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Professor Quigley Delivers Lecture on How Human Rights Can Save Haiti

12/05/2012

Professor Fran Quigley

Professor Quigley’s talk, titled “How Human Rights Can Save Haiti… and Other Developing Countries, too,” was delivered on November 29, 2012. The lecture was offered in observance of International Human Rights Day, and was the second in the newly established Graduate Studies Lecture Series. The lecture is available via podcast.

In an effort to focus attention on what he called “the humans in human rights,” Professor Fran Quigley showed photographs of people he has met while working in Haiti.

One woman had lost her mother to the cholera outbreak that began less than a year after the January 2010 earthquake. Another woman was too afraid of the government to be photographed, so Professor Quigley showed a photo of her family’s tormentor, Jean-Claude Duvalier. Several members of her family were tortured and killed under his regime. While no longer in power, Duvalier has returned to Haiti after a self-imposed exile. He faces charges of embezzlement, but has not been detained or tried.

And there was a photograph of Marguerite, a toddler Professor Quigley met in Port-au-Prince. She lives with her family under a blue plastic tarp with cardboard walls, along with thousands of others struggling to exist after the earthquake. An estimated 300,000 are still homeless after the quake, he said.

Haiti does not have established human rights law for its poor, but there is reason to hope that this changing, Professor Quigley said. The formula for social change there is global, grassroots activism, and “Haiti has the blueprint,” Professor Quigley said. He encouraged those interested in helping Haiti to connect with the website Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.

“Unless we do this in a better way,” Professor Quigley said of efforts to bring about change for the better in Haiti, “we won’t have a better result.

There also is a real need for basic infrastructure in Haiti. Professor Quigley pointed to the lack of a water purification system there, which contributed to the cholera outbreak.

Professor Quigley teaches in the Health and Human Rights Clinic and is the senior advisor for the IU Center for Global Health.


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