Presidential Statement Follows Day-Long Debate; Special Representative Says Country Has 'Unique Moment of Opportunity' to Break with Destructive Cycles of Past
The Security Council today welcomed the progress towards stabilizing Haiti, but reiterated the need for security to be accompanied by social and economic development as a way for that poor Caribbean nation – imperilled by natural and manmade disasters throughout most of its history -- to achieve lasting stability.
In a statement read out by Council President Claude Heller (Mexico), following a day-long debate on the situation in that country, the Council urged the Haitian institutions to intensify their efforts to meet the population's basic needs, and to work together to promote dialogue, the rule of law and good governance.
The Council reaffirmed the need for the upcoming elections for the renewal of one third of the Senate to be inclusive, free and fair, and called on all political actors in Haiti to ensure they were held in a peaceful atmosphere.
Welcoming the valuable continuing support of donors, the Council urged them to make available the additional technical and financial assistance required by the Haitian Government to meet the country's immediate humanitarian, early recovery and reconstruction needs, while laying the foundations for sustainable economic and social development. In that connection, it recognized the vital importance of the high-level donor conference on Haiti to be hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., on 14 April.
Leading off today's debate was the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Haiti, Hédi Annabi, who stressed that sustained international engagement was critical to enabling Haiti to take advantage of a unique moment of opportunity. The country now had its best chance in decades to break from the destructive cycles of the past and move towards a brighter future.
While it was a difficult environment in which to ask for further assistance, he acknowledged, there was a compelling logic for making an additional effort that would be relatively modest in absolute terms, but which could make a critical difference in securing the investments made to date and preventing the major costs that would be associated with any renewed decline or disorder.
The international community had made a remarkable contribution in providing opportunity for Haiti, and its Haitian counterparts were today showing a clear determination to seize that chance, he said. Hopefully, with the Council's support, that partnership would be sustained to enable the efforts made to date to reach fruition and place Haiti firmly on the path towards a better future.
Haiti might be at a crossroads, at a turning point between risk and renewal, as several speakers suggested, but among the member countries of the Inter-American Development Bank, it was one of the most vulnerable –- with the highest poverty rates and some of the most challenging indicators in terms of access to housing and basic services, the Bank's General Manager of the Department of the Caribbean Countries told the Council.
She noted that some 7.5 million Haitians lived below the poverty line, even before the multiple crises of 2008. However, the 2008 food and oil price shocks had provoked riots, which had pushed more Haitians into extreme poverty. Last year had turned out to be exceptionally difficult, even considering Haiti's turbulent history. The events of 2008 had focused efforts on disaster relief, but it was time to re-launch the Government's growth and poverty reduction strategy, and a renewed partnership with donors. That was the purpose of the forthcoming 14 April conference at the Bank's headquarters, and the Bank was pleased to host it.
Mission Chief for Haiti of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Haitian authorities would seek an additional $125 million in budget support and about $700 million in project financing at the donor conference next week to help close the $50 million budget gap and finance critical investment projects. She urged donors to provide that much-needed financing. Failure to do so could deter investment projects needed to create jobs and raise living standards.
In the past five years Haiti had made great strides in macroeconomic management in partnership with IMF, she said. Despite devastating hurricanes and high food prices last year, Haitian authorities had maintained macroeconomic stability and remained on track under the poverty reduction and growth facility programme. But those hard-won gains remained fragile and the global crisis was affecting trade and fiscal links. IMF had stepped up efforts to help the country respond to both the global financial crisis and last year's hurricanes.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was heartened by Haiti's progress, but the situation was precarious and sustaining the achievements was challenging, its Deputy Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean said. The brutal and daily reality of thousands of Haitians could not be forgotten. UNDP wished to remain a trustworthy partner of Haiti's, but there was a significant gap between necessary and available financing. It was urgent to put Haitian communities "back on their feet", and that meant tackling the country's extreme vulnerability to natural disasters. Fully operational rule of law was also essential to guarantee robust economic and social programmes.
For the Director of the Latin America and the Caribbean Bureau of the World Food Programme (WFP), current levels of poverty, deprivation and suffering in Haiti were incompatible with the goal of long-term stability. Even without further adverse weather threats, the current state of health and sanitation infrastructure and continued food insecurity were tremendous challenges. In 2008, WFP had raised more than $100 million to ensure food assistance for more than 2.5 million people in Haiti. But, presently, 2.8 million people were malnourished and cut off from roads, markets and basic services. WFP was restoring key community assets and infrastructure in rural and urban areas by providing nutritional, social and educational "safety net" services for women, children and the most food insecure.
Many among the nearly 40 speakers generally agreed that Haiti stood at an important juncture in its history. They noted the progress in such areas as political dialogue and elections, extension of State authority, strengthened security, and rule of law and human rights, but lamented the marked deterioration in living conditions. Attention was drawn repeatedly to the fragile nature of the institutions and security system, and the prevailing economic distress. Lasting stability depended on socio-economic development, speakers said, warning that current poverty levels in Haiti contravened long-term stability.
The forthcoming donor conference was perceived by many today as a unique opportunity for furthering coordination and identifying ways to optimize resources. Speakers expressed satisfaction at the strengthened national police capacity, but emphasized that recruitment and training should be maintained and, where possible, accelerated. In that regard, they cautioned donors to be careful not to view security and development as separate entities, since the absence of one undermined the other.
While speakers acknowledged that financial constraints on donors were currently significant, as they themselves struggled with diminishing revenues, some stressed that Haiti's needs were pressing and much more significant. Indeed, during the Council's recent mission to Haiti from 11 to 14 March, members had seen compelling evidence of the poverty and unemployment which they knew created an environment conductive to civil unrest and to undoing hard-won gains.
Participating in the debate were the Council delegations from Japan, France, United States, United Kingdom, Uganda, Libya, Burkina Faso, Turkey, Croatia, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Austria, China, Costa Rica and Mexico.
Representatives of the following Member States also spoke: Uruguay; Chile; Canada; Brazil; Argentina; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Peru; Czech Republic, on behalf of the European Union; Cuba; Colombia; Venezuela; Jamaica, on behalf of CARICOM; and Haiti.
Statements were also made by the President of the Economic and Social Council, Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Country Director for the Caribbean of the World Bank.
The meeting, which began at 10:18 a.m., was suspended at 1:03 p.m. It resumed at 4:09 and ended at 5:51 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as S/PRST/2009/4, reads as follows:
"The Security Council welcomes the progress achieved so far in critical areas for the consolidation of Haiti's stability, namely political dialogue, extension of State authority, including border management, strengthening of security, and rule of law and human rights.
"The Council notes with concern the challenges in the area of social and economic development, as there has been a marked deterioration in the living standards of the vast majority of Haitians. The Council reiterates the need for security to be accompanied by social and economic development as a way for Haiti to achieve lasting stability. In this regard, the Council calls upon MINUSTAH and the United Nations country team to enhance further their coordination with the Government of Haiti and international and regional partners, while bearing in mind the ownership and primary responsibility of the Government and people of Haiti.
"The Council recognizes the vital importance of the high-level donor conference on Haiti to be hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., on 14 April. The Council welcomes the valuable continuing support of donors and urges them to make available the additional technical and financial assistance required by the Government of Haiti to meet the country's immediate humanitarian, early recovery and reconstruction needs, while laying the foundations for sustainable economic and social development.
"The Council urges the institutions of Haiti to intensify their efforts to meet the Haitian population's basic needs, and to work together to promote dialogue, the rule of law and good governance.
"The Security Council reaffirms the need for the upcoming elections for the renewal of one third of the Senate to be inclusive, free and fair. The Council calls on all political actors in Haiti to ensure the elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere.
"The Security Council reiterates its strong support for MINUSTAH and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for their efforts to improve stability and governance in Haiti, while emphasizing the need for MINUSTAH to continue to adjust to changing circumstances on the ground, and expresses its appreciation to all Member States who support the stabilization process, in particular the troop- and police-contributing countries."
Meeting this morning to consider the question of Haiti, Council members had before them the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (document S/2009/129) covering major development between his last report (document S/2008/586) and outlining progress in implementing the Mission's mandate.
The report finds that progress during the reporting period has fallen short of expectations. Although the 2008 hurricanes and storms created a new readiness among Haiti's political leadership to work together, achievements remain fragile and are subject to reversal. It remains essential to find ways to enhance the country's broader administrative and governance capacity and to improve the Government's ability to deliver basic services, which is critical for stability.
