28 March 2006

Security Council Presidential Statement Commends Haiti on Elections, Says Opportunity Exists to Break with Violence, Instability of Past

UN Secretary-General, Haiti's President-Elect also Address Council, Speakers in Debate Stress Importance of UN Mission, Long-term Support

NEW YORK, 27 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today commended the Haitian people on the successful completion of the first round of their electoral process and congratulated René García Préval on his election as President, saying the process would give the country "a unique opportunity to break with the violence and political instability of the past".

In a statement read out by Jorge Taiana, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, whose country holds the Presidency for March, the Council also welcomed the announcement by the Haitian authorities to hold the second round of parliamentary elections on 21 April, which would allow the prompt inauguration of the President-elect.  The Council emphasized that the timely municipal and local elections were also fundamentally important to the completion of Haiti's electoral process and to the strengthening of its domestic institutions.  It also reiterated its call on all parties to respect the outcome of the elections, to remain engaged in the political process and to promote national reconciliation and inclusiveness in order to reach consensus on the basic policies that Haiti should pursue to bolster its democratic transition.

The Council also stressed the need to ensure a secure and stable environment in Haiti and its support for the continued efforts by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to assist the Haitian authorities in that respect.  It encouraged all troop- and police-contributing countries to remain engaged in the Mission.

Council members reaffirmed that the establishment of the rule of law, including the protection of human rights, institutional capacity-building and rapid progress on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, would be crucial to Haiti's future over the next few years.  To that end, the sustained political will and common strategic vision of the Haitian authorities and the international community were essential in that context.

The Council underlined the urgent need to proceed with a thorough and comprehensive reform of the Haitian National Police in line with its resolution 1608 (2005), as well as concurrent justice reform.  Aware that sustainable development in Haiti remained essential to the country's stability, the Council reiterated the need for the quick implementation of highly visible and labour-intensive projects that would help create jobs and deliver basic social services.

Earlier, President-elect Préval described the massive turnout of Haitian voters as an eloquent manifestation of their wish to live in peace and to take part in national reconstruction.  It bore witness to their legitimate aspirations to see an improvement of their material conditions of existence and a positive step towards stabilization.  Haiti's problems were enormous.  Widespread poverty, unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure and chronic insecurity represented all the major challenges that the next Government must face.  International assistance was indispensable for the consolidation of the democratic process and for laying the socio-economic basis for Haiti's lasting development.

Turning to the role of MINUSTAH, he said the Mission was carrying out a very difficult task in working with the Haitian National Police to improve the security situation in the country.  It must now strive to create an enabling environment where law prevailed over violence.  Reform of the police and the judicial system was an imperative.  It had become indispensable to reinforce the operational capacity of those sectors and to enable them to fulfil their mandated mission.  Also important was the need for Haiti's political class and other sectors of civil society to meet for a frank social dialogue that would result in political and social reconciliation.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, emphasizing that Haiti was only just beginning its long journey towards a stable and democratic future, called on the international community to reinforce President-elect Préval's efforts to encourage broad political reconciliation.  Haiti's institutions of governance required generous support, as did the Haitian people, who endured an unacceptable level of daily hardship and insecurity.

He said that days after the February elections, the Council had decided to extend MINUSTAH's mandate for a further six months, and expressed its intention to authorize further extensions.  Yet, the Mission's efforts could tackle only the most urgent needs.  Generous and coordinated bilateral assistance was needed to supplement and build on those efforts. The men and women of Haiti had demonstrated their faith in a better future.  "Let us work with President-elect Préval and his team, and with the people of Haiti, to ensure that they succeed", he added.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti also spoke today, as did the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Guyana (on behalf of the Rio Group), Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Dominican Republic and Guatemala.  The Vice Minister and Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs of Peru, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Chile, and the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of Brazil also addressed the Council.

Other speakers today included the representatives of China, Congo, United States, Russian Federation, Qatar, Japan, Slovakia, Ghana, United Republic of Tanzania, France, United Kingdom, Denmark, Argentina, Tunisia (in his capacity as President of the Economic and Social Council), Austria (on behalf of the European Union), El Salvador, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela.

The Council also heard speakers representing the Organization of American States and the United Nations Development Programme.

Today's meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and was suspended at 1:10 p.m.  It resumed at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 4:15 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2006/13 reads, as follows:

"The Security Council commends the Haitian people on the successful completion of the first round of their electoral process, congratulates Mr. René García Préval on his election as President, and looks forward to working with the new Government to help build a better future for Haiti.  This process will give Haiti a unique opportunity to break with the violence and political instability of the past.  The Council expresses its full support for the work of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Juan Gabriel Valdés.

"The Security Council welcomes the announcement by the Haitian authorities to hold the second round of parliamentary elections on 21 April 2006, which will allow the prompt inauguration of the President-elect.  The Council emphasizes that timely municipal and local elections are also fundamentally important to complete Haiti's electoral process and to strengthen its democratic institutions.  The Council urges the Transitional Government of Haiti and the Provisional Electoral Council, with the support of the international community, to continue to ensure that the electoral process is conducted in a transparent and credible manner.  The Council reiterates its call on all parties to respect the outcome of the elections, to remain engaged in the political process, and to promote national reconciliation and inclusiveness in order to reach consensus on the basic policies that Haiti should pursue to bolster its democratic transition.

"The Security Council stresses the need to ensure a secure and stable environment in Haiti and it expresses its support for MINUSTAH's continued efforts to assist the Haitian authorities in that respect.  The Council, in that regard, encourages all troop- and police-contributing countries to remain engaged in MINUSTAH.  The Council reaffirms that the establishment of the rule of law, including the protection of human rights, institutional capacity-building, and rapid progress on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, will be crucial to Haiti's future over the next few years.  To this end, the sustained political will and the common strategic vision of the Haitian authorities and the international community are essential.  In this context, the Council underlines the urgent need to proceed with a thorough and comprehensive reform of the Haitian National Police in line with its resolution 1608 (2005), as well as concurrent justice reform.

