Haitians plan how to rebuild their society at UNESCO forum

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova (second right) visits remains of Quisqueya University in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

24 March 2010 – Intellectuals, artists, international experts, social scientists and members of the Haitian diaspora are meeting today at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to develop ideas for how to rebuild Haitian society in the wake of January’s catastrophic earthquake.

The forum’s purpose is to “cooperate with Haitian authorities to identify the reconstruction needs of Haiti’s educational system, hard hit by the earthquake, as well as to show UNESCO’s commitment to take culture into account in its response to the disaster,” said Director-General Irina Bokova.

In addition to UNESCO officials, the meeting brings together Haitian Minister of Culture Marie-Laurence Jocelyn-Lasseque, author and playwright Frankétienne; Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka; and the rector of Haiti’s Quisqueya University Jacky Lumarque.

Three themes will be explored during the forum: mobilizing knowledge and skills to rebuild the country, Haiti’s cultural heritage, identity and creativity, and rebuilding the education system.

The results and recommendations from today’s meeting will be included in UNESCO’s contribution to the international donors’ conference on Haiti to be held on 31 March at the UN Headquarters in New York.

“Because the social, cultural and intellectual fabric of Haiti was ripped along the fault line, international assistance cannot be limited only to the physical needs of the population – health, water, food and security – or the material infrastructures,” said UNESCO.

In addition, today’s discussion will be followed by the world premiere of Melovivi or Le Piège (“The Trap”), a play by Frankétienne.


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