According to the report, the design and implementation of institutional reforms, the adoption of sound legislation, the crafting of an economic strategy and, above all, reinforcement of dialogue and political collaboration, can be achieved only through the full engagement of the leadership and people of Haiti, who remain responsible for their country's future.
Recalling that Prime Minister Michelle Pierre-Louis was sworn in as Prime Minister in September 2008 after a five-month political impasse, the report states that a new Government was installed and, in the same month, Parliament passed a law allowing the President to declare a state of emergency and putting in place a system for the flexible disbursement of national funds to assist storm-affected populations. President René Préval drew upon that authority, enabling the Government to disburse $200 million in relief to hurricane victims. By November 2008, however, relations between the executive and legislative branches deteriorated, with parliamentarians questioning the Government's management of post-disaster funds.
In December 2008, the report continues, representatives of the legislature and the Government agreed to a joint legislative agenda for 2009, and Parliament elected a new bureau in the Chamber of Deputies, which expressed a commitment to implement the joint agenda. But progress in implementation has been modest. In January, Parliament returned the draft budget for 2008/09 to the Government with numerous recommendations for revision. The budget had not been adopted at the time of writing. In the meantime, the Senate must fill its vacant seats, of which only 18 of 30 have been filled since May 2008.
Several attempts to convene a session in January and February were unsuccessful, since a quorum (16 senators) could not be reached, the Secretary-General says, warning however, that senatorial elections bring a risk of further tension. The first and second rounds of the senatorial elections were originally set for April and June, but the credibility of the electoral process is under question after the Provisional Electoral Council disqualified 40 out of 105 candidates, including all representatives of the Fanmi Lavalas party.
Progress continued to be made in the area of security, the report states. Increased collaboration between the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Haitian national police and the public contributed to a more effective response to threats from criminal elements. But there is a high risk of renewed unrest or violence due to the suffering brought about by the storms and by tensions related to the ongoing electoral process. At a time when the Haitian national police are still developing the capacity to respond to such threats on its own, MINUSTAH's present configuration and mandate, as approved by the Security Council in October 2008, will enable the Mission to continue to play its role in maintaining stability.
The report concludes by noting that President Préval made national dialogue his key priority for 2009, leading him to form four commissions -- on constitutional reform, justice reform, competitiveness and information technology. Alongside the poverty reduction strategy paper and the post-disaster needs assessment, the proposals outlined by eminent Oxford economist Paul Collier, at the Secretary-General's request, may provide some ideas towards lasting economic security. A high-level conference on growth and poverty reduction would offer a "precious opportunity" to merge those ideas into a comprehensive and coherent plan of action.
HÉDI ANNABI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSTAH, said the debate built upon the Council mission to Haiti from 11 to 14 March and the visit by the Secretary-General and former United States President Bill Clinton on 9 and 10 March. Sustained international engagement was now critical to enabling Haiti to take advantage of a unique moment of opportunity. The country now had its best chance in decades to break from the destructive cycles of the past and move towards a brighter future, but it could only do so with the continued strong support of external partners. The Secretary-General had suggested that, in order to consolidate stability, progress must be made in addressing five interlinked challenges: political dialogue, including elections; extension of State authority; strengthening security; rule of law and human rights; and socio-economic development.
Concerning political dialogue and elections, he said the resolution of political differences through dialogue remained the cornerstone of progress in all other areas, and there had been some positive developments in that Haitian-led process. In the aftermath of last year's hurricanes, there was a new potential for cooperation among representatives from across the political spectrum and between the various institutions of governance, the private sector and civil society. Last December, the Government and Parliament had for the first time adopted a joint legislative agenda. The President's establishment of a series of broad-based commissions on key national issues at the beginning of 2009 was a further effort to promote dialogue and collaboration.
However, that progress remained fragile given the risk of renewed conflict among political institutions and between the executive and legislative branches of Government, he said. Those tensions were often related to personal ambitions and fed by corruption, which the Government was seeking to curb. At the present critical time, Haiti could not afford the kind of discord that had paralysed the country for almost five months in 2008. It was essential that the leadership in the executive and legislative branches, civil society and the private sector rise to the challenge and work together. The international community should demonstrate that it stood with those who sought collaboration and that it would hold accountable those who promoted conflict and instability.
The ongoing electoral process for one third of the Senate, which could reinforce political cooperation in the longer term, nonetheless had brought some additional strains in the short term, he noted. Hopefully, the Haitian people would take full advantage of the opportunity to make their voices heard and elect leaders with the necessary ethical and professional qualities. The elections were indispensable to permit the proper functioning of Parliament, and must take place in a climate free of disruption and violence. MINUSTAH was providing the necessary logistical and security support for the electoral process, in close collaboration with the Haitian authorities. The first round of elections appeared to be broadly on track to take place on 19 April, although the timeline remained tight.
In terms of State authority, MINUSTAH continued to help the Government develop administrative capacity, at both the national and local levels, he said. The process was long term, but some progress was being made and an integrated border-management strategy was beginning to take shape. But it was clear that MINUSTAH's efforts could barely begin to make a difference in enabling the State administration to respond to the population's need. The bilateral and multilateral programmes launched to help build capacity in several ministries were therefore welcome and hopefully there would be future efforts along those lines.
Turning to security, he said there had been significant advances in strengthening security structures, but further efforts were required. In the past four years, based on steadily increasing collaboration between MINISTAH and the Haitian authorities, the country had seen a remarkable improvement in the security situation. The dispersal of armed groups in the rural areas between 2004 and 2005, and the dismantling of gangs in urban strongholds in 2006 and 2007 had been followed by increased effectiveness in curbing kidnapping, which had had a disproportionately demoralizing impact on the population. Further initiatives were under way to build on that progress to promote security in border areas, and the deployment of troops had been complemented along the land border with the Dominican Republic and along the coast with maritime and air-borne patrolling. Hopefully, those latest efforts would promote security throughout the national territory and deter illicit trafficking.
At the same time, those activities alone could not effectively respond to the problem of trafficking, which was a key threat to stability, he said. They must be reinforced through engagement by other countries within the region, which could assist by sharing information, complementary patrolling and, as appropriate, coordinated operations. Meanwhile, MINUSTAH was advancing its own programmes to strengthen Haiti's security capability. It was clear from the 2008 riots and hurricanes that MINUSTAH's troops and police remained indispensable when a real crisis erupted. Haiti continued to face several threats, including a significant risk of civil unrest, reflecting difficult living conditions and the continued presence on the ground of several potentially violent elements, including former gang members and discontented army veterans. Those threats could be activated for political or criminal motivations, or to inhibit reform programmes targeting corruption, smuggling and trafficking.
In that context, the Mission's security components should promote a sense of security among the Haitian people to deter spoilers and spare a still vulnerable police force from unmanageable challenges or setbacks, which could deal a fatal blow to its morale and credibility. There had been some progress in justice-sector reform towards the establishment of the key supervisory body, the Conseil Supérieur du Pouvoir Judiciaire, which would soon be installed, subject to the outcome of the vetting process. There had also been some progress in corrections reform, specifically in training corrections staff and rehabilitating prisons. In the area of human rights, there were historically remarkable levels of public debate and respect for freedom of the press, as well as for civil liberties in general.
He said that, despite the broad interest of the Government and civil society in a human rights-based approach integrating economic and social concerns, limited progress had been made in strengthening the Office de Protection du Citoyen, which would play a critical role in ensuring the sustainability of human rights gains. Meanwhile, although socio-economic issues were not the core work of the peacekeeping operation, the close link between development and the promotion of security remained clear. In that context, the deterioration of the socio-economic situation in 2008 was a matter of deep concern. The scope of the hurricane damage was estimated at $1 billion, or equivalent to about 15 per cent of Haiti's gross domestic product (GDP). That had now been compounded by the global financial crisis, which in February had brought about a 14 per cent reduction in remittances, a lifeline for many Haitian families representing nearly three times the figure for international assistance.
Against that backdrop, continued humanitarian relief was essential, he stressed. Also critical was assistance with early recovery, focusing on providing jobs, while also tackling urgently needed rehabilitation and reconstruction. There was also a need for longer-term development, which depended upon the regeneration of private-sector activity. The growth and poverty reduction strategy paper had already helped to identify certain key future priorities, the realization of which required a renewed partnership between national authorities and international actors. It was to be hoped that the 14 April Washington, D.C., conference would facilitate agreement on a forward-looking agenda, based on mutual commitments and accountability.
He noted that visitors over the past year had underlined that Haiti was at a turning point, the first time in many years that the country appeared truly to be poised to break from past suffering, poverty and violence, towards a path of sustainable social and economic development. Haiti had a real chance today of consolidating stability, but that could only happen with sustained and coordinated support for progress in all areas, drawing on a strong partnership among Haitians, MINUSTAH, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the wider international community.
While it was a difficult environment in which to ask for further assistance, he said there was a compelling logic for making an additional effort that would be relatively modest in absolute terms, but which could make a critical difference in securing the investments made to date and preventing the major costs that would be associated with any renewed decline or disorder. The international community had made a remarkable contribution in providing opportunity for Haiti, and its Haitian counterparts were today showing a clear determination to seize that chance. Hopefully, with the Security Council's support, that partnership would be sustained to enable the efforts made to date reach fruition and place Haiti firmly on the path towards the better future that it had so long sought.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said the presidential election to be held in November 2010 and the revision of the Constitution would be political milestones, but they could also be fraught with political tensions and disturbances, which the Council should try to contain. In that regard, MINUSTAH's presence would continue to be very important, since the Haitian national police were not yet able to respond effectively to unrest. MINUSTAH's continuing support was indispensable in achieving the target of a 14,000 strong police force by 2011. Bilateral assistance was also required to supply the requisite facilities and equipment. Lasting security and political stability was not achieved solely through a military and police presence or a political process. It also required progress on the social and economic fronts.
To achieve sustainable development, the Government of Haiti must demonstrate a clear vision of self-development and the will to take ownership, he said, adding that it should make its development strategy a top priority. The international community should enable the Haitian people to achieve the peace and stability needed to more forward with construction, and the upcoming donor conference would provide an important opportunity in that regard. Food security and job creation were important, as Haiti currently produced only 48 per cent of all its food needs. Coherent food-production policies would help reduce unemployment and contribute to long-term development. Steps were needed to ensure that the eventual drawdown of MINUSTAH did not create a security vacuum or reduce the commitment and support of the international community.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) said the recent Council mission to Haiti had given members a clearer picture of MINUSTAH's achievements in security and the remaining challenges. The Secretary-General's report illustrated the progress seen since 2006, including the restoration of security, the professionalism of the police force, inflation control, infrastructure development, electricity distribution and an improved tax structure, among other things. More than ever it was necessary to follow up on that stabilization process with international support to ensure security, the rule of law and access to education and development. The Special Representative's words about the development of freedom of expression and the growing strength of the legal system, as well as efforts to effectively protect human rights, were very encouraging.
The partial elections in June were essential for the proper functioning of democratic institutions, he said, expressing hope that they would be transparent and move the democratic process forward. France hoped the Government would continue to work with all parties. The donor conference would be important in helping Haiti achieve national growth and implement its poverty reduction strategy. France would contribute to that over the long term. It was to be hoped that the United Nations system would be able to examine the political, military and police aspects of MINUTAH in an inclusive way, fully taking into account the views of troop-contributing countries. France encouraged the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to enhance its action in that regard. MINUSTAH should play an even greater role in reforming the security sector to meet such security challenges as trafficking in drugs and weapons.
SUSAN RICE ( United States), saluting MINUSTAH's bravery, said the Mission had made progress towards consolidating stability and security, including strengthening the national police. It had achieved important gains in security, which, hopefully, would provide a sound basis for progress in other critical areas. MINUSTAH's success was impressive, but it was not the whole story; much of the progress made remained fragile, especially after the terrible difficulties of 2008, including the food crisis, hurricanes and storms, and the ongoing global financial crisis. All those factors could imperil Haiti's security and seriously exacerbate poverty. Much more remained to be done in key areas. Desperate poverty, malnutrition, lack of education and other socio-economic problems still bedevilled Haiti.
Donors at the Washington conference on 14 April should be careful not to view security and development as separate spheres, she stressed, adding that, in fact, the absence of one undermined the other. During the Council's recent mission to Haiti, members had seen compelling evidence of how poverty and unemployment created an environment conductive to civil unrest and undoing many hard-won gains. The United States was encouraged by advances towards the creation of a professional national police force and would continue to work with MINUSTAH to help expand the facilities at the National Police Academy. In order for Haiti to be secure, it would need its police forces to stand on its own. Efforts to reform the justice sector as a whole must be intensified and address prison overcrowding and the rule of law throughout the country.
That was particularly important in terms of curbing drug trafficking, where real progress was vital, she said, adding that the United States would increase support for the counter-narcotics efforts of the police. The Haitian Government should take advantage of the Hope 2 legislation passed by the United States Congress in 2008, as it could open a huge window of opportunity for Haitian market access. As for elections, they must be free, fair and inclusive, and all voices must speak and be heard. There was a need to deepen common efforts to support the country in its fragile transition. Haiti stood at a crossroads, a turning point between risk and renewal, towards democracy that should grow deeper roots, and, hopefully, towards economic progress for all.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) agreed with the emerging assessment of some very positive achievements in Haiti, but overall progress having fallen short, in part attributable to the devastating blows of the storms of 2008. She hoped that, with the international community's support, the efforts of the Government, undermined by those and other calamities, would be pursued with new vigour. The formation of the new Government was an important step forward and she urged the authorities to seize the opportunity and continue to address the constitutional, legislative and budgetary issues preventing progress in key sectors. Agencies on the ground should take early and concrete steps in key areas.
She agreed with previous speakers that security and lasting stability depended on socio-economic development. Current poverty levels were incompatible with long-term stability. Cooperation with the international community was essential to making progress in that regard, but boosting development was not MINUSTAH's role and other actors would have to play their part in terms of leadership and coordination. Lasting stability depended heavily on security, and re-establishment of Government control in former "no-go" areas was a particularly significant achievement. She said MINUSTAH, under the Special Representative's able leadership, played a significant daily role. For the time being, the Mission remained essential for the maintenance of security and stability, but the overall objective was for the Haitian authorities to ultimately be responsible for the country's stability. The benchmarks were vital to measuring overall progress. In fact, they were the only way to sensibly and carefully plan the next stages. She welcomed the progress made in bolstering the capacity of the national police and stressed that their recruitment and training should be maintained and, where possible, accelerated. The upcoming donor conference was important. Its objective should be to secure reliable funding flows targeted at priority sectors.
PATRICK S. MUGOYA ( Uganda) said the Council's mission had been useful and it had reassured Haiti's people that the international community supported its efforts. He commended the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to deliver on MINUSTAH's mandate. He noted progress, so far, in strengthening the Haitian police force and its working relationship with MINUSTAH. That collaboration had helped to dismantle armed gangs, reduce kidnapping and restore a degree of public confidence. He expressed concern over the continued threat to overall stability and socio-economic development caused by organized crime, particularly drug trafficking. He called on the international community, donors and the Friends of Haiti to help the Haitian Government control the country's border. He lauded preparations for the upcoming elections and called on the Government to ensure that the elections were free, fair and held on time.
Successful elections would be a cornerstone for conciliation and democracy, he said. Every effort must be made to have a constructive dialogue with civil society. He welcomed Government efforts for recovery and development, including efforts to strengthen key institutions and increase tax revenue collection. That would enable the Government to sustain institutions and provide essential services for the population. But, the challenges in Haiti were immense. He called on development partners to support the long-term development needs of the country and to facilitate sustainable peace and development. He invited everyone to participate in the donor conference. The hurricanes in September had heavily affected the population. He commended the Government of Haiti for its resilience.
IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI ( Libya) said Haiti had yet to recover from conflict, and the country's security situation remained fragile. The socio-economic situation had been devastated by hurricanes, which had worsened the living conditions of the Haitian population. The international community must help Haiti with the development process. That would be indispensable for peace, and it would only be achieved through a clear strategy. The Government needed the support of international partners. He noted positive trends, such as the Government's call for national reconciliation and dialogue, and steps to expand State administration throughout the country. He welcomed the continuous improvement in the security situation and the drop in criminal activity, notably kidnappings.
He noted the coordination between the Haitian national police and the Government to improve the security situation and make political progress. Those were encouraging developments, but the situation remained fragile. He expressed concern over the continuous political divisions. He called on the Haitian Government and all political leaders to reconcile through dialogue, in order to move forward on a cooperative and constructive path. He expressed hope that the elections would be successful. The recent hurricanes and destructive tropical storms had made life difficult for Haitians and exacerbated the Government's burdens. That had been evident during the Council's mission to Haiti. Everyone the Council had met with had stressed that security could not be separated from development. That was why Haiti needed international support. The proposals by Paul Collier on long-term development and poverty reduction should be given due attention.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said that, despite some progress, the general situation remained one of considerable concern, because of the fragile nature of institutions and the security system, and the prevailing economic distress. Nevertheless, the general political climate had improved considerably, even if some divisions and tensions remained between some political parties. Political stability was indeed vital for Haiti, particularly given some electoral deadlines, including the organization of the senatorial, legislative and local and presidential elections. Everything necessary should be done to establish a climate of peace, including through dialogue. The Government must establish the necessary conditions to allow the effective organization of elections.
