IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR UN PRESENCE IN HAITI FOR ‘AS LONG AS NECESSARY’

12 January 2005
SC/8291

IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR UN PRESENCE IN HAITI FOR ‘AS LONG AS NECESSARY’

12/01/2005
Press ReleaseSC/8291

Security Council

5110th Meeting (AM & PM)

In Presidential Statement, Security Council pledges support

 

for un presence in Haiti for ‘as long as necessary’

Council Expresses Concern about Disarmament, Security Situations

In Country; Voices Intention to Organize Mission to Haiti before 1 June

Calling again on all parties in Haiti to respect human rights and renounce the use of violence, Security Council members today pledged to support a United Nations presence in the strife-torn country for “as long as necessary”, and commended the recent joint efforts of peacekeepers and the national police force to round up and neutralize illegal armed groups.

In a presidential statement, read out at the conclusion of a meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Rafael Antonio Biélsa of Argentina, which holds the 15-member body’s rotating presidency for January, the Council expressed concern about the disarmament and security situations in Haiti, as well as its intention to organize a mission to the island nation before 1 June, possibly in conjunction with a mission of the Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti.

The Council also underlined the important role of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in ensuring a secure environment, but noted, however, that “further urgent action is needed to continue to improve the security situation”.

Emphasizing that national reconciliation, security and economic development were the key to stability in Haiti, Council members also stressed that all MemberStates and international organizations, especially those in the region, should support Haiti’s transitional Government in those efforts.  They also renewed their appeal to donor countries and international financial institutions to pay the pledges made last July and send all the peacekeeping troops and police promised.

Briefing the Council on the current situation in Haiti, Juan Gabriel Valdés, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and MINUSTAH chief said that, if Haiti could be endowed with the rarest of all international resources -- profound and sustained political will and support -- it could emerge successfully from its current political crises and re-enter the global community a stable and fully democratic nation.  He added that it was also up to the Haitian people to press ahead with national dialogue and reconciliation efforts, particularly with local and national elections set for next fall.

He said the violence-wracked country, which fell into political turmoil earlier this year and then was further destabilized by natural disasters, had seen a recent lull in the violence with MINUSTAH nearing its full military capacity of some 6,700 troops.  He was concerned about the “unjustified” slow pace of the trials of some political leaders, as well as reports of continued human rights abuses with the apparent involvement of some national police.  Concerned by the slow implementation in the Interim Framework of Cooperation, he stressed the need for the interim Government to select a few priority projects for action in 2005, as well as the need for the global community to simplify its financial mechanisms as much as possible, to give hope, and work, to as many people as possible.

Haiti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs echoed the Council’s concerns about the recent uptick in violence and the worsening security situation, particularly in working-class neighbourhoods.  The lack of strength of the national police and delays in deploying troops had complicated efforts to deal with gangs and restore order in dangerous areas, he said.  In an effort to establish a stable and secure environment, the Government had given special attention to the matter of the demobilized military personnel.

The commission charged with managing that issue had been strengthened in order to enhance its effectiveness.  In a short period, he had seen encouraging results.  Ex-armed forces over the holidays had received the initial part of their pension benefits.  The process of fully paying benefits to all ex-military personnel was under way and would soon be completed, in compliance with one of the key demands.  The national police had been able to peacefully take over a number of police stations formerly occupied by armed groups.  All energy and all necessary resources were now being used to neutralize the gangs, which had destabilized and terrorized the population.

The Acting Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), which was leading the preparations for Haiti’s ballot next fall, said that successful elections should be open, participative and non-exclusive -- enabling all citizens to vote and have their votes counted and respected.  That was central to democratic stability and legitimacy in Haiti, of which no one had any doubt.  Achieving good elections, however, would not be easy in the face of obstacles confronting that country.  Clearly, if Haiti was to avoid going from crisis to crisis, it, along with the international community, needed to develop a programme of broad support for State institutions.

Japan’s representative said that, although as early as 2003 it had been recognized that the situation in Haiti might be quickly reaching an extremely dangerous stage, early warnings of a possible impending crisis went largely unheeded by the United Nations and the international community, and little concrete action was taken until the crisis had occurred.  In his view, the Haitian crisis should serve as yet another lesson for the future, as the international community considered how to set up a more effective early-warning mechanism for conflict prevention, as well as what sort of preventive measures the United Nations could realistically take.

Picking up that thread, the representative of the United Kingdom said that Haiti should serve as a salutary example -- its problems in the 1990s had necessitated a major United Nations operation, but “we did not stay long enough to achieve durable success”, he said.  This time, the United Nations and the international community “needed to stay the course”, but more generally, the United Nations and the Council needed to better address impending threats before they became a reality in individual countries.  The Organization needed to give a higher profile to work on conflict prevention, and support those countries at real risk of instability.

Speaking in his national capacity, Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said the donors’ conference held last year represented a new source of opportunities and hopes for Haiti, and he looked forward to the translation of the commitments made there into concrete action.  It was necessary to identify infrastructure projects but, above all, donors must strive to live up to their commitments.  He hoped that the work programme set up by the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank would serve as a framework within which, together with the Haitian authorities, things could start to turn around in Haiti.

Other top officials addressing the Council today included the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, France, Chile, Dominican Republic, Barbados, as well as the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the United States.

Also speaking were the representatives of Romania, Greece, United Republic of Tanzania, China, Philippines, Algeria, Russian Federation, Denmark, Benin, Peru, Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union), Guatemala, Mexico, Norway, Ecuador, Paraguay, Canada, Morocco, Cuba, Uruguay, Bolivia, Honduras and El Salvador.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also addressed the Council.

The meeting began at 10:23 a.m., and was suspended at 1:11 p.m.  It resumed at 3:10 p.m. and was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.

The Security Council will reconvene tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., to consider the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Presidential Statement

Following is the full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as S/PRST/2005/1:

“The Security Council reaffirms the comprehensive mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as set forth in resolutions 1542 (2004) and 1576 (2004), and expresses its support for UN presence in Haiti as long as necessary.

“The Security Council underlines that national reconciliation, security and economic development remain key to stability in Haiti, and, in that regard, stresses that all MemberStates and international organizations, especially those in the region, should support the transitional Government of Haiti in those efforts.

“The Security Council underlines the important role of MINUSTAH in ensuring a secure environment and commends the recent joint operations by MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police (HNP), in particular against all illegal armed groups.  It notes, however, that further urgent action is needed to continue to improve the security situation.  The Council again calls on all parties in Haiti to respect human rights and to renounce the use of violence to advance their goals.

“The Security Council encourages the transitional Government to create without delay the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR), to address all armed groups, particularly former members of the military, in a comprehensive manner.  It notes that any compensation should be part of a comprehensive and durable solution.

“The Security Council renews its appeal for the prompt disbursement of the funds pledged by international financial institutions and donor countries at the International Donors Conference on Haiti held in July 2004.  It recognizes the need for MINUSTAH, other organs of the UN system, international financial institutions, and Member States to assist the transitional Government in the preparation and implementation of development projects in Haiti, as well as quick-impact projects.  The Council reiterates the need to assist the transitional Government in establishing a long-term development strategy for Haiti, in accordance with the priorities set forth in the Interim Cooperation Framework.

“The Security Council welcomes recent steps taken by the transitional Government of Haiti to release some individuals being held without formal charge or trial, and calls on the transitional Government to review all such cases in order to ensure full respect for due process and the rule of law.  In this regard, the Council calls on MINUSTAH to continue its support for the provision of human rights training to Haitian judicial, police and correctional authorities to ensure adherence to international norms and standards.

“The Security Council encourages the transitional Government to continue to take steps towards a comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue and reconciliation process and calls upon all political actors in Haiti to renounce violence and join this dialogue without delay.  The Council fully supports MINUSTAH’s continuing facilitation of this process.

“The Security Council calls upon the transitional Government, with the assistance of MINUSTAH and the Organization of American States (OAS), to take urgently the necessary measures to ensure the holding of free and fair elections in 2005 and the subsequent transfer of power to elected authorities, and welcomes the recent decisions of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in its preparations.  It encourages all political parties that have rejected violence to participate in the electoral process.

“The Security Council expresses its intention to organize a mission to Haiti before 1 June 2005, possibly in conjunction with a mission of the ECOSOC Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti.

“The Security Council expresses its gratitude to the countries that have contributed personnel to the Mission.  It urges troop- and police-contributing countries to complete the authorized strength of MINUSTAH as soon as possible, stressing that prompt completion of this step is an essential requirement for the continuing success of the operation.

“The Security Council expresses its full support for the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Haiti, Juan Gabriel Valdés, and commends the work done by MINUSTAH and all of its personnel.”

Background

The Security Council met today to consider the situation in Haiti.

Briefing by Special Representative of Secretary-General

JUAN GABRIEL VALDES, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), said that the high-level participation at today’s meeting was a testament to the international community’s commitment to help societies in which a combination of poverty and weak governance could lead to violence.  If Haiti could be endowed with the rarest of all international resources -- profound and continued political will and support -- it could emerge from its current political crises and re-enter the international society in democracy and stability.

Mr. Valdés said that, since his last visit to the Council, Haiti had embarked on a different path, and although all the factors contributing to instability and insecurity had not yet been dealt with, the attempts to launch destabilizing forces by various armed groups had been overcome.  Overall, violence had been reduced and the provisional Government had opened a space for the upcoming elections to be held in a framework of peace.  The Mission had been deploying throughout the country and its ability to confront security and stability issues had improved.  Indeed, MINUSTAH was focusing on sustained security initiatives.  The security concept that underpinned its work had been predicated on the legitimate use of force, when necessary, and giving the required attention to problems which most affected the more vulnerable general population.

Clear-cut steps had been taken towards consolidating nascent stabilization in the country, he continued.  Illegal armed groups had backed down and others that still claimed allegiance to former President Aristide were losing ground.  With a greater degree of stability emerging, the Mission, along with the police force, had launched a vast initiative this past December in and around Port-au-Prince in order to restore order following last year’s violence and to establish firm and lasting control.  That initiative had also included a programme to jump start public administration, to reactivate commerce and to allowing humanitarian activities to start up once again.  “Operation Liberty”, as it was called, did not encounter strong resistance and, contrary to reports in the press, the joint force did not sustain any casualties.

In addition, in the first phase of Operation Liberty, two police stations had been opened in Cite Soleil, and MINUSTAH now had a permanent presence there, he said.  United Nations agencies would also start up operations there.  Progress in heath, sanitation and education, as well as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) would make it possible to incorporate neighbouring cities in the initiative to bring about qualitative change and dismantle all the armed bands that still operated around the fringes of the area.

Mr. Valdés said that, following the December takeover by an armed group of the former residence of President Aristide, the transitional Government had reacted immediately, emphasizing that it would not tolerate such acts and called for MINUSTAH to put an end to the occupation of that building.  All the fighters had been disarmed except for the leader, and they had accepted to participate in the reintegration programme, which was a window of opportunity the Mission would not miss.  Here, he welcomed Haiti’s recent announcement that a Disarmament Commission would be set up shortly.  He also stressed that the recent programme of paying compensation to former members of the military was fair recompense for those that had been demobilized, and was based on what they had been paid during their military careers.  But MINUSTAH had made it clear that any such payout must be carried out in the context of a concrete disarmament programme.  The Mission was committed to reintegration and persuading former military, as well as ex-combatants, to seek employment.

Turning to MINUSTASH’s activities, he said troops had undertaken infrastructure activities, building roads in and around Port-au-Prince.  Those activities had had the residual effect of enhancing the Mission’s relationship with the poorest members of society.  All the Mission’s activities were aimed at maintaining and improving stability during the run-up to the election later this year.  The Mission had also been enhancing its visibility among the general population.  He added that, with the recent pledges made by Canada and the European Union, the basic technical elements were in place to proceed with the agreed timetable for the elections.  Now, the task was to move forward and continue to actively explore all ways to include those that had been left out of the transitional process but who had rejected violence.  He added that the Organization of American States (OAS) would begin registering voters in March.

The Mission welcomed the transitional Government’s call for national dialogue, he said.  That would have to be generated by the Haitians themselves:  they would have to find ways to overcome profound divisions and build institutions that were not susceptible to corruption.  They would also have to overcome political factionalism.

He expressed concern about the unjustified slow pace of some of the trials of political leaders, particularly the former Prime Minister, who was still in jail more than a year after his arrest with no sign of any action.  Human rights were still being violated with the apparent involvement of some national police.  The MINUSTAH worked with the police and was committed to investigating some of those events.  Moving ahead on some of those issues would undoubtedly contribute to dialogue and national reconciliation.

Concerned by the slow implementation in the Interim Framework of Cooperation, he reiterated the need for the transitional Government to select a few priority projects for action in 2005, as well as the need for the international community to simplify its financial mechanisms as much as possible, to give hope, and work, to as many people as possible.  Finally, he said calls for Haiti to achieve political stability and ensure democratic freedoms implied that global actors would contribute their best efforts towards its rehabilitation.  He added that it was, nevertheless, up to the people of Haiti as well to move forwards with dialogue and reconciliation.

Statements

YVON SIMEON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Haiti, said the participation in the meeting at the ministerial level clearly reflected the interest in the political stabilization of Haiti.  He commended the Secretary-General’s recommendations for reconfiguring MINUSTAH.  The Secretary-General had also recommended in his latest report on Haiti in 2004 a long-term international commitment there.  That recommendation was fully justified by the fact that the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, already under way, was a long-term effort requiring vast resources, which far exceeded the capacity of a State with limited resources.  Meanwhile, the provisional Government duly appreciated the initiatives already being taken under Council resolution 1529 to promote the establishment of a stable, secure climate, leading to economic recovery and elections preparations in 2005 under the timetable already established by the provisional electoral council.

He said that, unfortunately, in recent months, the security situation had worsened, particularly in working class neighbourhoods.  The lack of strength of the national police and delays in deploying troops had complicated efforts to deal with gangs and restore order in dangerous neighbourhoods.  In recent weeks, however, there had been a clear improvement by virtue of the joint efforts of the national police and MINUSTAH.  In an effort to establish a stable and secure environment, the Government had given special attention to the matter of the demobilized military personnel.  The commission charged with managing that issue had been strengthened in order to enhance its effectiveness.  In a short period, he had seen encouraging results.  Ex-armed forces over the holidays had received the initial part of their pension benefits.  The process of fully paying benefits to all ex-military personnel was under way and would soon be completed, in compliance with one of the key demands.  The national police had been able to peacefully take over a number of police stations formerly occupied by armed groups.  All energy and all necessary resources were now being used to neutralize the gangs, which had destabilized and terrorized the population.

In the area of human rights, the current situation flowed from the legacy of dictatorship, whose political consequences had included the disappearance of democratic institutions, he said.  Initiatives were also under way to end impunity, bolster the justice system and professionalize the police, thereby establishing law and order in place of violence and force.  The team in charge of the transition had recently begun releasing several detainees, who had been held without charges.  Others had been given provisional liberty while their cases were being investigated.

A national economic recovery plan was being instituted, particularly in the marginalized areas, he said.  It was extremely painful to note the lack of funds for development activities, which had increasingly offset efforts taken by both the international community and the Government to protect human rights and establish democracy.  In that regard the recommendations of the Secretary-General to rapidly implement the obligations undertaken by the leaders as part of financing the provisional cooperation framework had his Government’s full support.  He called on Haiti’s partners to deliver on their pledges.

CELSO AMORIM, Minister of Foreign Relations of Brazil, reiterated his view that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti was based on three interdependent and equally important pillars:  the maintenance of order and security; the urging of political dialogue with a view to national reconciliation; and the promotion of social and economic development.  Simultaneous attention to the three pillars was an indispensable condition for Haiti’s reconstruction.  What was needed was an agreement among all parties to unite the international community and the Haitian political forces in a long-term commitment.  The most important ingredients for peace in Haiti were hope, trust and legitimacy.  The priority was disarmament, as a means of re-establishing minimal security conditions for institutional consolidation.  He also sought political dialogue, as stability in the country would not be achieved merely through repression.

He said that the challenges facing Haiti were extremely complex.  The crucial responsibility of the Government was to create the basic conditions for achieving those three pillars.  He urged all political parties, civil society organizations and interest groups to join in the national reconstruction effort and to ensure the conditions that permitted everyone to participate in the political and electoral debate, without fear for their security.  Simple gestures by the international community could serve as important motivators for normalizing life in Haiti.  The Game of Peace last August between the national soccer teams of Brazil and Haiti, for example, had helped to rekindle Haitians’ hope by demonstrating the genuine attention and good will of the countries in the region.  In addition, the progress achieved over the last three months had demonstrated the groundlessness of the pessimistic analyses regarding MINUSTAH’s security capacity.  While the first few months had been marked by delays in deployment, a lack of political dialogue, economic deterioration, and natural disasters, progress had been achieved in putting soldiers and police officers on the ground and in implementing the first reconstruction projects.

Normalization in Haiti, however, would not take place without the determined participation of the international community in the promotion of social and economic development, he said.  Haiti was unassailable proof of the need to develop adequate mechanisms to curb the deterioration of national situations and to assist countries recently emerging from conflict, as well as to prevent such conflicts.  At the same time, Haiti’s fate was inseparable from that of its neighbours.  The regional isolation of Haiti was in no one’s interest.  Since the start of Brazil’s participation in MINUSTAH, his country had chosen dialogue with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a priority and had assigned several special missions to its member countries in order to familiarize itself with their positions.  The terrible crisis in Haiti last year had brought together the countries of the region and had taught them many lessons about their past and present.  That had, in turn, led Latin American countries to cooperate more closely on regional security issues.  The responsibility for reinventing Haiti, however, belonged to the Haitians.  The international community could not replace them in that task but it would be irresponsibility not to offer all possible assistance.

RENAUD MUSELIER, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of France, said the progress made by Haiti over the past year had been remarkable, particularly since the State and democracy there had so recently ceased to function according to acceptable norms.  Even with all that, a transitional Government was now in place and preparing to hold democratic elections.  Where human rights had once been flouted, judicial reform was now under way.  Where arms used to lay down the law, a disarmament process had begun, as evidenced by the operations carried out against the Chimeres in Cite Soleil in mid-December.

Those advances were first due to the strength, courage and determination of the Haitian people, who were likewise overcoming the handicaps of the past.  That progress was also a result of the remarkable mobilization of the international community.  Indeed, global actors had extended their efforts to bring about adequate conditions for a democratic transition.  The United Nations, regional organizations and countries on the American continent had played and continued to play a crucial role in that mobilization.  “This level of commitment must be maintained over time”, he said, calling for the close coordination of all international actors, particularly through the contact group in Port-au-Prince, New York and Washington.

He went on to applaud the actions of the transitional Government, which, in difficult conditions, was attempting to anchor the country by ensuring political and economic reconstruction.  France would support the Government in that process, he added, stressing that, even with all the progress, now was not the time to become satisfied.  Much remained to be done to achieve a democratic, unified and stable Haiti on track towards sustainable development.  One step in that direction would be preparations for the upcoming elections next fall.  That would provide a unique opportunity for the Haitian people to take their future into their own hands.  All conditions must be met so that voting could take place in satisfactory conditions.  And while the near-complete deployment of MINUSTAH since the end of December would help, it was also important for the disarmament process to be successfully concluded.

Another step was continuing reform of political institutions, including reform of the judicial system, and training of the national police.  That, along with the promotion of human rights, must not wait until national election were implemented, he said.  The final step would be the establishment of a dynamic for economic development.  An Interim Cooperation Framework had been approved, but national support for that initiative had not been revealed on the ground, despite the raft of donations and pledges that had been announced.  Reconstruction projects must be implemented quickly, and they must offer the prospect of jobs for Haitians.  The Haitian people expected tangible improvements in their daily lives:  building new roads, replanting trees, and access to sanitation and safe water, among others.  At this critical juncture, the international community must not fail in its duty, nor disappoint them in their hopes for a better future.

LUIGI R. EINAUDI, Acting Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), said that Haiti was a founding member of the OAS, and the organization had been particularly active in Haiti for the past 15 years.  His most recent mandate from the OAS had referred to support for the Haitian elections, the institutional strengthening of the HaitianState, and the defence of human rights.  All of that should be done in cooperation with MINUSTAH and the United Nations.  In early November, the OAS had signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations, which had given the former the lead in the voter registration process in Haiti, for which he had received some $8.7 million from the United States.  He considered good elections to be open, participative and non-exclusive -- enabling all citizens to vote and have their votes counted and respected.  That was central to democratic stability and legitimacy in Haiti, of which no one had any doubt.  Achieving good elections, however, would not be easy in the face of obstacles confronting that country.  Clearly, if Haiti was to avoid going from crisis to crisis, it, along with the international community, needed to develop a programme of broad support for State institutions.

In that regard, he explained that the effort of the OAS was aimed at contributing to the institutional development of Haiti and to the credibility of democracy there.  The organization, thus, had carefully developed a programme of electoral registration, which it was still refining, along with the electoral experts of MINUSTAH and the Haitian electoral council.  The organization had tried to develop a system, to begin in March, which would contribute to institutional development by being tied to, and facilitating the development of, the civil registry of Haiti.  It must be ensured that Haitians’ registration was not a one-time event for a single election, but was the beginning, for life, of that process.

That would not be easy, given the problems of infrastructure, insecurity, voter education, and so forth, he said.  Thus, that was a critical moment for Haiti.  The OAS technicians and those of the United Nations were “scrubbing” the numbers one more time in close cooperation with the provisional electoral council of Haiti.  The Haitian situation was a unique historical situation, representing a phenomenon of the current international scene -- it was very difficult for local authorities to function well in a globalized world without international support, and it was very difficult for the international community to achieve progress if it was not capable of enlisting the support of the local authorities.

IGNACIO WALKER, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Chile, said today’s meeting provided an excellent opportunity to renew the commitment of the international community to support the peace mission in Haiti.  The international community must remain focused on ensuring long-term stability in that country.  He highlighted the importance in this regard of helping the transitional Government to ensure a broad national dialogue, promote national reconciliation, hold democratic elections, promote human rights, begin disarmament initiatives and put an end to impunity.

Though progress had been slow in the beginning, he noted that MINUSTAH’s activities had begun to pick up considerably in the past two months.  Chile attached great importance to all efforts aimed at building a legitimate police force in the country, based on professional and depoliticized institutions that could gain the trust of Haitian citizens by operating within the boundaries of international human rights and humanitarian norms.  All that should be accompanied by a disarmament programme that was aimed not only at former soldiers but Haitian society in general.  He also called for a dialogue between all relevant actors to ensure inclusive elections this year.

In addition, he reiterated his call for the transitional Government to ensure that such processes took hold.  Going forward, it was critical for the international community to address the causes of its repeated failures in Haiti.  “When we say no more impunity, we must be committed to ensuring judicial reform”, he said, adding that that called for an end to violence which must be accompanied by the commitment to support institutions that could contain violent acts.

In addition, poverty could be alleviated by identifying concrete projects for action.  He called on donor countries to live up to the pledges made at last year’s donor conference, particularly since there were resources and equipment available which were underutilized because of lagging financial resources.  The international community could not allow the cycle of indifference that had previously characterized its relationship with Haiti to continue, he declared.

CARLOS MORALES TRONCOSO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, said it was urgent to adopt effective measures to arrest the accelerated progression of disintegration, which seemed to afflict Haitian society.  In Haiti, he could add to the extreme generalized poverty and an atmosphere of violence characterized by intransigent positions, the inability of the Government to cope with the most urgent problems of the population and the dysfunctional character of the institutions of justice, the legislature, and the security forces.  That country must be helped, and every effort must be made to restore the rule of law, and develop and strengthen institutions and the electoral process, as had been so aptly pointed out by the Acting Secretary-General of the OAS.

The Dominican Republic’s foreign policy had constantly expressed its solidarity with Haiti and called for international assistance to generously help its people, crushed by poverty and requiring all forms of humanitarian assistance on an emergency basis, he continued.  His Government had taken national and international action to prevent the progressive fragmentation of Haitian society, in the hope of strengthening tolerance and solidarity among the main actors in public life.

He said that the main guidelines for his country’s initiatives had been to directly or indirectly contact and persuade the leaders in the various sectors of Haitian society to reduce their differences and promote reciprocal respect and to coordinate activities to serve as seeds for the future and to promote national unity and integrity.  That type of institutional initiative, both public and private, would motivate and convince Haitian leaders and help them to change the opinions of those who were currently isolated.  The overwhelming commitments of the international community towards Haiti must be based on the reconciliation of the elements of Haitian society, so that its leaders moved from confrontation to cooperation, and so that economic reconstruction relieved Haitians’ overwhelming poverty.  A long-term international commitment was needed, along with greater solidarity -- solidarity that was greater than the problems.

DAME BILLIE MILLER, Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados and Chairman of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of the Caribbean Community, recalled that one year ago, everyone was gravely concerned about the deteriorating political and security conditions in Haiti.  With Haitian agreement and international support, the Caribbean Community had launched a diplomatic initiative, which sought to:  stabilize the political situation through a power-sharing arrangement; avoid repetition of the traditional Haitian practice of getting rid of a President by any means in order to resolve political conflict; and help the Haitians find a pacific and political solution to preserve the rule of law and constitutional continuity.

She said that the CARICOM heads of government had been disappointed at the Security Council’s reluctance to take immediate action in response to appeals for assistance by the Haitian Government and to CARICOM’s request.  The elected President had departed the country, and an interim administration had been put in place, but the fundamental tenets of democratic practice and behaviour had been compromised.  “We cannot vacillate on principle since it is essential to our security as small States”, she said.  The interim administration must be held to internationally recognized standards regarding respect for fundamental civil and political rights, due process and the rule of law.  Allegations of egregious abuses by the police must be fully investigated, and the Lavalas leaders and activities detained for so long without trial or charges should be released.

For its part, CARICOM had put in place certain mechanisms, including an assistance programme which had electoral support at its core, she said.  One year later, however, the deep concerns of the regional and international communities had increased.  The inability of the interim administration to promote stability and political inclusiveness had been a stumbling block to progress.  Insecurity and volatility persisted, and the lot of the ordinary Haitian had not improved.  The traditional clamour for a change in government was once again being raised.  Hopelessness and joblessness combined with the easy availability of weapons to fill the ranks of the illegally armed groups.  Their activities subverted the authority of the State and must be curtailed.  Instability had also had an adverse effect on Haiti’s neighbours, including the Bahamas and Jamaica, and it spurred illegal immigration and, increasingly, trafficking in small arms and drugs.

She said that free and fair elections were pivotal for returning to constitutional rule.  They were only a critical “way station”, however, on the long and arduous road to stability, recovery and viable democracy.  Clearly, the daunting prerequisites for credible elections later this year were not yet within grasp.  The joint and urgent task must be to help create a secure environment that permitted open campaigning, to help ensure a political climate that facilitated the participation of all political groups, including those presently outside the political and electoral process, and to help establish an effective administration structure with which to conduct proper elections.  Domestic attempts to bring together a representative cross-section of Haitian society must be encouraged.  In that connection, she commended the efforts of the Special Representative, but ultimately, the responsibility for creating favourable conditions for reconciliation, recovery and stability lay with the citizens of Haiti, themselves.

ROGER NORIEGA, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs on the United States, said the international community had responded to the crisis in Haiti with a coordinated effort to establish security and promote political reconciliation, and he highlighted the contributions of Brazil, Argentina and other Western Hemisphere countries in that effort.  He also said that, as MINUSTAH approached full strength, it had demonstrated that it had the will and the wherewithal to improve the security conditions of the Haitian people.

Since it had intensified its operations last month to confront gang activities and defend the rule of law in Port-au-Prince, the Mission had made progress in augmenting security in the Haitian capital’s most impoverished neighbourhoods, he said.  He went on to call upon the international community and the interim Government to work in concert on a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme for all irregular armed groups in Haiti.  He also encouraged the international community and the Government to focus on building an effective civilian police force to improve security and to protect the rights, lives and property of all Haitians.

Emphasizing the indisputable link between security and development, he said Haiti’s improved security climate offered the opportunity for the international community to deliver on its collective commitment to begin real political and economic recovery and growth in Haiti.  And even with the pledges for economic development made last July at the World Bank’s donors’ conference, it was important to remember that it would take more to improve conditions in Haiti.  “We must work to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles in each of our governments and institutions to disburse the funds that were pledged at [that conference]”, he said.  At the same time, Haitian authorities should redouble their efforts to identify concrete projects and to accept appropriate technical advisers to support them.  Similarly, he called upon donors to remove any bureaucratic hurdles to projects that would improve the lot of average Haitians today, and give them hope for the future.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said that everyone owed a debt to MINUSTAH for its work done under difficult conditions, including limited personnel and the devastation caused by the tropical storm.  Today’s debate had focused on three priorities:  the need for a political solution for a democratic end-State, including the need for elections as a critical “way station” along the path to democracy; the creation of a secure State where the responsibility for law and order rested with the Haitians; and economic development.  Those objectives required a coordinated delivery of services by the United Nations and its agencies, on the ground and in the country, reinforced by countries in the region, neighbours and bilateral donors.  He fully supported the transitional Government, and all necessary efforts should be made to move towards a lasting, secure and stable environment.  It was essential that all democratic elements in the country had the opportunity to participate in the electoral process and the elections.

He said he remained concerned by the human rights situation.  It was essential that those individuals involved in human rights violations not have any place within the Government or associated bodies.  Establishing an effective Haiti national police force would be an important step towards improving that human rights record.  On security, further steps were needed, especially for disarmament, demobilization, and the key element of reintegration.  Disarming the gangs operating throughout much of the country was crucial for a stable future.  His country was financing development activities in Haiti and also supporting the country through the European Union and the World Bank programmes.  Particularly welcome had been the assistance of regional organizations and the cooperation of neighbouring countries, as he had heard today.

Haiti should serve as a salutary example -- its problems in the 1990s had necessitated a major United Nations operation, but “we did not stay long enough to achieve durable success”, he said.  This time, the United Nations and the international community “needed to stay the course”, but more generally, the United Nations and the Security Council needed to better address impending threats before they became a reality in individual countries.  The Organization needed to give a higher profile to work on conflict prevention, and support those countries at real risk of instability.  Referring to the proposal of the high-level panel for a more coherent approach to the range of issues comprising the conflict spectrum, he hoped that that work, like progress in Haiti, could develop in 2005.

MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said Haiti was a test case for the United Nations.  Improving security was a precondition for a wide range of objectives for the country, including the creation of an environment conducive to the holding of democratic elections.  Persistent violence by illegal armed groups was a worrying signal of the many dangers still menacing the country.  Such violence undermined ongoing stabilization efforts and disrupted the transition process.  He supported the transitional Government’s efforts to curb violence.  The Mission’s role in supporting government efforts for peace and reconciliation was decisive.  Encouraged by the recent large scale operation by MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police, he noted that further such action was urgently needed to redress the current security situation.

On the political front, he said that Romania was encouraged by the Transitional Government’s commitment to organize elections in 2005 and to transfer power by February 2006.  The decisions of the Provisional Electoral Council on the timing and budget for elections should bring about greater clarity as to the schedule of the transitional period and the needs of international assistance for elections.  In that regard, he welcomed the signing of the global accord on 10 January on an assistance project for elections and looked forward to an inclusive political process.  Reforming the judiciary also had to be a high priority.

Romania also supported the enhanced involvement of regional organizations in stabilization and development efforts in Haiti, he said.  He welcomed the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Organization of American States on coordination of electoral assistance.  In fostering democracy in Haiti, it was important that development projects be implemented with the help of the United Nations and international financial institutions.  He agreed with the need to establish a long-term development strategy for Haiti and welcomed the recent decision of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide emergency assistance for the country’s recovery.  Structural instability in Haiti required a long-term commitment.

ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece) expressed support for the transitional Government’s efforts in promoting national dialogue and reconciliation.  Improving the security situation should be a priority, as it would benefit not only the disbursement of economic assistance but also pave the way for long-term development.  A positive step in that direction would be a more vigorous approach on the part of the transitional Government in pursing the goals of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and in setting up the relevant national commissions.  He encouraged the transitional Government to promote the rule of law and good governance, as well as put an end to impunity.  Haiti’s constitution, moreover, must be respected and preserved.

It was imperative that the United Nations stand firmly by Haiti in the crucial months ahead, he said, and to ensure that a viable political and economic rehabilitation process was put in place.  Long-term involvement was essential for the success of the United Nations’ efforts in the country.  Haiti’s long-term prosperity would not be achieved without addressing the root cause of human suffering.  Poverty continued to plague a great majority of the population.  The only way to reverse the situation was by promoting long-term economic development.  While Greece was encouraged that the July 2004 donors’ conference had generated over $1.1 billion in reconstruction aid, it would be even more encouraging to see the timely disbursement of donor funding to a people much in need.  He called upon all those involved to put forward plans for specific projects.

KENZO OSHIMA (Japan), describing the situation in Haiti as yet another example of a country where the interlinkage between development and peace arose, said a combination of widespread poverty and joblessness in society, disease, failing governance and institutions and corruption presented a sure prescription for tension in the society and political instability.  Those conditions and the resultant sense of anger, despair, and frustration in the population could eventually blow up in one way or another.

As had been witnessed in many countries worldwide, sometimes the situation was worsened by natural disasters such as earthquakes, drought, floods, hurricanes and tsunamis that exposed and accentuated vulnerabilities and caused damage that otherwise could be avoided.  International sympathy and assistance was needed in many such cases, and needed in time, not after the onset of the crisis, he said.  Although, as early as 2003, it had been recognized that the situation in Haiti might be quickly reaching an extremely dangerous stage, early warnings of a possible impending crisis went largely unheeded by the United Nations and the international community, and little concrete action was taken until the crisis had occurred.

In his view, the Haitian crisis should serve as yet another lesson for the future, as the international community considered how to set up a more effective early warning mechanism for conflict prevention, as well as what sort of preventive measures the United Nations could realistically take.  He stressed the importance of the Haitian people taking steps toward promoting a process of meaningful national dialogue, with a full sense of ownership, to create a more stable political environment.  The transitional Government there was expected to continue to call for national reconciliation and promote quick impact projects which would create jobs for the short term.  For the mid- to long-term, political and economic restructuring, corruption prevention measures and development policy measures that contributed to the improvement of people’s lives had to be implemented as the surest way for the Government to gain the broad support of the people.

Mr. Kenzo pointed out that the consolidation of peace in Haiti required not only national dialogue but also an improved humanitarian and economic environment.  For the success of the November elections, prompt disbursement of the funds pledged at the International Donor Conference on Haiti last July was essential.  He reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to assisting Haiti and its people, noting that all three projects concerning health, food and agriculture promised by his country had already been implemented, with Japan’s total assistance to date amounting to over $160 million.

AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said conditions on the ground in Haiti -- disregard for the rule of law, continued violence and deterioration of security, abuse of human rights, violence against women and children, and threats and intimidation against human rights activists -- were indeed worrying and should concern the entire global community.  The United Republic of Tanzania noted efforts of MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police in countering the spread of violence, and would urge the transitional Government to establish a national commission to monitor and implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration initiatives to facilitate the work aimed at maintaining order and curbing further violence, particularly as former armed soldiers appeared to factor in the current insecurity.

He went on to say that the Haitian people had also suffered from repeated natural disasters -- the latest being last September’s devastating tropical storm that had crippled the country’s already distressed socio-economic situation.  Commending those that had made pledges to alleviate the suffering caused by that disaster, he called for the strengthening of MINUSTAH’s humanitarian pillar and the establishment of a long-term development strategy for Haiti.  “It should be noted”, he said, “that the chronically depressed state of the economy in Haiti, with the resulting widespread unemployment, contributed to the prevailing insecurity in the country and needs to be addressed in the overall recovery strategy.”

Welcoming the transitional Government’s commitment to organize free, fair and credible elections next fall as the culmination of an inclusive political process, he encouraged the continuation of a national dialogue among all political parties and civil society and urged them to participate in the ballot.  He also urged and encouraged the full deployment of troops by contributing countries, police and other personnel to strengthen MINUSTAH’s ability to face the challenges of re-establishing stability and to carry out its mandate, as well as to build the capacity of local institutions.

WANG GUANGYA (China) said the high-level participation in today’s meeting had reflected the deep international concern about the Haitian issue.  In little more than seven months since the United Nations Stabilization Mission was first deployed, 90 per cent of the peacekeepers were in place and 95 per cent of the police were already on the ground, which had basically stabilized the security situation in Haiti.  Regarding disarmament, restoration of the rule of law, and promotion of national reconciliation, the transitional Government had adopted positive and proactive measures which had already begun to take effect.  The Government’s unremitting efforts deserved positive acknowledgement.  Favourable conditions were emerging for a comprehensive settlement to the question.  The World Bank’s recent release of $73 million had been a particularly encouraging sign.  Achievements had been hard-won, given Haiti’s complex and difficult situation.  He congratulated the transitional Government and the people of Haiti and he paid tribute to MINUSTAH for its tireless efforts. 

He said that achieving national reconciliation, political stability and security must be given simultaneous attention.  Consensus should be sought among all domestic parties, and a favourable environment should be created for the successful holding of elections.  Other key objectives were the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former fighters, as well as successful weapons collection programmes.  More employment opportunities should be created to help increase the population’s confidence in the future of the nation.  Instilling peace, stability and development in Haiti as a least developed country would not be possible without the consistent support of the international community, including the United Nations, and the active support of regional organizations.  Certain lessons should be drawn from the past, including that attention to Haiti and to inputs into the country must be “kept up in a sustainable manner”, under the constant attention of the Council and on the basis of need.  He also appealed to donors and the international financial institutions to expeditiously deliver on their commitments.  He supported the presidential statement, drafted by Argentina’s delegation, to be read out after today’s debate. 

LAURO BAJA (Philippines), said he was encouraged that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti now had a credible military and police presence, including 135 personnel from his country, whose presence had significantly bolstered the United Nations Mission’s efforts to stabilize the security situation in Haiti and extend Government control to parts of the country.  The improved peace and order situation was expected to pave the way for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts with the help of the international community.

He said MINUSTAH’s immediate challenge was how to address the climate of fear prevailing in Haiti and create a safe and secure environment that would allow Haitians to resume their normal lives.  To that end, the Mission needed to take robust action, not just against the gangs that had been terrorizing the urban poor communities in and around the capital Port-au-Prince, but also against former soldiers.  The second challenge was for the transitional Government to take concrete steps towards the establishment of the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration.  He urged both the Mission and Haitian authorities to explore more creative ways to “entice” those former soldiers and gang members to turn in their weapons in exchange for, among other things, compensation or livelihood opportunities.

Expressing pleasure that initial steps in that direction had been taken, he welcomed the Transitional Government’s moves to look into the valid demands of demobilized soldiers.  However, he underscored that any compensation had to be part of a comprehensive and durable solution, explaining that the greatest weapons to meet the challenges were hope and commitment.  He further hoped that Haitian authorities would place greater emphasis on human rights and an end to impunity and that the transitional Government would put an end to illegal and arbitrary arrests and detentions, summary executions of human rights activists and followers of former President Aristide, as well as sexual violence against women.  Also, members of the Haiti National Police who were responsible for some of those acts should be held accountable.

Mr. Baja further expressed hope that the people of Haiti would go to the polls in November to freely elect their new leaders, and to that end, he welcomed the preparations being undertaken by the Transitional Government and the Provisional Electoral Council.  The common vision for a democratic and stable Haiti required the international community’s long-term commitment, as success would hinge on how far the international community was willing to support MINUSTAH in institution-building, national reconstruction and economic rehabilitation.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that putting Haiti on the path to democracy following last year’s violence would be most challenging, particularly with so many obstacles in the way, including State institutions that had been seriously destabilized and an economy that had been wrecked, making the already distressed socio-economic situation in the country even worse.  The Security Council’s deployment of an initial stabilization force and the subsequent establishment of a peacekeeping mission had provided significant support, but he stressed that the disarming of all remaining combatants was essential.  Algeria was gratified that the transitional Government had decided to establish a disarmament commission.

He went on to call on the transitional Government to take the necessary measures to hold credible local and national elections next November or December, and stressed that for the overall transitional process and the elections to succeed, it was essential for all elements of Haitian society to participate, particularly all those that had been left out of previous initiatives.  It was also important to ensure a national dialogue, which was essential to the battle against impunity.

In addition, more than half the population lived below the poverty level,  and the international community must remain committed to ensuring that lasting, long-term programmes were in place aimed at enhancing institutional capacities to promote the rule of law and help the Government create the foundations for economic growth.  The international community must also make sure that it lived up to the pledges that had been made at recent donor conferences, he added.

CAROL BELLAMY, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that children in Haiti represented one of every two Haitians, and one child under five died each hour.  Every day, a mother died giving birth, and four children out of 10 did not go to school.  One child of four suffered from chronic malnutrition, stunting their growth forever.  How could childhood for the Haitian children be guaranteed? she asked, and how was it possible to build peace and security and the future of Haiti without ensuring the survival of its children?  The present peace process in Haiti was the third in 15 years.  Imagine if a greater investment had been made in Haitian children 15 years ago.  “Let’s get it right this time around and recognize that investment in children is the best foundation to build a strong and peaceful nation”, she stressed.

She said that Haiti had never had universal and free education, a fundamental factor in peace-building, reconciliation and long-term sustainable development.  Education not only protected children, but it gave them a sense of purpose and future.  It helped them to become responsible citizens who could contribute to their country’s development, and it took them out of a negative, vicious circle of poverty and violence.  The good news was that, under the auspices of the interim Government, education was becoming a dynamic sector, actively supported by the donor community.  A global integrated approach also required such essentials as vaccination, access to clean water, sanitation, good nutrition and care, as well as protection from abuse.  Everyone must seek to break the cycle of violence in Haiti and better prevent abuse and protect children from it.  She urged MINUSTAH to keep on securing the poor urban areas, where children were kept hostage under the brutal and criminal rule of local gangs.

KONSTANTIN DOLGOV (Russian Federation) said his country had consistently supported the efforts of the transitional Government, in order to end the violence perpetrated by the armed gangs.  A solution to the problem would be fostered by the prompt commencement of work of the disarmament and demobilization commission.  The United Nations should continue to assist the Government in restoring order and engaging in a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue, leading to national reconciliation.  Measures should be undertaken immediately to prepare for the holding of elections in 2005.  He was pleased that work had begun in that regard and encouraged its continuation.  Re-establishing the rule of law in Haiti should be pursued, and all Haitian parties should comply with human rights norms and refrain from violence.

He noted steps by the transitional Government to release those persons unjustifiably detained.  At the same time, those who truly violated the law should be turned over to the justice system.  Long-term assistance for Haiti should be worked out among the United Nations system, international financial institutions, and donor countries.  Clearly, a priority in that regard was the speedy disbursement of monies pledged at the July 2004 donors’ conference.  The addition of police contingents should also be accelerated, in order to bring the force to the strength authorized by the Security Council.  The Russian Federation had decided to send a team of civilian police officers to MINUSTAH.  The challenge now for Haiti and the international community was to take into account the lessons of the past to prevent a resurgence of instability, and normalize life there.

ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark) said that a secure environment was a precondition for a viable political process and for long-term development in Haiti.  Recurring incidences of violence reminded the international community of the urgent need to stabilize the still volatile security situation.  She urged all Haitians to refrain from using any kind of violence to achieve their political goals.  She welcomed recent deployment of additional military and civilian police units to MINUSTAH and was encouraged by the reported improvement of the security situation at the end of 2004.  She would also like to see further action by the Mission and the national police to stabilize the situation in all parts of the country.  In that connection, her Government would like to underline the importance of respect for all human rights.

She stressed the urgent need to remove all illegal weapons from the streets of Haiti.  The transitional Government, with the assistance of MINUSTAH, should initiate a comprehensive and community-based disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.  Denmark urged the Government to establish without delay a national commission on DDR.  Also needed was a national reconciliation process.  Although the United Nations and regional partners could play an important supportive role in that respect, the initiative must come from within the Haitian society itself, based on the broadest national political dialogue.

She called on the transitional Government to continue exploring avenues for the creation of an all-inclusive political process that would encourage all segments of the country’s society to participate.  Such a process should be initiated before the upcoming elections later this year.  All necessary preparations should be made to ensure truly free and fair elections that would ultimately lead to the handing over of power to a legitimately elected government.

Poverty, extreme inequality and public corruption had been fuelling authoritarian rule and violence for decades, she added.  There was a clear need for both long-term development and quick-impact projects.  Substantial funds had been pledged at the donors’ conference on Haiti last summer, where the European Union had emerged as the largest donor.  Her Government called for accelerated disbursement of pledged funds and welcomed the approval this week of more that $15.6 million in emergency assistance to Haiti by the IMF.  Special attention should also be paid to the urgent need for capacity-building within the transitional Government as a prerequisite for effective development cooperation.  It was vital that the international community delivered on its promises and helped the Haitian people to make the foundation for secure environment and socio-economic development based on democratic principles, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.

JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said Haiti was facing major challenges in improving the security situation, re-launching its economy, ensuring broad participation in the electoral process and sustaining political development.  Haitians and the international community needed to face the obvious:  peace would only be sustained if it was based on national consensus discussed among and agreed upon by the sons and daughters of the country.  With that in mind, institutions must be in place which inspired unity, restored trust and dispelled fears of corruption.  The successful holding of elections in the fall would mark the final milestone along Haiti’s long journey to return to the world of democracies.  The transitional Government should spare no effort to include all parties -- particularly those that eschewed violence -- in the political process.

He expressed concern about reports of ongoing violence and human rights violations.  Now that MINUSTAH had sufficient strength, it must more immediately address security issues.  The Mission could also play a key role in the efforts of the Government already under way in that area, particularly rebuilding the national police force. The two must work together to completely eradicate gang violence and replace “the language of arms with dialogue”.  However, results would hold only if Haitians themselves believed in and promoted a culture of peace.  He urged the speedy establishment and funding of a national disarmament commission in that regard.

In addition, he said that MINUSTAH, as well as the transitional Government should take advantage of the unprecedented wave of solidarity of the countries in that region for Haiti’s recovery.  At the same time, he urged the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to overcome its internal differences, and welcomed initiatives to promote a better use of the contributions of the Haitian Diaspora in the recovery effort.

Speaking in his national capacity, RAFAEL BIELSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, whose delegation holds the Council presidency for the month, said he had decided to hold today’s open debate in the hopes of finding realistic and lasting solutions to the Haiti question.  The United Nations had established a stabilization mission there, and while its force was composed of civil and military personnel from around the world, many American States had decided to act together; they felt that the Mission was their mission.  The regional presence in Haiti had made those countries part of the search for a multifaceted solution with a real chance of enduring success.  In terms of areas of cooperation, Argentina had been analysing Haiti’s export potential to Argentina’s domestic market, in order to facilitate Haiti’s access to Argentina’s market.  In the human rights sphere, a cornerstone of Argentina’s own foreign policy, he had supported the transitional Government of Haiti and called on it to be extremely careful not to violate any of the basic rights of the Haitian people.

He said his country had also wished to be present in the humanitarian field, and had offered its own “white helmets” for humanitarian assistance.  In the area of institutional reconstruction, Argentina had offered technical assistance in support of the transitional Government’s efforts to organize, supervise, and hold free and fair elections as soon as possible.  For the electoral process to succeed, a broad dialogue between all political forces was fundamental; the only requirement should be that they had explicitly rejected recourse to violence.  The international community’s presence in Haiti was a moral imperative.  It must assist in creating national institutions able to meet the basic needs of the people.  Also crucial were reconstruction of the Haitian economy, the restoration of democratic institutions and a stable environment based on the rule of law.

The donor’s conference held last year had represented a new source of opportunities and hopes for Haiti, he said.  He looked forward to the translation of the commitments made there into concrete action.  It was necessary to identify infrastructure projects but, above all, donors must strive to live up to their commitments.  He hoped that the work programme set up by the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank would serve as a framework within which, together with the Haitian authorities, things could start to turn around in Haiti.  He reaffirmed Argentina’s commitment to doing its best to bring about understanding, sustainable development, peace and justice in Haiti.  Hopefully, today’s meeting had shed light on the way forward towards overcoming the difficulties and injustice there.

MARCO BALAREZO (Peru) said peace, recovery and reconstruction in Haiti was a regional priority, and Peru had been gratified by the overwhelming response in that regard.  Indeed, peace and stability in Haiti were particularly important to the international community, as well as the region, and all actors must firmly support enhancing and strengthening the country’s national capacity to promote the rule of law and human rights, and to fight impunity and corruption, among other things.

A long-term strategy was absolutely necessary to ensure successful reconstruction.  At the same time, the Government must also show a commitment to ensuring the country’s re-birth.  But he said that the fact remained, that the impoverished country just didn’t have the resources.  It needed the help of the international community and the United Nations.  With the United Nations Mission in the country reaching its full troop strength, now was the time to further promote cooperative efforts to ensure successful rehabilitation.  But a good signal of the international community’s real commitment to the cause in Haiti would be a longer-term horizon for the completion of MINUSTAH’s mandate, he said.

JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, noted that the fact that the Mission in Haiti was nearly up to its full authorized strength had increased its ability to use a more robust approach in implementing its mandate, in particular when it came to joint operations with the Haitian national police against illegal armed groups.  Welcoming recent positive developments on the ground, he noted that further action was required to improve the overall security situation in the country.  He urged all parties to refrain from any kind of violent behaviour, abide by the rule of law and respect human rights.  The transitional Government should take the necessary measures to put an end to impunity.

The crisis in Haiti could only be resolved by peaceful means, he stressed, through a constitutional and inclusive political process of national dialogue, compromise and reconciliation, leading to free and fair elections by the end of this year and transfer of power to elected authorities. It was important that all political forces publicly renounced violence and joined the democratic and electoral process.

The European Union strongly supported the adjustments proposed by the Secretary-General last November regarding the structure of MINUSTAH, he said.  The Union also strongly encouraged the transitional Government, assisted by the Mission, to reinforce, as a matter of first priority, its current efforts to remove all illegal weapons from the streets and fully disarm all armed groups, in order not to jeopardize the democratic transition process under way.

He added that with 271 million euros worth of pledges, the European Union had emerged as the largest single donor from the pledging conference on Haiti last summer.  The Union would make every possible effort to reduce bottlenecks and disburse those funds promptly, to create employment and achieve quick and visible changes.  Some 45 million euros had recently been approved for infrastructure projects, and 27 million for rehabilitation.  To promote the rule of law, the European Union, together with Canada, had launched an important project to reform the judiciary.  The Union was also providing substantial financial support for the organization of elections.  An exploratory mission was to be dispatched in June to assess the feasibility of a European Union Election Observation Mission to Haiti.

In conclusion, he said the Union fully supported the efforts of regional groups and countries of the region and believed that the United Nations should be present in Haiti for as long as necessary to encourage international support for sustainable development of the country.  In that context, he supported the activities of the Economic and Social Council Ad hoc Advisory Group on Haiti.

JOSE ALBERTO BRIZ GUTIERREZ (Guatemala) said that the security situation in Haiti, the weakness of its judicial system and continuing impunity were among the obstacles that needed to be overcome without delay.  The international community and relevant regional organizations should continue backing Haiti in the promotion and protection of fundamental rights, particularly those of women and children, assisting in the investigation of the abuses and seeking to end impunity through reform and measures to strengthen the institutions involved in the administration of justice.  The transitional Government should adopt concrete measures to prevent abuses through effective investigation of reported cases and prosecution of the individuals charged.  In that connection, he stressed the need to prioritize the application of fair and effective procedures that were consistent with international norms, as well as the right of all to due process.

Among the country’s main problems, he listed extreme poverty and high levels of illiteracy and malnourishment.  Such problems posed a tremendous challenge to the transitional Government, which should design and implement, in collaboration with all sectors of society and with support from the international community, a development plan to satisfy the fundamental economic and social needs of every Haitian citizen.  It was also important to take into account the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters.  In all those respects, he saw the special Ad hoc Advisory Group set up by the Economic and Social Council as a mechanism that had contributed to revitalizing the link between that body and the Security Council.  It had also provided a tangible framework within which the United Nations and Bretton Woods institutions had deepened their cooperation in support of Haiti.

Reiterating Guatemala’s support for MINUSTAH, he said that his country had contributed a contingent of 70 military police officers to the Mission.  However, a military presence by itself did not suffice to ensure the political stabilization of Haiti.  Proper coordination was needed among various regional organizations, agencies, programmes and non-governmental organizations in support of the transitional Government.  The elections scheduled for the end of this year would offer an opportunity to ensure a larger measure of stability in the future.

ENRIQUE BERRUGA (Mexico) said he agreed with the Secretary-General’s premise that Haiti should enjoy the international community’s comprehensive and long-term approach.  A priority for 2005 should be the promotion of a political dialogue among all groups in Haiti, without exclusions, leading to the preparation of local and presidential elections under a participatory, representative and legitimate framework.  Also necessary was to keep a medium- and long-term perspective for the reconstruction of solid institutions for the Haitian society, especially in areas of law enforcement, human rights, poverty eradication, construction of infrastructure and the development of quality services in such areas as health and education.  The participation and support of the Caribbean Community in the solution of the Haitian crisis was fundamental.  For that reason, the initiatives taken by the United Nations, the OAS and other regional groups and financial organizations should be coordinated with the Caribbean countries.

Briefly outlining the cooperative actions initiated by his country at the bilateral and regional levels for Haiti, he said it had sent emergency humanitarian aid to the country in four different instances.  Mexico had also provided electoral assistance through its Federal Electoral Institute, and it was currently providing technical support for Haiti’s electoral process.  Mexico would also contribute $20,000 to the Special Mission of the OAS to Haiti in the second half of 2005.  At the donors’ conference last July, Mexico pledged $40,000 to cooperate in the technical-scientific and cultural-educational areas and to facilitate the movement of experts and technicians between the two countries.  The modalities of cooperation fell into the following areas:  agriculture; water; prevention of and attention to HIV/AIDS; diplomatic training; drainage engineering; and production and control of seeds.  Also being studied was the possibility of contributing to roads reconstruction.  Mexico had also offered 40 scholarships to high school students wishing to study in Mexico in 2005.

JACOB FRYDENLUND (Norway) said the security situation in Haiti continued to be an obstacle to sustained democratic and economic development in the country.  Haiti now needed both to restore security and to implement investment and aid in order to lay the foundation for its reconstruction and the strengthening of the rule of law.  In those efforts, he said it was essential that the international community confirm its long-term commitment to assist Haiti.  “Faced with a difficult situation, we should rather intensify our efforts than turn our attention elsewhere”, he said.

There was also a strong need to promote and facilitate national reconciliation in an open and inclusive process, he continued.  Political training was important for national opinion leaders and other social and political actors to ensure the continued strengthening of democracy in Haiti.  Over the past six years, Norway had been involved in facilitating political dialogue and consensus-building, and it was that country’s view that, by bringing political groups together in dialogue based on democratic values and practices, an environment for democratic development could be established.  Norway intended to continue those efforts in close coordination with national and international initiatives, with the goal of creating an environment for inclusive and open political dialogue.

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) voiced his country’s full support for the Haitian democratic institutions and reiterated the call made in the Security Council in February 2004 to establish channels of dialogue and democratic understanding that would make it possible to peacefully resolve the problems of that nation and bring about national reconciliation.  In the current circumstances, a more decisive input from the international community was required.  He agreed fully with the statement made in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee that peace could not last absent development.  Stimulating development, establishing the rule of law, developing reliable mechanisms for transitional justice, and caring for the special needs of women in conflict, were among the crucial phases to be consolidated in post-conflict societies.

Calling on everyone to build peace in Haiti, he said his own country had decided to participate in Haiti and had signed a memorandum of understanding to contribute forces, trucks and other equipment, in a joint operation with Chile.  He recalled past Security Council resolutions on Haiti, including the exhortation to the international financial institutions and donors to disburse, without delay, the funds committed in Washington, and to resolutely collaborate to overcome the problems in Haiti.  Ecuador was in a position to confront the challenges of stabilizing that country, for which a multidimensional approach to the peace operation was required.  Ecuador was prepared to contribute, under the United Nations’ flag, but it felt that the international community should show greater sensitivity and greater resolution in overcoming the risks to democratic institutions, human rights and Haiti’s economic development.

JUAN A. BUFFA (Paraguay) said that in the wake of last year’s turmoil, the establishment of MINUSTAH had made it possible for the efforts aimed at ensuring Haiti’s stability and eventual recovery to move forward, and it had prevented a possible destabilizing effect on the region.  The human and financial resources mobilized by the Mission had confirmed the willingness of all States to work multilaterally to overcome the destabilizing forces that had sparked the political crisis in Haiti.

Paraguay had been satisfied with the active support of regional actors on behalf of Haiti’s recovery.  Still, financial contributions were lagging, he said, urging countries that had made pledges last year at the World Bank’s donor conference to live up to those pledges.  He also urged the international community to continue to work together to ensure peace, stability and sustainable development for countries like Haiti, which had strived for so long to attain those objectives.

ALLAN ROCK (Canada) said that in the year since former Haitian President Aristide had left the country, Haiti’s people had faced three fundamental challenges:  establishing sustainable security and undertaking comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; economic and social reconstruction; and national reconciliation and the re-launching of the democratic process.  While efforts to respond to those challenges must be undertaken in parallel, it was clear that, without a secure environment, economic and social reconstruction could not happen; reconciliation would remain but a hope; and the democratic process, which was expected to lead to free and fair elections, could not go forward.

And while Canada welcomed several joint MINUSTAH-national police initiatives taken to support the restoration movement and ensure the maintenance of the rule of law, it would, nevertheless, stress that real security could not exist without respect for human rights, as well as the rule of law.  Canada, which condemned all violations of human rights, would urge the transitional Government to ensure that due process was followed and that individuals subject to detention were formally charged in accordance with Haitian law.

He went on to highlight Canada’s recent financial commitment to Haiti’s electoral process, which would enable the Provisional Electoral Commission (PEC) to fulfil its mandate of organizing a transparent and credible ballot.  Canada continued to believe that successful elections required not only that technical conditions be met but that an appropriate political context be developed.  Therefore, a national dialogue was of fundamental importance in mobilizing all Haitians for the restoration of democratic order and reconstruction and sustainable development of the country.

MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said Haiti, which had given the world numerous artists, writers and poets, was a country of vast cultural vitality.  But it had also been torn apart by violence and political divisions.  Repeated natural disasters had only made matters worse for the people of the island nation.  Morocco hoped that security conditions could be restored so that the transitional Government could hold successful elections this coming fall.  Morocco was also pleased that the United Nations mission in the country was now at full strength and deploying throughout the country.

