsored by the U.S. Army War College, Georgetown University, and the Inter-American Dialogue, and held on February 10-11, 1997, on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. The participants at the meeting addressed three broad issues: social and economic advance in Haiti, achieving democracy and the rule of law, and the role of the United States and the international community in Haiti. Conferees set forth numerous specific observations and policy recommendations. Recurring themes centered on the continuing need for almost universal reforms; the need to manage expectations among all actors, both Haitian and foreign; the need to assist Haitians to participate more effectively in political and economic decision making processes; and the need for organized and integrated, long-term, outside involvement, and support for sustainable development. Haiti's nascent and fragile democracy remains at risk. The United States and the international community have critical choices to make about the nature, extent, and longevity of their efforts in the country. On the one hand, the task of fostering a stable government, economic growth, and domestic security faces daunting obstacles, perhaps not ever fully amenable to foreign resolution. On the other, the cost of giving up includes the prospect of a breakdown of public order and possible reversion to the state of affairs that triggered intervention in the first place. The conference report which follows makes clear just how difficult a problem the situation in Haiti poses for decision makers in and out of that country.