June 3, 2001                                                                                                      AG/INF.264/01
San José, Costa Rica          
3 June 2001

                                                                                                                        Original:  English


JUNE 3, 2001



JUNE 3, 2001





At a special meeting of the Permanent Council on July 13, 2000, the Chief of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) in Haiti, Ambassador Orlando Marville, made an oral presentation on the findings of the EOM in respect of the May 21, 2000 legislative and municipal elections in Haiti. In his report, the Chief of Mission highlighted the deficiencies and difficulties of those elections and mentioned, in particular, the flawed methodology that was used by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in the allocation of seats for certain members of the Haitian Senate. In view of the failure of the CEP to correct the deficiencies identified, the EOM did not observe the second round of the legislative and municipal elections, which were also boycotted by several political parties in Haiti. A stalemate ensued.


These elections were considered vital for the democratic consolidation of Haiti, which had not had a working parliament since January 1999.  Hundreds of millions of dollars of much needed development assistance had been held up as a consequence.  The holding of credible legislative and municipal elections was considered to be a precondition for the release of funds from the international donor community. Therefore, the failure of the authorities to correct the deficiencies identified in the May 21 elections created, not only a crisis of legitimacy, but a significant political impasse in Haiti.


Against this background, the Permanent Council, at a special meeting on August 4, decided in resolution CP/RES. 772 (1247/00), to:


                        To accept the invitation of the Government of Haiti and to promptly send to Haiti a mission led by the Secretary General, on which the Group of Friends of the United Nations Secretary-General shall be represented, to identify, together with the Government of Haiti and other sectors of the political community and civil society, options and recommendations for resolving, as expeditiously as possible, difficulties such as those that have arisen from differing interpretations of the Electoral Law, and for further strengthening democracy in that country.


In fulfillment of this mandate, Secretary General César Gaviria and Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi traveled to Haiti from August 17 to 20, 2000, accompanied by the Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives to the OAS, of Argentina, H.E. Juan José Arcuri, of Chile, H.E. Esteban Tomic Errazuriz, and of Venezuela, H.E. Virginia Contreras. Also accompanying the Secretary General and the Assistant Secretary General was the Assistant Secretary General for Foreign and Community Relations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Albert Ramdin.






August to November 2000


The first report of the Mission is contained in CP/doc.3349/00 dated August 24, 2000.  In this report, the Secretary General observed: “There was acknowledgement that the aftermath of the May 21 elections had served to exacerbate an existing political and democratic-institutional crisis in the country rather than beginning to resolve it, as it had been hoped. The sense of the urgent need for political dialogue now coexists with doubts about whether such a dialogue is possible.”


Subsequently, Assistant Secretary General Einaudi, in an effort to facilitate and promote a climate of dialogue, visited Haiti on three occasions between September 15 and October 23, 2000. On October 11, 2000, the Assistant Secretary General reported orally to the Permanent Council, indicating that major differences remained to be overcome and that time was rapidly becoming a common enemy for all concerned. He stressed that in the absence of a political accord on how to resolve the differences arising from the May 21 elections and how to ensure legitimacy for the presidency and the Senate, it seemed clear that the current electoral schedule with voting on November 26--a mere six weeks away--was going to be kept. 


During his October 13 to 23 visit, the Assistant Secretary General succeeded in promoting and facilitating a series of meetings among representatives of the political parties and with civil society organizations in Haiti. Indeed, the hallmark of this initial dialogue was the presentation by the Assistant Secretary General of a document titled “Elements of Reflection for a National Accord,” on which there was significant agreement by all involved on a number of points outlined in that document.


In presenting the Second Report on the Mission of the OAS to Haiti, (CP/doc.3371/00 of November 9, 2000), the Assistant Secretary General noted that, in spite of these efforts, there was  “no consensus broad enough to achieve the OAS’ objective: namely, the negotiation of a national accord among all parties that would resolve the political crisis and do so in a manner that would elicit the support of the international community.”