Concerning security, he noted the dismantling of several armed groups and the reduction in crime, and he welcomed the restoration of the national police force. But, its current staffing, at all levels, was insufficient to ensure continuation of the country's stability. During the Council's recent visit, it had noted that the national police force had inadequately qualified staff and insufficient material to ensure control of the country's border, which considerably reduced the effectiveness of efforts to counteract the drug trade. The international community and United Nations must provide MINUSTAH with sufficient support to assist the police achieve the goal of 14,000 officers. Restoration of State authority, rule of law and respect for human rights could not be achieved without far-reaching reform of the justice system. He recognized the devastation wrought by the recent hurricanes, including the unprecedented food and economic crises. It was, first and foremost, the responsibility of the Government and people of Haiti to address those crises, but the situation required a major infusion of assistance that the State alone could not provide.
FAZLI ÇORMAN ( Turkey) said his country had contributed to MINUSTAH since its inception and it currently had 46 police officers deployed in the Mission. A group of 27 Turkish police officers would be arriving in Haiti soon to serve alongside Haitian troops. He expressed hope that the upcoming partial senatorial elections would not have a destabilizing impact, but would enhance Haiti's institutional effectiveness. The readiness of the Haitian political leadership to work together, particularly in addressing the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes, was clearly encouraging. That same readiness should be used to solve Haiti's daily problems. The United Nations and MINUSTAH should remain vigilant, as the underlying causes of instability -- extreme poverty and a precarious socio-economic environment -- remained.
He called on Haiti's leadership and people to continue the spirit of consensus and cooperation, as well as the political collaboration and dialogue exhibited after the hurricanes occurred. He stressed the importance of fairness, transparency and inclusiveness during the upcoming senatorial elections. The international community and MINUSTAH should continue to support Haiti. The donor conference would be important in showing the determination of the international community to help Haiti. The progress achieved by the Haitian national police in fully assuming its responsibilities, the political climate after the upcoming elections and any eventual improvement in the socio-economic situation, among other things, could guide the Council's assessment in the future regarding the gradual drawdown of MINUSTAH.
VICE SKRAČIĆ ( Croatia) said political stability in Haiti was a prerequisite for any long-lasting solution there. The gap should be bridged between the legislative and executive branches. During the Council's visit last month, many interlocutors had expressed a genuine willingness to overcome divisions and work on issues of importance to the country's future, especially issues of indisputable importance such as customs, police, education, socio-economic development and institutional reform. The first litmus test would come in a few days with the senatorial elections. Despite the short-term risk of further political tension, those elections would be of crucial importance for future discussions on constitutional reform. Without those elections, the number of senators would be insufficient to promulgate the necessary reforms. Those elections were also important if the timetable for other ballots was to be kept.
Noting that political stability went hand in hand with physical stability, he said he was encouraged by the recruitment and strengthening of the national police. Now, two thirds of the 14,000 police were in place. While they might not yet be in a position to face the many challenges confronting the country, they were on the right track. Strengthened public confidence was another good sign. However, Haiti seriously lacked an adequate infrastructure and equipment to control its borders. Regional partners could complement patrolling duties with more bilateral border cooperation. The next six months would be an important test of whether the Haitian authorities had met the necessary stabilization benchmarks leading up to MINUSTAH's mandate expiration in October. Also, strengthened rule of law was required for socio-economic development. The continued support of MINUSTAH towards strengthening governance capacity in reform efforts was vital to Haiti's long-term stability.
The most important remaining tasks for the Government include socio-economic development, poverty reduction, job creation and food security, he said, stressing that the Government should take the lead in promoting those priorities. One third of the population still depended on emergency food aid following last year's hurricanes. He hoped for additional assistance for Haiti at the upcoming donor conference, as that would help offset future funding shortfalls.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said he agreed with the basic assessments and recommendations of the Secretary-General's report. Hunger riots and destructive national storms last year had devastated Haiti. Some 800,000 people there had been victims of natural disasters. Those events had worsened the already difficult economic situation of the Haitian people. The recent Council mission was a sign to the Haitian people of the Council's commitment to them. Everything possible must be done to achieve national reconciliation and to have a cooperative dialogue. He supported the combined indicators for the 2008-2011 period, saying they would facilitate gradual progress in socio-economic development.
He supported MINUSTAH, which was playing an important role in restoring law and order. MINUSTAH had provided comprehensive support to help Haiti mitigate the impact of the recent hurricanes. He noted the cooperation between MINUSTAH and the country's law enforcement personnel. Haitian police officers were working together. He expressed hope that countries in the region would help Haiti deal with organized crime. Steps were needed to fight corruption and reform the justice system. The United Nations must continue to help Haiti reform the security sector. He expressed hope that MINUSTAH's efforts would eventually allow it to fully transfer security sector responsibilities to the Haitian national police. He supported the extension of MINUSTAH. The upcoming donor conference would be very important. The Russian Federation would continue to support Haiti to build an independent and democratic State.
LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said he was encouraged by the incremental advances in four of the five benchmarks, which were significant for achieving political stability and security in Haiti. He was encouraged by the readiness of the country's political leaders to work together to address the consequences caused by the four devastating hurricanes, which had exacerbated an already difficult situation due to the global financial and food crises. Without socio-economic development, progress in the four benchmark areas would continue to be fragile. It was imperative that the Haitian Government act simultaneously on all political, security and socio-economic fronts. There was urgent need to promote a national consensus to ensure stability and to continue to move forward with security-sector reform and institutional capacity-building programmes.
The violence in Port-au-Prince and other Haitian cities last April and the increased trafficking in drugs and weapons clearly showed that the Haitian national police must be further strengthened to maintain public order and respond to threats to stability and security, he said. He stressed the importance of sound and comprehensive socio-economic strategies, mobilization of domestic resources, growth, employment creation, poverty reduction and improving living conditions. In order for Haiti to achieve durable peace, security, stability and sustainable development, the international community must be fully engaged. He supported the Secretary-General's recommendation that MINUSTAH continue to play a critical role in helping to maintain stability and security, while the Haitian national police was still developing its capacity.
CHRISTIAN EBNER ( Austria) welcomed the significant rule of law improvements and the gradual strengthening of the Haitian national police, as well as the improved security. Those coordinated efforts greatly contributed to a decline in violence. Particularly welcome was the continued vetting of the national police, which was a key prerequisite for security and stability. Yet, further advancing stability also depended on the promotion of the other pillars of the rule of law system, such as the more expeditious proceedings of the judiciary. There had been a spike in the prison population, and more rigorous reform efforts were needed in the area of juvenile justice. Austria was actively involved in elaborating the juvenile law code, and it encouraged the Haitian Government to continue its work in that regard. Also critical was stabilizing the political situation and improving the functioning of democratic institutions, leading to constitutional reform.
He encouraged the political leaders to achieve the necessary consensus on the electoral schedule. The successful election of one third of the Senate was a prerequisite for constitutional reform, and the electoral process must be free, fair and inclusive. The economic and social situation remained precarious. Owing to the devastation of last year's hurricanes and global crises, daily living conditions had deteriorated. He supported the adoption of agricultural policies aimed at boosting production and of sustained efforts to implement a reconstruction and development strategy, which would go a long way in ameliorating the social climate. He welcomed the strong Latin American "ownership" of MINUSTAH. The momentum flowing from improved security should be used now to stimulate further positive developments across the country.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said there had been genuine improvement of the situation on the ground and in implementing the five benchmarks for consolidating stability. But the situation remained fragile. Poverty, unemployment and food insecurity still jeopardized achievement of lasting stability. He hoped the Haitian Government, with the international community's assistance, would enhance its capacity through reconstruction of national institutions, enhanced police capacity and border control, development of the legislature, promotion of judicial reform and prison management. Greater efforts should also be made to combat corruption.
He urged the Government, Parliament, the private sector and civil society to intensify dialogue among themselves and strive for long-term stability and development. He called on all parties in Haiti to demonstrate the necessary political will to ensure that the upcoming senatorial elections were free, fair and inclusive. MINUSTAH had been playing a crucial role in guaranteeing the country's security. Achievement of enduring stability and security fell, first and foremost, on the Government and people of Haiti. He also encouraged the international community to continue to support the country in achieving national reconstruction and socio-economic development. He looked forward to the 14 April conference.