"The Security Council is aware that sustainable development in Haiti remains essential to the stability of the country.  In that regard, the Council reiterates the need for the quick implementation of highly visible and labour-intensive projects that help to create jobs and deliver basic social services.  Recognizing progress already made in donor efforts, the Council calls on donors and relevant stakeholders to work with the new Government through the Interim Cooperation Framework in order to reassess assistance priorities in a targeted way and to work in close coordination, as appropriate, with MINUSTAH.  The Council reiterates its willingness to cooperate with the newly elected authorities in order to address the long-term challenges facing Haiti."


The Security Council met today to hold an open debate on Haiti.


KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the first round of national elections that took place last month was a vivid illustration of the faith of the Haitian people in the democratic process, and their determination to make a fresh start.  That was clear from the high turnout of voters who waited patiently to cast their ballots, and from the peaceful and pluralistic nature of the electoral process.  "Those developments should encourage us to even greater efforts in Haiti, which is only beginning its long journey towards a stable and democratic future.  It needs and deserves our assistance to reach that destination."  That meant a vigorous partnership between the leadership and the people of Haiti, on the one hand, and the international community, on the other.

"We must all reinforce President-elect Préval's efforts to encourage broad political reconciliation", he stated.  Haiti's institutions of governance required generous support.  So did the people of Haiti, who every day endured a level of hardship and insecurity that was unacceptable, and also incompatible with the stability of the country.

Days after the elections, he said, the Security Council decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations operation in Haiti for a further six months.  At the same time, it expressed its intention to authorize further extensions.  It was right, and indeed necessary, that a multidimensional peacekeeping operation continued.  Yet, the efforts of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) could tackle only the most urgent needs.  Generous and coordinated bilateral assistance was needed to supplement and build on those efforts.  The men and women of Haiti had demonstrated their faith in a better future.  "Let us work with President-elect Préval and his team, and with the people of Haiti, to ensure that they succeed."


RENÉ PRÉVAL, President-elect of Haiti, said that the massive turnout of the Haitian people in the elections of 7 February had been an eloquent manifestation of their wish to live in peace and to take part in national reconstruction.  It bore witness to their legitimate aspirations to see an improvement of their material conditions of existence and a positive step forward towards stabilization.

He said that Haiti was today a country waiting to be built.  Its problems were enormous and urgent needs were everywhere.  Widespread poverty, unemployment, the dilapidated state of the infrastructure that was indispensable for national development, as well as chronic insecurity. represented all the major challenges that the next Government must face.  Assistance from the international community was indispensable for the process of consolidating the democratic process and for laying the socio-economic basis for Haiti's lasting development.  International assistance must also be concentrated on reform of democratic institutions such as Parliament, municipalities, local community institutions, the judicial system and the professionalization of the police.

Calling upon the international community to renew its commitment to long-term assistance to Haiti, he cited Security Council resolution 1212 (1998) and stressed that economic revitalization and reconstruction were the principal tasks facing the Haitian Government and people.  The resolution also called on United Nations organs and agencies, particularly the Economic and Social Council, to contribute to the development of a post-election programme based on the creation of jobs, improved basic social services, the strengthening of institutions, and the creation of conditions that would be conducive to massive private investment.

Turning to the role of MINUSTAH, he said the Mission was carrying out a very difficult task in working with the Haitian National Police to improve the security situation in the country.  It must now strive to create an enabling environment where law prevailed over violence.  Reform of the police and the judicial system was an imperative.  It had become indispensable to reinforce their operational capacity and to enable them to fulfil their mandated mission.  It was important to negotiate, in mutual respect, an agreement in that regard and in accordance with constitutional provisions on the role of police.

Similarly, Haiti needed technical and financial support from the international community for its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, he said.  It was also important for Haiti's political class, as well as other sectors of civil society, to meet for a frank social dialogue that would result in political and social reconciliation.  The aim was to lay the foundations of a peaceful socio-political system that would be peaceful and democratic, elements that were indispensable for stability, security, economic recovery and the creation of an inclusive society.  The international community should support the Haitian people in the quest for democracy and development.

JUAN GABRIEL VALDES, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), said major challenges remained to ensure that the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law became permanent in Haiti.  For the past two years, the Mission's mandate had been to restore stability and to support free and fair elections.  He stressed the inclusive character of the elections, which had seen a massive turnout in the country from all segments of society.  Saying the Mission had only begun, he cited the need to begin a new cycle of cooperation with the newly elected Government, with a focus on strengthening State institutions and launching the socio-economic development process.  It was important to continue reform of the Haitian National Police, as well as reform and strengthen the judiciary system.  Members of the Haitian National Police and the judicial system must receive decent salaries and have decent working conditions.  He had been struck by the precarious nature of the facilities and the means at the disposal of the police and judges.  As long as that continued, any reform would be difficult.

He stressed the need to promote reconciliation and dialogue at the national level.  The dialogue process should allow Haitians to achieve a common vision of their future.  The Haitian diaspora must also be called on to play a role.  As the President-elect had stated, national reconciliation must find its roots in the future of Haiti and not in its past.  National reconciliation would be decisive for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups.  Social and economic development would lead to improvement of living conditions and contribute to all other processes in the country.  The population must be able to count on the continued assistance of the international community. He hoped that cooperation and coordination mechanisms would be established to optimize cooperation between Haiti, the lending institutions and the entire international community.  The Government of Haiti and the international community must show the country's population that they had the desire and the ability to fight poverty and establish conditions for sustainable development.

DORA BAKOYANNIS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, said the road that lay ahead for Haiti was full of challenges.  First, it was imperative that the second round of legislative elections, as well as the municipal and local elections, be conducted smoothly and that they take place on time.  The next few weeks were extremely crucial, and neither MINUSTAH nor the Haitian national authorities should relax their vigilance.  The transition of power at all levels, the swearing-in of the new President, and the formation of a new government must move on swiftly and unhindered.  She urged all parties to remain engaged in the political process and to respect the outcome of the elections.