Thereafter, consultations continued, both within and outside of Haiti. Meetings were held with the OAS’ collaborators, specifically with the Group of Friends on Haiti of the Secretary General of the United Nations and with CARICOM, in an attempt to correct the deficiencies prior to the November 26 presidential elections. Regrettably, this was not done, and the presidential elections proceeded without correction of the deficiencies of the May 21 elections. The OAS did not observe these elections. On November 27, the OAS issued a press release stating, among other things: 

The decision of the Haitian authorities to proceed with the elections on November 26 despite the absence of such an accord avoids an interruption in the timetable for presidential succession established by the Constitution of Haiti, but does not alter the need to ensure the broad political representation and citizen participation critical to the development of Haitian democracy.

January to March 2001

On January 12, 2001, the Prime Minister of Haiti, H.E. Jacques Edouard Alexis, visited OAS Headquarters and met with Assistant Secretary General. Prime Minister Alexis had come to Washington both at the request of the President of the Republic of Haiti, His Excellency, Rene Preval, and of the President–elect, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in order to revitalize the dialogue, with the support of the OAS, with a view of reaching a consensus on the pending issues identified in the document “Reflections Regarding the Components of a National Agreement (Eléments de Reflexion).”  The Prime Minister and the Assistant Secretary General reviewed the work of the OAS Mission to Haiti, following the mandate contained in Permanent Council Resolution CP/RES. 772. During the meeting, the Assistant Secretary General noted that broad political representation and citizen participation are critical to Haitian stability. Noting the consensus reached on these points during his October 13-21, 2000 mission to Haiti, the Assistant Secretary General expressed strong concern over the need to improve security for all Haitians. He also expressed his belief that the document "Éléments de Reflexion,” presented to the Fanmi Lavalas and the Convergence Démocratique on October 19, 2000 could serve as a basis for renewed dialogue, particularly if the Haitian government implemented the points covered by President-elect Aristide in his letter of December 27 to the President of the United States.

Subsequently, Assistant Secretary General Einaudi visited Haiti from February 6 to 10, in representation of the Secretary General at the ceremony marking the assumption of office of the new President of Haiti on February 7 and to keep the lines of communication open to all involved with a view of determining the extent to which conditions had been met for continued efforts by the OAS, together with the Government and other sectors of the political community and civil society of Haiti, to identify options and recommendations to overcome the political impasse. The opportunity was also taken to assess possibilities for putting into effect such other measures as may be deemed appropriate for further strengthening democracy in Haiti, in keeping with CP/RES. 772 and with the eight commitments expressed in December 2000 by the incoming President, as previously stated above. He visited again from March 8 to 10, 2001.

Information on these visits by the Assistant Secretary General is contained in the Third Report of the Mission of the OAS to Haiti (CP/doc.3419/01 corr. 2) that was issued on March 13, 2001. This report concluded that Haiti had “taken certain definite steps but much more remains to be done. The steps taken thus far fall short of assuring the strengthening of democracy in Haiti.” The report also made reference to indications which had been received from President Aristide that his Foreign Minister, Joseph Philippe Antonio, would present to a meeting of the Permanent Council, scheduled for March 14, 2001, a proposal for the establishment of a special OAS commission to support democracy in Haiti. The report suggested that, should such a Commission be established, as requested by the Government of Haiti, it would be prudent to focus, at least initially, on fresh steps related to political dialogue, perhaps using a format similar to the Dialogue Procedure in Peru involving the government, opposition, and civil society, with OAS as Observers. The report further noted that should the dialogue process begin to bear fruit, the OAS would require the collaboration in critical areas of the United Nations, of the international financial institutions and of individual members of the international community.

In his address on March 14, the Haitian Foreign Minister sought the Permanent Council’s support for the establishment of a special OAS commission on Haiti. Having considered the request, the Council approved CP/RES. 786 (1267/01) corr. 1, in which it resolved:

1.      To express the conviction that the resolution of the crisis arising from the Haitian elections of May 21, 2000 is essential to the strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights in Haiti.

2.      To request the Secretary General to undertake the necessary consultations with the Government of Haiti and other sectors of the political community and civil society, bearing in mind the statement by the Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, on the potential for a dialogue to resolve the crisis arising from the elections of May 21, 2000 and the strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights in Haiti.

