Media Center



  May 12, 2004

The Secretary General announces with considerable regret the resignation of Ambassador David Lee as his Special Representative in Haiti and Chief of the OAS Special Mission for Strengthening Democracy in Haiti, since its establishment in April 2002.

In a letter dated May 3, 2004 Mr. Lee indicated that he had originally accepted the Secretary General’s invitation to head the Mission in April 2002 for a limited period in “the interest of contributing to a resolution of Haiti’s political and electoral impasse and a return to democratic political, economic and social development in the interest of all Haitians“. Following recent major events and the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1529 and 1542, which will change the future configuration of international activities and presence in Haiti, Mr. Lee has tendered his resignation, effective May 31, 2004.

Secretary General Gaviria underlined Lee’s dedicated service to Haiti and to the OAS, his coordination of the Secretary General’s Group of Friends in Port-au-Prince and his sterling contribution to the Organization’s initiatives in governance, justice, security, human rights and dialogue in Haiti. He observed that May 31 is the day before the official establishment of MINUSTAH in Haiti, and just prior to the XXXIV Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly to be held in Quito, Ecuador from June -6-8.

Speaking of the unique experience of heading the Special Mission, Mr. Lee remarked on the “extraordinary quality and dedication of those who have volunteered to work in the Special Mission, many with years of experience already in helping the Haitian people in a variety of ways, and all under circumstances that were always difficult and sometimes very dangerous.” Mr. Lee underlined his appreciation for the cooperation from the Secretary General, the Assistant Secretary General and his “able and dedicated” staff, and from his Deputy, Ambassador Denneth Modeste.

Lee expressed tremendous satisfaction with the contribution of the Special Mission as “coordinator and representative of the international community in the search for a consensual solution to the electoral crisis, to professionalize the Haitian National Police and to protect the exercise of the rights of expression, association and assembly by all Haitians”. However, Lee noted that the voluntary resources provided by contributors to carry out the Mission’s mandate were proportionately few and unpredictable, thereby hampering planning and implementation. He observed that in addition to other factors, “the experience of the past two years demonstrates conclusively that for successful OAS involvement a clear and specific mandate and adequate and explicit resources are essential requirements for the whole period in question”.

Commenting on this, the Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Luigi Einaudi stated: “I agree with the Head of Mission’s assessment of the difficult circumstances and his conclusions, but despite those deficiencies and under very difficult circumstances, the Special Mission, under Lee’s leadership has done extraordinary work that will shape the international community’s positive efforts for a long time to come”.

Secretary General Gaviria has indicated that Ambassador Denneth Modeste will serve as his Special Representative in Haiti and Chief of the OAS Special Mission until further notice. Modeste will be returning to OAS Headquarters for a few days next week to participate in consultations between the OAS and other key players on the role of the OAS and of CARICOM in facing the challenges which the new situation presents in Haiti.

Reference: HA-0512E