31 March 2010
General Assembly
GA/10932

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

International Donors’ Conference                           

 Towards a New Future for Haiti                            

AM & PM Meetings


International Conference Raises Almost $10 Billion as More Than


130 Donors Contribute ‘Towards a New Future for Haiti’

 


Secretary-General Urges ‘Sweeping’ Nation-building Exercise

As Prime Minister Presents Blueprint to Guide National Reconstruction, Recovery


The International Donors’ Conference “Towards a New Future for Haiti” raised almost $9.9 billion today in immediate and long-term assistance for the earthquake-devastated nation’s reconstruction, with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging “full and generous support” for the Haitian Government’s plan of action for recovery and development.


Of the $9.9 billion pledged by 59 donors, $5.26 billion was for the financing of specific projects of the national action plan, a figure exceeding the estimated $4 billion needed over the next 18 months.  The funds would be managed by a multi-donor reconstruction fund for Haiti and an interim commission over which Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti, would preside alongside Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.


Attending the Conference were almost 140 countries, some represented at the ministerial level, as well as international institutions including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  The event was organized by the United Nations and the United States, in cooperation with the Government of Haiti, and with the support of Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, and Spain.


Opening the Conference, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recalled that President René Préval of Haiti had rightly spoken of the earthquake-devastated nation’s critical “rendezvous with history”.  It was “the moment we come together in a global compact to build a new Haiti… a Haiti transformed”, he added.


For weeks, experts had been assessing the needs and costs of the 12 January disaster, the Secretary-General said.  Haiti’s President, Prime Minister and Government had worked out the blueprint for a national strategic plan to guide recovery and reconstruction.  The “concrete, specific and ambitious” action plan deserved the international community’s full and generous support.  “Our goal is not to rebuild.  It is to build back better,” he said.  “A Haiti where the majority of people no longer live in deep poverty, where they can go to school and enjoy better health, where they have better options than going without jobs or leaving the country altogether.”


Under the plan, a new Interim Haiti Recovery Commission would channel $3.9 billion into specific programmes and projects over the next 18 months, Secretary-General Ban said, adding that reconstruction needs over the next 10 years would be an estimated $11.5 billion.  “Clearly, this assistance must be well invested and well coordinated,” he emphasized, noting that, in addition to reconstruction, it must provide continuing emergency food, sanitation, health care and shelter.


He pointed out that, with the rainy season fast approaching, some camps for displaced persons were at risk of flooding.  The security situation in some of the camps was also worrying, he warned, adding that health and sanitation issues were growing more serious.  “I therefore appeal for further support for the Revised Humanitarian Appeal for $1.4 billion, currently only 50 per cent funded,” he said.  “As we move from emergency aid to long-term reconstruction, let us recognize that we cannot accept business as usual.  What we envision today, is wholesale national renewal… a sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations.”


The Haitian leadership, in partnership with the United Nations, was committed to a new social contract with its people, he said.  That meant fully democratic Government, economic and social policies that addressed extreme poverty; deep-rooted disparities of wealth; human rights for all, guaranteed by an independent judiciary; and a vigilant civil society.  The partnership rested on the principles of good governance, transparency and mutual accountability between Government and people, private and public sectors, and Haiti and the international community.  The social contract also required addressing old problems through fresh approaches, such as investments that created jobs, modelled on the United Nations cash-for-work programmes, and incentives to encourage people to relocate from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to cities and villages elsewhere.


Conference co-host Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, recapped the assistance given so far, saying the Haitian Government had received support from 140 nations in the form of food, temporary shelter and medical care for thousands.  However, emergency relief was only the beginning of a long road to recovery, she cautioned, pointing out that of Haiti’s 9 million people, more than a quarter of a million had died in the earthquake and more than a million others had been left homeless.  Hundreds of thousands now lived in temporary camps without sufficient food or access to sanitation.


Pre-earthquake Haiti had been on the path to progress, with the Government beginning to enact critical reforms, she said, noting that the economy had grown by 3 per cent.  Two international chains had launched hotels, a sign of rising tourism, and new factories were opening while others had been contracted to begin production.  Now the country needed broad-based, sustainable economic growth to create opportunities beyond Port-au-Prince so that people would not have to move to the capital or leave the country in search of work.  Haiti needed strong education and health systems, as well as a Government with strong, accountable institutions.  If the aid effort was slow, insufficient, and marked by conflict, lack of coordination and transparency, the challenges facing Haiti could erupt, with regional and global consequences, she warned.


