HEARING CALLS FOR DEPLOYMENT OF MULTINATIONAL FORCE IN HAITI, SECURITY COUNCIL DECIDES TO CONSIDER URGENTLY OPTIONS FOR ENGAGEMENT

26 February 2004
SC/8011

HEARING CALLS FOR DEPLOYMENT OF MULTINATIONAL FORCE IN HAITI, SECURITY COUNCIL DECIDES TO CONSIDER URGENTLY OPTIONS FOR ENGAGEMENT

26/02/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8011

Security Council                                           

4917th Meeting (PM)                                         

HEARING CALLS FOR DEPLOYMENT OF MULTINATIONAL FORCE IN HAITI, SECURITY COUNCIL

DECIDES TO CONSIDER URGENTLY OPTIONS FOR ENGAGEMENT

Over 30 Speakers Address Need to Restore Order, Resolve Political Crisis

Deeply concerned about the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian environment in Haiti, the Security Council this afternoon stated it would consider urgently options for international engagement, including that of an international force in support of a political settlement. 

Through a statement (document S/PRST/2004/4) read out by its President, Wang Guangya (China), the Council also called on the Government of Haiti and all other parties to respect human rights and to cease the use of violence to advance political goals.  Further, it deplored the loss of life that had already occurred, and feared that the failure, thus far, to reach a political settlement might result in further bloodshed. 

Calling the situation one of utmost urgency, Keith Desmond Knight, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which requested today’s meeting, sought the direct and immediate intervention of the United Nations in Haiti.  He called on the Council to authorize the urgent deployment of a multinational force to assist in the restoration of law and order, to facilitate a return to stability and to create an environment in which efforts to find a solution to the political crisis could be pursued.  Such international support would be important to prepare the ground for parliamentary elections and for a presidential election when due.

On 31 January, CARICOM and the Organization of American States (OAS) had put forward a Plan of Action, which included measures to improve the security climate and build confidence.  Those included compliance with previous OAS resolutions, disarmament of strong-arm groups and the strengthening of the police force.  The Plan also envisaged the appointment of a neutral and independent Prime Minister, and called for the formation of a new Government.  While the Plan had been accepted by President Jean Bertrand Aristide, it was rejected by the Opposition.

Faced with the intransigence of the Opposition, Haiti’s representative asked how long the international community would wait before it came to the country’s aid.  It was urgent that a solution be found as soon as possible to return the country to normalcy.  He appealed to the Council to urgently send an international force to end the violence, and demand that the Opposition accept a political resolution to the conflict.

Saying the situation in Haiti presented a moral call to action, Frederick A. Mitchell, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, said that if the international community refused to act quickly, it would be condoning an attempt to overthrow the Government by force.  The immediate problem to be addressed was helping to restore law and order, followed by a long-term effort at keeping the peace in Haiti.

France’s representative, like many others, believed a civilian peacekeeping force should be envisaged.  Such a force could be an important complement to a political solution and could also help support a government of national unity and support the international community’s action on the ground, notably in the humanitarian and human rights spheres.

Supporting the efforts of CARICOM and the OAS to broker a political settlement, speakers in the debate urged all Haitians to reject violence and engage in dialogue to achieve political objectives.  They also appealed to the Council to respond rapidly to the deteriorating situation in the country.  All sides were called on to ensure the protection of civilians, as well as respect human rights.  Support was also expressed for the Secretary-General’s decision to appoint a Special Adviser for Haiti.

Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Spain, Algeria, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Chile, Philippines, Angola, Benin, Germany, Pakistan, United States, Romania, Brazil and China.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Ireland (on behalf of the European Union), Cuba, Canada, Bolivia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Japan, as well as the Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie.

The meeting, which began at 3:20 p.m., adjourned at 6:15 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The presidential statement on Haiti (document S/PRST/2004/4) reads, as follows:

“The Security Council expresses deep concern in regard to the deterioration of the political, security and humanitarian environment in Haiti. It deplores the loss of life that has already occurred, and fears that the failure, thus far, to reach a political settlement may result in further bloodshed.  Continued violence and the breakdown of law and order in Haiti could have destabilizing effects in the region.

“The Security Council commends the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for their lead role in promoting a peaceful solution and for trying to re-establish confidence among the parties, in particular, through their Plan of Action.

“The Council supports the CARICOM and OAS as they continue to work towards a peaceful and constitutional solution to the current impasse.  The principles outlined in the CARICOM/OAS Plan of Action represent an important basis for a solution to the crisis.  The Council calls upon the parties to act responsibly by choosing negotiation instead of confrontation.  An accelerated timetable now seems necessary.

“The Security Council is deeply concerned with the prospect of further violence in Haiti and acknowledges the call for international involvement in Haiti.  The Council will consider urgently options for international engagement, including that of an international force in support of a political settlement in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

“The Council calls upon all sides in Haiti’s conflict to facilitate the distribution of food and medicine and ensure the protection of civilians.  It calls upon all sides to respect international humanitarian personnel and facilities and to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it.

“The Council calls upon the Government and all other parties to respect human rights and to cease the use of violence to advance political goals.  Those responsible for human rights violations will be held accountable.

“The Security Council supports the Secretary-General’s decision to name a Special Advisor for Haiti.

“The Security Council will continue to monitor closely the situation in Haiti and remains seized of the matter.”

