Recognizing Interconnected Nature of Haiti's Long-term Development Challenges, Security Council Reiterates Need for Sustained International Support

News and Press Release
Originally published



Security Council

6510th Meeting (AM & PM)

Council Adopts Presidential Statement in Day-long Meeting, Addressed by Secretary-General, President Préval, Special Envoy Clinton

Recognizing the interconnected nature of earthquake-devastated Haiti's long-term recovery and development challenges and expressing concern for the most vulnerable groups of Haitian society, the Security Council today called on the international community to continue supporting Haitian authorities strengthen core governance structures and ensure that vulnerable people had access to basic social services, justice and protection.

In a statement read out by Néstor Osorio (Colombia), its President for April (S/PRST/2011/7), the 15-member body also stressed the importance of completing Haiti's ongoing electoral process in a peaceful, credible and legitimate way that would consolidate democracy, complete the constitutional reform process and create a strong basis for continued reconstruction.

Reiterating the need for Member States and other stakeholders to continue helping Haitian authorities to efficiently and effectively implement the island nation's national recovery and development action plan, the Council called on donors to fulfil their pledges without delay and to channel their efforts into top priority areas for recovery through the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.

The Council also stressed the importance of promoting development strategies "that are mindful of a cohesive framework", and of consistent coordination and joint efforts among the Haitian Government, the United Nations, the Recovery Commission and other stakeholders, "with a view to producing sustainable results".

It also called on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to continue to help vet, mentor and train the Haitian National Police, including through stepped up cooperation for counter-narcotic efforts and human rights training, to help it maintain law and order and tackle sexual violence and other violent crime.

Council members, stressing that there could be no genuine stability or sustainable development in Haiti without strengthening its democratic institutions, reaffirmed MINUSTAH's responsibility in supporting formation of the rule of law, good governance, human rights and State authority.

Echoing the Council's concern over his country's long history of political instability, outgoing Haitian President René Garcia Préval noted that he would be the only President in the last 25 years to have finished a constitutional term in office and to never have been jailed or exiled. Still, his first term was inaugurated in the presence of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, and Haitians had only themselves to blame.

"To my compatriots who are living with the genuine pain of the presence of foreign soldiers on our soil, I would say that United Nations peacekeeping operations were made necessary by instability created by the citizens themselves," he said. He called on his country's newly elected leaders to govern in a spirit of peace, openness, inclusion, dialogue and respect for the rights of association and expression, and on the opposition to adopt a positive, cooperative attitude, even in their role as Government critic.

At the same time, he also criticized the United Nations for not moving quickly enough, once violence and political instability had eased, to transform MINUSTAH's engagement in Haiti to address the devastating impact of endemic poverty. "Tanks, armoured vehicles and soldiers should have given way to bulldozers, engineers, more police instructors, experts in support to justice and to the penitentiary system, but they did not," he said, expressing the hope that conclusions could be drawn from those facts to better ensure peace and stability in Haiti today. He also urged donor countries to act quicker to disburse the billions of dollars promised to Haiti for recovery and reconstruction from last year's earthquake.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said rule-of-law reform must be a top priority for Haiti's next President. "Without the rule of law, lasting peace and prosperity will remain elusive" he said, pointing to Haiti's deeply dysfunctional judicial system, dangerously overcrowded prisons, unreliable property records and non-transparent public expenditures.

He said that Haiti's economy was "on its knees", with public institutions barely able to deliver essential services and millions of Haitians dependent on aid from non-governmental organizations for their basic needs. While the cholera epidemic seemed to have stabilized, only large-scale investments in Haiti's water and sanitation system would protect against another outbreak. Additional financial support was urgently needed for the Cholera Appeal, which had only received 45 per cent of the requested funding.

As Haitians looked to their new Government to deliver on their commitment to change, following last month's presidential and legislative elections, the Parliament should complete the process of amending the Constitution before the next President was inaugurated, he said. At the same time, the international community must seize the chance to "make a fresh start", focusing its aid on empowering rather than prolonging the dependency of Haiti's people and institutions.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, whose delegation had convened the meeting, agreed, saying the incoming Haitian administration would provide an "ideal opportunity" to reorganize cooperation with the country "because peace is not built by increasing dependency and welfare-ism". A coordinated, coherent international effort must replace the current system of non-governmental organizations working in a fractured manner, which had only served to undermine efforts to strengthen institutionalism and carry out long-term initiatives, fuelling the vicious cycle of poverty.

Moreover, the "one-plus-one" framework involving Haiti's Government and society in its own recovery, with a focus on health care, agriculture, education, roads and infrastructure, was the only viable way to strengthen institutionalism, he said. Health and education could not remain in the hands of foreign charities, but should be progressively transferred to Haitian leadership and management. "We are talking about training a population where 60 per cent are youth, who cannot depend on sporadic aid," he said.

In his address, William Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti, urged the international community to recognize the challenges Haiti faced, but to also recognize the "small miracles that were occurring on the ground, especially the recent peaceful holding of elections. Also, since last summer, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission had approved 87 projects valued at $3.26 billion that would help 2 million Haitians.

At the same time, however, only 37.2 per cent of the funds pledged during last year's International Donor Conference had been disbursed, he said, calling on donors to make good on their pledges in order to advance Haiti's reconstruction and deliver the improvements the Haitian people expected and deserved.

Honduras' delegate, one of the more than 30 representatives of Member States participating in the debate, further called on the international community to write off Haiti's foreign debt, which at 12 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), was too heavy a burden for the battered country to bear.

Norway's representative, blaming Haiti's failure on the lack of a social contract between Haiti's rich and poor and its weak institutions, called on the country's political and economic elite to invest trust and money to make national institutions stronger and more accountable, thus ensuring stability, development and justice for all.

Speakers also applauded Haiti for peacefully holding presidential and legislative elections on 20 March, whose preliminary results were announced on 31 March, and urged the Government to meet the 16 April deadline for announcing the final results. They expressed hope that the electoral process would usher in an era of democratic reforms, stability and socioeconomic progress.

In addition, they stressed the urgent need to remove the 8 million metres of rubble still remaining from the 2010 earthquake, which had impeded the development of schools, sanitation systems, power grids and communities.

Also addressing the Council today were the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relations of Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Uruguay, as well as Spain's Secretary of State for Foreign and Ibero-American Affairs and the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom.

The Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua and Venezuela also spoke, as did the Vice-Minister for South America, Central America and the Caribbean of Brazil and the Head of Unit for Economic Relations and International Cooperation in Mexico's Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Also making statements were the representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, China, Lebanon, South Africa, India, Germany, Gabon, France, Portugal, Guatemala, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea, Canada, Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community) and Australia.

The Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations also spoke, as did the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), the President of the Inter-American Development Bank and the Special Representative of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for Haiti.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and suspended at 1:50 p.m. Resuming at 3:44 p.m., it ended at 5:40 p.m.