Continuing, she said Haiti's newly elected authorities would have the opportunity to focus their attention on the most immediate and important challenge facing the country:  the creation of institutions that uphold the rule of law and protect human rights.  Most notable in that field would be the reform of the Haitian National Police and of the judicial system.  The Haitian National Police must not resort to extreme methods and must fully comply with internationally recognized standards of respect for human rights and due process.  Impunity must also be addressed.  National dialogue and political reconciliation must continue to be promoted.  True, new institutions were in the making, but remnants of the old ways continued to abound.  To that end, the disarmament of armed bands that roamed the country must definitely be completed.  A secure and stable environment would be conducive to fostering economic development and getting children off the streets and back to school.

The Haitian people were the owners of their own future, she said.  However, Haiti could not go it alone, and would need considerable help from the international community to implement projects for economic development.  Therefore, she called on donors to do everything they could to help Haiti at such a critical moment, and ensure not only a steady influx of financial aid, but also timely disbursements.  The Haitian Government must, through the Interim Cooperation Framework, reassess assistance priorities and implement projects for long-term economic development that would sustain Haitians' faith in their new Government.  The European Union, international financial institutions and other stakeholders must ensure that economic development was channelled to viable projects that would help create jobs and provide basic social services.  On a bilateral basis, she committed today an additional €100,000 to the €100,000 Greece had contributed last year.

HAROLD FORSYTH MEJIA, Vice Minister and Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs of Peru, said the elections held in February had been the first step towards the consolidation of democracy and stability in Haiti.  The second round of parliamentary elections and the upcoming local and municipal elections required the assistance of the international community and renewed political commitment of the Haitian authorities and citizens.  It was fundamentally important to continue promoting political dialogue and national reconciliation, in order to avoid the return to polarization, violence and chaos.  Peru, as an American country in solidarity with Haiti, shared the desire for peace, democracy and development of the Haitian people, and offered its own experience.

He said that the kind of crisis experienced by Haiti was evidence of the disintegration of the social fabric, where delinquency and the collapse of institutions were intertwined.  That situation was the result of years of exclusion and extreme poverty, which had generated enormous environmental disasters.  Unfortunately, today, Haiti was a country with high physical and social imbalances.  It had one of the highest urban population growth rates on the planet and one of the lowest per capita rates of water, food and energy consumption.  That imbalance, resulting from the enormous annual population growth rate of 3 per cent, one of the highest in Latin America, had destroyed the Haitian natural habitat, through implacable deforestation, producing enormous soil erosion, with loss of fertile soils and sedimentation.  Consequently, there had been a shortage of water, which was needed to grow crops and to generate power.  Recovering from the ecological damage would be extremely difficult, given that the current global climate change would worsen even more the country's social and physical imbalance.

Now was the time when the efforts of the international community must agree on long-term support for the Haitian Government and people, he emphasized.  The country needed a compact, through which the international community should provide the resources needed for the implementation of the goals, defined together with the Haitian authorities, in such areas as democratic governability, social and economic development, environmental protection and security.  The next evaluation of the assistance priorities agreed in the Interim Cooperation Framework, to be carried out by the new Haitian authorities, constituted a valuable occasion for that purpose.  In that long-term commitment, the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Development Bank had a role to fulfil, as did the United Nations.

SAMUEL INSANALLY (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said it was important that the international community give serious thought to how it might best assist Haiti towards stability and security.  Strong and effective institutions and machinery would be needed to guarantee democratic benefits to all Haitian citizens.  The international community's cooperation with Haiti must be designed to yield, among others, an education system tailored to the needs of Haiti's largely Creole-speaking population, a strong police and judiciary to preserve law and order, and basic services such as health and housing.  A determined effort was also needed to eliminate the climate of fear and insecurity.  Internecine violence must be condemned.  He supported extending MINUSTAH's mandate to preserve and consolidate democracy, and expanding its Mission beyond peacekeeping to include a stronger humanitarian and development component.  That expansion would enhance MINUSTAH's credibility and prestige among Haitians.

Democracy must be nurtured through equitable socio-economic development, he continued.  Adequate, reliable financial and technical assistance was necessary to empower the Haitian citizenry.  Early implementation of some priority projects aimed at improving living standards for Haiti's poor could give new hope for economic recovery and growth.  Several Rio Group members had already established bilateral cooperation programmes with Haiti in agriculture, sanitation, nutrition in schools and HIV/AIDS.  Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members had already signalled their readiness to readmit Haiti into CARICOM's Councils and provide it with further material and technical support.  He commended the United States, Canada, the European Union and other donor countries and international agencies that had contributed within the Interim Cooperation Framework to several development programmes and urged other States and agencies to follow suit.

WANG GUANGYA (China) said that the successful holding of elections and the completion of the political transition process represented only the first step in Haiti's endeavour for peace and reconstruction.  Sticking to the track of peace and reconstruction was far more difficult, complicated and challenging, than preparing and holding elections.  In order to realize that goal, genuine reconciliation was the precondition for the restoration of the country's stability and development.  All parties concerned should sum up carefully the experience and lessons drawn from the first round of parliamentary elections, and ensure the fairness and transparency of the second round, as well as the municipal and local elections, so as to establish the trust and confidence of the population and all participating parties.