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon on the question concerning Haiti, following a request from the Permanent Representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), contained in a letter dated 23 February addressed to the President of the Council (document S/2004/143).

Also before the Council was a letter dated 25 February from the Permanent Representative of France addressed to the President of the Security Council (document S/2004/145), transmitting a statement issued by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, Dominique de Villepin.  In the statement, the Foreign Minister proposes an initiative that broadens the plan presented by CARICOM.  His initiative would include the immediate establishment of a civilian peacekeeping force, which would be responsible for guaranteeing the return to public order and supporting the international community’s action on the ground.

Haiti’s political situation became volatile after elections were held in May 2000, and in recent months, confrontations became fatal as the positions of the Government and opposition hardened.  Anti-government protests have increasingly focused on the demand that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resign, while he has pledged not to leave office before the end of his term in 2006.

The Security Council, in a press statement on 24 February, deplored the Haitian opposition’s rejection of proposals from CARICOM and the Organization of American States (OAS) that could form the basis for a peaceful compromise with President Aristide to stem the Caribbean country’s violent political crisis.

Statements

KEITH DESMOND KNIGHT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said he had come to the Council to call urgent attention to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Haiti.  The situation had now reached crisis proportions, given the continuing breakdown in law and order, the rising insurgency and conditions of sheer anarchy and chaos, as well as a worsening humanitarian crisis, which, in turn, had caused displacement of the population, resulting in increasing numbers of refugees pouring out of the country.

During the past weeks, the political upheaval in Haiti had escalated, with heavily armed groups using force to extend control over parts of the country, he said.  The prevailing situation within the country could no longer be viewed as just an internal matter.  The current situation now posed a serious threat to regional peace and security, given the outflow of refugees which threatened to overwhelm the resources of States in the region.

The past 20 months had been particularly challenging without much progress towards ending polarization and building a political consensus, he continued.  The result was that the country was now locked in a political stalemate as a result of the steadfast refusal of the opposition to engage in a process of dialogue mandated by the CARICOM Action Plan.

Given Haiti’s status as its newest member, CARICOM had been concerned with the developments in that country, he said.  The Community had maintained that adherence to the following principles were critical:  the full application of democracy in Haiti; non-acceptance of a coup d’état in any form; and any change in Haiti must be in accordance with Haiti’s Constitution.

On 31 January, Prime Minister Patterson, in his capacity as Chairman of CARICOM, hosted a meeting with President Aristide in Kingston, he continued.  That meeting produced the CARICOM Prior Action Plan which President Aristide accepted.  It involved certain measures to improve the security climate and to build confidence generally.  Those included compliance with previous OAS resolutions, negotiation of rules for demonstrations, the release of detainees, disarmament of strong-arm groups, the strengthening of the police force and the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms.

The Plan also envisaged the establishment of an electoral commission, the formation of a council of eminent persons, and the appointment of a neutral and independent Prime Minister.  It further called for the formation of a new Government through a process of consultations between the Prime Minister, the President and the Council.

Emanating from a subsequent meeting in Washington, a Plan of Action was drawn up to facilitate implementation of the CARICOM Prior Action Plan.  The Plan was accepted by President Aristide but had been rejected by the opposition.  It was impossible to make meaningful progress unless both sides were willing to play their part.  The fact was that there were some steps which the President could not take alone, as they required participation by the opposition and other stakeholders.

The current situation was completely different from that which began as a political impasse, he said.  The more recent incursions by heavily armed rebel forces from the north had resulted in reprisal killings, the destruction of property, and general lawlessness, creating a state of anarchy in much of the country.  Immediate action was needed to safeguard democracy, avert bloodshed and a humanitarian disaster.

He said that, in response to the rapidly deteriorating political situation, the Government of President Aristide had requested the international community to assist in the restoration of security, order and the rule of law.  Given the likelihood of the rebel forces reaching the capital, CARICOM had been requested to garner support in the strengthening of the Haitian National Police, with the possibility of participation in a multinational force in Haiti.

While CARICOM would continue to play its role in seeking a political solution to the crisis, the United Nations had a special responsibility in assisting Haiti, given its record of involvement in peacekeeping missions, he continued.  The restoration of peace and stability should be considered as part of its unfinished business.  He welcomed the opportunity by the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Adviser to coordinate and promote greater United Nations engagement in dealing with the current crisis.

The United Nations’ past involvement in Haiti highlighted an historical recognition of its responsibility to assist in finding a solution to what had been an intractable situation for a prolonged period, he said.  The United Nations’ role had had a significant impact on past attempts that had been relatively successful in stemming the downward spiral and in bringing the parties to the negotiating table.  The volatile situation in Haiti today and the potential for further chaos was not only a threat to the region’s peace and security but must also be of great concern to the international community.

It was against that backdrop that the CARICOM member States sought the direct and immediate intervention of the United Nations in Haiti, he stated.  The situation was one of utmost urgency, and the need for decisive action was paramount.  The immediate need now was for the Council to authorize the urgent deployment of a multinational force to assist in the restoration of law and order, to facilitate a return to stability and to create an environment in which efforts to find a solution to the political crisis could be pursued.  Such international support would be important to prepare the ground for parliamentary elections and for a presidential election when due.  The Council should authorize the creation of a force and encourage participation by those States with available resources.