3.      To instruct the Secretary General to present to the Permanent Council, no later than 2 May 2001, a report on his consultations, and, as appropriate, to propose other measures that could contribute to the strengthening of the democratic process in Haiti.

April to May 2001

At the request of the Secretary General, the Assistant Secretary General again visited Haiti from April 2 to 4, to assess what tangible action had been taken by the authorities and the political community as a whole, in furtherance of the commitments that had been previously made and of the undertakings given by the Foreign Minister at the March 14 meeting of the Permanent Council. The visit and follow up consultations occurred against the background of preparations for the Third Summit of the Americas to be held in Quebec City, Canada, from April 18 to 22, 2001. At that time, many member states expressed growing concern about the on going political difficulties in Haiti and possible repercussions for democracy in the Hemisphere.

In Quebec City, both the Secretary General and the Assistant Secretary General met with the Haitian authorities who, in turn, interacted with many leaders from the Hemisphere, including particularly those from CARICOM. Extensive consultations took place on this occasion and various options for resolving the political impasse were discussed.  In closing the Quebec City Summit, Prime Minister Chrétien of Canada stated that the case of Haiti had been paid particular attention by the Heads. He acknowledged the efforts that President Aristide had made to resolve the problems that continue to limit his country’s democratic, political, economic and social development and the efforts of Haiti’s other political parties and other sectors of political life, notably members of civil society. Prime Minister Chrétien further stated:

To facilitate the achievement of these goals, we have asked the Secretary General of the OAS, César Gaviria, to work with CARICOM, to hold consultations, to visit Port-au-Prince in the near future, to report his findings to the OAS before the next General Assembly, and to ensure adequate follow-up.

The Secretary General informed the Permanent Council on April 25, noting that the report called for by May 2 would be provided to the General Assembly following completion of his consultations.


On May 9, 2001, as a direct response to the request articulated by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister Owen Arthur of Barbados, Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Secretary General agreed to combine efforts of the OAS and CARICOM on Haiti into a Joint Mission to be led by the Secretary General and the former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Dame Eugenia Charles.

To this end, a joint exploratory mission comprising the OAS and CARICOM Assistant Secretaries General and accompanied by advisors from the Carter Center, visited Haiti from May 10 to May 13. Extensive consultations were held with President Aristide, with representatives of his political party, Fanmi Lavalas, with representatives of Convergence Démocratique, with representatives of civil society and with the local representatives of the group of Friends of the Secretary General of the United Nations.  Representation was also received from other political parties and groups.



At the conclusion of the exploratory mission, Ambassadors Einaudi and Ramdin noted that conditions for a comprehensive solution did not exist. Given the Mission’s mandate, the gravity of the situation, and the position of a number of member states and of the Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, the Secretary General and Dame Eugenia Charles traveled to Haiti from May 29 to 31, meeting with President Aristide, the major political parties, and a broad gambit of civil society representatives.

The Mission was deeply concerned over the mutual lack of trust and the lack of an atmosphere of negotiation in which the political crisis suffocating the country could be resolved. 

President Aristide gave the Mission a letter to the President of the thirty-first regular session of the OAS General Assembly presenting the steps he is taking to end the crisis and asking for international support.

Upon leaving Haiti, the Secretary General stated that  the international community  should increase its participation and impress upon those involved the need to arrive at an agreement at the earliest opportunity.  International pressure on the government to correct the serious irregularities has been helpful, but the outlook for the Haitian people will be entirely too grim if the country is isolated from the international financial community. He pointed to the need to strengthen OAS-CARICOM mediation efforts and to bring into the process, as friends, certain countries that have decisive influence in Haiti.  It is hoped that the fulfillment of President Aristide’s  announcements would pave the way for a process of negotiation, with our facilitation, aimed at overcoming this crisis and strengthening democratic institutions, respect for human rights, and justice.

The Haitian people are the primary victims of this polarization affecting all sectors of national society.  This burden prevents the country from embarking on the economic growth and social development all its citizens so urgently need and hope for.