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How Human Rights Can Build Haiti
Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign

Author(s): Fran Quigley

A cataclysmic earthquake, revolution, corruption, and neglect have all conspired to strangle the growth of a legitimate legal system in Haiti. But as How Human Rights Can Build Haiti demonstrates, the story of lawyers-activists on the ground should give us all hope. They organize demonstrations at the street level, argue court cases at the international level, and conduct social media and lobbying campaigns across the globe. They are making historic claims and achieving real success as they tackle Haiti's cholera epidemic, post-earthquake housing and rape crises, and the Jean-Claude Duvalier prosecution, among other human rights emergencies in Haiti.

The only way to transform Haiti's dismal human rights legacy is through a bottom-up social movement, supported by local and international challenges to the status quo. That recipe for reform mirrors the strategy followed by Mario Joseph, Brian Concannon, and their clients and colleagues profiled in this book. Together, Joseph, Concannon, and their allies represent Haiti's best hope to escape the cycle of disaster, corruption, and violence that has characterized the country's two-hundred-year history. At the same time, their efforts are creating a template for a new and more effective human rights-focused strategy to turn around failed states and end global poverty.

Biography of Author(s)

Fran Quigley is a clinical professor at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where he directs the Health and Human Rights Clinic. He is author of Walking Together, Walking Far: How a U.S. and African Medical School Partnership Is Winning the Fight against HIV/AIDS.


  • "A brilliant and courageous work on one of the burning focal points of human and political struggle and international injustice."
    --Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities and Death at an Early Age, winner of the National Book Award
  • "For almost twenty years, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux . . . has played the same sort of pathbreaking role in the field of human rights that Partners in Health has played in the field of medicine. The BAI's contribution to this struggle, during some of its most challenging moments, has been and remains nothing less than heroic. To this day the BAI remains at the centre of popular mobilisation in Port-au-Prince. Fran Quigley's book is the first detailed study of this extraordinary organisation and the campaigns it has waged: he offers essential insights into the world its members seek to change, the obstacles they confront, and their determination to overcome them."
    --Peter Hallward, Kingston University, London, author of Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment
  • "An important book for policy makers, lawyers, students, aid workers, concerned citizens--anyone who cares about building a just, stable, and sustainable Haiti. It provides a proven roadmap for tackling Haiti's persistent problems, and a model for Haitians and non-Haitians to work together for the benefit of all."
    --Congresswoman Maxine Waters, representative from California
  • "Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been plagued by cholera, earthquakes, political repression, and human rights violations for two centuries. This book tells the story of two brave human rights lawyers--one Haitian and one American--who, armed with law books, work with the poor and disenfranchised in Haiti to right these wrongs. An inspiring tale and a good read!"
    --Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, editor of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse