|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6093rd Meeting (AM)
BRIEFED ON ITS FACT-FINDING MISSION TO HAITI, SECURITY COUNCIL LEARNS OF PROSPECTS
TO ENSURE LONG-TERM POLITICAL STABILITY, ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THERE
Briefing the Security Council this morning on his recent fact-finding mission to Haiti, Jorge Urbina ( Costa Rica) said the Caribbean island nation was indeed making headway in judiciary and security sector reform, but it continued to grapple with food insecurity and a fragile humanitarian situation.
Mr. Urbina said he had led the mission, which also comprised Council members and Ambassador Léo Mérorès of Haiti, from 11 to 14 March, to assess the country’s situation first-hand at a time when there appeared to be a window of opportunity to ensure long-term stability and achieve sustainable development. The international community was committed to Haiti’s success, and the country’s authorities must promote a national consensus to ensure political stability, security and a firm foundation for socio-economic development.
He had met with officials of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Haiti’s President, Prime Minister and Ministers of Planning, Interior, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Transport and Public Works, as well as with congressional and political party leaders and representatives of the private sector and civil society.
In the last five years, Haiti’s crime rate had dropped significantly and public confidence in the police had grown, he noted. The nation had already reached its goal of putting 14,000 police officers on the streets. A successful anti-violence programme ‑‑ carried out in partnership with MINUSTAH, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration ‑‑ had brought stability to formerly lawless urban areas.
Moreover, new maritime and air patrols, put in place with MINUSTAH’s assistance, should help secure Haiti’s borders by land, air and sea, but they must be supported by bilateral and regional action. Thanks to a border management and infrastructure development programme, goods were moving freely between Haiti and neighbouring Dominican Republic. Council members encouraged national authorities to continue strengthening the national customs data system and land patrols while opening new border control crossings in order to ensure greater tax revenue for the State.
Haiti was also moving forward with an ambitious programme of judicial reform, implementing three important laws ‑‑ one of which created a High Council for Judicial Authority ‑‑ while also hammering out a strategic plan to build more penitentiaries, assess prisoners’ living conditions and strengthen justice administration in order to shorten the time prisoners spent awaiting trial.
The constitutional reform process was also under way, with tight schedules to amend the onerous administrative structure created by the 1987 Constitution. During interviews with the President of the Presidential Commission, Council members had urged senior Haitian authorities to strengthen coordination between the executive branch, Parliament and civil society in order to prevent political splits and deadlocks that would thwart vital reform. The Council had received assurances from the Commission that the electoral process during the next three years, when voters would head to the polls eight times, would be held in a free, fair and inclusive manner and that the concerns of groups fearing electoral fraud would be addressed by legal means.
Council members had also observed that the Haitian Government and MINUSTAH were working together to expand the country’s administrative capacity and bring basic services to the population. They were informed of new anti-corruption and customs laws, as well as of administrative and financial regulations to improve the functioning of the legislative branch. Still, they were told local governments were limited in their capacity to provide essential health and education services for the communities.
Haiti’s limited economic, social and cultural rights also proved worrisome, a situation that was exacerbated by natural disasters, particularly hurricanes last year in the city of Gonaïves, and the current global food and financial crises, Mr. Urbina said. Extreme poverty was widespread, with 80 per cent of the population surviving on less than two dollars a day. Council members had been made aware of disaster prevention programmes, including the construction of dykes and repairs to water basins, canals and irrigation channels. Haitian officials had also discussed the importance of poverty-reduction campaigns and post-disaster needs assessments, such as the United States legislation called HOPE II, which gave preferential access to Haitian exports, vital to stimulating Haiti’s economy and achieving long-term security.
Also during the mission, Japan’s representative had expressed concern that agricultural production, which employed more than half the population, barely covered 48 per cent of Haiti’s food needs. He and other Council members urged Haitian authorities to adopt agricultural policies that would spur production.
The Council had met with members of the Core Group and had observed a high level of commitment to Haiti among Latin American nations, many of which continued to contribute troops and police, and to support development projects through bilateral and multilateral partnerships. Haitian authorities had repeatedly noted their growing interest in South-South cooperation, and the importance of the continued involvement of regional and subregional organizations such as the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for Haiti’s hemispheric integration.
The representative of Haiti today, expressing his Government’s gratitude to the Council for having sent the mission, said it was clear, as had been noted, that since 2005, the security situation had improved considerably. The President and the Prime Minister had pointed out, however, that the economic and social situation remained fragile. Haiti was still suffering from the consequences of four hurricanes in 2008, which had slowed economic progress and greatly damaged infrastructure and the agricultural sector. He reiterated that Haiti was resolutely committed to economic development and noted in that regard that the upcoming pledging conference in Washington would be very important.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 10:40 a.m.
* *** *