Silencing the Sovereignty of the Poor in Haiti



Publication Details

DiMuzio, T, 'Silencing the Sovereignty of the Poor in Haiti', in Bhambra, GK & Shilliam, R (Eds), Silencing Human Rights: Critical Engagements with a Contested Project, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2008, p 205.


This chapter is animated by the idea that to write about the silencing of human rights -at least since the Middle Ages -we must try to appreciate how rights have historically been defined in relation to sovereign power and the defence of sovereign authority. With this relation in mind, this chapter sets out to critically investigate the state of non-right imposed on the majority of Haitians and how in doing so, powerful social forces have acted to silence the interests and political aspirations of those on the margins of Haitian society. Here, a state of non-right does not necessarily refer to the absence or rejection of certain formal rights as expressed in the Haitian Constitution of 1987 or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Nor does a state of non-right imply that the law has been temporarily suspended as in a state of emergency. Rather, the state of non-right in Haiti refers to a situation where subordinate social forces recognize that the constitution and exercise of a sovereign power that does not belong to them, and indeed, one that has been imposed on them, is little more than the continuation of a system of endless dominations.

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