Secretary-General's statement upon departure from Haiti
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2 August 2007SG: Ladies and gentlemen,
Once again, I would like to convey my appreciation for the warm welcome I have received in Haiti. I am happy that I have been able to visit although it has been very short. Before I leave for Barbados for a meeting with the President of CARICOM, I would very much like to share with you my impressions of Haiti. I know my first visit here has been brief, but I had very interesting and useful meetings with Haitian leaders. And I must say how encouraged I am at the progress that is being made on a number of fronts. My visit to Haiti just 12 months that of my predecessor also demonstrates the United Nations' commitment to Haiti, in the face of multiplying challenges elsewhere in the world.
In the last 24 hours, I met with President Préval, Prime Minister Alexis, Senate President Lambert, Chamber of Deputies President Jean-Jacques, Justice Minister Magloire, Secretaries of State Eucher and Jean, as well as representatives of the churches, civil society, the private sector and the follow-up committee of justice reform. I also visited Cité Soleil and met with Mayor Wilson and his two deputies.
I think it is fair to say that they all recognize that much progress has been made, and that MINUSTAH and the broader UN family are playing a useful role in stabilizing the country. Democratically-elected officials have taken office around the country and security has much improved. The reduction in violence will allow for progress and development which could otherwise not have taken place. Today, in Cité Soleil, I witnessed how the State has begun to resume its responsibilities. I saw, for example, a school that is being renovated by the International Organization for Migration using funds provided by the US Government. This project, among others, illustrates exemplary international cooperation which I hope will be reinforced. I would like to encourage development partners and investors to start projects that will help the people of Haiti improve the quality of their daily lives. There is so much that needs to be done.
I would also like to congratulate the Government of Haiti and the Haitian National Police on the progress they have made in re-establishing a credible institution through their comprehensive police reform plan. I know that this reform – restructuring, training and vetting – is moving forward and that eventually Haiti will have a national police force that can fully serve its citizens from one end of the country to the other.
I would like to commend the Government as well on its initiatives to launch a comprehensive judicial reform plan. Haiti's development depends on its ability to confront corruption and impunity and to firmly establish the rule of law. The independence of the judiciary is critical to this process and I understand the Government has introduced appropriate legislation to this end which sits today in the hands of Parliament. I would therefore like to call upon members of Parliament to fulfill their responsibilities as the legitimate representatives of the people and to adopt these draft bills to move the rule of law process ahead.
During my visit, I congratulated President Préval on his resolve to deal with corruption, which undermines and weakens the ability of the State to serve its citizens effectively, and which creates distrust and suspicion towards public officials. The President is clearly committed to establish the rule of law and take Haiti out of the vicious circle of corruption, impunity and poverty. Poverty reduction requires job creation, investment and development. But investment and development will not take place without the rule of law.
Furthermore, the responsibility for Haiti's progress lies not only with the political leadership, but with Haiti's people as a whole. The ability of any democracy to flourish depends on a widespread sense of civic responsibility, a commitment to abide by the rules, and a desire to contribute to one's community. As I underlined in my discussion with members of civil society and other opinion-makers, it is essential that they engage constructively alongside of the Government and the international community, and seek to create a better future for this remarkable country.
The soldiers, police officers and civilians who are working in MINUSTAH, as well as the rest of the United Nations staff serving with our agencies, funds and programmes, are doing everything they can to support the Government and help the authorities advance, and I would like to recognize them all for the work they are doing here.
I want the Haitian people to know that the United Nations will continue to work hard to support their country on the road to stability and sustainable development. We recognize that the gains that have been achieved must be consolidated, and that the continued involvement of international peacekeepers will be indispensable. I can assure you that I will do everything I can to ensure we do not disengage too early, as has happened in the past.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Member States, troop or police contributors, donors and friends of Haiti, for their unfailing support to Haiti. The international solidarity for Haiti's advancement is truly inspiring. I hope to be able to count on the support of the regional Governments and broader international partners to continue the good work that we have all began.
Finally, before I leave, I would like to thank President Préval for his country's warm and generous hospitality. It was a great pleasure for me to visit and see for myself a small part of this extraordinary country, about which I have heard so much. I look forward to one day returning and seeing more of Haiti, and more progress that I know is possible if we continue to work together in support of the key reforms.
Thank you all.
Off-the-Cuff on 2 August 2007