He stressed that CARICOM’s stand on the issue was not driven by any desire to promote the political interests of any particular personality in the Haiti political arena but was based on the need to remain faithful to democratic principle and the integrity of a constitutional order.  The CARICOM also called upon the Council to endorse urgent action by the international community to address the growing humanitarian crisis and the need to extend assistance including through the delivery of international aid for a smooth transition to long-term economic and social reconstruction.

It was also imperative that the States affected be provided with the requisite resources to offset costs for the provision of relief and humanitarian assistance to the refugees, he said.  It was a cruel twist of fate that the first free black republic in the hemisphere had had such a long and difficult history of struggle to protect that very freedom.  It was an even more cruel irony that, in the bicentenary of the commemoration of the historic event that marked the beginning of a new era of freedom, the people of Haiti were today vastly removed from the goals they fought to achieve.

JEAN C. ALEXANDRE (Haiti) said the situation in Haiti was urgent and serious, requiring the attention of the international community.  Since 5 February, the country had faced an armed insurrection committed by armed groups, which now controlled the northern part of the country.  The attacks of the armed groups had jeopardized the stability of the county’s institutions and was leading to a chaotic situation.  The latest report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of 25 February was more than alarming.  That dangerous path of violence was not an option and posed a serious threat to the region.  It threatened to plunge the country into a humanitarian disaster.  In the current situation, the international community needed to step forward.

Politically speaking, it was urgent that a solution be found in the near future to return the country to normalcy, he said.  President Aristide had consented to the Plan presented by members of the international community, including CARICOM and the Organization of American States.  That Plan, which among other things provided for a government of national consensus, was unfortunately rejected by the opposition, which had further worsened the crisis.  Maintaining public order was a major challenge that the Haitian police was no longer capable of meeting.  He called on the opposition to resort to dialogue to return to peace.  Faced with the intransigence of the opposition and the growing number of dead and wounded, how long would the international community wait before it came to Haiti’s assistance?

He associated himself with the statement of CARICOM which appealed to the Council to urgently send an international force to end the violence in Haiti, and demand that the opposition accept a political resolution to the conflict.  At the current time, it was important to address human rights in the country.  After 32 coups in Haiti, it was clear that a democratically elected president must hand over power to another democratically elected president.  The Government counted on the support of the international community to promote a democratic and lasting solution.

FREDERICK A. MITCHELL, M.P., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Public Service of the Bahamas, supported the CARICOM statement in its entirety.  The situation in Haiti presented a moral call to action.  It was clear that the situation in Haiti was out of control.  Law and order had broken down.  Haiti was the newest member of CARICOM.  There were two aspects to the present situation, including the immediate problem of the breakdown in law and order.  The Haitian Government was unable with its existing resources to bring the matter under control.  There was also the anecdotal evidence of an insurgency that claimed to control half of the country.  If the international community refused to act quickly, it would be condoning an attempt to overthrow the Government by force.

The immediate problem to be addressed was helping to restore law and order in Haiti, he continued.  People and nations would be needed to do that.  He understood that no nation wanted to put its people in harm’s way.  There was need for a commonality of understanding between all parties in Haiti if the country were to progress out of the present difficulties.  The latest CARICOM initiative offered that chance, and it was imperative for all actors to agree to that plan as the way forward.  The sovereign choices of the Haitian people as to who their leader was would be was entirely a decision for the Haitian people.

He said there was also a need for a long-term effort at keeping the peace in Haiti.  In many respects, the world community took its eye off the situation in Haiti in the 1990s.  He urged quick and decisive United Nations action so that countries that could help, including the Bahamas, could move with legal authority to provide the immediate assistance for security and then to contribute to the longer peacekeeping and humanitarian effort.  Haiti’s people had a right to exist in peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their country within secure borders.

ANA MARÍA MENÉNDEZ (Spain) said she was deeply concerned by the situation besetting Haiti.  Most unfortunately, the crisis had only deteriorated since 18 February, when the Council had issued a statement urging both sides to reach a solution.  One must wonder what the Council could do when faced with such a grave situation, resulting from the overlap of two crises -– one political, tracing back to 2001, and the other related to security, generated by the weakness of the State and provoked by armed groups.

The mediation work carried out by CARICOM was essential, she said.  Its Plan of Action contained keys for a peaceful resolution, and it was imperative that measures be adopted to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.  She supported the sending of a peacekeeping force to guarantee conditions of security for mediation and humanitarian efforts.  She believed there should be a programme of humanitarian assistance, to be coordinated by the United Nations.  For all of that, she would support the Council’s adoption of a resolution.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that in recent days the situation had rapidly worsened with half the country under the control of rebel forces.  Anarchy was prevalent in the northern part of the country, and the situation was accompanied by a genuine humanitarian disaster.  If no decisive action were taken, the entire country could be plunged into chaos with all its implications.  The crisis was clearly a political one, which could have been solved via negotiation and responsible dialogue among the concerned parties.  While the showdown had led to violence, the diplomatic efforts to bring about a political settlement must continue and be intensified.  There was no alternative to a negotiated solution.

Algeria had provided its support to CARICOM’s and the OAS’ efforts to restore confidence and promote dialogue between the parties in accordance with three key principles outlined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, he said.  Yesterday, the Council had called on the parties to accept the plan of action to bring about a peaceful solution.  While President Aristide had accepted it, the opposition continued to reject the plan.  Given the worsening situation, the Council must envisage various emergency options for an international commitment in Haiti, including the formation of an international force.  The Council could not allow chaos to engulf Haiti.  Given the looming humanitarian disaster, the Organization must mobilize assistance and aid and to strengthen its presence in Haiti.

ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said he shared the deep concern of the international community regarding to the widespread turmoil in Haiti, human rights violations and loss of life.  He condemned acts of violence taking place there and called on all forces to end the violence and reach a peaceful solution.  He supported the efforts of the OAS and CARICOM and other interested States aimed at providing Haiti with the necessary assistance.

He said he was prepared to consider proposals on what the United Nations could additionally do in that area and was concerned that the latest developments involved a worsening of an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country.  He appreciated the activities of OCHA and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others who were continuing their efforts in very difficult conditions and called on all interested parties to cooperate with them to ensure the safety of human personnel and United Nations facilities.

ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said he recognized regional concerns about the situation.  He fully supported the statement to be made by the European Union.  The United Kingdom believed a resolution could still be obtained by peaceful means through negotiations.  He fully supported the Plan of Action put forward by CARICOM and the OAS.  It was an important basis for the resolution to the crisis.  He called on all parties to exercise restraint, to contribute to the restoration of law and order, to make the well-being of the Haitian civilian population their priority, to observe human rights and to respect international personnel and facilities in Haiti.

He urged the parties to re-enter negotiations.  The United Kingdom would continue to support the efforts of those working to find a peaceful solution, and it was ready to consider proposals for the international community to contribute to the stabilization of the situation and to its durable, long-term improvement.

CRISTIÁN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said he regretted that once again the political situation in Haiti had fallen into crisis, causing the Council to consider the situation in that country.  The international community’s efforts must support finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.  To that end, he favoured a political solution by constitutional and peaceful means, which could be achieved by adhering to the CARICOM Plan of Action.

Also, the process should be conducted by regional and subregional organizations, which were currently active, he said.  At the same time, the Council should not exclude taking action if required.  In addition, he supported the appointment of a special representative for Haiti, which would be important for coordinating the activities of the United Nations and other actors.  Further, any way in which a civilian force was dispatched should be in accordance with the agreements reached.

LAURO L. BAJA, JR. (Philippines) said the urgent priority was to restore order on the ground, pre-empt further human rights abuses and allow safe delivery of humanitarian assistance.  As there was no military force in Haiti, and the civilian police was incapable of doing that, there was, therefore, urgent need for a civilian international force.  The Council’s calls must be accompanied by strong action on the ground, or its calls would remain hollow.  Diplomatic and political initiatives were ongoing to secure a solution.  They would have greater chance of success only when the guns were silenced.

Both sides were on a collision course, he said.  If an international force was envisaged, it must be formed now and time was of the essence.  He saw merit in the statement of the Foreign Minister of France, which called for the establishment of a civilian peacekeeping force.  There were a number of countries that would be ready to contribute to the force.  A new coalition of the willing could restore order.

Resolving the problem peacefully would prevent the overflow of refugees, he said.  Yesterday, the President had called on the Government and the armed rebels to seek a political solution to the crisis.  It remained unclear whether the message had reached the parties concerned.  If the Council renewed that call, it must do something beyond yesterday’s call and do something on the ground.  The international community should not abdicate its responsibility.  The best way for a bad situation to get worse was to do nothing, or do something too late.  He welcomed the appointment of a special adviser.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that today was a unique opportunity to discuss the crisis in Haiti with key actors.  The current crisis called on the international community and the Security Council to take a stand and to carry out its responsibility, namely, to maintain peace and security.  Today’s debate was testimony of the Council’s resolve to act.  The armed insurgency, if allowed to proceed unchecked, did not represent a dignified alternative.  He appealed to the opposition to reconsider its rejection of the plan presented by CARICOM.  In fact, the opposition should seize the opportunity as a realistic way to achieve its political objectives.

He expressed appreciation for the responses of France, Canada and the United States, whose engagement would be helpful to the people of Haiti.  He was ready to support the Council, as it responded to the crisis, including the sending of an international force.  Also, he fully supported the appointment of a special envoy.  Lastly, he called on the parties to ensure the protection of civilians and the security of humanitarian personnel.

JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said he was very concerned about the seriousness of the situation in Haiti and called for robust measures to help the Haitian people.  Haitians had a new opportunity for a new beginning.  The humanitarian situation had seriously worsened, and immediate action was needed.  The situation had to be rapidly stabilized to prevent the country from falling into further crisis, and he called on all the parties to embrace dialogue and negotiation.  He supported the efforts of CARICOM, the OAS and the countries involved in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.  Constitutional order must be respected.  He welcomed the appointment by the Secretary-General of a Special Adviser to follow the situation.

The international community must help the Haitians move into a cycle of growth, he said.  In the short term, several actions were needed, including the facilitation of emergency humanitarian assistance, the restoration of law and public order, the establishment of the rule of law, the creation of a national republican army, the professionalization of the police force and the strengthening of its institutions.  The Haitian authorities must fully embrace the aspirations of the Haitian people to be governed by law and build a free society.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) called on the continuous support of the OAS and CARICOM to broker a political settlement in Haiti.  A political dialogue must be carried out with a spirit of compromise on all sides.  It was the responsibility of all Haitian parties to reject violent means as the way to achieve political objectives.  Violence and human rights violations could not be building blocks for the country’s future.  Those who calculated that violence might further their cause should be aware that such violence might soon be turned on them.  A peaceful settlement required foreign assistance, and the Council should be ready to assist the stabilization process.

