Published December 2008
Wòch nan dlo pa konnen doulè wòch nan soley.
The rocks in the water don’t know the suffering of the rocks in the sun.
— Haitian proverb
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. In response to the undeniable link between the international community’s political interference and the intolerably poor state of potable water in Haiti, the article concludes with a recommendation that all actors in Haiti follow a rights-based approach to the development and implementation of water projects in Haiti. The full report of Wòch nan Soley: The Denial of the Right to Water in Haiti is available online at http://www.pih.org/inforesources/Reports/Haiti_Report_FINAL.pdf.