DCSIMG

Remarks from Ambassador Rice at U.N. Security Council Debate on Haiti



AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Representative Fernandez for your briefing. Before I begin, I’d like to congratulate Guatemala on assuming the Presidency of the Security Council for the first time.

Last February, the United States led a Security Council mission to Haiti. This Council witnessed firsthand the great strides that the Haitian people are making in rebuilding their country following the devastating earthquake. But we also came away with serious concerns – concerns we expressed at our debate last March. At that time, political gridlock threatened Haiti’s stability and progress. The Prime Minister resigned after only four months in office. Relations between the executive and legislative branches of government had deteriorated. The appointment of key officials and important constitutional amendments were stalled. Election planning lagged. Both in Haiti and in this chamber, the Security Council called on Haiti’s political leaders to set aside their disparate interests and come together for the sake of the nation.

Seven months later, Haiti’s future looks more promising.

As Secretary Clinton noted at the Haiti Partners Ministerial last week, the country is starting to move forward. Haiti’s political leaders are showing a willingness to cooperate and put the Haitian people first. It’s imperative that they continue to do so. On May 14, the Haitian parliament ratified a new Prime Minister. Then on June 19, President Martelly published a series of constitutional amendments that strengthen democracy and the rule of law in Haiti. These amendments pave the way towards an independent judiciary under a Superior Judicial Council and mandate the formation of a Permanent Electoral Council (CEP). We look forward to providing support for the Superior Judicial Council, as well as the final installation of the CEP, so that long overdue elections can proceed. The Government of Haiti is also tackling gender inequality with a new constitutional requirement that women hold at least 30 percent of government positions. We welcome the possibility that many more Haitian women will now be able to shape the future of their country.

On security, the Government of Haiti has assumed greater responsibility for supporting the Haitian National Police (HNP) with increased financial resources for the HNP and a deeper commitment to security and justice sector reform. The Government-hosted police summit in July endorsed a five-year national development plan for the HNP that aims to boost its size and quality. For the HNP to play its rightful role in protecting the people of Haiti and enabling the country’s development, sustained support by the Government and the international community for this development plan is essential. This must include greater attention to police recruitment, training, and combating sexual and gender-based violence. Ensuring that the HNP has sufficient personnel and the resources to do its critical work remains a top priority.

Improvements in security and the rule of law will create more economic opportunity for the Haitian people. The Joint Aid Coordination Mechanism, recently launched by the Prime Minister, can help ensure the alignment of donor assistance with Haitian priorities as well as the transparent and efficient use of international aid. This mechanism is an important step and deserves our support. We call on all countries who have pledged assistance to fulfill their commitments through the Joint Aid Coordination Mechanism.

As the Secretary General’s August 31 report details, Haiti has made progress since the Security Council’s debate last March in addressing the international community’s concerns. We should not forget that the presence and work of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, has been central to the country’s recovery from the earthquake and to its recent progress. The Mission has helped provide a more secure and stable environment in Haiti, strengthened the country’s institutions, protected civilians, and safeguarded human rights. The United States supports renewing the mandate of MINUSTAH for another year so that it can continue assisting the Haitian government and people to meet the challenges ahead and hasten the day when UN peacekeepers are no longer needed.

Reconfiguration and consolidation of MINUSTAH’s footprint in Haiti is a delicate balancing act that we cannot afford to get wrong. So as not to jeopardize overall security, the United States supports the Secretary-General’s recommended consolidation and partial drawdown of MINUSTAH forces from the post-earthquake surge to near pre-earthquake levels. These changes will reflect the progress Haiti has made but also enable MINUSTAH to continue executing its mandate effectively. Moving forward, we must remain mindful of the risk that drawing down too quickly could undermine gains achieved thus far. The United Nations must also ensure that MINUSTAH personnel consistently adhere to the highest standards in the performance of their work, and that any allegations of sexual misconduct are thoroughly investigated and that perpetrators are held to account. With this adjustment, the United States will consider future changes in MINUSTAH’s force level based on conditions on the ground. We look forward to a time in the not so distant future when this force will no longer be needed.

Yet, much work remains to be done in Haiti. There are, for example, far too few jobs and insufficient housing to meet the needs of Haitian families. The United States recognizes the importance of socio-economic development in cementing stability and catalyzing long-term growth. We’ve been working with the Haitian government, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other partners on a comprehensive development plan for Haiti’s northern areas that attracts investments to create jobs and spur economic development. We just signed a partnership agreement with Haiti outlining America’s contributions, under Haitian leadership, to Haiti’s national health plan for the next five years. In addition, the housing of IDPs remains a priority and forthcoming U.S. housing developments will shelter thousands.

Mr. President, Haiti is gradually moving beyond crisis-management to long-term recovery. Its democratic institutions are getting stronger, security in parts of the country has improved, and the lives of the Haitian people are brightening. The United States will remain a steadfast friend of Haiti. We are hopeful that with the continued support of MINUSTAH, the contributions of international partners, and the hard work and determination of the Haitian people, Haiti will indeed reach its full potential.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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