He said the transitional Government should pursue without delay its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plans, particularly the establishment of a national commission for disarmament.  The disarming of gangs and militias was a prerequisite to promoting restoration of the rule of law, as well as providing the appropriate environment for the upcoming national and local elections.  Morocco urged all the parties to embark on a national dialogue to that end.  It would also urge all States that had pledged financial support for the reconstruction of the country at least year’s donor conference to stand by their commitments.  Morocco was certain that, once restored, political harmony would encourage all Haitians to mobilize in the spirit of national reconciliation.

ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said that Haiti nowadays was a “bygone and forgotten” country, and 2004 was especially tragic for its population.  He continued to observe attentively and with concern the evolution of the events in Haiti.  Cuba, which had made solidarity and unconditional cooperation a pillar of its relations with the Haitian people, considered that massive contributions of human and financial resources to the economic and social rehabilitation of Haiti, along with the reconciliation of its people, was an unavoidable duty of the international community.  Undoubtedly, Haiti was one of the clearest examples of the disastrous consequences of the current international order for underdeveloped countries.  His country supported all efforts by the Haitian people to overcome existing tensions and to move forward towards national reconciliation, as well as the efforts by the CARICOM for the achievement of a peaceful and just solution.

He said he hoped that the United Nations and the international community and international financial institutions would combine their efforts to promote Haiti’s economic and social development and the re-building of its infrastructure.  Council members should also work to guarantee success in that regard, as only development and progress would lead to peace and stability.  Cuba cooperated with Haiti in a number of sectors, centring on health care through the contribution of more than 1,000 health-care specialists in more than five years of such cooperation.  Beyond direct medical assistance, Cuba had also contributed in the educational sphere.  Today, 889 Haitian students were studying in Cuba, of which 606 were enrolled at the Latin American School of Medicine.  The Cuban people and their Government would continue to contribute with all means within their reach to the attainment of a peaceful, just and lasting solution of the situation in Haiti.

FELIPE H. PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said his country had responded promptly to the appeal to contribute to MINUSTAH by dispatching 585 military and police personnel, who had been among the first to be deployed in Haiti.  Uruguay was now the third-largest contributor to the Mission, as his Government recently decided to increase the size of its military contingent.  The new contingent of 200 troops was expected to arrive in Haiti by early February.  At the same time, the transitional Government had the main responsibility for leading the way towards establishing and strengthening the State, based on the rule of law and on functioning democratic institutions.  That would be achieved only if Haiti’s leadership was exercised in accordance with democratic principles and strict respect for human rights.  The recent agreement between MINUSTAH and the Haitian Government to hold general elections in 2005, together with the pledges of contributions from Canada, the European Union and the United States to finance the electoral process, was very good news, which showed that the stabilization process was taking hold.

He urged the stepping up of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.  Also essential was to continue to elaborate and implement long-term development programmes.  Given the deplorable economic and social conditions under which the majority of the population lived, priority must be given to short-term programmes designed to immediately satisfy the basic needs of Haitians for food, housing and essential services.  Efforts now should be focused on the task of alleviating the extreme poverty, as Haiti ranked 153rd in the Human Development Index.  In such a society, lacking basic resources necessary for survival, the task of normalizing the political and security situation appeared to be a mission that was, if not impossible, then at the very least, extremely difficult, unless the socio-economic framework within which the international community was providing assistance was substantially improved.  If MINUSTAH’s presence was accompanied by material assistance that brought about at least a slight improvement in the living conditions in Haiti, the population’s confidence in the Mission and its willingness to cooperate would increase.

ERNESTO ARANIBAR QUIROGA (Bolivia) said his delegation was concerned that the sisterly Caribbeanrepublic of Haiti had not been able to fully overcome its current political crisis, owing mainly to its complex political, humanitarian, and socio-economic context, outside the overall development process.  Indeed, the international community had not been able to uphold democratic principles in the country for more than short periods.

He encouraged the transitional Government to spare no effort to restore democracy and to promote the rule of law in the country.  All States should bear in mind that security was a prerequisite to ensuring a successful political transition, he added, calling on the wider international community to lend long-term support to the United Nations Mission in the country.  He vowed that Bolivia would remain committed to the cause of recovery and rehabilitation in Haiti.

MARCO A. SUAZO (Honduras) said that the participation of the United Nations and the OAS in Haiti since the establishment of the peace mission there in 1995 was an indication of the continuing need of that country for the restoration of democracy and constitutional order.  He had had optimism and hope when Argentina and Honduras had been Council members 10 years ago.  Now, he had come to understand the difficulties in reaching certain goals, even if they had seemed simple at first.  Honduras had, at that time, initiated consideration of the situation in Haiti in the General Assembly.  A decade had passed now, and he would underscore the positive aspects and urge that no one forgot the Haitian people.  Together, the best formula to propel them forward politically, socially and economically should be sought.  The Millennium Development Goals were the same for all; the means and resources available to reach them, however, were not.

He noted that the Haitian people would vote in November 2005, in the first round of presidential and legislative elections.  A second round would be held, if necessary, in December.  A memorandum of understanding between the United Nations and the OAS with respect to electoral assistance to Haiti had been signed in 2004.

As such, the political panorama in Haiti seemed to be improving, he continued, adding that, hopefully, the timetable would be met without delays.  Given that the humanitarian situation was not similarly improving, he appealed to the international community to continue its international assistance to Haiti in an uninterrupted manner.  Haiti had been the victim of flooding and natural disasters, and he worried that the unprecedented Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster would lead everyone to forget the dead and affected in Haiti.  The international community, and especially Latin America, had special links and a debt to that “sister republic”.  Honduras, therefore, expressed its solidarity in Haiti’s difficult time and raised its voice to ensure that the Haitian people were not forgotten.

CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO (El Salvador) said the human tragedy in Haiti, as well as that country’s pressing social needs were causes for great concern, inside and outside the Caribbean region.  Her delegation shared the concern of others about the deteriorating security environment and the tense political situation that was emerging in the country, particularly during the run-up to the national elections next fall.  Overall, peace and stability must be based on national dialogue and reconciliation, she said, praising the work of the United Nations Mission in that regard.  She also praised MINUSTAH’s efforts to ensure cooperation with the Organization of American States towards the successful holding of the ballot.

She went on to stress the impact natural disasters had on Haiti, particularly the devastating storms and hurricanes that had pummelled the country this past summer.  The international community’s response had been timely and effective, but Haiti’s vulnerability to such events, combined with its development struggles, made meeting the broader needs of the island nation doubly challenging.  She recalled that international efforts to ensure socio-economic progress and growth must be accompanied by initiatives to strengthen capacities to cope with natural disasters.

Special Representative VALDES said that the speakers in today’s debate had helped to enrich the vision of the Council and the international community in contributing to MINUSTAH’s task in Haiti.  He would interpret everyone’s kind words as an expression of trust in the Mission, in the soldiers and the police, who were helping to restore stability in Haiti, as well as in the civilian staff who daily provided support in many different areas, from helping to restore the economy to promoting national reconciliation throughout Haitian society.  He had also heard in many statements the priority attached to the disarmament process, particularly the disarming of illegal groups that were still harbouring weapons.

In addition, he noted that several delegations had underscored the need for Haiti to participate in a process of national dialogue and reconciliation, as well as a need for the United Nations Mission to provide the technical and political support for that process.  That support could produce positive results in the elections, as well as improved governance.  Today’s meeting was being held at a time when the Mission, with the support of the transitional Government and the growing contribution of Haiti’s people, had jointly arrested the disintegration of Haitian society and had held it back from abyss.  “That process has been halted, and now it was necessary to climb back up the side of the mountain”, he said.

Also essential, he said, was to maintain the international community’s economic support for projects that would have a positive impact on the quality of life of the Haitian population in the coming months and throughout the year.  The meeting had confirmed, once again, the fact that the Organization’s main contribution to countries suffering internal disintegration hinged on persistent sustained work and support, and on an ability to reassure those countries that did not have a capacity to extricate themselves from the difficulties that they would have the support of the international community to do so.

After the Foreign Minister of Argentina read out the presidential statement, Haiti’s Foreign Minister, Mr. SIMEON, thanked the Council for having organized a special meeting on the situation in his country.  He also thanked Council members for their solidarity with Haiti and he promised to report back to his Government and the people of Haiti the concerns expressed today.

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For information media. Not an official record.