8 December 1998


Press Release
GA/9529



ASSEMBLY EXTENDS INTERNATIONAL CIVILIAN MISSION IN HAITI TO 31 DECEMBER 1999, URGING NATION'S AUTHORITIES TO MOBILIZE WILL TO REFORM JUSTICE SYSTEM

19981208
Calls for Continued International Assistance to Somalia, And to Refugees and Countries of Asylum in Central and Eastern Africa

The General Assembly this morning renewed the mandate of the United Nations component of the International Civilian Mission to Haiti (MICIVIH) until 31 December 1999, according to its current terms of reference and modalities.

In adopting, without a vote, a resolution on democracy and human rights in Haiti, introduced by the representative of Venezuela, the Assembly called on the Haitian authorities to mobilize political will to reform and strengthen Haiti's system of justice, including the improvement of the country's prisons. It also urged the authorities and political leaders to continue their efforts to find a compromise that will bring an end to the political crisis.

The representative of Haiti told the Assembly it was now vital for democracy to yield results in his country. It was undeniable that the current situation was not conducive to satisfying the people's thirst for justice, and social and economic rights. The respect for democracy and constitutional order, however, required that Haiti not rush into situations that could give rise to greater problems in the future.

The representative of Barbados, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said those nations shared the deep concern of the international community regarding the policy vacuum in Haiti. For more than 18 months, the country had not been able to choose a Prime Minister. In that climate, it had not been possible to formulate a national development strategy -- a strategy which was crucial for addressing Haiti's social and economic problems, and for accelerating growth and reducing poverty.

The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the European Union remained gravely concerned about the persistent constitutional crisis and political stalemate in Haiti. External assistance could only produce sustainable results if good governance and the rule of law provided the necessary preconditions for economic and social progress. Otherwise, all efforts and resources would be considered wasted.


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In other action this morning, the Assembly called on Governments, the United Nations and the international community as a whole to continue to provide resources and operational support to refugees and countries of asylum in Central and East Africa. By adopting, without a vote, a resolution on assistance to Central and East African countries receiving refugees, returnees and displaced persons, introduced by the representative of Senegal, the Assembly appealed to the international community to assist in the search for durable solutions for African refugees, including voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement in third countries.

Further, it urged regional Governments and all concerned parties to provide protection, as well as safe and unhindered access for all United Nations and other humanitarian personnel to the populations in need in the region.

By the terms of another draft resolution, adopted without a vote, on assistance for the humanitarian relief and the economic and social rehabilitation of Somalia, the Assembly urged all States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to continue to assist the Somali people to embark on the rehabilitation of basic social and economic services, and institution-building aimed at the restoration of civil adminstration at the local level in all those parts of the country where peace and security prevail.

Also by the text, introduced by the representative of Mauritania, the Assembly called on all parties, movements and factions in Somalia to respect fully the security and safety of personnel of the United Nations and its specialized agencies and of NGOs and to guarantee their complete freedom of movement throughout the country.

Furthermore, the Assembly called on the Secretary-General to continue to mobilize international humanitarian, rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance for Somalia; and on the international community to provide continuing and increased assistance in response to the United Nations consolidated inter-agency appeal for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance for Somalia covering the period from October 1998 to December 1999.

Also this morning, the Assembly deferred consideration of the following items and decided to include them in the provisional agenda of its fifty- fourth session: declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on the aerial and naval military attack on Libya by the United States Administration in April 1986; armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security; consequences of the Iraqi occupation of and aggression against Kuwait; implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations; and the launching of global negotiations on international economic cooperation for development.


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Statements were also made by the representatives of the Dominican Republic and Canada.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to consider the reports of the Sixth Committee (Legal).


Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly meets this morning to continue consideration of coordination of the United Nations humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, taking up drafts on assistance for Somalia, and to Central and East African countries receiving refugees, returnees and displaced persons.

