Media Center



April 30, 2003 - Washington, DC

Mr. Chairman,

We have arrived at a stage where serious decisions have to be taken concerning our approach to resolving the political impasse in Haiti. We are now confronted with two options: We can suspend our involvement in the process or we can adopt a completely new approach to engagement with new strategies and measures of enforcement.

As you may recall, the High Level Delegation visited Haiti from March 18-20, 2003 with a view to injecting some life into the process of reconciliation. At the time they were convinced that the provisions of CP Res 822 were paramount in resolving the current political stalemate in Haiti, and having reviewed the second report of the Secretary General to the permanent Council on the implementation of CP Res 822 “ Support for the Strengthening of Democracy in Haiti”, which indicated that little progress had been made towards creating an environment conducive for the participation of all sectors in the electoral process, a condition deemed to be essential for the holding of free and fair elections.

The High Level Delegation unanimously agreed that they would not be visiting Haiti to negotiate but to make clear to the Government and other participants, particularly Convergence Democratique and Civil Society, the measures that need be taken to achieve the goals as envisaged in CP Res. 822. The High Level Delegation felt it was necessary to reiterate to the Convergence Democratique that it will not support efforts to remove President Aristide through violent confrontation in the streets or other actions or arrangements contrary to democratic processes.

The Delegation identified the areas which were thought to be paramount for establishing the CEP needed to proceed towards the holding of elections. Implementing the measures for the establishment of the CEP would also provide opportunities for all players to collaborate in the process of “the normalization of Haiti”.

Mr. Chairman, the issues of reparations, justice, professionalization of the Haitian National Police, disarmament, election security, human rights, and political comity were specifically highlighted, as those where the Government had to make concrete efforts by March 30, 2003, to demonstrate to the people of Haiti and to the International Community, its commitment to establish a secure environment conducive to free and fair elections.

The Delegation also provided the members of Convergence Democratique and Civil Society with a list of the steps which they must also follow to make free and fair elections a reality in Haiti. The importance of the immediate formation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) was emphasized. Convergence Democratique and Civil Society were requested to give assurances of their good faith participation in its operation. They were also assured that if they were to move forward in collaborating with the Government on the formation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), they would not be isolated.

Mr. Chairman, as it was mandated to do, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Mission has reported to this Council through the Secretary General on the progress made by all the parties involved in implementing the March 20, 2003 action plan, copies of which have been circulated. We must commend Ambassador David Lee and his staff for working tirelessly with political and administrative representatives of the Government of Haiti to implement the March 20th measures before the deadline of March 30, 2003.

Ambassador Lee presented a detailed report in which he recognized the significant contribution of the Haitian officials. The Delegation noted that the Government had made some progress in response to the points submitted by the High Level delegation and in fulfillment of their obligations under Resolution 822. Among these, Mr. Chair man, it has been noted that the outstanding issue of reparations has been settled.

Another significant development is the agreement of the Government and the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Mission to the composition of the task force which has been mandated to assist in investigating and prosecuting cases arising from the events of December 17, 2001 as well as the follow-through of individual cases. The effect of this would be to lessen the perception of impunity that exists among the populace.

Mr. Chairman, to prepare for upcoming elections it should also be noted that the Government of Haiti also agreed to the engagement of one hundred uniformed and armed international police who will assist the Haitian National Police (HNP) in the development and implementation of plans for security for elections. Additionally, a Haitian National Police (HNP) Special Committee for election security has been appointed (established) and a competent and neutral individual has been nominated to work with the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), Special Mission and other elements of the Haitian National Police.

Notwithstanding these institutional developments, the Delegation expressed concern that other issues which they had indicated would also be highly significant in demonstrating the Government’s commitment to ensuring a secure environment for the formation of a CEP and deemed essential to the holding of free and fair elections in 2003 , were not addressed satisfactorily. These other issues are professionalization of the police leadership in consultation with the Special Mission, the arrest of Metayer and the implementation of agreed disarmament measures.

The High Level Delegation was of the opinion that there was an urgent need for neutral and independent leadership in the police force. Public confidence in the leadership of the police had waned significantly, resulting in an environment of fear and mistrust which did not bode well for the electoral process and the participation of all, free of fear, in credible elections. Given the experience of the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Mission, it was recommended that the Government seek assistance in their efforts to professionalize the police leadership. This was not done. Consequently, Mr. Chairman, the climate of insecurity persists despite a change made in the leadership of the force by the Government.

Another issue which appears to be a thorny one for all Haitians, as well as for the members of the High Level Delegation, is the perceived enjoyment of impunity by Amiot Metayer. Although, following his escape from prison, several sightings have been reported, no arrest has been made. This failure to find and arrest such a high profile, notorious figure has given rise to skepticism about the efforts of the police.

The Delegation also noted with grave concern that the disarmament measures which were agreed to by the Government and which were deemed to be critical in preparing the stage for elections have not been adequately addressed by the Government.

Mr. Chairman, the majority of the members of the High Level Delegation expressed the opinion that had these issues , the importance of which was particularly emphasized to the Government, been addressed in any meaningful way, then the Government of Haiti would have been that much more advanced in its efforts to form the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).

Mr. Chairman, the Government of Haiti was not the only party which did not meet its obligations under the March 20th points. The Convergence Democratique and the Civil Society also failed to show a willingness to cooperate with the High Level Delegation in its efforts to have the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) established. They also failed to give the requested assurances that they would participate in the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), nor have they demonstrated that they will make a good faith effort to do so if President Aristide substantially implements the March 20th points.

The opposition parties in Haiti must also play their part. The points made by the High Level Delegation to the Convergence Democratique and Civil Society remain fully valid. The International Community will not support efforts to remove the President of Haiti through unconstitutional means. They must be ready to live up to their responsibilities with respect to the establishment of the Provisional Electoral Council as the Government of Haiti complies with the measures expected of it. Free and fair elections can only take place if all parties play their part.

Good faith must be demonstrated by all parties if a solution to the political impasse in Haiti is to be achieved. Such an outcome would allow the elections to take place and create an environment in which the Government and people of Haiti could share their pride with the rest of the international community as they celebrate the 200th anniversary, not only of nationhood, but also of an extraordinary historic accomplishment.

The High Level Delegation believes that it is imperative that a sequence of steps be taken by the Government of Haiti, Civil Society and the Convergence Democratique. These steps will allow Haiti to get its legislative and local electoral processes underway, beginning with the formation of an independent, neutral and credible Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).

Mr. Chairman, the importance of the immediate formation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) cannot be overemphasized. This is the organ which makes decisions required to lead the electoral process. There is no question that with the appropriate support from the relevant Haitian actors and with the assistance of the International Community, coordinated through the Special Mission, this organization can be established to begin the work so necessary for “the normalization of Haiti”.

The Caribbean Community has been acutely aware of the continuing humanitarian plight of the Haitian people. In this regard, the Caribbean Community welcomes the ongoing support from the international community to the Haitian people. It is also aware of the discussions which are ongoing between the Government of Haiti and the International Financial Institutions with a view to regularizing their relations. The Caribbean Community hopes that this will soon be achieved. The Government of Haiti, for its part, must do everything possible to facilitate the urgency needed regularization of these relations.

Mr. Chairman, we must continue to monitor the efforts of the Government, the Opposition and the Civil Society, and exhort all parties to implement the action plan submitted by the High Level Delegation which is aimed at enabling elections to be held later this year.

A reassessment of the situation would be done at the General Assembly in June during which a determination could be made as to how best to proceed.