In addition, the international community had an obligation regarding the disappearance of law and order in a MemberState, he said.  It was necessary to discuss how to assist the Haitian population.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to appoint a Special Adviser, as well as France’s initiative to invite both sides to talks in Paris.  He deplored the loss of life in Haiti and noted that the international community was facing a worsening humanitarian situation in the country.  For the sake of the people of Haiti, violence and confrontation must end immediately.  He expected the Council to make that clear in an unambiguous presidential statement at the end of today’s meeting.

MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said the situation had been rightly described as reaching crisis proportions.  He shared the concerns of other members over the humanitarian situation in the country.  Immediate action was warranted.  He commended the comments of the friends of Haiti and supported the OAS and CAROCOM initiative to promote a peaceful solution, expressing hopes that the parties could find a way forward to find a peaceful settlement.  He was willing to consider broader international engagement in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

There were no quick fixes, and the problems faced by Haiti were multidimensional, he added.  Haiti was the poorest country in the Americas, and solutions had to be found on several fronts.  While immediate concerns were on the political and humanitarian areas, the deeper socio-economic root cause of the conflict must also be addressed.  Pakistan had always advised against premature disengagement of the United Nations in conflict situations and had called for a more comprehensive approach involving the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  If the United Nations became involved, it must do so with sustained commitment to stay the course until lasting peace was fully assured.

JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) said he was deeply concerned about the political crisis in Haiti.  He condemned the use of violence and called on all actors to engage in dialogue to secure a peaceful solution.  Only then could the Haitian people build a prosperous future for themselves.  If a sustainable political solution was reached, the United States would support efforts to deploy an international force to support implementation.  His country was working closely with CARICOM, the OAS and friends of Haiti to respond to the crisis and would continue to do so.  Also, he strongly supported the full implementation of OAS resolutions 806, 822 and, most recently, 861.  Those resolutions remained valid and outlined the steps to be taken if democracy was to take root.

He continued to support the OAS special mission in Haiti, which could serve as the basis for an expanded mission to promote the rule of law, train police and encourage a climate of security.  He urged all parties to maintain dialogue to reach a political solution.  It was imperative that such a solution be reached quickly before the humanitarian crisis worsened.  The parties must act in the best interest of the Haitian people.  He would continue to consult with his CARICOM partners and others regarding the international community’s response to Haiti’s crisis.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said his country was concerned by the grave situation in the country.  He hailed the presence of the Jamaican Foreign Minister and welcomed the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas.  He shared their sentiment of urgency and their will to act.  The CARICOM and the OAS had a legitimacy and expertise on the issue.  The point of departure for solving a crisis lay in the plan of action put forth by CARICOM and the OAS.  The mobilization of the international community must revolve around that plan.  An urgent situation was being faced on two levels, namely, the humanitarian situation and the situation of human rights violations.  International efforts must be supported to respond to the current situation.

He said it was equally urgent to find a solution to the political crisis, which must fall within the current constitutional framework.  It was important to insist on the proposals put forth relating to a transitional national unity government led by a Prime Minister.  To ensure the necessary support for the plan, it was useful to supplement it by accelerating the timetable for presidential and general elections.  International assistance should be deployed to prepare for such elections through the establishment of an electoral commission. 

France believed a civilian peacekeeping force should be envisaged, he said.  Such a force would not be a United Nations force, but should be authorized by the Council and have a Council mandate.  It could be an important complement to a political solution and could also help support a government of national unity and support the international community’s action on the ground, notably in the humanitarian and human rights spheres.

France would be prepared to contribute to a civilian peacekeeping force meeting those conditions, in addition to contingents that must come from the countries of the region, he said.  It was up to the Haitian political forces to make the necessary concessions to achieve a political agreement.  He was profoundly disturbed by the violence and attacks, and beseeched the leaders to make the obligatory gestures of openness.  Then, the international community, in support of CARICOM and the OAS, would be able to fulfil its responsibilities, and the United Nations would have an essential role in that regard.  He hailed the decision already taken by the Secretary-General and would support the appointment of a Special Representative capable of acting on the ground.  France was determined to pursue its efforts to rally the international community on behalf of Haiti.

MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) reaffirmed his support for regional initiatives to resolve the crisis in Haiti.  The basic tenets of the Plan of Action presented by CARICOM had real potential for bringing about a peaceful and constitutional solution to the crisis.  The international community could not ignore the disruption caused by the constitutional crisis in the country.  It would be wise to complement the Plan of Action with other ideas, and it was possible to consider an accelerated timetable for a political solution.  He urged all Haitian parties to show the necessary spirit of compromise and urged armed rebels to stop the violence.

The sources of instability were interrelated, including poverty and the lack of development, he said.  The situation required a coherent and integrated approach, and the consideration of a long-term solution.  He took note of the request for action put forward by CARICOM and the representative of Haiti.  He was prepared to work with other Council members to respond to that request.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to appoint a Special Adviser for Haiti, whose primary tasks would include responding to the worsening humanitarian crisis.

RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said today’s session was timely and appropriate.  Brazil was highly concerned with the situation in Haiti and was closely following events there.  He expressed solidarity with the people of Haiti in the current difficult moment.  Violence was not an acceptable solution to overcoming differences or advancing ideas, and Brazil attached importance to the safeguarding of legality and democracy in Haiti.  The Rio Group had been maintaining consultations on the subject, and it had called on the parties to accept the CAROCOM plan and strongly condemned acts of violence.  While the situation was steadily deteriorating, there still seemed to be room for dialogue.  He called on the parties to show willingness and good faith in engaging in constructive dialogue, as well as renouncing any violent acts designed to put their political agenda forward.

Brazil was ready to discuss all possibilities of international engagement to promote security and address the humanitarian situation, he said.  Brazil supported all efforts being carried out by the United Nations agencies on the ground, and strongly deplored the restrictions of movement that were being imposed by the rebel groups.  He called on the parties to facilitate assistance, including by enabling the establishment of humanitarian corridors.  He also stressed the importance of a renewed commitment of the international community, especially the United Nations, towards creating long-term conditions for a stable and prosperous Haiti.  The resurgence of violence, some 10 years after the Council had been seized of the matter, showed that the means adopted then had not brought about the results envisaged and that innovative approaches were required.

Council President WANG GUANGYA (China), speaking in his national capacity, said he fully understood the concern of the representatives of Haiti and CARICOM.  Their recommendations merited close examination.  He was closely following the situation in Haiti, was concerned about the heavy casualties, and urged all sides to resolve the current crisis by peaceful dialogue in the best interest of the nation.

He commended the OAS and CARICOM for their unremitting efforts to push all sides forward to break the current deadlock and welcomed the decision of the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Adviser for Haiti.  Calling on the international community to provide the Haitian people with emergency humanitarian assistance, he said he would work with the international community to ease the humanitarian crisis and resolve the political stalemate.

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to appoint a Special Adviser for Haiti.  The Union was gravely concerned at the worsening situation there, and that concern had increased with each troubling report on, among other things, the marked deterioration in the security situation, the continuing loss of life, the abuse of human rights, and serious violations of democratic rules.  He called on all parties to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid and to respect humanitarian personnel, vehicles and medical facilities.

The present crisis in Haiti must be resolved peacefully, through constitutional means and a process of political dialogue and compromise, he said.  The Union had given clear support to the efforts of the OAS to facilitate a resolution of the political impasse in Haiti.  It had also strongly supported the recent initiative by the CARICOM.  The Union deeply regretted that the opposition in Haiti had so far declined to accept the Plan of Action presented to the Government and opposition on 21 February.  The Union was convinced that the principles of that plan offered an important contribution to restore confidence and to facilitate dialogue.  All parties bore heavy responsibilities in the current circumstances.

The Union stood ready, he said, to accelerate the search for a peaceful, democratic and constitutional outcome.  In that regard, the Union particularly welcomed the urgent initiative by the Government of France to invite representatives of the Haitian Government, the opposition and civil society to talks in Paris tomorrow.  The Union called on all parties to refrain from any action that would further imperil the welfare of the Haitian people.

ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said the international community must help Haiti at such a crucial time in its history.  The old problems derived from colonialism and exploitation were compounded by new, pressing difficulties relating to the unjust and excluding international economic order.  Cuba had abided by and would strictly abide by its principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of any country, including Haiti.  Supporting the efforts of CARICOM for a peaceful and just settlement in Haiti, he firmly condemned all acts of violence taking place in that country and regretted the ongoing casualties and material damages.

Cuban collaborators, he said, continued to work in their positions in Haiti despite the precarious situation in the country.  Cuban doctors continued to assist people, and Cuba had a medical brigade in Haiti, responsible for 75 per cent of the Haitian population.  In the midst of the current domestic tensions, last Tuesday, the Cuban Government had instructed the brigade to continue working.  He went on to highlight the important work Cuban collaborators continued to perform in the midst of the humanitarian and political crisis.

ALLAN ROCK (Canada) said the international community could not solve Haiti’s problems.  It was the Haitians themselves who must determine the way forward, finding a new way to work together for their own future.  That was why Canada was so deeply distressed by the decision of the Haitian opposition to reject the CARICOM plan, as it was the best option for a peaceful resolution to the current situation.  There was a responsibility on President Aristide and the opposition parties to reject violence, to make compromises and to embrace democratic and peaceful solutions.  He urged them to implement the provisions of the plan.  Any transition in Haitian leadership must respect the Haitian Constitution and the rule of law.

While the international community was ready to help, the first steps must be taken in Haiti, he said.  Without a clear and demonstrable political commitment to reform, conditions in Haiti would not change.  President Aristide and the democratic opposition must take visible and convincing steps to work together to put an end to bloodshed, to restore the rule of law and respect for human rights.  For its part, the international community must ready itself to respond when the conditions were right, not to defend one side or the other, but to protect the people of Haiti by restoring order and creating a stable environment to enable democratic processes to unfold.

President Aristide, the leaders of the democratic opposition and leaders of armed groups must give unequivocal direction to their supporters to refrain from attacking civilians, to allow humanitarian personnel safe access and to ensure that humanitarian assistance reached those who needed it, he said.  Haiti’s neighbours also had a role to play to facilitate aid delivery to and to give safe haven to displaced persons in search of safety.  Canada had provided some $1.95 million for immediate humanitarian assistance and had pledged some $5 million to support an expanded role for the OAS special mission to Haiti.  That mission, however, could not achieve its goals in conditions of anarchy.