The Assembly was also expected to consider the following: declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on the aerial and naval military attack on Libya by the United States Administration in April 1986; armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; the non- proliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security; consequences of the Iraqi occupation of and aggression against Kuwait; implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations; and the launching of global negotiations on international economic cooperation for development.

The Assembly will also review the situation of democracy and human rights in Haiti; a related draft; as well as a report of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on budget implications of the draft's adoption.

Strengthening United Nations Assistance

By the terms of the draft resolution on assistance for Somalia (document A/53/L.31), the Assembly would urge all States and intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations (NGOs) concerned to continue to implement the terms of its resolution 47/160 regarding assistance to the Somali people to embark on the rehabilitation of basic social and economic services, and institution- building aimed at the restoration of civil adminstration at the local level in all those parts of the country where peace and security prevail.

The Assembly would also call on all parties, movements and factions in Somalia to respect fully the security and safety of personnel of the United Nations and its specialized agencies and of non-governmental organizations, and to guarantee their complete freedom of movement throughout the country. It would also call on the Secretary-General to continue to mobilize international humanitarian, rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance for Somalia. Further, it would call on the international community to provide continuing and increased assistance in response to the United Nations consolidated inter-agency appeal for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance for Somalia covering the period from October 1998 to December 1999.

The draft is sponsored by: Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.


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By the terms of the draft resolution on special assistance to Central and East African countries (document A/53/L.64) receiving refugees, returnees and displaced persons the Assembly would appeal to the international community to assist in the search for durable solutions for African refugees, including voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement in third countries. It would call upon Governments, relevant United Nations bodies, intergovernmental organizations and the international community to strengthen the emergency response capacity of the United Nations system and to continue to provide needed resources and operational support to refugees and countries of asylum in Central and East Africa.

The Assembly would urge regional Governments and all concerned parties to provide protection, as well as safe and unhindered access, for all United Nations and other humanitarian personnel to the populations in need in all areas of the region, in accordance with international humanitarian law. It would also call upon the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to mobilize humanitarian assistance for the relief, voluntary repatriation, rehabilitation and resettlement of refugees, returnees and displaced persons, including those refugees in urban areas.

Co-sponsoring the draft are India, Senegal and the United States.

Democracy and Human Rights in Haiti

The present report of the Secretary-General on the situation of democracy and human rights in Haiti (document A/53/564) contains recommendations on ways the international community can continue to assist the Haitian authorities with assistance in the field of institution-building; supporting the development of a programme for the promotion and protection of human rights and verifying full observance by Haiti of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Prepared in consultations with the OAU, the report reviews the general context in which International Civilian Mission to Haiti (MICIVIH) has been operating; and the Mission's efforts to enhance respect for human rights through its monitoring of, and technical assistance to; the police force, the prison administration, the justice system, the Office of the Ombudsman, as well as its human rights promotion programmes.

According to the report, MICIVIH continued to liaise and cooperate with the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), which has been providing it with logistical and administrative support.

Since his report of 20 July 1998, the Secretary-General states that the political situation has not improved. It is still dominated by the protracted electoral and institutional crisis, which continues to erode the moral, political, economic and social fabric of the country. Uncertainty shrouds the


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immediate future of most democratic institutions. The process of ratifying the candidate designated by Haitian President René Preval as Prime Minister has been interrupted in Parliament -- hostage of the administrative and financial tribunal. The utter lack of urgency, displayed by all, over the absence of a Prime Minister or a properly constituted government contrasts unfavourably with the gravity of the overall situation in the country and the plight of its citizens, both of which have been aggravated by the consequences of Hurricane Georges.

Four years after the re-establishment of constitutional order, undeniable progress has been made in the human rights field, the report goes on to say. However, in the absence of well-established institutions, that progress will remain fragile. Rising intolerance and polarization stemming from the protracted political crisis has cast shadows over the full enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms. Concerns over the security of the State have impinged on respect for due process and the rule of law.

The Haitian National Police has continued to make institutional and operational progress in a context of increasing political difficulties, despite major logistical and other constraints, and to address instances of crime, corruption and drug trafficking within its ranks. Though growing in maturity, the rank and file still displays a low threshold of self-discipline and respect for individual rights when dealing with surges of armed crime and threats against members of the institution.

Judicial reform remains pivotal to improvements in the functioning of the police as an institution respectful of the law as well as to more wide- spread respect for individual liberties and due process, states the report. The MICIVIH and MIPONUH, whose responsibilities compliment each other, have continued to work closely together in the training of the Haitian National Police, in fostering respect for human dignity and in improving relations between the police and local communities. The complementarity between human rights monitoring and institution-building makes the United Nations Mission a valuable partner for the Haitian authorities in their efforts to increase accountability, respect for human rights and to lay the foundations of the rule of law.

By the terms of the draft on the situation in Haiti (document A/53/L.57), the Assembly would decide to authorize, on the recommendation of the Secretary-General, the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations component of the international Civilian Mission to Haiti until 31 December 1999. It would also urge the authorities and political leaders to continue their efforts to find a compromise to bring an end to the political crisis there and would call upon the Haitian authorities to mobilize the political will to reform and strengthen Haiti's justice system, including improving the country's prisons.


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The text would request the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly two reports on the implementation of the present resolution. The first report, to be submitted no later than 15 May 1999, would address ways the international community could continue to assist Haitian authorities in institution-building, in particular, judicial reform to develop a programme for the promotion and protection of human rights to contribute to the strengthening of democratic institutions; and to help verify full observance by Haiti of fundamental freedoms.

Also by the draft, the Assembly would reaffirm the commitment of the international community to continue its technical, economic and financial cooperation with Haiti in support of its economic and social development efforts in order to strengthen Haitian institutions responsible for dispensing justice and guaranteeing democracy, respect for human rights, political stability and economic development.

The text would further request the Secretary-General to continue to coordinate United Nations system-wide efforts in providing humanitarian aid and contributing to the development of Haiti.

Co-sponsoring the draft are Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, United States and Venezuela.

The report of the Fifth Committee states that should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution on Haiti, an additional appropriation of $5,919,800 would be required under section 3, peacekeeping operations and special missions, of the programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999. An additional appropriation of $849,800 would also be required under section 32, staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1, income staff assessment.

Deferral of Agenda Items

The Assembly decided to defer consideration of the item entitled "declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on the aerial and naval military attack against Libya by the United States Administration in April 1986 and include the item in the provisional agenda of the fifty-fourth session.

The Assembly decided to defer consideration of the item entitled "armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security" and include it in the provisional agenda of the fifty-fourth session.


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The Assembly decided to defer consideration of the item entitled "consequences of the Iraqi occupation of and aggression against Kuwait" and include it in the provisional agenda of the fifty-fourth session.

The Assembly decided to defer consideration of the item entitled "implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations" and include it in the provisional agenda of the fifty-fourth session.

The Assembly decided to defer consideration of the item entitled "launching of global negotiations on international economic cooperation for development" and include it in the provisional agenda of the fifty-fourth session.

Strengthening United Nations Assistance

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) introduced the draft resolution on "special assistance to Central and East African countries receiving refugees, returnees and displaced persons", on behalf of the Group of African States. One of the positive features of the draft was that special assistance was addressed, not only to Central African countries but also to East African countries that received refugees and displaced persons. Those countries were also among the least developed countries facing highly critical economic situations.

Despite efforts of the United Nations system and the OAU, the plight of refugees was precarious, he said. It was a matter of urgency that the security conditions in those areas be improved. The African Group deemed that humanitarian assistance should be substantially increased in light of the magnitude of the needs involved. Negotiations were undertaken with the representatives of donor countries and other interested parties. The United States and India had also co-sponsored it. He requested the Assembly to adopt the draft by consensus.

