Haiti time zone Eastern Standard Time) UTC/GMT -5 hours
Capital City Port-au-Prince
Currency Haitian gourde HTG
National Day 1 January
Haiti’s new Charge d’Affaires Mr Bocchit Edmond arrived in London on 30 May. His wife and children remain in Washington DC where he was previously Haiti’s Ambassador to the Organisation of American States. A seasoned career diplomat and negotiator, his life-long passion for justice plus solution-oriented thinking and solid leadership experience includes many years of diplomatic service in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr Edmond is an advocate for peaceful resolution of all conflicts that can foster productive cooperation and unshakable solidarity between nations.
As a student at Oxford University 20 years ago, Mr Edmond used to come to London often and in particular loved coming to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. “But for now,” he observes, “I can see that the city is growing and it’s been constantly evolving since 1996.”
Born into a modest, middle class family with eight brothers and sisters in the South West of Haiti, Mr Edmond’s father was a coffee and cocoa exporter and his mother was a housewife. At a young age, however, he chose to be either a military officer or diplomat. He admits: “First I tried to join Haiti’s military academy in 1990 but failed. A year later, I joined the Haitian Foreign Service,” proudly noting he will complete 25 years of service in August.
Starting as a junior officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1991, Mr Edmond worked in various departments, and five years later, he received a scholarship from the British government for special studies in International Relations, after having completed four years of Law Studies (he is a lawyer by trade.) After returning home from the UK, Mr Edmond became a member of the Presidential Commission to negotiate Haiti’s accession to CARICOM, during which time he acquired a great deal of negotiation experience. His career then took him to Haiti’s Permanent Mission at the United Nations in New York (1999), and then the Haitian Embassy in Jamaica as Counsellor (2001). As Chief of State Protocol with Ambassadorial rank in 2004, he was deeply involved in organising events surrounding Haiti’s 200th anniversary of Independence in Port au Prince – one of the most memorable days of his career. The following year came a role as Head of Haiti’s mission in Panama. In 2012 Mr Edmond was appointed as Haiti’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the OAS, and was then appointed as the Permanent Representative in 2014 with Ambassadorial rank.
So what are his main plans and priorities as Haiti’s Charge d’Affaires in the UK? “My main objective is to defend the interests of the country and my fellow citizens living here in the UK. Secondly, I intend to continue to strengthen the historic relationship between the two countries. And thirdly, I must work to improve the image of my country here in Great Britain. In other words, I must do my best to change the negative perception that comes up when Haiti’s name is mentioned.”
When asked about the progress of Haiti’s recovery following the earthquake in 2010, he says: “Personally, I believe that the recovery process has been too slow because most international commitments have not been fulfilled.” He continues: “And to be honest, political stability is essential to foster a speedy and steady recovery. My role here in London will be important particularly when it comes to seeking and encouraging foreign investment in Haiti. This will create economic growth and wealth in order to foster the sustainable development that we are aiming for. Haiti has a lot of attractive opportunities for these investors.”
He believes that Haiti’s greatest diplomatic challenge is “to live up to our forefather’s dreams and visions. I mean a free Haiti with social justice, economic development and progress, and the country contributing to world peace. Furthermore, as I’ve mentioned, we must improve Haiti’s image in the international arena and claim its rightful place on the global stage – where it used to be.”
Mr Edmond is also keen to encourage visitors to Haiti: “The only danger about Haiti is to go there and not want to leave, because every visitor always falls in love with Haiti, its people and rich culture.”