Economic and social development was the key to eradicating the root causes of the turmoil in Haiti, he stressed.  Haiti had long suffered from a paucity of infrastructure and substandard living conditions.  The new Government should mobilize all forces and concentrate its limited resources on quick-impact projects, in order to improve the daily lives of the people and help generate employment opportunities.  Only when the people enjoyed the real benefits could they build up confidence in the future of their country.  With very limited resources and facing multitudinous tasks, whether Haiti successfully avoided relapse and proceeded towards lasting peace and sustainable development, depended on the hard work of the Haitian Government and people, as well as the sustained attention and assistance of the international community.  Latin American support was extremely precious for Haiti's stability and development, as well as for its return to the international community.  Further, the international community should continuously enhance Haiti's ownership of the reconstruction process

FREDERICK MITCHELL (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that, from the outset, CARICOM had indicated its willingness to welcome Haiti's return to CARICOM's Council for Foreign and Community Relations, once Haiti's constitutional rule had been restored.  The CARICOM stood ready to assist the Haitian Government and people as they confronted their many challenges.  The CARICOM proposed to meet soon with the President-elect to better determine how it could best contribute to assist Haiti.  Stability and security were imperative to socio-economic progress and the revitalization of fundamental governance bodies, particularly the judiciary and police.  Stability would also require renewed emphasis on disarmament, demobilization and social reinsertion.  Collective efforts, based on the counsel of the Peacebuilding Commission, could provide Haiti with invaluable assistance for reconstruction and institution-building, by ensuring integrated strategies and predictable financing, among other things.

Helping Haiti overcome obstacles to becoming an integral part of CARICOM would be a priority, he continued.  The CARICOM would work to facilitate Haiti's smooth integration into various programmes and institutions.  The CARICOM would also seek to build on activities set in train during the transition period, including institutional development for creation of a permanent electoral council, completion of a study on Haiti's energy and fuel needs, an academic conference on transition to democracy, and French translation of key technical CARICOM documents.

PASCAL GAYAMA (Congo) said that, in recent years, the situation in Haiti had required special attention from the international community.  The situation had been marked by a largely destroyed public administration, a weakened judicial system, great insecurity, and vast economic and social difficulties.  Hence, there had been great distress and frustration for the people of Haiti, particularly its young.  He was pleased that the Security Council had spared no effort to assist Haiti.  He reaffirmed the importance of the upcoming legislative elections, as well as the municipal and local elections.  While commending the efforts of the Government during the transition, he could not overlook the merits of the Haitian people themselves, who had demonstrated their commitment to change through peaceful means.  Peace would not be lasting without genuine prospects for growth.  In that connection, it was important for the new Government to restore its authority throughout the country.  International assistance would also prove necessary.

It was necessary to ensure that the administration and security systems resumed their roles in all parts of the country, he said.  It was, more than ever, important to provide assistance to develop the new democratic institutions, to support the reform of the judicial system and to reform the national police.  As underscored by President Latortue when he had addressed the Council, Haiti would need less military people, and more men and women devoted to the social and economic development of the country.  He welcomed the fact that donors, during their meeting in Washington on 21 February, had agreed on the need to establish a programme to support democracy in Haiti beyond the holding of elections.  He supported maintaining the presence of MINUSTAH and encouraged President-elect Préval to promote a climate of dialogue to bring together all Haitians.  The Haitians faced a bright future, and that future was in their hands.  The international community was called on to assist them, while respecting their uniqueness and sovereignty.

CARLOS MORALES TRONCOSO, Secretary of State for External Relations of the Dominican Republic, said that President-elect Préval had chosen the Dominican Republic as the destination of his first official visit, following his election.  Haiti urgently needed the solidarity of the international community, which, led by the United Nations, had paid much attention to the strife that had plagued that country.

He said the international community had a long-term commitment to institutionalize democracy in Haiti and to lay the foundations for sustainable economic development.  There were four crucial questions that must be addressed.  First, it was necessary to incorporate all the political events, in order to stabilize the country and restore democracy and social consensus.  Second, it was necessary to restore assistance to every sector of society, as well as to Haitian society as a whole.  Third was the need to retain MINUSTAH for as long as it would take to establish Haitian security forces capable of taking on the duties of restoring security and stability.

Finally, there was a need to relieve the weight of impoverishment borne by the Haitian people, he said.  Given Haiti's long nationhood, it would be possible for the country's people to overcome their problems and restore their country.  The Dominican Republic stood ready to work with the new Haitian Government in joint matters related to environmental protection, immigration, port security and other important issues.

JOHN BOLTON (United States) said that Haiti had made great strides over the past year, including the successful holding of the recent elections.  President-elect Préval now had a clear opportunity to lead the Haitian people to a brighter future.  The United States Government was committed to help Haiti move down the road to democracy.  By the end of 2006, it would have committed half a billion dollars to Haiti's reconstruction.  Many other donors had been generous as well.  Haiti would continue to require the assistance of the international community in the road ahead.  The Haitian people had great expectations of its new leader, as did the international community.

With the election completed, he said, the Haitian authorities should redouble efforts to hold timely municipal and local elections.  The logistical and financial issues that affected the first round of elections should not hinder the next round of elections.  While the security situation had improved, MINUSTAH should redouble efforts to maintain a secure environment.  The Council was right to focus on preparing the Government to face security challenges on its own.  He called on President-elect Préval's Government to cooperate fully with MINUSTAH to reform the Haitian National Police.  In addition, the justice system must be strengthened and the lack of basic social services addressed.  The United States remained fully committed to helping eliminate the obstacles along Haiti's path. Ultimately, it was the responsibility of the Government and people of Haiti to consolidate real and democratic reforms. 

ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) said it was important that all political forces recognize the outcome of the recent elections, in the interest of the sustainable advancement of Haiti's electoral process, and so that all concerned could work more actively to strengthen state institutions, as well as for the long-term stabilization of the country.  There was a need to increase the cooperation between MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police.

However, without true desire on the part of the Haitian to change their lives for the better, long-term positive results would not be possible, he said.  The newly-elected leadership had made itself responsible for working out better ways to strengthen Haiti's cooperation with the international community.  The Russian Federation supported them, in that regard, and paid tribute to all peacekeepers who had given their lives in the cause of peace.  The Russian Federation also gave its full support to the presidential statement to be adopted by the Council.

ALBERTO VAN KLAVEREN, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said that for the electoral process to conclude successfully, it was necessary to assure that the parliamentary runoff elections were carried out in equally democratic and timely conditions.  That was, without a doubt, the primary objective in order for the President-elect to promptly assume his place as leader of Haiti.  The people of Haiti today held the capacity to control their own destiny.  That depended on two basic conditions.  First, Haitian society must abstain from all forms of violence, while forums must be created for inclusive dialogue to promote understanding between the various political and social sectors.  Initiating such institutional reform would create the foundations of good government and sustainable economic development.

