Organization of American States


April 5, 2002



The Organization of American States' (OAS) new Special Mission to Strengthen Democracy in Haiti presents a "great opportunity" to contribute to a resolution of the political crisis and to "do more than we are doing for Haitian democracy," OAS Secretary General CÚsar Gaviria said today. 

Gaviria said the Special Mission, which will address issues related to security, justice, human rights and governance, has received broad support from the international community, including OAS member states, observer countries and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. The level of support reflects the widespread concern about the problems facing democracy in Haiti, Gaviria told the OAS Permanent Council. 

Gaviria said that in the last two months he and Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi had undertaken extensive consultations on Haiti issues, particularly with  the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  

In addition to the Special Mission, the OAS has created a Commission of Inquiry, which will  examine the circumstances surrounding the politically related violence of last December 17 and make recommendations to the Haitian authorities based on its independent findings of fact. A separate advisory council will evaluate the issue of reparations to victims of the violence. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also plans to send a delegation to report on the human rights situation. 

Haiti's Ambassador to the OAS, Raymond Valcin, today said his government is committed to work closely with the OAS and to "honor its obligations" under OAS resolutions. Valcin said that his government would provide security for the OAS representatives in Haiti and that despite Haiti's economic problems, his country would contribute $25,000 to the Special Mission.  

            Ambassador Lisa Shoman of Belize, speaking on behalf of CARICOM, commended the Haitian government for its "effective cooperation" with OAS efforts in putting together the Special Mission. She called on "all concerned to remain actively engaged in the efforts to move forward to a peaceful and constructive solution to the crisis."   

U.S. Ambassador Roger Noriega, for his part, said the United States will support the OAS Special Mission and is prepared "to respond bilaterally to positive acts on the ground in Haiti." He stressed that Haitian officials must undertake "concrete actions" to make the resumption of political negotiations possible and said Haiti "cannot afford to squander any more opportunities."  

Canada's Alternate Permanent Representative, Gwen Kutz, stressed that the Special Mission to Haiti "is a collective responsibility of the inter-American community" and pledged her country's support. She noted that Canadian diplomat David Lee will head the Special Mission and said Canada would offer the services of other specialists, including high-ranking officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who could share their expertise in security.              

The Permanent Council session was chaired by Ambassador Margarita Escobar of El Salvador, who noted the "encouraging and positive tone" of Gaviria's report on Haiti and urged all member states to support OAS efforts in that country.


# # #