ERNESTO ARANIBAR QUIROGA (Bolivia) expressed his deep concern over the serious situation in Haiti, which required speedy action on the part of the Council.  The international community had expressed its concerns in statements and steps taken by regional organizations, such as the OAS and CARICOM.  For its part, the United Nations had announced plans for a special envoy.  The Council must play a role that could be decisive in alleviating the crisis.  It was faced with a moral and political imperative to do its utmost to avoid any further suffering of the Haitian people.  Action was needed on four fronts -- political, security, humanitarian, and economic and financial.  Regarding the suggestion to send a multinational force to avoid further bloodshed, he supported any decision the Council might take in that regard.

The Haitian Government had appealed for assistance from the international community, and a response must be found, he said.  He supported those organizations making efforts in the field to bring aid to the affected population.  The international community was facing a situation which called for immediate and urgent action.  A plan would also be needed to ensure economic, social and environmental development.  A true viable plan was required with the necessary resources to give opportunities to the Haitian people in order to raise new hope.  Otherwise, the international community would be faced with situations with familiar consequences.  He appealed to the Council to take the necessary steps to achieve a political and peaceful solution.

JOSE ALBERTO BRIZ GUTIERREZ (Guatemala), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System, said he viewed with greatest concern and distress the growing deterioration of the situation in Haiti, a development that was evolving on the economic, political and humanitarian planes.  The initiative launched by CARICOM and the OAS, with the support of the Governments of Canada, France and the United States, pointed in that direction, and he appealed to the parties –- the Government and the democratic opposition -– to reach an agreement on the basis of the content of that initiative, in a peaceful and constitutional manner.

Despite the democratic opposition’s negative response, he urged them to revise their position, as the CARICOM-OAS plan was the best alternative means to prevent further bloodshed and find solutions consistent with internal legal order and the rules of the Inter-American System.  For Haitians to be able to solve their differences in a peaceful and democratic manner was important not only to Haiti, but also to all the other countries of the region.

He appealed to the international community and the United Nations system to redress the grave humanitarian situation afflicting Haiti’s population, particularly concerning access to food, health care, personal security and preventing homelessness.  If the plan proposed by CARICOM and the OAS coalesced, it would enable the country to reactivate its economy with a view to its long-term development.

ADRIANA PULIDO SANTANA (Venezuela) reiterated her support for the constitutional Government of Haiti and rejected any attempt to overthrow the Constitution of that country or change the terms set in it for the election of authorities.  She supported the steps taken by the OAS and CARICOM to find a negotiated and peaceful solution and hoped efforts would continue for a speedy restoration of peace to the country.

She also expressed hope that the international community would deal with the humanitarian emergency emerging in the country.  Venezuela would provide a financial contribution, as well as send foodstuffs and medicines.  It was crucial for the international community to express its solidarity with the people and the democratic institutions of Haiti.  She welcomed the decision of the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Adviser and the opening of an office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the country.

CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said it was important to ensure coordination of the roles played by the United Nations and the OAS.  On 18 February, Argentina had reiterated that the governments of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) regretted acts of violence.  Haitian society needed to reach a political agreement, and bring about an end to confrontation.  Argentina condemned the bloodshed perpetrated by armed gangs, called on the opposition to work to reach an agreement, and joined in calling for a rejection of violence.  The solution must involve dialogue, while respecting constitutional order.

Argentina also supported France’s initiatives, he said.  All the forces in Haitian society needed to respect human rights.  The international community must provide assistance to ensure that human rights were fully respected.  Haiti was facing a serious humanitarian situation that was deteriorating with every passing hour, and he called on the international community to provide humanitarian assistance.  While missions had been created in the past, they had fallen short in finding political solutions.  The current situation was not just a problem among political forces, but also one of frustration, disillusionment and extreme poverty.  The horrible conflict in recent days needed to be resolved, but the situation would not be solved over night.  International efforts must also provide for the economic and social dimensions of the conflict. 

OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said the Security Council must not fail to take action to prevent the spread of violence, the lack of government and the humanitarian crisis in Haiti.  There was no doubt that the Council would not abdicate its responsibility to tackle that deep-rooted political and humanitarian crisis. The Permanent Council of the OAS today had adopted a resolution to that end.  Peru rejected the use of violence as a solution to political crisis wherever it might exist.  He was convinced that the most reasonable way to resolve the Haitian crisis was to guarantee political stability while fully respecting the Constitution of that country.  Any solution must be achieved within that constitutional framework.

No efforts should be spared, he said, in achieving social stability and peace in Haiti.  He strongly condemned acts of violence that had occurred and reiterated that a peaceful solution must be found.  He was deeply concerned by the humanitarian problem in the country, for which the international community must take urgent steps.  The Council must send a clear message and state that it was on the verge of acting, as well as that it was monitoring respect for human rights, in Haiti.

MARINO VILLANUEVA CALLOT (Dominican Republic) said the intense and lamentable socio-political crisis affecting the sister territory of Haiti was of profound concern to the Dominican Republic, since they shared the same island.  As a result, the events affecting Haiti would have enormous repercussions for his country in the economic, migratory and humanitarian spheres.  The President of the Dominican Republic, Hipolito Mejia, had referred to the worrisome situation in Haiti during the Millennium Summit and had asked the international community to cooperate in finding solutions to the socio-economic, humanitarian problems affecting Haiti.  Had attention been paid to those issues, the current chaotic situation in Haiti would have been avoided.

