Brussels Activities, December/January 2010. HSG from London 15-01-2011
On 16 December we were in Brussels to join the Coordination Europe-Haiti (CoEH), a coalition of around 40 NGOs and solidarity groups from a number of EU Member States. The General Assembly warmly welcomed us into their network.
The HSG has long worked to persuade UK-based INGOs to focus their advocacy efforts on the EU, since a) the EU – as a whole – is the largest donor to Haiti and b) the UK government is – despite many-fold attempts on our part over the last two decades – regrettably disinterested in engaging with Haiti at a political or development level. The EU has the potential to be a counter-balance to more the neo-liberal approaches of other international donors, especially since it is now – under the leadership of High Representative Cathy Ashton – espousing a values-led foreign policy.
As a specialist group working exclusively on Haiti and being in close contact with a number of Haitian grassroots CSOs we believe we can add analysis and advocacy ideas to the CoEH platform. The CoEH represents in our view the strongest coalition for persuading the EU institutions to adopt pro-poor policies and revise its budgets accordingly.
At the General Assembly meeting we agreed a lobby event in the European Parliament, led by our visitor Georges Werleigh of ITECA, which took place on the 12 January 2011, the first anniversary of the earthquake of 2010. Read our full report on this here.
What was most interesting and shocking, when we met EU politicians on 12 January, was the revelation by an EU official, that the EU is not pulling its weight on the Interim Reconstruction Commission on which it has a seat and a vote. It regards the CIRH as dysfunctional and is irritated that its projects now have to be “rubberstamped” by the CIRH. The Official was scathing about CIRH procedures, saying that projects were submitted that had not previously been discussed with relevant Government ministers (in violation of procedures) and often the night before a CIRH meeting.
We are now looking into CIRH operation in a major way in the run up to the firsty anniversary of the NY Donor Conference on 31 March – watch this space…