JORGE URBINA ORTEGA ( Costa Rica) said Haiti could be an important success story and it was a valuable learning experience for the United Nations. The growing number of United Nations peacekeeping operations and the limits on the Organization's human and economic resources showed the complex multidimensional challenges it faced in achieving peace and security. Haiti was a bridge to help the Council better understand how to build a world free from want and fear. MINUSTAH was doing everything possible to help Haiti build a democracy. But, the Government and MINUSTAH were not combining actions to sustain progress achieved thus far. Actions that were not sustained by the international community had forced Haiti, time and time again, to return to battles it felt it had already won. How much of what had been achieved could be maintained if the international community reduced its cooperation? Would the Haitian Government be able to maintain a 14,000 strong police force? Who would build the infrastructure necessary for institutions? Would Haiti be able to organize the eight electoral processes during the next 36 months?
The problem of sustainability was the major challenge facing Haiti, he said. The deficit in economic and social development was still the greatest challenge facing Haitian society. Despite positive growth rates in recent years, growth had been limited. The economy of Haiti, which was a very poor country, must grow faster. The political, economic and cultural elites of Haiti had the primary obligation of leading their nation to a higher level of progress. Parliamentary authorities and political parties must comply with their responsibilities to build a political and institutional environment that would foster modernization and development. All political players, including civil society actors, had expressed their commitment to Haiti's development process. The State must provide programmes aimed at socio-economic reform and environmental conservation. He expressed hope that reforms would allow for the return of the Haitian diaspora and for foreign investment. Haiti needed a national development strategy to develop human capital to achieve food security.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said Haiti was a clear example of the comprehensive attention that was needed to address a crisis that went beyond the strict notion of international peace and security. He welcomed the growing attention of international community to the situation in Haiti, including the recent Council mission and visit by the Secretary-General. He expressed hope that today's debate would promote greater interest among the international community in the upcoming donor conference. He welcomed progress in the political and electoral sphere, institutional strengthening and strengthening of the security sector and the rule of law. But, that progress was still fragile and its sustainability largely depended on socio-economic advancement. He urged the Haitian Government and Haitian society to make every effort necessary to ensure that the upcoming elections were democratic, participatory and inclusive. Mexico had recently provided the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council with electoral material, such as ballot boxes, booths and furniture.
Training the Haitian national police was a priority for MINUSTAH, he said. That was crucial for fostering security and guaranteeing stability throughout the country. Training had been in accordance with the objectives set by MINUSTAH. He lauded the efforts to help strengthen the Haitian national police through programmes to end kidnappings and improve the socio-economic situation. International efforts had not gone far enough to ensure long-term development. New alliances were needed, based on mutual commitments. National institutions must guarantee basic services for Haiti's population, as well as the rule of law and good governance. The international community must respond more decisively, through better humanitarian assistance, to meet the enormous needs of the Haitian people. The Mexican Government had strengthened humanitarian aid to Haiti, sending greater quantities of medicine and food, and had also set up the Mexico-Haiti Fund for technical cooperation and humanitarian assistance.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), speaking in her capacity as President of the Economic and Social Council, said it was vital that the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council work together in support of Haiti in meeting its challenges. The Economic and Social Council's ad hoc advisory group had drafted recommendations for Haiti's long-term development; the group had been re-initiated in 2004. In its most recent report to the Economic and Social Council, in 2008, the group had taken up the economic and social conditions, as well as political developments, in Haiti. It had also highlighted the difficulties related to the food and fuel crises, and stressed the importance of socio-economic stability, including for rural development and the provisions of food and basic needs for the most vulnerable. The group's recommendations -- focused on improving the economic and social situation and enhancing the impact of development aid -- remained valid.
First, the Economic and Social Council's ad hoc group recommended improved planning for development and better coordination of international assistance, she continued. It felt that development donors and partners should adjust their programmes to the actual facts on the ground and ensure that their objectives were in line with those of the Haitian authorities. The upcoming donor conference should mobilize the international community for the country's long- and medium-term development. Institutional reform should be accelerated, particularly in the areas of justice and the rule of law, and customs law and public administration should be strengthened. The group advocated an improved use of Haitian and international economic and social development levers, and recommended further reliance on the private sector for job creation. The contribution of the Haitian diaspora should be promoted, not only through remittances, but also by using their technical skills and knowledge.
The Economic and Social Council would examine the theme implementing global and public health objectives and commitments in July. Access to health care in Haiti was very limited. Inadequate health care and basic services impeded development and growth. The international community had an obligation to work in cooperation with Haitian authorities to develop the country over the long term. Economic and Social Council members, along with its ad hoc advisory group, would visit Haiti in May.
ALBERT R. RAMDIN, Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), emphasized the importance of ongoing strong collaboration between the United Nations and OAS, especially on the ground in Haiti. The country was indeed at an important juncture in its history. Since 2006, presidential elections had been inclusive, creating a relatively stable political environment. Security had improved through MINUSTAH and Haiti's national police, among other positive developments, but the remaining challenges must also be acknowledged. Nevertheless, important developments, combined with a historical high degree of international solidarity with respect to Haiti, provided an ample foundation on which to build a process of job creation and income generation. Whereas the past focus had rightly been on strengthening and maintaining democracy, the electoral process and stabilization of governance, efforts should now be directed to creating economic opportunities through short-term measures, and the foundation should be laid for growth and development, including through education, risk reduction and natural disaster mitigation.
He said OAS would work to strengthen the electoral process and lay the foundation for the first ever modernized national civil society registry in Haiti. It would also support the Electoral Council in the upcoming elections. It would help to build trade capacity and lend support to development, as well as take the initiative in the field of human rights, especially for persons with disabilities. It would engage in efforts towards constitutional reform and strengthening of the judiciary. In whatever area, OAS understood it must include a cross-cutting objective of strengthening State institutions and capacity-building to entrench Haiti's reconstruction programmes and turn the tide to the sustainability of progress. That would enhance the confidence of Haitians and the international community alike. The donor conference offered a new cooperation paradigm towards growth and opportunity. Partnerships should be fostered with the private sector, both inside and outside Haiti, as well as with civil society at large and the diaspora. While the political, social and economic development of the country was a Haitian responsibility, it also fell to the international community to support the political, financial and reconstruction processes there.
PEDRO MEDRANO, Director for the Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Food Programme (WFP), said current levels of poverty, deprivation and suffering in Haiti were clearly incompatible with the goal of long-term stability. Even without further adverse weather threats, the current state of health and sanitation infrastructure and continued food insecurity were tremendous challenges. Approximately 70 per cent of the population had no access to basic health services or sanitary facilities; half had no access to potable water. Before the latest series of hurricanes, agricultural production met only 30 to 50 per cent of needs, with most farmers producing enough food for only six to eights months of the year. The global financial crisis had caused remittances to drop 10 per cent so far this year compared to last year. Most remittances were spent on food, housing, utilities, clothing and medicine. The impact of the downturn in remittances would likely offset the current decrease in imported food prices, exacerbating poverty and hunger.
In 2008, WFP had raised over $100 million to ensure food assistance for more than 2.5 million people in Haiti, he said. At present, 2.8 million people were malnourished and remained cut off from roads, markets and basic services. WFP was restoring key community assets and infrastructure in rural and urban areas by providing nutritional, social and educational "safety net" services for women, children and the most food insecure. In order to foster income opportunities in rural areas, WFP would work with partners to address the many challenges currently limiting the ability to purchase food from local Haitian small farmers. WFP was committed to socio-economic stabilization and development in Haiti, within the framework of the poverty reduction strategy papers, post disaster needs assessment and the plan that Haitian officials would present at the 14 April donor conference. He advocated strongly for a strategy that focused on ensuring access to jobs, basic social services for the very poor, infrastructure development, income generation, food security and environmental sustainability.
YVONNE TSIKATA, Country Director for the Caribbean of the World Bank, said the Bank's work in Haiti was guided by the interim strategy note for 2007-2008. It focused on providing basic services and creating jobs, while restoring credibility to Haitian institutions by deepening reforms that promoted long-term good governance and institutional development. That interim strategy included a $68 million programme of five grants for 2007 for projects in electricity loss reduction, rural water and sanitation, catastrophe risk insurance and education. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), in Haiti since 2004, supported the Haitian Government's priorities to promote economic growth and improve access to quality basic services, particularly for the most vulnerable groups. IFC had established a full-time presence in the country by hiring two more staff in 2008.
