Rebuilding Haiti: Lessons from Post-Conflict Experiences

The earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 tipped the country into a state of socioeconomic despair from which it will be difficult to escape without a fresh start, made not only by its own political and economic elites, but also by the international community. Making a fresh start will require an honest assessment of Haiti’s predicament and a bold vision of its future prospects. By this, lessons can usefully be drawn from the experiences of countries emerging from a period of conflict. From this perspective, Haiti needs to move beyond the neoliberal consensus which has dominated policy since the overthrow of the Duvalier regime and adopt a more integrated policy approach to creating jobs, boosting economic security, diversifying economic activity and repairing a dangerously frayed social contract. Such an approach critically depends on establishing a developmental state with an inclusive national agenda that can move Haiti out of an initial and unavoidable state of aid dependence to effective mobilization of domestic resources. For the international community, the Marshall Plan offers useful lessons in forging a more effective development partnership to support such a state-building exercise and the efforts at recovery and rebuilding.

State building is an integral part of development policy in countries adjusting to large external shocks.
It is a mistake to privilege a set of predetermined policy instruments to be used to manage the adjustment to external shocks, regardless of actual circumstances.
Mobilizing domestic resources is key to sustainable long-term growth and development, including in countries recovering from crisis.
Distributional issues are an integral part of successful strategies to improve domestic resource mobilization.
Avoiding dual public sectors is essential for effective state building in countries receiving large aid inflows.
The Marshall Plan continues to hold lessons for how the international community should behave towards countries recovering from large shocks and crises.