Before the earthquake, migration had drained Haiti of talented citizens, many of whom had chosen to live in the United States, and more would leave unless new opportunities emerged, she said.  Quality health care had been a challenge that was now even more urgent, given Haiti’s high rates of tuberculosis; HIV; infant, child and maternal mortality; and child malnutrition.  The country faced possible outbreaks of lethal illnesses due to lack of sanitation, especially where drug-resistant strains of disease could cross borders.


Recalling that a food riot had toppled the Government in 2008, she said food had become scarce after years of deforestation had stripped Haiti’s rich topsoil, preventing farming.  Drug trafficking was a half-billion-dollar-a-year industry thriving on social and political instability.  Trafficking in human beings was similarly rampant.  “We are called to do better than in the past,” she said, stressing that leaders must make the decision to guide a strong, accountable and transparent recovery.


Commending the Government’s proposed new mechanism for providing the necessary coordination and consultation needed to direct aid where it was most needed, she warned the international community against the temptation to work around the Government rather than with it as partners, and to scatter their efforts across an array of projects rather than focusing on deeper, long-term investments.  There could be no “retreat to failed strategies”, she said, emphasizing that the Conference was not an opportunity simply to pledge money, but a chance to round up support in a smarter and more effective way.  “With one voice, we will pass this test,” she added.


Announcing that her country would pledge $1.15 billion towards strengthening the agricultural, energy, health, security and governance sectors, she promised that the United States would work with a wide range of stakeholders, including Haitian Americans, and stressed the importance of empowering Haitian women, “the best investment we can make in any country”.  It was also important to put to work the lessons learned from the response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, in which the United Nations had been an instrumental leader.


President Préval recalled that, during the sixty-third and sixty-fourth General Assembly sessions, he had spoken of the suffering in Haiti caused by a series of natural disasters that led to 3,000 deaths, hundreds of injured and material damage estimated at 15 per cent of gross domestic product.  Two years later, the earthquake had left an unprecedented 300,000 dead, thousands injured and material damage estimated at 120 per cent of gross domestic product.  He expressed deep gratitude to neighbouring countries and those far away for their humanitarian aid, emergency responders, tons of equipment, materials, medicines and food.


He went on to say that Haitians, who had paid in blood during the fight to defend their human dignity, were moved by the solidarity and compassion shown by the world.  “If this momentum of solidarity and fraternity did not evaporate, but rather broadened and deepened, it is because the dream of each nation belonging to a global partnership could come about in the future,” he said.  “But there is also a need for us to take stock and learn the lessons of this terrible disaster.  This has shown us that generosity must be more disciplined.”  There was a need to create an emergency task force under the aegis of the United Nations.  “International aid must be coordinated upstream if it is to be effective,” he said, adding that the proposal to create “red helmets” at the United Nations was a worthy one.


The President paid tribute to Haitian solidarity, bravery, spirit of sacrifice, and drive to transcend divisions in order to move towards a future of fortune and solidarity, recalling that before the earthquake, the country had already been the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.  It needed investment in infrastructure such as roads, electricity, transport and telecommunication.  Education was essential to achieving the dream of a new Haiti, but 50 years ago most international institutions had not been prepared to invest in education for developing States.  Instead, their focus had been on infrastructure, believed to contribute more directly to national capacities.


Noting that education had been considered a right rather than a productive investment for the economy, he said the facts had later proved that no development was possible without it.  Before the earthquake, 30 per cent of Haiti’s population above age 25 years had been illiterate, 25 per cent of children had not been in school and those in school had not enjoyed appropriate conditions.  Jobs had been taken up by expatriates because young graduates of Haitian training centres had lacked the appropriate skills, he said, adding that the earthquake had clearly demonstrated the social fracture that society could no longer tolerate and must repair as rapidly as possible.


