Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


October 12, 2023 - Washington, DC

We are gathered here today to use our organization for what it does best, for one of the purposes for which it was created: to be a space to ensure peaceful entente among its members. Thus, all conflicts between our countries have always been channeled towards a solution, and in many of those conflicts the Organization has played a fundamental role in bringing the parties together, proposing pathways to understanding, and offering the necessary spaces for dialogue.

Therefore, in view of the situation that exists between the Dominican Republic and Haiti over the construction of a canal by Haiti on the Dajabón or Masacre River, the OAS General Secretariat advised both countries that it is entirely at their disposal to assist in the search for a mutually beneficial solution. As we stated then, and reaffirm today, we are confident that both parties have the capacity to assure the other of their good faith in resolving these matters, and of doing so in accordance with international law and the treaties in force between them. I would reiterate what has already been said here: the current situation benefits neither party.

Both countries are and will always be united by a common space with shared wealth and resources, common challenges, and the need to cooperate in an ever-improving coexistence. Neither country can be insensitive to what is happening in the other. In short, the close relationship between the populations of both cannot tolerate disagreements that could jeopardize it.

Since the birth of the inter-American system, both countries have cleaved to the principle of settling their disputes peacefully, as have all the other countries of the Americas.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti have ratified that principle time and again. As early as 1929, the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Arbitration enshrined a perpetual situation of peace and friendship, in accordance with the ideal of Pan-American fraternity between the two countries. Article 10 of that treaty, with wisdom and foresight, governed the use by both parties of rivers and other shared watercourses that “originate in the territory of one State and flow through the territory of the other or serve as boundaries between the two States,” and sets forth the requirements for the fair and equitable use of those common resources.

Both countries are founding members of the OAS, whose Charter provides that disputes must be resolved by peaceful means. Both are also parties to the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement, “Pact of Bogota,” of 1948, by which they undertake to have recourse to any one of the peaceful procedures established therein to resolve their disputes.

At the same time, one of the purposes of the Organization is to “ensure the pacific settlement of disputes that may arise among the Member States.” This purpose compels and guides the work of the General Secretariat.

In response to the communication from the General Secretariat, both the Government of the Dominican Republic and the Government of Haiti accepted our proposal to facilitate the search for a solution to the existing situation.

This appetite for dialogue shows the willingness of both countries to reach a mutually convenient solution that takes into account the interests and needs of both countries in the use of the resources they share today and will share tomorrow.

On that basis, we would like to propose a meeting of both delegations, facilitated by the General Secretariat at a place to be determined by mutual agreement, from which we are confident we will be able to put an end to this situation for the good of the populations of both countries in full observance of the international law that is common to us.

In addition, we are willing immediately to send a technical mission, for both water resources and legal issues, to visit the location and make a report on the matter.

I should also mention that I have made contact with the Chair of CARICOM, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Dominica, Vince Henderson, whom I have asked for support and to join this dialogue process, as I am sure he will enjoy the support of all parties.

I am very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing to work towards a prompt resolution of this dispute.

Thank you very much.