Haiti, an “Island Luminous”

Black History month has passed but there is no time like the present to learn about the first black independent country through a successful revolution, Haiti.

Since 2004, the Digital Library of the Caribbean (DLOC) has worked with archives and libraries in Haiti to scan and preserve rare books and manuscripts.

DLOC is the creator of “An Island Luminous,” a site to help readers learn about Haiti’s history available to explore in English, French, and Kreyol. Created by historian Adam M. Silvia and hosted online by Digital Library of the Caribbean, An Island Luminous combines rare books, manuscripts, and photos scanned by archives and libraries in Haiti and the United States with commentary by over one hundred (100) authors from universities around the world.

Work on An Island Luminous started in 2009. Initially titled “Endepandan Ankò,” the site only covered the years 1934 to 1946. In 2010, the site expanded to include all of Haiti’s history.  It also took its new name, “An Island Luminous,” from a poem, “Calme,” by Haitian intellectual Jacques Roumain. Since 2010, we have invited over 100 authors to write commentary on various historical texts and photos.

You can start the tour of Haitian history at http://islandluminous.fiu.edu/learn.html. which will walk you through an engaging series of photos and corresponding facts as pictured below. It is a short tour but packed with great information for beginners and experts alike.

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Visit http://islandluminous.fiu.edu/ to learn more. Information taken from the “About” section of the site.




What are the legal ramifications for having no home country? and I don’t mean this in the mystifying way exhibited in Games of Thrones character, Arya Stark.

“More than 40,000 people – including several hundred unaccompanied children — have been deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti between August 2015 and May 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Haitian civil society organizations.”


These deportations have left these persons stateless.

A stateless person is someone who, under national laws, does not enjoy citizenship – the legal bond between a government and an individual – in any country. While some people are de jure or legally stateless persons (meaning they are not recognized as citizens under the laws of any state), many people are de facto or effectively stateless persons (meaning they are not recognized as citizens by any state even if they have a claim to citizenship under the laws of one of more states.)


International legal instruments related to statelessness include:

• 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 15


• 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons

• 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

• 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 24

• 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 7

• 1997 European Convention on Nationality


The 1954 Convention entered into force on June 6, 1960 provides the definition of a “stateless person” and is the foundation of the international legal framework to address statelessness.

The 1961 Convention is the leading international instrument that sets rules for the conferral and non-withdrawal of citizenship to prevent statelessness.

The Dominican Republic is not a signatory to this treatise and neither is Haiti.

The Documentary: STATELESS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLICtells the stories of statelessness in the Dominican Republic and issues along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Haiti Elections

Would you like to stay up to date on the elections? Haiti Election Blog has a list of the approved presidential candidates and other resourceful links in their Legal section.

Below is an excerpt from their June 20th article:

The end of interim President Jocelerme Privert’s 120-day term came and went on June 14 without any decision by Haiti’s parliament, leaving confusion in its wake. The disputes over extending Privert’s mandate spilled out into the streets, with some of his opponents hinting at the possibility of his removal by force. The international powers expressed their dismay at the political uncertainty created by this situation. The verification commission’s (CIEVE) report, meanwhile, continued to make waves. The EU withdrew its observers in protest of the decision to rerun the presidential race, while the U.S. also expressed its “regret” over this decision. Another big question for the upcoming elections is where the financing will come from, given the disquiet of the international donors.”



The Haiti Elections Blog is a collaboration of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 1804 Institute, Haiti Support Group, the National Lawyers Guild International Committee, and International Association of Democratic Lawyers. The blog is an indispensable resource for journalists, policy-makers, aid workers and other “Haiti watchers,” providing the latest news, analysis and information on the elections in Haiti and promoting free access to information and accountability with the electoral process. Over the next several months, Haitians are scheduled to vote on virtually every public office in the country; including the President, 119 deputies, 20 senators, and over 5,000 municipal agents.

Voudou and the Law


This book is about the intersection of Vodou and the law in Haiti.


“Vodou has often served as a scapegoat for Haiti’s problems, from political upheavals to natural disasters. This tradition of scapegoating stretches back to the nation’s founding and forms part of a contest over the legitimacy of the religion, both beyond and within Haiti’s borders. The Spirits and the Law examines that vexed history, asking why, from 1835 to 1987, Haiti banned many popular ritual practices.

To find out, Kate Ramsey begins with the Haitian Revolution and its aftermath. Fearful of an independent black nation inspiring similar revolts, the United States, France, and the rest of Europe ostracized Haiti. Successive Haitian governments, seeking to counter the image of Haiti as primitive as well as contain popular organization and leadership, outlawed “spells” and, later, “superstitious practices.” While not often strictly enforced, these laws were at times the basis for attacks on Vodou by the Haitian state, the Catholic Church, and occupying U.S. forces. Beyond such offensives, Ramsey argues that in prohibiting practices considered essential for maintaining relations with the spirits, anti-Vodou laws reinforced the political marginalization, social stigmatization, and economic exploitation of the Haitian majority. At the same time, she examines the ways communities across Haiti evaded, subverted, redirected, and shaped enforcement of the laws. Analyzing the long genealogy of anti-Vodou rhetoric, Ramsey thoroughly dissects claims that the religion has impeded Haiti’s development.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

A review of the book is available here:


“The Spirits and The Law is by far the most comprehensive historical study on the subject of Vodou to date. Future scholarship on the topic simply cannot ignore this esteemed volume, which received The Berkshire Conference Book Prize for the best first book published in any field of history in 2011.”

Convention and Statute on the Régime of Navigable Waterways of International Concern

In 1921- Haiti was a signing state to the Convention and Statute on the Régime of Navigable Waterways of International Concern.

Multilateral treaties (such as this one) formerly deposited with the Secretary-General of the League of Nations, by virtue of General Assembly resolution 24 (I) of 12 February 1946, and of a League of Nations Assembly resolution of 18 April 1946 (League of Nations, Official Journal, Special Supplement No. 194, p. 57) were transferred, upon dissolution of the League of Nations, to the custody of the United Nations.



Historical Documents

The National Archives provides historical documents online for researching United States International Relations with Haiti, including this letter from Frederick Douglass, accepting the Appointment as U.S. Minister to Haiti, June 25, 1889.

Frederick was appointed by the Harrison administration when he was seventy-two years old. He was very optimistic of his appointment:

In due course Douglass was officially presented to General

Louis Mondestin Florvil Hyppolite, the new President, who

offered generous homage to the new minister’s eminence as a

Negro and as an American. Douglass replied in a vein of

Nineteenth Century optimism which reads sadly against the

background of our world today:

“Happily, too, the spirit of the age powerfully assists ill

establishing a sentiment of universal brotherhood. Art, sci-

ence, discovery and invention have gone forward with such

speed as almost to transcend our ability to keep pace with

them. Steam, electricity and enterprise are linking together all

the oceans, islands, capes and continents, disclosing more and

more the common interests and interdependence of nations.

“The growing commerce and intercommunication of vari-

ous nationalities, so important to the dissemination of know\Tl-

edge, to the enlargement of human sympathies, and to the

extinction of hurtful prejudices import no menace to the

autonomy of nations, but develop opportunities for the ex-

ercise of a generous spirit of forbearance and concession,

favorable to peace and fraternal relations between them.


“In this beneficent tendency of our times, I assure Your

Excellency that the President of the United States desires for

the Republic of Haiti the fullest participation.