“Let us not forget that education is the radical prerequisite, the only one that gives meaning to all the rest,” he said, calling on all Haitians, both in the country and abroad, to pool their resources to transform it into a nation of knowledge that promoted its historical culture, linguistic diversity and heritage.  They were the basis of the fundamental values of the national economy, in which every Haitian could enjoy a daily meal and the aid of qualified individuals.  “I therefore cherish a hope that the dream for this new Haiti finds its foundation for achievement in the commitment of pledges that will arise today from this Conference,” he said in conclusion.


Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive presented the Haitian Government’s action plan, saying that, beginning with the 25 January Montreal Conference, the country and its partners had begun laying the foundation for technical cooperation, setting forth principles built upon the Paris Declaration.  That conference had been followed by a meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to further coordinate efforts.  Likewise, today’s conference was “a historic opportunity”.


He said the action plan had been formed through broad-based consultations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the Haitian diaspora and the international community.  More than 100 non-governmental organizations had made contributions, and were seen as vital partners.  At the moment, constructive dialogues were taking place between the executive and legislative branches of Government on ending the emergency phase and launching the reconstruction process, in strict compliance with the Constitution.


It was difficult to choose among the different options, he admitted, explaining that the plan could only echo certain recommendations and suggestions.  However, the Government realized the need to listen better at every stage, and to seek shared solutions.  At the outset, pragmatism had guided the Government’s choices.  The action plan dealt with the earthquake’s consequences and focused on ending the emergency response and moving towards reconstruction.  During the first six months, the focus would be on providing those affected with urgent humanitarian aid.  That required closing the resource gap and eliminating budgetary shortfalls.  It also required opening health facilities and schools, and improving prevention and disaster management to prepare the country for the next hurricane cycle, he said.


That period would be followed by an 18-month phase focused on construction and rebuilding programmes, involving four organizations that helped to estimate the economic, social and cultural sectors costs, he said.  It would entail the rebuilding of transport and communication infrastructure in devastated areas and job creation in the agricultural processing and textile industries.  The private sector had a role in that process, he said, calling on institutions to provide easier access to credit and favourable rules.


In terms of social development, he said the plan would focus on creating basic housing for all, investing in youth, providing good health care, including in shantytowns, developing agriculture infrastructure, and vocational training, among other things.  The revitalization of political parties, State institutions and the Haitian National Police was vital to the smooth operation of the State based on the rule of law, he said.  The Government was resolved to do what was necessary to achieve that for the Haitian people.  “We owe it to them to create conditions for hope for the future,” he said, stressing his desire for Haiti to emerge between now and 2030 as a fair, unpretentious, strong, competitive, decentralized modern society, based on solidarity, the rule of law, freedom of expression and association, and strong regional development.


He said the figure of $34 billion in public and private assistance over 10 years had been discussed in Santo Domingo, but the percentage stated today focused only on the next 18 months.  About $4 billion was needed in that period to make the difference that everyone had been talking about.  Haiti needed to rise up, he said, adding that, based on the today’s attendance, the political will to act in support of Haiti was apparent.


Following the Prime Minister’s presentation, representatives of international institutions and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) presented their responses.


Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), said the $3.86 billion needed for reconstruction over the next 18 months must be quickly provided, in addition to emergency response pledges.  UNDP would support institutional strengthening and good governance, with the full engagement of civil society and the Haitian diaspora, she said.  The focus should be on short-term job creation, assistance to small- and medium-sized businesses, creating an enabling environment for investors to support long-term growth, and spreading development across the country for the benefit of all Haitians.  Information would be placed online to enable public tracking of aid and resulting activities.  UNDP was partnering with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to support the creation of a Haiti Reconstruction Fund.


Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, echoed Ms. Clark, saying that the international community had an opportunity to forego flag-waving, feel-good projects and to institute programmes according to Haiti’s stated needs.  Learning from the experience of Aceh, it was time to create anti-corruption tools, conduct regular audits, institute better pay for public servants, publicize detected cases of corruption, and ask officials to make ethics pledges.


Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, said the institution’s $700 million portfolio for Haiti, $300 million of which was mostly earmarked for infrastructure, had yet to be disbursed.  However, it would be better to use the funds for emergency needs, such as housing loans, to provide semi-permanent shelters and a strategy to give the public sector the capacity to monitor and improve the quality of public education and fund new school construction.