The Board of Governors would be presented in June with a new country assistance strategy that focused on promoting growth and local development, investing in human capital and reducing vulnerability to disasters, she said. It would combine long-term institution-building, including economic governance reform, with support for the Government. IFC would foster private sector development through direct lending and technical assistance. The Bank worked closely with MINUSTAH. They had a joint initiative to rehabilitate infrastructure in the volatile Martissant neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince and a strong partnership to reduce malnutrition. The Bank had also conducted a joint mission with the United Nations and the European Union on the post damage needs assessment after four tropical storms and hurricanes had hit Haiti last year.
DORA CURREA, General Manager of the Department of the Caribbean Countries of the Inter-American Development Bank, said Haiti was the most vulnerable among the Bank's member countries, with the highest poverty rates and some of the most challenging indicators in terms of access to housing and basic services. Some 7.5 million Haitians lived below the poverty line, even before the multiple crises of 2008. As a new Government had assumed power by democratic means in 2007, expectations had risen and, for the first time in a long time, GDP per capita growth had been positive. However, the 2008 food and oil price shocks had provoked riots, which had led to the fall of one Government and pushed more Haitians into extreme poverty. Last year had turned out to be exceptionally difficult, even considering Haiti's turbulent history.
She said the events of 2008 had focused efforts on disaster relief, but now was the time to re-launch the Government's growth and poverty reduction strategy, and for a renewed partnership with donors. That was the purpose of the forthcoming 14 April conference at the Bank's headquarters, and the bank was pleased to host it. The Inter-American Development Bank was Haiti's main multilateral source of financing; it would make the largest contribution when Haiti was granted debt relief later this year. In response to the 2008 shocks, the Bank's governors had doubled grant financing for Haiti, reaffirming the institution's solidarity with the most vulnerable in that country.
She said the Haitian Government's priority projects, notably in schools, hospitals and water supply, along with measures to promote food security and safeguard the environment in preparation for the next hurricane season, would help Haiti to restore social service provision to pre-hurricane levels. The Government hoped the donors would either pledge new funds or realign existing ones towards the financing of those projects. Public work projects were not the only source of job creation; the authorities also targeted private investment to take advantage of the unprecedented market access to the United States.
Despite the 2008 external shocks, she said, Haitian authorities had managed to maintain economic stability. The economy had grown by 1.3 per cent and had stayed on track with the commitments under the International Monetary Fund's programme. To close the financing gap for the current fiscal year, authorities had cut $75 million from the investment budget and would resort to bridge financing from the central bank of $50 million. Thus, the authorities were seeking $125 million in budget support. The renewed partnership was based on mutual accountability. The Haitian authorities committed to reforms to strengthen governance and enhance the business environment. Donors were invited to support those reforms that sought to ensure greater sustainability and effectiveness.
NIKY FABIANCIC, Deputy Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said recent high-level visits to the country had highlighted the good work being done to consolidate gains, with a view to putting Haiti on the path to spearheading its own recovery and development. The Government had managed to maintain macroeconomic stability and had engineered the receipt of effective assistance from United Nations agencies, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations. It had also orchestrated a solid response to the food crisis and the chaos created by the hurricanes that had battered the country. Nevertheless, the country still faced huge challenges. Governance was fragile, recovery was very slow and the food supply had not managed to satisfy the demand. But, an opportunity existed for Haiti, because consensus had been shaped around what had to be done in the coming years.
He said the poverty reduction strategy paper had identified the priorities, as well as the initiatives, to put Haiti on the path to sustainable development and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In that context, the Government and United Nations agencies had agreed on a United Nations development assistance framework last year for 2009 to 2011. Currently, the Government was directing efforts to identify programmes to be presented on 14 April. He was certain it would present a clear path to the future. United Nations agencies echoed the approaches outlined in the Secretary-General's report, but economic development would not happen without addressing the vulnerabilities persistent in the population. Economic and social agendas must be mutually reinforcing. Both agendas would considerably strengthen peace and stability, and give time for economic programmes to allow major investment to return to Haiti. They should encourage job creation, especially for women and young people.
Concerned by the significant gap between the necessary financing and what was currently available, he said UNDP had only 26 per cent of required funds. After the natural disasters of 2008, a new approach had been adopted by the Government and the United Nations system, including the World Bank, to assess the damages and losses, and establish what needed to be done to put communities "back on their feet". Those stakeholders had confirmed the urgent need to tackle Haiti's extreme vulnerability to natural disasters, lest a good part of the investment already made in development be put at risk. A fully operational rule of law was essential to guarantee robust economic and social programmes. That was why United Nations agencies had committed to redoubling efforts to strengthen and modernize institutions throughout the territory and to promote democratic dialogue.
Although he was heartened by the progress, he said the situation in Haiti was precarious, and sustaining the achievements was a major challenge. The brutal and daily reality of thousands of Haitians could not be forgotten. UNDP wished to remain an esteemed and trustworthy partner for Haiti.
CORINNE DELECHAT, Mission Chief for Haiti of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said that, in the past five years, Haiti had made great strides in macroeconomic management in partnership with IMF. Thanks to strong donor support and improved security under MINUSTAH, real GDP growth was positive again, inflation had fallen from 40 per cent to less than 5 per cent, fiscal discipline had been restored, international reserves had increased and key structural and institutional reforms had begun. Despite devastating hurricanes and high food prices last year, Haitian authorities were able to maintain macroeconomic stability and remain on track under the poverty reduction and growth facility programme. Those hard-won gains, however, remained fragile. An increasingly tense political situation could complicate economic policymaking. In recent months, political tensions had slowed passage of the budget and economic governance measures that were needed to secure much-needed debt relief. The Senate elections in April could complicate an already difficult relationship between the executive and legislative powers.
The global crisis was affecting Haiti's trade and fiscal links, she said. Lower food and fuel prices would likely cushion the effect of weaker export demand, lower remittances and hurricane-related construction imports on the external current account deficit. Lower import prices had curbed inflation, but they were creating a shortfall in customs revenue, estimated at about $50 million for 2009. IMF had stepped up efforts to help Haiti respond to the negative impact of the global financial crisis and last year's hurricanes. On 11 February, it had approved a $37 million increase in support. Since 2006, Haiti had received $136 million in poverty reduction and growth facility disbursements. Haiti was on track to receive almost $1 billion in debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative by the end of June. Annual debt service savings of $35 million to $40 million would free resources for poverty-reduction programmes.
Haitian authorities would seek during the donor conference this month, an additional $125 million in budget support and about $700 million in project financing to help close the $50 million budget gap and finance critical investment projects, she said. She urged donors to provide that much-needed financing. Failure to do so could deter investment projects needed to create jobs, support growth and raise living standards. Over the medium term, it would be important to reduce structural and institutional bottlenecks, raise domestic resources to support higher social and capital spending, and develop the financial sector. Those steps were necessary for creating favourable conditions for private sector investment to boost exports, achieve sustainable growth and reduce poverty. The potential benefits of such an approach were highlighted in Paul Collier's report.
JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, expressed strong support for MINUSTAH and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for their efforts to improve stability and governance in Haiti. He lauded the advances in four of the five benchmarks that were critical for consolidating Haiti's stability. They included political dialogue; extension of State authority, including border management; strengthening of security; and the rule of law and human rights. He recognized the strong commitment by Latin American countries that were pooling resources to help strengthen the Haitian national police, as well as the efforts of the Consultative Group 2x9 on Haiti. The assumption of the Government of Prime Minister Pierre-Louis was an important step forward and illustrated better collaboration among the executive branch, the Parliament and civil society in responding to the series of devastating hurricanes and tropical storms in the country. It was important to solidify that cooperation.
He called on all political actors to ensure that the upcoming Senate elections be held freely, fairly and in a peaceful atmosphere. Haiti continued to grapple with food insecurity, poverty and a fragile humanitarian situation. The daily living conditions of Haiti's people had markedly deteriorated, and there was a link between security and development. Current levels of poverty, deprivation and suffering were clearly incompatible with long-term stability. Haitian authorities must work closely with the international community to facilitate distribution of humanitarian aid and recovery, as well as lay a foundation for renewed private-sector activity and longer-term reconstruction and development. He stressed the importance of the 14 April donor conference, and encouraged the Haitian Government to present an action plan detailing its priorities and the international financing needed to make the international community's involvement more focused and coherent. Such an action plan would also serve to harmonize existing humanitarian, reconstruction and development plans.
