ELAW Partner Jean André Victor brings hope to Haiti
Haiti faces enormous challenges. Just as Haiti marked five years since the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti's parliament dissolved, leaving the country with an uncertain political future. Thousands of Haitians left homeless by the earthquake continue to suffer from cholera, starvation, and water shortages. And despite the recent international attention and promises, Haiti remains the most economically depressed country in the western hemisphere.
|ELAW Staff Attorney Jen Gleason and Jean André Victor|
As Haiti works to overcome its economic woes, environmental considerations in development projects are often ignored. But ELAW Partners at the Association Haïtienne de Droit de l'Environnement (AHDEN) work tirelessly to incorporate environmental protection into Haitian law and policy, and assure the rights of communities are protected.
ELAW has worked closely with AHDEN founder Jean André Victor since 2008. Jean André is a prominent leader in Haiti's civil society. He has founded and participates in countless NGOs that address issues important to rural farmers and fishermen, as well as environmental protection and public participation in government decisionmaking. He also mentors many young Haitians as a well-respected professor at the State University of Haiti. ELAW hosted Jean André for a three month Fellowship in 2010, where he worked with ELAW staff on environmental law and policy and studied English at the University of Oregon's American English Institute. The Eugene Weekly profiled Jean André's environmental advocacy work and his efforts to reform Haiti in 2010.
According to ELAW Staff Attorney Jen Gleason, "Jean André's energy and passion to stand up for the rights of Haitians and protect the environment seem endless. When I am in Haiti with Jean André, we can't take two steps without someone stopping us to say hello and talk with him about important issues facing Haitians. He clearly motivates people all around him - including me. I am so inspired by Jean André."
Shortly after ELAW started working with Jean André, he and his colleagues resurrected AHDEN, which has become a powerful voice for communities in Haiti. Most recently, AHDEN has worked with local communities to gain support for Haiti's first marine protected areas.
Jen recently traveled to Haiti to participate in a seminar on environmental democracy hosted by AHDEN, the Environmental Law Institute, and the Université d'État d'Haïti. Jen led sessions on mining law, access to information, and public participation laws. Special thanks to the Environmental Law Institute for supporting Jen's trip.
Although the country remains plagued by political and economic turmoil, with dedicated environmental heroes like Jean André and his AHDEN colleagues, Haiti has a chance for a sustainable future.
Director of Philanthropy and China Program
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide