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February 27, 2024

The Role of the International Community in the Haitian Crisis

Port au Prince

Haiti has descended into chaos since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. The government has lost legitimacy, and gangs now rule much of the country. The country’s political elites seem stuck in a debate about the best path to hold new elections and restore the legitimacy of the government. The effect of the assassination was compounded by a strong earthquake that hit southern Haiti in September 2021, as well as by the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war that began in February 2022, which drove up food and fuel prices. Economic performance has been hobbled by these events. In October 2022, President Ariel Henry requested support from the international community to help local police forces restore order. The international community has reacted cautiously to this request, and the UN-approved Kenyan support mission to the island was blocked by a Kenyan court. The political and economic instability in Haiti has greater repercussions, becoming a breeding ground for instability to spread to the region. 

The Georgetown Americas Institute was pleased to invite you to a presentation of a background report on Haiti by Robert Rennhack, former deputy director of the International Monetary Fund’s Western Hemisphere Department, followed by a discussion with Ambassador Susan Page, professor of practice in international diplomacy at the University of Michigan, and Johnny Celestin, deputy director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises. Panelists addressed what might be the role of the international community on the road to achieve political, economic, and social stability.    

Featuring

Robert Rennhack is a senior advisor with International Capital Strategies. He worked for over 30 years at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), providing macroeconomic policy advice to emerging market countries. He has an extensive knowledge of the economic policy issues facing all emerging market countries in Latin America, with an emphasis on monetary policy, fiscal sustainability, and financial stability. Most recently, he served as deputy director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department. In this position, he oversaw sizable credit lines to Mexico and Colombia and lending programs to several smaller countries. He also led the IMF’s preparations on contingency stabilization plans for Venezuela. Rennhack received his graduate training in economics from Yale University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. 

Susan Page is a professor of practice in international diplomacy at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's Weiser Diplomacy Center and a professor of practice at the University of Michigan Law School. She has deep expertise in international relations, with her senior level roles including assistant secretary-general and special adviser on rule of law, global focal point review implementation, as well as special representative of the secretary-genera to the United Nations Mission for Justice Support to Haiti (MINUJUSTH). Page has also served as the first U.S. ambassador to newly independent South Sudan, U.S. chargé d’affaires to the African Union, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, key adviser to the peace process that resolved Africa’s longest-running civil war through international mediation, head of rule of law programs for the UN, and a foreign service regional legal advisor and political officer in East, Central, and Southern Africa. Page earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School and an A.B. in English with high distinction from the University of Michigan.

Johnny Celestin is deputy director in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises and faculty member at the Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs program at the New School University. Celestin is an entrepreneur, bridge builder, and activist committed to social change. He is an active member of various civil society organizations in Haiti and the United States. He serves on the board of Centre Haitien du Leadership et de l’Excellence (CLE), Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), Defend Haiti’s Democracy (DHD), and Le Forum Haïtien Pour la Paix et le Développement Durable (FOHPDD). He is a social and political analyst and the co-host of Le Mo-Jo show.