HERALDO MUÑOZ ( Chile) said that, since the crisis had begun in February 2004, Chile had been involved in efforts to prevent civil war in Haiti and help rebuild that country. Chile had maintained an active presence in MINUSTAH since its inception five years ago. He welcomed the Government's strong measures to consolidate democracy and strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights. Full stabilization should go hand in hand with an inclusive democratic process so that all Haitians would feel they were part of their country's reconstruction and prosperity. He expressed hope that the upcoming elections would take place under peaceful conditions. He recognized the improved security conditions in Haiti, such as the drop in the number of kidnappings. He noted progress in achieving four of the five benchmarks established by the Secretary-General. Increased international aid was needed to strengthen maritime and land border patrols, in order to mitigate the destabilizing impact of drug trafficking. He expressed profound concern over the lack of improvement in Haiti's socio-economic development and food security.
Coordination among all stakeholders involved in peacebuilding in Haiti must include efforts to improve socio-economic conditions and quality of life indicators for Haitians, he said. The donor conference was a positive sign. Chile and Haiti had bilateral cooperation policies to promote education and day-care services. Chile would attend the conference and it would contribute to its success, to ensure that development programmes were carried in line with the principle of national ownership. It was urgent to foster private investment in order to create jobs. He stressed Chile's historic commitment to Haiti and the efforts of several Latin American nations. They had contributed almost 60 per cent of the forces of MINUSTAH. The 2x9 mechanism and the newly created working group for Latin American police coordination and cooperation with the Haitian national police were trying to find common ground to create sustainable, coherent strategies. This year, Chile would train more than 70 members of the Haitian national police. That programme would continue for the next five years.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said Haiti was the second largest recipient of Canadian development assistance after Afghanistan, with a commitment amounting to $555 million for 2006-2011. The inter-American nature of international efforts in Haiti was fundamental to international activities in the country. Last year's hurricanes reminded all that the progress being made in Haiti was fragile. Consolidating security required a concerted effort in development. At the same time, truly useful action towards development required unwavering political support. Thus, all levels of United Nations representation in Haiti must support one another, and it was up to the Special Representative, in particular, to provide the added value of his political role to the country team's activities.
In a context such as the one in Haiti -- where everything must be done immediately -- certain priorities must be set, he said, citing first the crucial need to maintain political consensus among Haitian authorities. Also critical was for MINUSTAH to remain in the country as long as it took to guarantee the security and stability of the institutions. MINUSTAH's work must also be paired with the success of the reform of the Haitian national police and reforms of the judicial and correctional systems. Haitian leadership and ownership of the reforms were also crucial ingredients, but that must not delay or block the required reforms. Passivity as a response to the complex problems and daunting tasks was one of the main obstacles. "We must continue to fight this tendency for inaction in order to achieve success in Haiti," he urged. The donor conference would be an opportunity to strengthen the coordination of partnerships. The senate elections in a few days would help stabilize Government institutions. Despite the extent of the overall challenge, Canada remained clear-sighted, yet confident and determined to contribute to Haiti's development.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said that, despite progress in such areas as political dialogue and elections, extension of State authority, strengthened security, and rule of law and human rights, there had been a marked deterioration in living conditions. In addition, achievements in the area of security remained fragile. Thus, MINUSTAH's present configuration and mandate should be maintained, and the international community should support domestic efforts to improve the socio-economic situation. Haitians had the primary responsibility for and full ownership of their country's development, but they needed unwavering international solidarity and support.
He noted that MINUSTAH and Haitian authorities had cooperated to dramatically improve security in the country. A key component of their strategy was the reform and strengthening of the national police. There was optimism that the force would reach the quantitative and qualitative goals, but for that to occur, staying the course was essential, as was endowing Haiti with the institutional tools it needed to consolidate stability. All bilateral and multilateral assistance in that regard should be enhanced at this critical juncture. At the same time, Haiti's numerous partners should strive to overcome the challenges facing Haitians in their daily lives. The forthcoming donor conference was a unique opportunity for furthering coordination and identifying ways to optimize resources. Financial constraints on donors were currently significant, as they themselves struggled with diminishing revenues, but it should be remembered that Haiti's needs were pressing and much more significant.
JORGE ARGÜELLO ( Argentina) said his country, as a participant in MINUSTAH, lauded the Mission's role in establishing stability and security in Haiti. The recent Council mission to Haiti had observed progress made in security and it stressed the need to support the Haitian national police, in order to enable it to increase its capacity. He noted the decrease in the crime rate and increased confidence in the police among the Haitian population. He noted with concern that opportunities for socio-economic advancement had been significantly jeopardized, due largely to natural disasters last year. Haiti's situation continued to be fragile. The international community's action in Haiti could not, and must not, be confined to MINUSTAH. Haiti's population was living under difficult conditions. The situation could worsen unless adequate support was given.
The donor conference provided an opportunity to advance the socio-economic development process and strengthen the nation's institutional capacity, he said. It was necessary to ensure that, in the medium term, Haiti effectively coordinated and implemented the support it received. The United Nations had a fundamental role in strengthening the Haitian State and ensuring good governance and human development. The Organization's success would be evident the day its presence was no longer needed in Haiti. He stressed the commitment of Latin American countries to Haiti, particularly in terms of technical cooperation projects. Argentina provided cooperation in the areas of food security and strengthening the institutions of the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Economics and Finance. Despite the difficulties, there were opportunities to make progress in consolidating stability in Haiti.
ENRIQUILLO A. DEL ROSARIO CEBALLOS ( Dominican Republic) said debates such as today's helped to keep the commitment to Haiti in the forefront. Nature had recently delivered a harsh blow the already difficult living conditions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but the effects had been even more devastating for the Haitian people. Recurring hurricanes cast a shadow and affected at least Haiti's immediate future. The world should respond to the call for solidarity, as expressed in various multilateral forums by leaders of his region. The time had come to assist Haiti to the degree possible, aimed at making it less dependent on humanitarian assistance, for the country's economic fundamentals were strong.
He said his country was currently working with Haiti on re-establishing the bilateral joint commission, which had as its purpose to respond to the priority issues of their relationship, such as immigration, greater trade flows, health, education, border security and drug trafficking. The bilateral joint commission would restart its meetings this month, commencing work on an important common agenda. As for border management, the Dominican Republic had implemented a professionally run programme on its side of the border. The responsibility of the special force was not only to supervise the border, but also to safeguard the physical integrity and health of persons crossing it. He supported the forthcoming donor conference and expected it to stimulate the cooperation of the international community with Haiti. The international financial and economic crisis had affected all, but the principle of solidarity should be maintained, especially in Haiti's case.
MARÍA FERNANDA ESPINOSA ( Ecuador) reiterated her country's support of MINUSTAH. It had committed itself to the Mission through a rotating contingency of military engineers. Ecuador was helping to provide the Haitian Government with the support it needed to create a climate of security, which would make it possible to sustain renewal of its democratic institutions, full recovery of the rule of law and economic well-being. Peacekeeping was not confined to sending troops, but involved a whole set of measures, and Ecuador had been involved in school missions and response to refugees, training its peacekeepers to deal with civilians. It had also been part of the "consultative 2x9 process" in Haiti.
She said Ecuador had been pleased at the last extension of MINUSTAH's mandate until October, as well as the confirmation of Prime Minister Préval during a period of emergency, when storms were lashing the nation. She trusted that the senatorial elections would take place freely, fairly and inclusively, and in an open and peaceful climate. Concerning Haiti's poverty and fragile humanitarian situation, she trusted that the country's Group of Friends and donors would engage in coordinating a long-term programme to facilitate assistance and recovery. Ecuador hoped that the donor conference next week would be an opportunity for friends of Haiti to establish concrete mechanisms for that purpose, in order to boost development for the well-deserved Haitian people.
LUIS ENRIQUE CHÁVEZ ( Peru) said the situation in Haiti had improved. Troubled areas, such as Cité Soleil, now enjoyed considerable tranquillity and peace. Despite difficulties, political dialogue continued. He said he trusted that the Senate elections would be carried out successfully. He hailed improvements made to strengthen State authority, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Challenges existed in the socio-economic sphere. The deterioration of the living standards of the Haitian people was worrisome. That was due, in part, to the hurricanes that had hit the country in 2008, as well as the world food and financial crises. It was crucial to respond to the challenge with new political will, to ensure that development and reconstruction in Haiti continued.
The donor conference provided an exceptional opportunity for Haiti to obtain financial and technical support, improve planning and identify key objectives in the areas of food security, job creation and delivery of basic services. Urgent needs, however, must not overshadow the need for long-term strategies for social and economic development. It was necessary to support gains in security, political dialogue, extension of the State's authority, the rule of law and respect for human rights, in order to improve the quality of life of all Haitians. He stressed the important role of MINUSTAH in creating stability in Haiti and the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and United Nations agencies. It was important to strengthen coordination between the Government of Haiti and international partners. He stressed Peru's unwavering commitment to stabilization and development in Haiti.