SIDI MOHAMED OULD MOHAMED (Mauritania), introducing the draft on emergency assistance for humanitarian relief of Somalia, said that the following countries had joined the list of co-sponsors: Mauritania, China, the Comoros, Djibouti, India and Italy. The draft was designed to assist democratization and rehabilitation of that country. The fragility of state infrastructure impeded national reconciliation in Somalia and demanded assistance in its reconstruction. The draft also contained provisions calling on Somalia to ensure safety and security of the United Nations and humanitarian personnel. On behalf of the sponsors, he thanked all countries which had contributed to the drafting of the text and expressed hope that it would be adopted by consensus.


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Action on Drafts

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft on assistance to Somalia.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote the draft resolution on special assistance to Central and East African countries receiving refugees, returnees and displaced persons.

IGNACIO ARCAYA (Venezuela) introduced the draft on Haiti on behalf of Argentina, Canada, Chile, United States, France and Venezuela. The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Austria, Barbados, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom had joined as co-sponsors. The draft paid tribute to the people of Haiti in their efforts to build a democratic society with justice and economic prosperity. It also sought to help further the political progress of that country. It reflected the international community's concern at the political stalemate in Haiti due to the lack of a Prime Minister for the past few months.

Venezuela was convinced that, given the support of the missions and the international community, Haiti would advance towards the consolidation of democracy, he said. Withdrawing international support at this time would only hinder that process. He was confident that in adopting the draft resolution, the Assembly would be supporting the development of Haiti's institutions and promoting democracy in that country.

HANS PETER MANZ (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the associated countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Iceland and Liechtenstein, said that the European Union was committed to building democratic institutions in Haiti, reforming its judiciary system and creating an efficient civil service. The European Union was financing projects in respective fields, and considerable means had also been made available for emergency aid and rehabilitation programmes. Today, the European Union was the largest donor to Haiti, with contributions amounting to about 300 million ECU, on top of assistance provided by individual European Union Member States.

The European Union remained gravely concerned about the persistent constitutional crisis and political stalemate in Haiti, he continued. External assistance would only produce sustainable results if good governance and the rule of law provided the necessary preconditions for economic and social progress. Otherwise, all efforts and resources would be considered wasted. The political situation had not improved since the resignation of the Government in June 1997. During the past 18 months, no progress had been made


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towards ending the political stalemate that hindered the formation of a new Government.

The European Union deplored the fact that the elections planned for November 1998 had again been postponed and that no alternative date had been set, he said. The European Union was ready to provide electoral assistance, as soon as the Government and the political parties reached consensus on the organization of the elections.

He said that the economy of Haiti had not yet got off the ground. The absence of a functioning Government and the weakness of institutions in Haiti had a negative impact on law and order, as well as on the promotion of human rights. The European Union noted with regret that irregularities in the prison system, including: the detention of individuals after their sentences had expired; ill treatment of detainees; an extraordinarily high number of detainees who had not been sentenced; and the appalling sanitary conditions, still persisted. For all those reasons, MIPONUH, MICIVIH, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a number of respective bilateral programmes continued to play an indispensable role in Haiti. The European Union supported the extension of the United Nations component of MICIVIH for a period of one year with the current mandate and staff level, as recommended by the Secretary-General and requested earlier by the President of Haiti.

CRISTINA AGUIAR (Dominican Republic) said that to meet the needs of their peoples and encourage firm and active civil society, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean were promoting democracy and human rights; and fighting corruption, terrorism and illegal drugs. They were also promoting peace and security among their nations. The future of democracy and development in Haiti had firm bonds with the region. It was vital to provide assistance to Haiti. As neighbouring countries sharing a border, the Dominican Republic and Haiti had expanded their relations of cooperation and friendship -- extending contacts in tourism, agriculture, trade and sports. They had also concluded agreements on migration. Recently, for the first time in more than 50 years, the President of the Dominican Republic had visited Haiti.

The international missions in Haiti were lending support to the country in building its infrastructures and promoting human rights, she continued. Notwithstanding recent advances, it was necessary to recognize that the process of democratization was not yet complete. The MICIVICH must adapt its mandate to the current needs in strengthening the democratic institutions for promoting a climate that would bring about the national reconciliation in Haiti. By adopting the draft, the international community would reaffirm its commitment to the rule of law and encourage solidarity with the people of Haiti.


