Port au Prince, Haiti

9 March 2009

Secretary-General's remarks to the press at Palais National

Chers amis des medias,

I have just met with President Preval in the presence of President Clinton and we will shortly issue a joint communiqué confirming our agreed priorities.

We are here today with President Clinton, who has through his Global initiative shown his constructive commitment to Haiti, to focus international attention on Haiti's recovery and reconstruction needs

We are here to generate additional momentum for the implementation of Haiti's agenda for the achievement of economic security, with a particular emphasis on jobs, food security, and the environment.

I greatly appreciated the warm reception I received here in 2007 and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to once again visit Haiti, this time in the company of President Clinton.

Lors de ma première visite en Haïti, en août 2007, j'avais exprimé mon engagement personnel et celui des Nations Unies à fournir au peuple haïtien les occasions de réussite qu'il mérite.

Haïti demeure pour moi une priorité et c'est un plaisir pour moi d'être de nouveau ici à Port au Prince.

2008 was a difficult year for Haiti, from the violent reactions to the increase in food prices to the devastation caused by the successive hurricanes.

There is however a growing optimism that Haiti has all the assets it needs to break the impasse

I welcome your vision, Mister President and your determination to build a better future for your people. I look forward to working with you and with Prime Minister Pierre Louis to implement that vision.

MINUSTAH has worked with the Haitians over the past four years to create a secure and stable environment within which key reforms and economic development could take place.

In spite of recent and severe setbacks, we now have a real window of hope to lift Haiti out of its downward spiral if the Haitian authorities, international community, and national and international private sector can rally around a critical path to place the country on the road to economic security

The upcoming high-level donors' conference is a major opportunity to give Haiti a fresh start based on a mutual commitment to help the country escape the cycle of poverty and natural disaster, and place it on the path of economic recovery

Cette conférence des donateurs prévue en avril aura pour objectif d'aller bien au delà des secours d'urgence pour investir dans la croissance économique.

Ses critères de réussite seront la création d'emplois et l'atténuation de la pauvreté.

Il s'agira en premier lieu de faire repartir l'agriculture et l'industrie manufacturière et de réhabiliter l'environnement

First, agriculture: Haiti's small farmers need to recover quickly from last year's storms. It is important therefore that they can access credit to buy seeds, replace equipment and repair their land. Haiti needs once more to feed its people

Second, industry: Haiti's textile industry can take advantage of the HOPE II provisions.

Faced with possible protectionism, manufacturers will look at Haiti as a safe production location for garments.

It is essential, therefore, that the Government can provide the infrastructure and the stability that will enable more players to enter the market

Third, Deforestation and soil erosion affect half of Haiti's land.

This is disastrous for farmers, and for people living in the path of floods and landslides.

It is disastrous for the economy and keeps Haiti vulnerable to natural disasters.

Economic and food security are both feasible and imperative.

But this window of opportunity is limited, and it is essential to seize it now, in order to avoid a disastrous slide backward, which would leave the country worse off than ever.

Let me inject here a word of caution.

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is time-bound

So is the United States HOPE II Act. This Act offers Haiti a unique and substantial lifeline, especially in this time of global economic downturn.

Haiti has duty-free, quota-free access to the American market, guaranteed for the next nine years.

We cannot afford to let this window of opportunity slip.

Sortir Haïti de l'impasse dépendra de la volonté de l'ensemble des Haïtiens, y compris le gouvernement, le parlement, les partis politiques, la société civile et la diaspora, avec le soutien de leurs partenaires, de profiter des opportunités offertes.


Haiti can be made into a success story.

Haiti has many friends and all the right ingredients for recovery. But speed is of the essence. We must start moving now to create jobs for the poor and give the people hope for a better future.

Men anpil, chay pa lou. Mesi

(From the Creole for "the support of many hands makes the load to carry much lighter. Thank you.")