Second, the international community must contribute with development programmes mainly directed at fighting extreme poverty, chronic disease, lack of infrastructure, and environmental degradation.  For that to occur, it was imperative to disburse, in flexible and immediate terms, the totality of the funds committed to the Interim Cooperation Framework, while increasing local and foreign investment and generating new sources of employment, specifically for the younger population.  The MINUSTAH should continue to support the Haitian authorities to maintain a safe and stable environment in the country.  It would also be essential to continue supporting deeds that facilitated an integrated reconstruction process.

He highlighted Chile's contributions to development in Haiti, including efforts to improve and assist the national police.  The reform, modernization and strengthening of the judicial and penal system was also an urgent task, and one that required technical and financial assistance to the institutions of the rule of law.  That was essential to guarantee an absolute respect for human rights, an end to impunity, and compliance with the norms of due process.  He urged the new Haitian authorities to implement an effective policy for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of all armed groups.  Haiti was beginning a new phase, in which the United Nations would carry out a key role in the consolidation of the democratic regime and a durable peace.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said that providing the necessary support for peacebuilding activities would play a crucial role in guaranteeing the sustainable stability of Haiti and attaining the well-being of its people.  The issues that must be addressed in the next juncture included disarmament of fighters, as well as their discharge and reintegration into society; the restoration and rehabilitation of the security sector and the rebuilding of the National Police Force to effectively enforce the law; ensuring that justice was upheld by promoting the judiciary, and the promotion of human rights; the creation of jobs; and the rebuilding of an active national civil administration, which was able to provide basic public services like water, energy, health care, education and infrastructure.

He said that to succeed in all those areas it was necessary to mull over the past and benefit from the lessons learned in building a State of institutions that rested in national interests.  It was reasonable for the elected Government to benefit from the support of the United Nations, since MINUSTAH and other agencies of the Organization had played a crucial role in the progress achieved in the areas of stability and basic services.  MINUSTAH was generally considered an indispensable help to the new Government, and its presence had had a great effect on security and in monitoring the electoral process.

KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said that, while the elections were a major gain in restoring democracy in Haiti, the country faced formidable challenges that President-elect Préval and the future Government would have to address, in order to recover from conflict and make strides towards nation-building.  The most pressing and important challenge was finding a national reconciliation that was inclusive.  To that end, he hoped the successful conduct of the February elections would pave the way for a peaceful electoral process in the second round of parliamentary elections in April.

Second, he said, national institution- and capacity-building, including reform of the National Police and of the judicial and correctional systems, continued to be a major challenge for Haiti.  The security situation remained fragile and, unless addressed promptly and effectively, could lead to serious problems.  The rehabilitation of national institutions and capacity-building should be high on MINUSTAH's agenda, and the review of the Mission's mandate should appropriately reflect that.

He said Haiti would be an important test case in peacebuilding.  It was crucial for the people of the country to feel the tangible benefits of peace, through the economic and social development of their society.  That required international support and assistance both in the long and short term.  For its part, Japan had provided assistance to Haiti in the area of humanitarian aid and electoral assistance, and would continue to be a partner in humanitarian and development assistance, with full respect of the importance of the concept of ownership of the Haitian people in the development process.

PETER BURIAN (Slovakia), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said that Haiti would need further international support and assistance to cope with its many formidable challenges, including weak State and local institutions, insufficient administrative infrastructure, deep poverty, violent gangs and flourishing drug and money laundering trades.  Slovakia fully supported MINUSTAH's continued role in ensuring security, reinforcing democracy, supporting implementation of civil service and public administrative reforms, security sector reform and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.  At the same time, only the people of Haiti could solve their country's problems.  Haitian ownership and leadership in rebuilding the country were indispensable for the success of the country's transition.

He said that long-term development challenges lay ahead, as did immediate humanitarian needs, which, if not urgently addressed, could well imperil the country's fragile stability.  Special attention should be paid to the grave situation of the thousands of street children forced to fight in gangs or become part of a subculture of bonded servitude.  Success in addressing those urgent problems was contingent on immediate and durable donor support and close coordination among all stakeholders.  Regional cooperation would also be important in a successful transition.  Cooperation with the Dominican Republic in implementing measures to better manage security at the border would be a key factor in fighting effectively against arms and drug trafficking, as well as combating organized crime in general.  Slovakia particularly welcomed the positive signs in relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, including the reactivation of the Joint Integrated Haitian-Dominican Commission.

NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that, unless the cycle of violence and political instability was overcome, democracy and meaningful development would continue to elude Haiti.  It was Ghana's hope that the Government that would finally emerge would reflect Haitians' collective determination to evolve a new political culture of inclusiveness, which would transcend the sharp social and economic divisions that had been the bane of Haiti's progress over the years.  In that connection, Ghana looked forward to a peaceful second round of parliamentary elections.

He said that, by the end of April, the President and Parliament would have been inaugurated to begin the arduous task of transforming Haiti into a more united, stable and prosperous country.  The momentum for turning away from the turbulent politics of the past, derived from a strong national consensus in favour of democratic governance.  The huge turnout in the February elections had shown clearly that the consensus did indeed exist within Haitian society, but giving that practical meaning for the ordinary citizen was a major challenge.  Hopefully, the outcome of the June local and municipal elections would bring government to the people's doorstep.  No system of governance could retain its credibility before the people, unless it enabled them, at the very least, to meet their most basic needs.

He said that the newly-elected Government must, therefore, be assisted to build a credible democracy capable of delivering to the population increased security of life and property, as well as sustainable access to potable water, electricity, education, health services and, above all, jobs.  Among the various pressing demands, the restructuring of the Haitian National Police must be accorded utmost priority, so as to enhance law and order and overall stability.  Given Haiti's endemic poverty and its monumental economic and social problems, in the post-election period the international community should embark on a massive programme of national reconstruction.

AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) urged calm in Haiti, while awaiting the second round of legislative elections and subsequent local elections to complete the transition period to democracy.  In the interim, it was necessary to maintain voter's interest, hopes and aspirations in the electoral process.  He also commended collective efforts to organize and supervise the first round of free, fair and credible elections, noting that the experience should auger well for the second round of elections this month.  Democratic elections should be the starting point for comprehensive change, he said, calling for revamped political, judicial and governance institutions and solutions to Haiti's chronic social and economic poverty.  That would require a long-term coordinated commitment by the international community.

It was important to avoid the selective, ad hoc and short term involvement of the past, he continued.  The post-electoral mandate of MINUSTAH must be redefined to set the stage for coordinated peacebuilding in all sectors.  The Parliament, Cabinet and the Prime Minister should work immediately on national reconciliation, respect for human rights, enforcement of the rule of law, socio-economic regeneration and constructive engagement with international partners. Haiti's security situation was already showing signs of improvement.  The kidnapping rate had dropped tremendously since Mr. Préval's election.  The integration of former soldiers should continue to receive due attention, in order to address misguided discontent.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said the broad turnout of Haitians during the elections, and the peaceful holding of the first round of elections, was a major step forward on the path towards democracy in Haiti.  It was an opportunity for Haiti to put an end to the instability of the past.  The Haitian authorities needed to work towards national reconciliation and an inclusive political process, in accordance with the will of the overall majority of the population.  He commended the role played by Special Representative Valdes and MINUSTAH.  With the end of the first phase, he cited the need for an unswerving commitment for the long-term by the international community, beginning with the United Nations.  The MINUSTAH would need to play a role, and its mandate would need to be readjusted.

The challenge in the months to come, he said, was to complete the political transition.  The second round of elections should be held as scheduled.  The Haitian authorities and the Provisional Electoral Council needed to ensure a transparent process to bring out an unequivocal outcome.  Also, a great deal needed to be done to restore security.  The continued existence of lawless areas had a negative psychological impact on the people and posed a threat to consolidating the democratic process.  Addressing that issue called for a dual response, both military and humanitarian.  In the long term, security required the strengthening of the Haitian National Police.

However, he noted, reform of the police alone would not bring about the rule of law.  The third priority was in the justice area.  The State's capacity needed to be built in many areas, both at the national and local levels.  No stabilization was possible without the launching of a process of sustainable economic and social development.  The inauguration of the new Government would usher in a new phase, but it would not mark the end of the stabilization process.  The international community must be mobilized to assist the President-elect and the new Government as they worked to bring about a new phase in their country.  The Haitian people needed to rely on long-term commitment of the international community.  He supported the draft presidential statement before the Council.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said it was vital that the Council give its clear commitment to the Government of Haiti.  Having adopted many resolutions regarding the situation in that country, the Council must now deliver a simple message of support:  Haiti must consolidate the democratic process and build democratic institutions based on the rule of law.  It must also ensure the holding of the second round of legislative elections, as well as the forthcoming local and municipal elections, while recognizing that elections were not an end in themselves.

The second task for the newly elected leadership was to tackle poverty in one of the poorest countries on earth, he said.  That was difficult for any country to do, and for Haiti it was exceedingly difficult.  The extension of the Interim Cooperation Framework agreement was welcome, but much more was needed.  It was also important to deliver security.  The role of MINISTAH was vital, but Haiti also needed help in training its national police force to take on a larger role in restoring security and in eliminating the "no go" areas in Port-au-Prince, the capital.  Today's meeting was a signal by the international community of its commitment to assist Haiti, as the country embarked on a new future.  The United Kingdom supported the draft presidential statement to be adopted by the Council.

LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN (Denmark) said the high voter turnout and relatively peaceful conduct of the Haitian presidential elections augured well for Haitian democracy, and he looked forward to the second round of elections on 21 April, which would benefit from lessons learned during the first round.  The security situation appeared generally stable, and had improved significantly in the last few months, including in Cite Soleil, and kidnappings were down.  Still, violent crime was widespread and remained a serious concern.  He fully supported efforts of MINUSTAH to assist national authorities in further improving the security situation.

A broad-based government in Haiti would help promote national reconciliation, he continued, adding that reconciliation efforts should be institutionalized and reach all levels of Haitian society.  Successful reconciliation would facilitate progress on other challenges facing Haiti, such as strengthening the rule of law, including human rights law.  That would require effective police reform, as well as justice reform, to address the fact that more than 90 per cent of prison inmates remained in pre-trial or preventive custody.  In that regard, he called for the speedy release of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and fully supported police reform efforts under Haiti's police chief Mario Andresol, which were supported by MINUSTAH.

JORGE BRIZ ABULARACH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said he deemed the role of the United Nations in Haiti was of particular importance, especially against the background of the previous setbacks suffered by the international community in the country.  It was important to learn from the past and agree that the international community's engagement in Haiti was a long-term commitment.

Regarding the challenges facing Haiti, he shared the concerns over the prevailing fragile security situation in the country, as well as the pernicious influence of the former army and, particularly, the challenge posed by armed gangs linked to organized crime.  Another considerable obstacle that Haitians faced was the weakness of their judicial system. Technical assistance aimed at strengthening the institutions could not be delayed any longer, and the Haitian people must be assisted in consolidating democratic institutions.  It was crucial for the international community, regional organizations, the international financial institutions and non-governmental organizations to continue to support the people of Haiti to allow them to achieve the full enjoyment of their rights and freedoms.  He appealed to the new authorities to adopt concrete and urgent measures to prevent and punish criminal acts through effective investigations of crimes and prosecution of those responsible.

He underscored the importance of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.  He shared the concerns of other countries, not only for delays in the implementation of the programmes proposed by MINUSTAH, but also for the financial constraints that such programmes faced, particularly those related to reintegration.  Although a process of free elections constituted in itself a great achievement, it was also necessary to foster an inclusive process of national dialogue that allowed all the political and social actors to practice true self-determination.