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ANDRE FRANCOIS GIROUX (Canada) said he hoped the draft resolution would be adopted unanimously. The MICIVIH had continued to play a key role in protecting human rights and strengthening democracy in Haiti. Undeniable progress had been made in the area of human rights. However, that progress remained fragile in light of the absence of established institutions. Institution building remained the primary task of MICIVIH. There was an urgent need to reform the judiciary and increase the protection of human rights and further consolidate democracy. In that regard, he stressed the role of the Haitian authorities in the process of concluding judicial reform. Canada felt that MICIVIH's activities should be maintained for one more year. Monitoring of human rights and strengthening of democracy went hand in hand.

The close cooperation between bilateral and multilateral entities that were participating in institution building was important to ensure complimentarily of efforts, he said. The MICIVIH was an example of close cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS). The political deadlock in Haiti was hindering the democratic process. Canada was concerned about the effects that would have on Haitian politics and its economy. A compromise was needed to end that political crisis. Efforts had to bear fruit in accordance with the Haitian Constitution and the will of the Haitian people. He was convinced that MICIVIH was a useful and effective tool to that end.

CARLSTON B. BOUCHER (Barbados), on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said member States of his group had been persistent in their appeal to the international community to continue to support Haiti. The difficult tasks which lay ahead were compounded by the absence of a culture of democracy and human rights. In particular, he cited institutions responsible for the administration of justice as a priority area for international support. Such assistance would address the current incapacity of the judicial system to deal effectively with violation of women's and children's rights, the impunity enjoyed by human rights offenders, the lack of professionalism of the national police, and the deterioration of prison conditions.

He said CARICOM shared the deep concern of the international community regarding the policy vacuum in Haiti. For more than eighteen months, the country had been unable to choose a Prime Minister. In that climate, it had not been possible to formulate a national development strategy with policy priorities for international assistance. Yet, such a strategy was crucial for addressing the country's social and economic problems, to accelerate growth and reduce poverty. In addition, implementation of the project pipeline was being hampered by the political crisis. Urgent steps must be taken to arrest further deterioration of the project portfolio.

He said CARICOM States were reaching out to Haiti to affect its smooth economic and political integration into the Community. During April and May, a CARICOM mission had visited the country to review terms and conditions of


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Haiti's membership in the Community. Negotiations in that regard were continued at CARICOM Headquarters in November. At this very movement, the Chairman of CARICOM was visiting Haiti to discuss with the authorities the political and economic situation, and to assess the scope and nature of CARICOM's assistance and support. While the legal terms and conditions of Haiti's membership in CARICOM were still being worked out, it enjoyed full participation in the political and development forums of the Community.

PIERRE LELONG (Haiti) said it was now vital for democracy to begin to yield results in his country, for it should not be associated with the misery, anguish and impatience that was the product of authoritarianism. Human rights was not advancing the way it should. The situation had been further exacerbated by Hurricane Georges which caused 250 deaths and damage of around $500 million.

Haiti was also facing a protracted institutional crisis, he said. Within the current situation, the people's thirst for justice, and social and economic rights could not be satisfied. The respect for democracy and constitutional order, however, required the country not to rush hastily into situations that could give rise to greater future problems.

Haiti welcomed the progress towards raising the population's awareness about human rights, he said. The national police continued to make progress in the maintenance of order. Statistics showed that the those forces were using their weapons in a more moderate fashion. He said the repatriation from other countries of criminals of Haitian origin was having a negative impact on the society. Those elements no longer had ties with the country and they immediately formed a criminal class that was more sophisticated than their local counterparts.

Challenges remained in establishing the rule of law, he said. Judicial reform was not finalized. The expertise and assistance of the MICIVIH would help reform the judicial apparatus. He hoped the draft would be adopted unanimously.

Action on Draft

The Assembly then adopted the draft, without a vote.

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