He expressed his country’s strong desire that Haiti overcome its political and humanitarian crisis in the framework of international law and the norms of peaceful coexistence.  The Dominican Republic supported the resolution of the  OAS, as well as the humanitarian initiatives of CARICOM.  He called on the international community, in particular, the developed countries, to give immediate aid to Haiti in order to avoid further calamities.  His Government had suspended the repatriation of the undocumented Haitians in Dominican territory, he added.

ENRIQUE BERRUGA (Mexico) said that in light of the gravity of the situation in Haiti, he reiterated his support for the mediation efforts of CARICOM, condemned the use of violence and called for its immediate cessation.  Ensuring respect for human rights and facilitating the work of international humanitarian agencies were two priorities in the current situation.  In light of that situation and the possibility of a violent takeover, there was a need for confidence-building measures and the deployment of a multinational force.  He supported a political solution that made room for all opinions in the country.

He appealed to the opposition to reconsider offers of international mediation with a sense of responsibility and urgency.  It was important to have a presidential statement at the end of today’s debate and to make it known throughout the country.  The mandate of a peacekeeping force should include the protection of civilians and the distribution of humanitarian aid, and it should contribute to the restoration of law and order, assist in disarmament and guarantee any political agreement reached.

MIGUEL CARBO BENITES (Ecuador) urged the democratic institutions, political leadership and Haitian people to create channels of dialogue and understanding to strengthen its efforts to improve the socio-economic and political conditions facing the country.  As a prelude to a negotiated settlement, the current spiral of violence must be halted.  There must also be an increase in humanitarian assistance.  Greater participation by the international community was needed so that the most vulnerable segments of the population could receive the assistance they desperately needed.  The United Nations and the Council must play a leading role in coordination with the OAS and CARICOM.  He stressed his support for the constitutional democratic system in Haiti.

He added that the resolution of the OAS urged the Council to take appropriate steps to deal with the crisis.  He supported that resolution and urged the Council to take all necessary measures to stabilize the situation in the country.

EDUARDO J. SEVILLA SOMOZA (Nicaragua), expressing concern over the situation in Haiti, said the military conflict, above and beyond the physical violence, had meant the worsening of the situation of 7 million Haitians.  That had the greatest impact on the weakest sectors of society –- children, women and the elderly.  Also, the crisis might spread to other countries of the region in one way or another.  Several initiatives had been taken to address the situation within the OAS and CARICOM.  They had condemned violence and urged that a peaceful solution be found.  The most recent initiative was a multilateral mission visiting Haiti, during which a concrete proposal was put forward by CARICOM to restore trust among the parties.

However, he continued, that plan had not become a reality as it had only been accepted by President Aristide.  He urged that all forces respect human rights and commence dialogue in accordance with the Action Plan put forward by CARICOM.  He urged the international community and the United Nations to assist the Haitian people in alleviating the serious humanitarian situation in the country.  He agreed with the OAS resolution adopted today, which asked the Security Council to take necessary and appropriate measures to restore peace to Haiti. 

YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) welcomed the decision to convene today an emergency public meeting concerning the situation in Haiti.  He believed that the plan of action provided an important basis for a negotiated settlement and urged both parties to show flexibility in order to achieve a peaceful political resolution through dialogue.  In that connection, he took note of France’s proposal.  His Government was gravely concerned about the humanitarian issues in Haiti posed by the continuing conflict and the resulting food shortages and worsening health and education conditions.  Should the conflict continue to escalate and spread to the capital city, even greater human casualties and property damage would result.

Since the restoration of the Aristide presidency in 1994, Japan had provided more than $200 million in its economic cooperation in Haiti, the bulk of which had been in the form of grant aid assistance.  Due to the conflict, however, there had been unavoidable delays in the implementation of economic assistance, leading to a vicious circle.  He hoped that, in brining an end to the conflict, that circle could be broken, and an environment conducive to cooperation for Haiti’s economic development could be restored.

Japan requested that a needs assessment be carried out on the ground primarily by United Nations agencies, he said, also strongly requesting that the parties to the conflict allow access for the required humanitarian activities and that the other countries concerned exert themselves through a variety of channels to persuade the parties to permit such access.  A peaceful political resolution achieved through dialogue between the parties was the best possible strategy.  A committed effort on the part of both parties was required.

RIDHA BOUABID, Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie, said his organization was closely following with great concern the developments in Haiti.  The ministers of la Francophonie, at their meeting in Paris in December 2003, had considered the situation in Haiti and the Secretary-General of the International Organization had repeatedly condemned acts of violence and human rights abuses in the country. 

He expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation and called for a peaceful solution to the crisis.  Given the risk of chaos, the International Organization of la Francophonie was calling for an end to the violence and the search for an agreed, peaceful solution so that the country could return to the rule of law.  His Secretary-General would convene on 2 March in Paris a meeting of the ad hoc advisory group on Haiti.  He trusted that the Council would rapidly take steps to deal with the dangerous situation engulfing Haiti and assist the restoration of peace and security there.

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For information media. Not an official record.