MARTIN PALOUŠ ( Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, lauded MINUSTAH's efforts to reverse the deteriorating security situation and assist in State-building and institutional capacity-building. He underscored the continued need for increased cooperation with the Haitian national police to respond more effectively to threats from organized crime. Justice system reform was a prerequisite for consolidating the security situation. He encouraged the Government to take more steps to bring stability, socio-economic advancement and political progress to the country. He commended the leadership of President Préval to stabilize the economy and restore political institutions. Senate elections in April and June, which had been postponed since the end of 2007, were a significant political challenge. The successful holding of those elections would, without a doubt, help to further stabilize Haiti's political and security situation. International support was crucial, and the European Union would contribute €3.3 million in that regard.
Much more must be done in the areas of political dialogue and elections, extension of State authority, security, the rule of law and human rights, he said. He commended MINUSTAH's efforts to help Haitian authorities, particularly the Haitian national police, in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform. Those efforts must continue. The European Union would continue to support Haiti, in that regard, in order to help combat armed violence and organized crime and ensure the rule of law and human rights. The European Union's cooperation strategy with Haiti for the 2008-2013 period totalled €291 million and focused primarily on infrastructure development and governance. The European Union, a major donor to Haiti, had opened a local humanitarian aid office in Port-au-Prince in February, and it stood ready to actively participate in the donor conference.
ABELARDO MORENO ( Cuba) said that Haiti, the cradle of the wars of liberation from colonialism in the Americas, today was a country neglected by the international community. The country was among the clearest examples of the disastrous consequences of colonialism and neo-colonialism, of the injustice and exclusivity of the current international order and intervention, as featured in its turbulent history. When addressing Haiti's challenges, attention generally centred on so-called security matters, while minimizing its grave social and structural economic problems. To achieve peace, security and stability in Haiti, first, poverty and underdevelopment in Haiti needed to be eliminated. There was no peace and security for people living in hunger, dire health and illiteracy.
He said that, since MINUSTAH's arrival, security on the ground had improved, but there could be no military solution to the question of Haiti. Almost 80 per cent of all Haitians lived in poverty, half were unemployed and life expectancy was no higher than 52, while 48 of every 100 inhabitants were illiterate. HIV/AIDS and undernourishment were rampant. Last year, the country had suffered new devastating blows when four successive storms lashed its coastline; the death toll had been enormous. Cuba, a small, blockaded country with very limited resources, had increased its cooperation with Haiti, especially in the areas of health, energy, education and sport. Cuba's actions were but a modest example of how much could be done in Haiti through international cooperation and assistance. The international community had an unavoidable duty to contribute massively to meet its financial commitments to Haiti, without which even the most modest Millennium Development Goals would remain unattainable for that country.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) recognized Haiti's recent problems and challenges, which had been exacerbated by natural disasters, the financial crisis and soaring food prices. Like other Latin American and Caribbean countries, Colombia had made it a priority to support Haiti in overcoming the challenges it faced. In that context, Colombia was involved in several regional initiatives. Colombia had recently contributed more troops to MINUSTAH, including police officers experienced in fighting kidnapping and drug trafficking. Colombia would continue to contribute police personnel and work with other Latin American countries. It recently began participating as an observer in the 2x9 mechanism and it was taking part in the activities of the working group for coordination of Latin American cooperation with the Haitian national police.
Strengthening the Haitian national police was a step in the right direction and it addressed present challenges, particularly the fight against organized crime, which required a comprehensive, police-oriented response, she said. Colombia had constantly sought to support institutional development within the framework of human rights protection. To help Haiti mitigate the impact of natural disasters and achieve socio-economic development, in 2008 Colombia had contributed six metric tons of food, medicine and other emergency humanitarian aid. It had helped to mitigate the impact of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna. Colombia was also involved in initiatives on technical education, food security and environmental protection.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela), noting that Haiti had played a stellar role in Venezuela's history, said the neighbouring country had suffered invasions and interventions throughout its history and been subjected to the most detestable imperial projects aimed at undermining its sovereignty. Like other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Haiti suffered from the perverse prescription of neo-liberal economists imposed under the auspices of the World Bank and IMF. The social and human consequences had been devastating, opening "space" for imports and greedy international consortiums. That had been lethal for Haiti and had completely undermined its sovereignty. The current crisis would affect not only Haiti, but all poor countries, increasing poverty and inequality. Haiti served as a warning of the high social costs a country might be called on to pay.
Since MINUSTAH, he said, perhaps some objectives of stabilization for Haiti had been met, but major mistakes had also been made, which opened questions about the pre-eminence of security -- that it even be counterproductive in the absence of a comprehensive economic and social cooperation plan. That was precisely what the Haitian Government needed, and its Prime Minister had stressed that MINUSTAH must reinvent itself to open the door to a new era, leading to a new judicial system and social and economic support. The Venezuelan Government had provided sustained assistance to the Haitian people in terms of energy cooperation and food assistance. It had contributed to overcoming poverty through integration schemes. The people of Haiti were worthy and valiant, and did not want to be treated as less able. They did not want handouts from the international community either; they wanted cooperation and solidarity.
RAYMOND WOLFE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said Jamaica and Haiti were part of the Caribbean family and they shared common regional goals and objectives. The Secretary-General's report showed the enormous complexity of Haiti's situation. The process to create stability and achieve long-term sustainable development had been complicated by the series of tropical storms and hurricanes that had ravaged the country during the reporting period, and the impact of the global financial crisis. The achievements of the Haitian authorities and people to establish political dialogue, extend and strengthen the authority and reach of the State, and establish rule of law, among other things, deserved the international community's recognition. A share of that credit should also go to MINUSTAH for its support in creating stability in Haiti through security assistance for the electoral process and assistance for building institutional capacity, reducing violence and strengthening the security sector. Such gains, however, were fragile and required international support.
He supported holding the donor conference to support implementation of Haiti's national strategy for growth and poverty reduction paper. Stronger unity and cooperation among the Haitian people, as well as conditions for greater stability and security would offer the best hope of a meaningful and productive partnership between Haitian authorities and the donor community in order to put the country on a path of sustained economic recovery. He strongly endorsed the Secretary-General's appeal for the international community to continue to focus attention on Haiti and provide it with much-needed assistance.
LÉO MÉRORÈS (Haiti) said today's speakers seemed inspired by the desire to redress the situation in Haiti, which had gone on for far too long. He paid tribute to those who had perished on the field of honour and thanked Council members and the international community as a whole for their ongoing interest in Haiti. He thanked all speakers from CARICOM, the Latin American region and elsewhere for their support. The recent high-level visits had been seen as tangible proof of commitment to rebuild the country. Haitians remained committed to building a modern democratic society, one geared towards sustainable development. The Secretary-General's report was timely and commanded attention. It had come at a crucial moment when Haitians were preparing to cast their votes to fill 12 vacancies in the Senate. That would reinforce the basis of democratic renewal, which was the nation's aspiration.
He said that, while the security situation had "definitely improved, we cannot cry victory, because, clearly, the situation remains fragile". Thus, he attached special importance to the initiative to give the country 14,000 police officers by 2011 and increase efforts towards reforming the judicial and corrections systems. Socio-economic development, as many had recognized, was still suffering from the effects of the food crisis and the 2008 storms, which had devastated infrastructure and nearly wiped out agriculture. All of that was now compounded by the world financial crisis. In Haiti, 78 per cent of the population still lived below the poverty line. Efforts by Haitian authorities to attain the Millennium Development Goals were being sorely tested.
Accordingly, he wished, through the Council, to thank the Secretary-General for his active commitment to a successful donor conference next week. It was crucial to align interventions with the Government's priorities; that would hopefully give the country a boost and allow it to move forward on a more stable economic basis. No doubt, with the necessary support, the objectives for the country's development would be met. Indeed, Haiti was at a decisive turning point, and the international community must seize the moment. For its part, " Haiti stands ready to seize this chance", he concluded.
In closing remarks, Mr. ANNABI expressed hoped that international support for Haiti could be sustained in the context of the upcoming donor conference. He expressed appreciation for the strong support and contribution of Latin American countries to MINUSTAH, as well as the highly effective leadership of the outgoing MINUSTAH Commander, who had made significant progress in improving Haiti's security situation. He supported the efforts of the Organization of American States in the electoral process. It was necessary to work together to create a sustainable environment to implement security and put Haiti on a durable track, so that MINUSTAH could leave permanently.
For information media • not an official record