2 August 2007

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a breakfast with leaders of civil society, the private sector and political parties in Port-au-Prince today, 2 August:

It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you this morning.  Thank you all for coming.

As I said to President Préval yesterday, I hope, with my presence here, to honour the men and women of Haiti for the courage and determination they have displayed over the past few years.  You, as the leaders of the different components of your society, are direct and genuine representatives of the Haitian people, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on the significant progress your country has made and to offer you my wholehearted support.

After decades of internal strife and widespread suffering, Haiti now has a historic opportunity to achieve lasting peace and development.  Since the election of a new Government last year, a wide spectrum of Haitians has undertaken to work together across party lines -- to help heal the wounds of the past and to build a better future.

The United Nations and the wider international community are here to accompany you and the Government on the difficult road ahead.  You can count on our continued support.  However, we must always keep in mind that the primary responsibility for consolidating peace and reinforcing stability rests with the leaders and people of Haiti.  The international community can only assist you in this process.

As President [René] Préval has stressed, no society can advance through the efforts of its Government alone.  True progress depends on wide and deep public support for change.  That is why I attach particular importance to this discussion with you.  As leaders and key opinion-makers, your commitment and your dynamism are crucial to the success of our common endeavour.

Encouraging signs of change are already taking root in Haiti.  Since the elections, security has improved, particularly in the capital and in Gonaïves.  This positive development was made possible through the combined efforts of the Haitian authorities, the Haitian National Police and [the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)], with the cooperation of the population.  As a result, many long-suffering people have finally been able to resume normal patterns of daily life.

Much remains to be done, but the improvements seen thus far should inspire us all to redouble our efforts to tackle the outstanding challenges.  The ravages of drug trafficking and organized crime in Haiti are all too visible.  Every effort must be made to put a stop to these debilitating activities.  Stability cannot be consolidated while these scourges continue to plague the country.  The United Nations will do its utmost to assist, while encouraging broader support from our international partners.

At the same time, we intend to redouble our efforts to work with the Haitian leadership to strengthen State institutions for the rule of law.  We look forward to continuing our support to the vetting and capacity-building programmes of the Haitian National Police.  Similarly, we intend to provide technical advice to assist in the reform of the justice and corrections systems.

But the rule of law cannot be created or sustained through security operations or technical processes alone.  It depends on and creates a foundation for other key aspects of progress.  The rule of law fosters a culture of democracy.  It promotes political stability.  And it encourages economic growth.  The United Nations, through MINUSTAH and the UN funds and programmes, is committed to assisting in all of these areas.  Success will only be possible with your full support and participation.

President Préval has pledged to fight corruption.  I believe that you, as leaders of Haitian society, have a crucial role to play in this struggle.  You serve as examples for the whole society.  Through your behaviour, you can reinforce the need for ethical standards and social responsibility at every level.  Through your actions, you can reinforce the need for accountability and transparency in the recovery process.  The youth of Haiti, in particular, need you to be their positive role models.

People should not feel that their talents are being wasted.  That is why peace consolidation must go hand in hand with efforts to expand prospects for decent jobs and to address the country’s socio-economic inequalities.  I welcome the initiatives of the private sector to contribute to Haiti’s development efforts.  I urge businesses to play their part in the recovery process, including by exercising responsible corporate citizenship.

People need to experience a tangible improvement in their living conditions.  I will continue to make this point forcefully in my interactions with the donor community and Member States.  We all know that development, security and human rights, underpinned by the rule of law, are all closely linked.  And Haiti provides a vivid example of these interlinkages.

That is also why it is so important to make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals -- our common vision for creating a better world for all.  We need to reduce extreme poverty and make progress towards the other Millennium Development Goals if we are to secure lasting peace and stability.

This year marks the midpoint between the adoption of the Goals and the target date of 2015.  That makes it especially important for all of us to accelerate efforts to reach the Goals.  Concerted action now -- on poverty, on health and AIDS, on education, on gender equality and on other needs -- may mean the difference between success and failure in achieving these crucial targets.

Haiti faces many challenges.  Rebuilding the country is a long-term and difficult venture.  I will work hard to sustain the engagement of the international community and to mobilize the long-term assistance that is needed.

I know that you are aware of your responsibilities and of the key role you will have to play in the months and years ahead.  It is a difficult but noble task, one that you must carry out with pride.  The future of Haiti, to a large extent, lies in your hands.  As the legend on the Haitian flag rightly proclaims, “L’Union fait la force”:  in union there is strength.  I promise to work with you to establish a fair, stable and prosperous nation.

Mèci anpil. Thank you very much.

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*     Revised to include portion translated from French.

For information media • not an official record