Wòch nan soley: The denial of the right to water in Haiti

This article combines health and water research results, evidence from confidential documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, legal analysis, and discussion of historical context to demonstrate that actions taken by the international community through the Inter-American Development Bank are directly related to a lack of access to clean water in Haiti. The article demonstrates that these actions constitute a clear violation of Haitians’ right to water under both domestic and international law. The article exposes the United States government’s role in blocking the disbursal of millions of dollars in international bank loans that would have had life-saving consequences for the Haitian people. The loans were derailed in 2001 by politically- motivated interventions on behalf of the US and other members of the international community in direct violation of the Inter-American Development Bank charter. To demonstrate the impact of these interventions, the article presents data gathered in a study that employed human rights and public health methodologies to assess the right to water in Haiti. The data reveal that Haitians experience obstacles concerning every aspect of the right to water: difficulties with water availability, limited physical and economic accessibility, and poor water quality. The article provides a framework of concrete duties and obligations that should be followed by all actors involved in Haiti in order to realize Haitians’ human right to water.

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