Also speaking in response to the Prime Minister’s presentation were Compton Bourne, of the Caribbean Development Bank, and Percival James Paterson, Special Representative of the CARICOM Heads of Government.


Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti, then outlined the outcome of outreach consultations on Haiti, noting that many others besides country representatives were involved in the process.  The Special Envoy’s role was to bring donors together and ensure that they met their commitments, of which only about one third were being met.  That role also entailed ensuring the maximum involvement of the Haitian diaspora, the international non-governmental community, global investors and elements of Haitian society that were working to implement their own plans, such as the Government, the private sector and civil society.


He noted that the few months preceding and following the earthquake had been the first time that all of Haiti’s neighbours had shown commitment to its success.  Referring to the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean countries, Venezuela and Cuba, he quipped:  “The only thing we agree on is Haiti”.  However, until Haitians could begin to lead more normal lives, it would be difficult to implement the Government’s long-term plans, he cautioned.  With the rainy season approaching, the country must move 20,000 to 40,000 people to ensure they were not at risk of drowning.  It was also crucial to build shelter, at the lowest cost possible, where people could retreat during a hurricane.  Additionally, sanitation for those in concentrated living conditions was inadequate, leading to diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera, which were particularly dangerous for children under five.


He thanked the President and Prime Minister of Haiti for having invited him to co-chair the interim commission whose main goal was to provide a forum where legitimate stakeholders could be heard as they came together to implement the national action plan.  It had taken the Indonesian Government one year to establish a recovery agency following the 2004 tsunami that had hit Aceh, he recalled, saying he would try to connect both internal and external forces in such a way as to maximize the input and impact of all players in Haiti.  A system for tracking pledges and disbursements would be accessible via the Internet to improve transparency, he added.


The Co-Chairs of the outreach consultations -- Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France and Spain -– also addressed the gathering.


Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, Minister for External Relations of Brazil, underlined the importance of standing in solidarity with Haiti, as the Brazilian Government and people had done from the start.  Brazil had already disbursed $167 million in short-term humanitarian assistance and conducted more than 130 humanitarian flights carrying 1,000 tonnes of aid and a military hospital.  He announced an additional pledge of $172 million for long-term recovery, health and infrastructure needs, and direct budgetary support.  He also proposed that World Trade Organization members offer duty- and quota-free access to their markets for Haitian goods over a period long enough to allow for sustained growth.


Lawrence Cannon, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said it was important for the Government to renew a sense of shared responsibility and mutual trust with its people, in order to be able to deal with challenges in an inclusive manner.  Those challenges included climate change, natural disasters and potential emergency situations.  So far, the contributions of regional organizations like the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community had been critical and would continue to be so.  Canada had obtained the agreement of Group of Seven finance ministers to work towards debt forgiveness, he said, adding that a conference in Montreal involving donors and other stakeholders had agreed on the need to guide international efforts and to rehabilitate Haiti’s infrastructure and core institutions.


Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, stressed the need for a new social contract for the vulnerable, such as the children in camps, which could provide the “everyday miracle of a normal life”.  The European Union was pledging €1.235 billion ($1.6 billion) towards the action plan, on top of €295 million in humanitarian aid already donated, and €650 million that citizens of Europe had given out of their own pockets.  In total, member States and citizens of the European Union had contributed close to €3 billion, while its police and military remained actively engaged, she said.


Bernard Kouchner, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of France, underscored the importance of rebuilding while continuing to provide emergency aid to save hundreds of thousand of refugees living in tents in the rain.  “This extraordinary disaster must lead to a new way of solidarity and a re-forged Haitian State working towards political and social reconciliation and rebuilding,” he said.  “We must prove here today that collective action is possible; that aid can work.”  France would meet that challenge, he said, adding that his country would donate €180 million in assistance in 2010 and 2011, immediately cancel €56 million of bilateral debt and contribute directly to multilateral assistance.  France would also allocate €20 million in annual budgetary aid, of which €5 million would be disbursed by month’s end to buy seeds for the next harvest and to support security and administrative structures.  French civil society and business were also doing their part by contributing close to €19 million, he said.


Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, First Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, said her country was the third-largest global donor and leading European Union contributor to Haiti’s reconstruction, an endeavour, however, in which Haitians themselves must be the protagonists.  The international community could not guarantee that a major earthquake would not strike again, but it must ensure that the consequences would not be as devastating.  Spain would donate €346 million to the donor fund for Haiti’s reconstruction, including $121.5 million this year, $75 million in 2011 and $74.5 million in 2013 for projects in water and sanitation, education, basic living standards, sustainability, agriculture and production, among other areas, she said.


Michèle Montas, representing the Voices of the Voiceless Forum, said respect was what farmers’ associations and people in camps for the displaced required.  In March, the Forum held a series of focus and discussion groups with farmers, fishermen, small traders, traditional healers and unemployed students, among others, she said, adding that their message was a clear one:  there was a need to end exclusion.  Haiti’s reconstruction package should benefit all Haitians, regardless of status or location.


Public services must be decentralized and local management scaled up, she said.  For coherent development, there must be better opportunities outside what was commonly referred to as “the Republic of Port-au-Prince”, as well as investment in people, housing, new earthquake-resistant dwellings, primary health care facilities and hospitals, local public services, as well as communication and food production infrastructure.


More than any other sector, agriculture was essential to Haiti’s wealth and a key source of employment, she said, noting that Forum participants had made concrete demands for training, seeds and equipment.  Haitians could and should become self sufficient in food.  Worried that reconstruction may not adequately target and reach the intended beneficiaries, they had said that responsible aid must reinforce Haitian sovereignty and draw on local resources and competencies.  Above all, they wished to be consulted regularly in the future regarding their lives and well-being.


Moise Charles Pierre, Chair of the National Federation of Mayors, spoke on behalf of local government, saying that elected representatives had done their best in the earthquake’s immediate aftermath to meet people’s food, water and shelter needs.  However, in order to keep children in school, they needed the resources to make good on pledges to public and private schools.  He called on local authorities abroad to help their counterparts set up a decentralized collaboration platform, with a robust legal framework to carry out local government work.


Gerald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal and Vice-Chairman of United Cities and Local Governments, said Montreal had been twinned with Port-au-Prince since 1995.  At the Montreal meeting in January, participants had agreed that partnership between Haitians and the rest of the world was important for Haiti’s renaissance, which would begin with the rebuilding of its towns.  Local authorities worldwide would coordinate their activities to help Haiti.


Antonio Simoes, Brazil’s Undersecretary-General for South America, Central America and the Caribbean, said a report on the 23 March outreach meeting, co-chaired by Brazil and Haiti, on the response of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was available to delegations.  Participants had said that the international community should envisage an active role for the Mission, especially since its mandate offered enough latitude to contribute across many sectors, including security, humanitarian aid, political dialogue and reconstruction.  Reconstruction was important for MINUSTAH’s own security activities and its contribution to the justice sector, he said, adding that donors should do their part to ensure the Mission’s financial robustness.


A representative of the Haitian diaspora agreed that the country must be built differently in the future.  It needed better greater capacity, particularly to meet medical needs, which had nearly tripled since the earthquake.  The Haitian diaspora was ready to come in and help increase Haiti’s efficiency while reducing dependence on outside aid. 


A representative of business said Haiti’s private sector was defined by a few large companies that all too often excluded women’s entrepreneurship.  Ninety per cent of the country’s businesses were informal, and that must change, he stressed, proposing an allocation of at least half of the international assistance to turning small and medium-sized businesses into formal enterprises.  A portion of grants given to the private sector should be in the form of equity for the sector’s employees.  Moreover, small business should be promoted in housing and construction, he said, adding that new entrepreneurs, including recent college graduates, should be given seed capital to launch businesses.  The development of the middle class could only happen through the creation of tens of thousands of such enterprises and economic diversity.


A representative of civil society said Haiti’s non-governmental organization infrastructure was the largest in the world, and non-governmental organizations were in the process of mapping how resources were spent.


Echoing that point, Mr. Clinton said Haiti had the world’s largest number of non-governmental organizations per capita, with the possible exception of India, but they operated in a highly fractured way.  It was significant that they had promised to work together, in accordance with the Haitian Government’s action plan.


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For information media • not an official record