The letter was essentially a reaction to two things: first, IPO A's much-publicized Haiti web page, which was established immediately after the earthquake to provide a listing of essential products and services that its members could offer at short notice to governments and aid organizations seeking to participate in the relief effort; and second, IPO A's even more publicized conference (organized in conjunction with GIS) in Miami that sought to bring together multiple stakeholders in order to help organize support and investment for Haiti's reconstruction. Describing a private company providing shelters to the homeless, airlift for humanitarian supplies - or even, yes, civilian security for an NGO delivering much-needed humanitarian assistance - as negatively militarizing the aid effort is counterproductive and begins to malign an otherwise important support function.
columnists | communication J.J. Messner Communication Nation The Importance of Understanding in a Multi-Stakeholder Reconstruction Effort 37 Everyone wants to find a solution, whatever that solution may be. Photo: Fred W. Baker III/U.S.A.F. D ESPITE the marvels of modern companies. (Note “allegation,” as the of due diligence and perhaps discover the technology making communica- veracity or context of the claims was point of view of the other side. Much tion better than ever, it is apparently immaterial to the letter’s easier, apparently, clearly to simply recycle journal of international peace operations | volume 5 | number 6 | may-june 2010 remarkable how little communication authors.) what someone had read on an obscure actually occurs when it should. As a blog. (An interesting side note was that society, we manage to Twitter the world Now, like nearly any organization with an after discovering the letter, IPOA reached that we are off to the corner shop to get a ounce of publicity, IPOA is used to out to all the organizations listed; the only loaf of bread. But many of us are criticism. After all, IPOA has been response received was a helpful sugges- apparently incapable of interlocution lambasted in the press, grilled in front of tion that it was a free country and IPOA regarding such highfalutin things as Congressional committees and has even could write its own letter to Secretary policy. had its front doors barricaded by Code Clinton.) Pink on occasion. But here’s the differ- On March 30, a group of 16 organizations ence. In almost every instance, members But why is this important? Why is so and two individuals, sent a letter to of the mainstream press, Congressional much energy being expended on a letter Secretary of State Hillary Clinton staff and even protesters have at the very by a collection of organizations that we’ve complaining about IPOA. The letter was least entered a dialogue. never heard of? essentially a reaction to two things: first, IPOA’s much-publicized Haiti web page, A dialogue between those who disagree is One can only imagine that the authors which was established immediately after not about one side having to necessarily and signatories of the letter have only the the earthquake to provide a listing of agree with the other’s viewpoint. On a best of intentions for Haiti and its people essential products and services that its meta-level, a dialogue can at least allow as the reconstruction effort proceeds. members could offer at short notice to one side to understand the point of view With some simple communication, we governments and aid organizations of the other side. On a more basic level, it could all have discovered plenty of shared seeking to participate in the relief effort; can allow one side to realize that what middle ground and positive intentions. As and second, IPOA’s even more publicized they’re saying about the other side is just it is, the letter’s intent was based signifi- conference (organized in conjunction with plain i
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