Statement by Ambasador Odeen Ishmael, Chairman of the Permanent Council of
the Organization of American States during the Special Session to Discuss
the Situation in Haiti
April 30, 2003
Posted May 2nd. 2003
(This statement was made after other statements by Assistant Secretary General of the OAS Amb. Luigi Einaudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Lucia Julian Hunte, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Security of The Bahamas Fred Mitchell, and members of various delegations of the OAS, the representative of the IDB, the Ambassador of the Observer state of France to the OAS, and the Ambassador of Haiti.)
I would now like to summarize what I gather to be the collective sentiment of this Special Session, and which, with the agreement of this Council, I propose to issue as the official statement of the Chair emanating from this Special Session.
Permanent Council takes note, with appreciation, of the written report of the OAS Special Mission on results following the OAS/CARICOM High-level Delegation visit to Haiti March 19-20.
Council welcomes the fact that key members of the Delegation were able to be present for today's Special Session, and has considered their statements as well as the recommendations of the Delegation. The Council notes the consensus view of the Delegation that, although a number of actions have been taken by the Government of Haiti, unfortunately, the Government has not taken some key measures sought by the Delegation, or has taken them in a fashion that does not contribute to the creation of a climate of confidence.
This Council is of the view that the March 20 points drawn from the provisions of Resolutions 806 and 822 and put to the Government of Haiti (Annex C of the Special Mission Report), remain fully valid and requires, urgently, government action on them. Critical measures include renewing and professionalizing the police leadership in full consultation with the OAS Special Mission, ending the notorious impunity of Amiot Métayer by means of his arrest, and implementing agreed disarmament measures. Inadequate Government responses in these substantive areas are the principal obstacles to public confidence and restored democratic progress.
At the same time, the Permanent Council is concerned that civil society and the Convergence Démocratique have not given the requested assurances that they would participate in the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) should President Aristide take the concrete measures put to him. Likewise, the Council is of the view that the points left with civil society and the Convergence Démocratique by the Delegation, (reproduced in Annex D of the Special Mission Report) remain fully valid. In particular, on behalf of the Council, I wish to emphasize that the international community will not support efforts to remove the President of Haiti through violent confrontation in the streets, or other actions or arrangements contrary to democratic processes. The right to govern must be won through democratic competition and elections.
Accordingly, the Permanent Council believes it very important that a sequence of steps be taken by the Government of Haiti, civil society, and the Convergence Démocratique to facilitate formation of an independent, neutral and credible CEP, which will allow Haiti to get its legislative and local electoral processes underway. The CEP would then make decisions required to lead the electoral process, with appropriate support from the relevant Haitian actors, and with the assistance of the international community coordinated through the Special Mission.
The Council strongly supports reinforcement of the OAS Special Mission for Strengthening Democracy in Haiti, with its mandate laid out in CP/RES 806 and 822, notably including its four pillars of security (including disarmament), justice, human rights and governance. In this regard, the Council endorses the joint Terms of Reference (attached to the Second and Third Reports of the Secretary General pursuant to Resolution 822), including those for the deployment of international police officers in accordance with OAS rules and procedures. The Council believes that the necessary and effective implementation by the Government, with the help of the Special Mission, of the measures and activities laid out in the Terms of Reference will enable the Government of Haiti to demonstrate credibly to the Haitian people, as well as to the international community, its concrete progress in improving the climate of security in Haiti and in strengthening its democratic institutions. The Council noted that the European Union has confirmed that, if appropriate, it will take part in a program of technical support for the Haitian police and judiciary, provided that guarantees are obtained from the authorities with a view to the re-establishment of order, security and the rule of law.
The Council takes note, with much concern, of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti and welcomes the launching on April 22, 2003 by the UN System of an Integrated Program of Response to the Urgent Needs of the Vulnerable Populations and the continued implementation of PAHO grant programs to combat AIDS. The Council notes, with appreciation, the provision of humanitarian assistance by the U.S. and Canada and other members of the Friends of Haiti. The Council remains convinced, however, that additional humanitarian assistance is still needed. It welcomes recent announcements by the United States to make available further humanitarian resources.
But Haiti needs more than humanitarian aid. The Council welcomes work actively underway pursuant to paragraph 11 of Resolution 822. In addition, the Council notes the confirmation by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that it will resume its lending operations in Haiti immediately, once arrears have been cleared. To this end, the Council further noted that to assist with the clearance of outstanding arrears, a principal requirement of the IFIs, some CARICOM countries have made pledges to facilitate Haiti clearing its arrears with the IDB. These pledges are, of course, contingent upon conclusion by the Government of Haiti of arrangements now being negotiated with the International Monetary Fund. The Council is aware that additional financing assistance will be required for full clearance of these arrears. The Council also took note of the commitment of the Government of Haiti to comprehensive clearance of arrears to all IFIs, using a sequential approach in which settlement to the IDB would be the first step. The Council expresses its conviction that transparency in economic governance will facilitate other needed agreements between the Government of Haiti, the IFIs and other donors".
Finally, I know that I reflect fully the sense of this body when I invite the Government of Haiti and the other relevant Haitian actors to play their parts actively, cooperatively and responsibly. Positive, concrete actions, or the lack thereof, will help the member states to select carefully and correctly among the various instruments of the Inter-American system designed to uphold democracy in the hemisphere, which should be applied so as to assist all Haitians to resolve the political crisis. Positive concrete actions will also enable the international community to accompany the democratic political, economic, and social development of Haiti, a founding member of the OAS.
Haitian actions, and the response of the international community, will underlie decisions on these matters at the OAS General Assembly June 8-10 in Santiago, Chile.