19 September 2005

Secretary-General, in Remarks to Core Group for Haiti, Stresses Importance of Reconciliation, Stability, Human Rights, Development

NEW YORK, 17 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's opening remarks to the Ministerial Meeting of the Core Group for Haiti, as delivered in New York today, 17 September:

I would like to thank Prime Minister Latortue and all the members of the Core Group for participating in this meeting at such a crucial time for the future of Haiti.

The primary responsibility for Haiti's well-being lies above all with the country's leadership and its people.  But countries in all parts of the world, from time to time, face grave challenges that they cannot address on their own.  This is such a time for Haiti, and the country's people and leaders have turned to the international community for help.  The United Nations and its partners must not let them down.  And we must work alongside them for the long term.

I would like to focus our discussion today on three broad areas.

First, elections.  The electoral process offers a precious opportunity to identify leaders who will build upon the foundations laid by Prime Minister Latortue.  It will be essential for the Haitian authorities to work closely with the international community to resolve outstanding technical impediments.  More fundamentally, we must do our utmost to ensure that the elections are inclusive, and that they contribute to reconciliation and stability.  It is crucial to avoid any perception that judicial processes are being used in a way that could affect political participation.  In addition, those seeking office should pledge now that they are ready to work together after the elections to promote progress during the next phase in the country's transition.

Second, promoting security and the rule of law.  MINUSTAH's military and civilian police components, working with the Haitian National Police, are tackling difficult tasks with courage.  I thank the men and women on the ground, and the Member States who have made them available.  Ultimately, Haiti must develop its own capacity to maintain law and order.  MINUSTAH is providing technical advice, but the emergence of an effective and ethical rule-of-law culture will depend upon Haiti's leadership, which must send a clear message that abuses of human rights by those charged with law enforcement will not be tolerated.  This message should be reinforced by the Core Group, whose provision of technical assistance must be linked with the development of appropriate professional standards and adherence to human rights norms.

Third, development.  Haiti will not achieve stability without a concerted attack on poverty and deprivation.  This is a long-term project, of course, but people will be especially anxious for concrete progress in the days after a new administration takes office.  Assistance from the Core Group can make an important difference.

These are difficult tasks.  They will require wide-ranging, coordinated and sustained support.  But we can succeed if each of us does his or her part.  Let us acknowledge that this is as much a test for us as it is for the Haitian people.

Let me now invite my Special Representative to give some more detail about the situation on the ground.  We will then give the floor to Prime Minister Latortue.

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