The Council President and Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, JORGE TAIANA, speaking in his national capacity, said the imminent handover of power to a representative and democratic government would be a new chapter in Haiti's history and an opportunity that must not be squandered, so that the Haitian people and their authorities might finally leave behind them instability, paralysis and political violence.  He believed MINUSTAH had been a decisive factor in successfully re-establishing an environment of security and stability that had helped make possible the development of the electoral process and to lay the basis for economic growth.  The Mission had also served to demonstrate the commitment of Latin America to peacebuilding in the region.

The Security Council and the agencies in the field had a great responsibility ahead of them, namely to collaborate to ensure that the mistakes of the past would not be repeated.  The ongoing electoral process must quickly come to a conclusion to permit the speedy handover of power and the formation of the Parliament and local and municipal governments.  Noting that long-term stability required other elements in addition to elections, he stressed that social and economic development was crucial to guarantee security and democratic governance.  The strategy for peacebuilding in Haiti must centre on four pillars:  security, rule of law, economic revitalization and the provision of basic services.  It would be crucial for the people to feel in a tangible way that democracy would bring changes for the better in their lives.

Among its pending challenges, he said, the new Government would have to continue to work for reconciliation of the Haitian people through constructive political dialogue.  It would also need to reform the police and judicial and correctional systems.  In the framework of development, the international community must continue to support Haiti in the elaboration of an integral strategy to reduce poverty.  Argentina would continue to assist Haiti through its presence in MINUSTAH, through cooperation projects presented through the Interim Cooperation Framework, and through the coordination of humanitarian assistance through the "While Helmets" Initiative.

ALI HACHANI (Tunisia), President of the Economic and Social Council, said Haiti was at a turning point in its history.  Following the transition of the last two years, the country had yet to put in place a stable institutional and administrative system capable of releasing national forces and reinforcing the State machinery in such a manner as to satisfy the Haitian people's basic needs.  Eradicating poverty, a challenge in which the international community was united, could be undertaken only in a politically and socially peaceful climate which, in turn, required the reinforcement of public structures.  It was crucial for the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council, working hand in hand, to find solutions to Haiti's problems.

Haiti had been on the agenda of the Economic and Social Council for many years, he said.  That body's consultative Ad Hoc Group on Haiti, established in 1999 to formulate recommendations on the country's long-term development, had been reactivated in November 2004 and had become increasingly relevant as the situation in Haiti had begun to regain stability.  In its report to the Economic and Social Council last year, the Group had underscored the seriousness not only of Haiti's economic crisis, but also of the social and environmental crises affecting the entire country.  All were aware of the magnitude of the problems facing the new Haitian authorities and, in that context, only a long-term partnership between them and the international community could generate the long-awaited solutions.  In recent months, the Ad Hoc Group had met with the authorities responsible for planning and coordinating external assistance, who were developing a poverty reduction strategy.  The international community must be responsive to the country's long-term needs, and thanks to combined national and international efforts, Haiti would be able to overcome its problems.

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of Brazil, said the massive turnout in the recent elections relayed a message of hope and showed that a democratic Haiti was possible.  He hoped the second round of elections could take place in a climate of transparency and stability.  He encouraged an inclusive political dialogue among all Haitians, in order to ensure a proper environment for economic progress and reconciliation.

The future of Haiti was a vital challenge for the United Nations, he stated.  The country's problems had deep roots in socio-economic matters that went beyond security issues.  The international community must continue to support Haiti with the prompt disbursement of resources and a sustained interest in the economic, social and institutional reconstruction of the country.  A new impetus of international assistance should be registered in order to strengthen such areas as the police and the judiciary, and to foster job creation.  Haiti must be integrated into the agenda of the recently established Peacebuilding Commission. 

He noted that the members of the Contact Group in the World Bank had felt the time had come for a new donors conference, which would be held in September 2006.  In addition, his country would host a ministerial meeting between donor countries and the new Government of Haiti in May in Brasilia.  There was a good opportunity now to create an action plan to support the first 100 days of the Préval Government.

He commended the role played by Special Representative Valdes.  In light of the great political and material commitment of the countries of Latin America to the stabilization of Haiti, he felt Mr. Valdes' replacement should also come from a country in that region.  He also stated that Brazilian troops would remain in Haiti for as long as necessary, and reaffirmed his country's determination to ensure that Haiti remained on the path to sustainable development and truly became the "pearl of the Antilles".

As the meeting resumed in the afternoon, ALBERT R. RAMDIN, Assistant Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), said that the recent presidential and legislative elections had been a decisive victory for the Haitian people, marking a return to constitutional rule in the country and providing a fresh start to a long-anticipated and necessarily long-term process of democratic consolidation, social and economic progress and advances in security and stability.  The large turnout, enthusiasm and perseverance shown by the Haitian electorate had reconfirmed their solid commitment to the democratic process and boded well for the challenging months and years ahead, as the Government strove to meet the people's demands and temper expectations for a "quick fix" to the country's deep-rooted problems.

He said that, in the immediate term, it would be necessary to successfully conclude the legislative elections in April.  That would permit the country to return to a situation of more balanced powers and a truly representative democracy. It would be equally critical to maintain the time frame for the holding of municipal and local elections slated for June.  The President-elect was asked to be particularly vigilant in ensuring that those elections took place in order to ensure representative local governance, which would deepen democracy in Haiti and provide a key foundation for local development.  The OAS noted with appreciation the President-elect's reaching out to various sectors, as well as a mutual reaching out to him, which suggested an important basis for national consensus-building and reconciliation.

Warning that elections tended to exacerbate existing differences and divergences among sectors, and that in Haiti there had been general political polarization, he urged President-elect Préval to continue his outreach to multiple political and social sectors and to build an open, inclusive government as a necessary base from which Haiti could recover socially, economically and in terms of overall stability.  The OAS had also noted the priority that the President-elect had assigned to his relations with other nations of his hemisphere, as several of his first visits had been to countries of the Americas.  That interest was mutual, and, in the context of the inter-American system, the OAS looked forward to working with the new Haitian Government to tackle common challenges and difficulties in a collective, collaborative manner.

