Allegations of crimes against humanity found in a recent report from Harvard Law School could provide justification for international action to address Haiti’s political and human rights crisis, said William O’Neill, a human rights lawyer and former UN human rights adviser.
“If a country cannot or will not protect its citizens the international community must act to help protect those people,” said O’Neill, at a May 3 virtual conference. He was referencing the United Nations’ Responsibility to Protect commitment, which is designed to prevent the worst forms of violence in nations throughout the world.
An international group of human rights experts and activists called Defend Haiti’s Democracy convened the “Haiti at a Crossroads” conference, to discuss the country’s ongoing political and humanitarian crisis. In addition to O’Neill, an economist political activists and a former U.S. government official participated in the event.
The conference was held one week after a report from the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School said the Haitian government was complicit in multiple human rights violations dating back to 2018. The significance of the April 22 Harvard report and its implications for international action on Haiti were not lost on the panelists.