By Dr. Bobb RJJF Rousseau

The international relations efforts of Haiti are not producing positive results, which can be attributed to a vision focused on a quid pro quo instead of international communications strategies that implicated the Haitian diaspora.

Haitians living abroad are the first Haitian diplomats whose mission ought to be defined by public diplomacy aimed at rebuilding Haiti’s reputation around the world through the creation of avenues for strategic communication aimed at improving migration status and at attracting large foreign investments to build the economy and to strengthen public institutions for the reinforcement of democracy.

The persistent problem in international relations is that Haitian public diplomacy is deeply reactive and narrowly focused on enticing charities and humanitarian aid that weaken the country’s reputation and tarnish its image since the international community sees Haiti as a cause to sponsor or a geopolitical environment to demonstrate goodwill. International relations, whether donations, grants, assistances, millennium developmental goals, and monetary policies combined, are yet to place the country at the concert of great sovereign nations.  

To restore Haiti’s voice internationally and to give Haiti its place in the world of public diplomacy, the diaspora must work together to promote generational dialogue with their respective local government to develop institutional relationships, partnerships, and alliances with local politicians. Haitians living abroad are absent on the political scene of their country of residence or naturalization where they are seen as economic prey instead of being considered as major intermediaries of communication and development or as influencers of legislation relating to immigration, humanitarian aid, and foreign assistance.

Thus, they struggle to promote the interests and to influence the international community on their ability to contribute to the fights against terror, pandemic, and world peace, which remain a top priority for the diplomatic world. 

Their silence in politics and even in the defense of stigmas and stereotypes concerning their country of origin is enduring proof of their intention to be satisfied with the least. Haitian public diplomacy abroad must also affect immigration, which now portrays Haitians as starving or universal economic asylum seekers instead of a booming and fast-growing minority with unlimited potential for a possible political revolution.

The Haitian diaspora should develop public diplomacy policies to establish doctrinal principles to meet the needs of each Haitian and to change all detrimental narratives against the country. This public diplomacy will include decentralized collateral agencies located in areas with large agglomerations of Haitians to facilitate communication and to strengthen the engagement of the diaspora in local politics. The national strategy of the Haitian diaspora will identify and connect Haitian leaders with leaders in their community who are more likely to endorse the Haitian diplomatic cause.

All of this Haitian public diplomacy comes down to an inter-organization of the diaspora to speak with one voice to send a coherent message to the world; a message based on the creation of planning, compensation, and evaluation processes to establish a real communication flow to facilitate community engagement and political incorporation. The development of a national strategy of public diplomacy and strategic communication involving the diaspora is an essential first step towards respecting Haitian tradition and diplomatic values.

Dr. Bobb Rousseau an entrepreneur who develops several businesses in Haiti. He is a doctor in Law and Public Policy backed up by a range of expertise in information health systems, managing local government, information technology management, human resources development, and management and leadership. He has been in the United States military for over 20 years where he is currently serving as a Medical Service Corps officer. 

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