Haiti's environmental challenges were clearly enormous and no discussion of the country's future could ignore that stark reality, he said.  Reforestation, soil depletion, water conservation and sanitation were some of the critical issues to be tackled.  The international community must be at its strongest in terms of support for the way forward in Haiti.  A lot of money and effort had been invested by foreign Governments and international institutions in support of holding free, fair and transparent elections which had been critical in getting the country to where it was today.  However, the same level of financial and operational support must not only be met, but surpassed so as to build a new, viable Haiti.

He said the OAS was poised to harness its expertise and resources internally, and also to continue to coordinate and mobilize resources and efforts from other institutions of the inter-American system to contribute to the long-term institution-building and to social and economic reconstruction in Haiti.  The organization had held several meetings among inter-American institutions on that very subject, and those bodies would be reconvened on the basis of the needs expressed by the incoming Haitian Government, in order to move to action in support of its future efforts, as well as those of local non-governmental organizations and other entities.  In particular, the OAS secretariat was ready to continue its support to the Haitian registry and identification system as a crucial base for social and economic development, as well as for future electoral processes, and to help build a solid professional and permanent electoral institution.  It was also set to support the strengthening of the Haitian human rights system and judiciary, and to strengthen the emerging political party system.

REBECA GRYNSPAN, Associate Administrator and Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said a framework to guarantee sustained, effective support to Haiti must be built on the accomplishments and lessons of the Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF).  Of the $780 million already disbursed through ICF, $80 million had been disbursed through the United Nations.  While the HIV/AIDS transmission rate had since fallen, as had malnutrition, substantial challenges still remained.  She stressed UNDP's commitment to work with the newly elected Haitian Government on the independent evaluation and review process of ICF's performance.  That process would guide ICF's extension until December 2007.

She reiterated the Country Team's commitment to supporting the anti-poverty strategy that would serve as Haiti's cooperation framework as of 2008, stressing the need to identify and enact, together with donors, innovative solutions to tackle capacity-building, particularly of State institutions.  She also supported President-elect Préval's proposal to organize a forum on international private investments for Haiti.  The Country Team and MINUSTAH had developed, within ICF's structure, a post electoral stabilization strategy.  That would include developing a coherent, streamlined package of high-impact and high-visibility programmes, including rapid employment programmes; supporting key democratic institutions, specifically the Parliament, the creation of a Permanent Electoral Council and stronger local governments; greater political dialogue and social cohesion; and the necessary tools to implement a long-term poverty reduction strategy.

GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said Haiti had made significant progress in laying the basis for an inclusive democratic transition at a pace that seemed unlikely a year ago.  He welcomed the high turnout by, and the serious engagement of, the people of Haiti in exercising their democratic right to choose their future leaders, despite the major technical and logistical problems encountered during the organization of the vote.

By providing €18 million to the electoral process, as well as by sending a European Union Electoral Observation Mission to Haiti, the Union had demonstrated its strong commitment to the democratic transition process.  The conduct of the second round of parliamentary elections in a peaceful and credible manner would contribute to enhancing the democratic process, cementing the rule of law and completing the establishment of strong, stable institutions.

Concerned by the security situation, he called on Haiti's leaders to demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the security of its citizens throughout the country, in partnership with MINUSTAH.  Much needed progress in the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, as well as addressing underlying socio-economic conditions, would contribute to the stabilization of the security situation.  Moreover, reform of the Haitian National Police must be reinforced by addressing the shortcomings in the judicial system.  As Haiti entered a new chapter in its history, it was vital that the incoming leadership give special attention to reconciliation and an inclusive approach.

CARMEN MARÍA GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ (El Salvador) said her country supported the Haitian people's efforts to preserve their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.  El Salvador also welcomed the massive turnout of voters during the February elections and firmly supported the role of MINUSTAH.

Noting that her country's own experienced had shown the importance of having civic democratic representation, she said the international community must also maintain consistent support for Haiti's economic and social development.  El Salvador's history of transition from conflict to democracy had provided it with valuable experience, and the country welcomed the recognition given to the role of women as a critical factor for change in Haiti.

Emphasizing that her country was encouraged by the steps taken within the framework of coordination between MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police, El Salvador wished to reaffirm its willingness to continue its participation in the Mission through its contribution of a large number of police officers, especially women.  The relationship between citizens and police must be based on trust and efficiency.

JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said the upcoming weeks and months would be crucial for Haiti.  The Haitian people, with their large participation in the electoral process, had shown their commitment to democratization in the country, which was crucial for the consolidation of peace and sustainable development.  Spain had provided technical and financial assistance to MINUSTAH and had participated in the European Union Electoral Observation Mission.  The new institutions had to be representative of the whole of Haitian society and promote national reconciliation.  Spain would maintain its long-term commitment to Haiti.  Although limitations on the deployment of troops abroad had prevented the renewal of the presence of the Spanish military contingent in Haiti, Spain would work to strengthen the work of the United Nations in Haiti, in line with the will expressed by the Ibero-American community.

Spain was studying ways to enhance its support to MINUSTAH's police contingent, which would become even more important in the period now beginning, he said.  It was also studying the possibility of implementing training programmes in Spain for Haitian security forces.  Haiti had become a priority country for Spanish cooperation.  His Government had tripled the amount of its contribution to reconstruction in the country.  Spanish cooperation in Haiti now covered such areas as food security, access to water, the health sector and budgetary support.  Spain would cooperate with the new Haitian authorities in such areas as strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions.  Spain was ready to host an upcoming donors conference on Haiti.  A new phase was beginning in Haiti, in which the country would be able to face the future with the support of the international community.

ALLAN ROCK (Canada), outlining some short-term challenges facing Haiti and the international community, said it was vital that the second round of elections be held on the scheduled date, 21 April, so the new Government could take office.  It was also of the utmost importance that local and municipal elections then be held quickly.  Furthermore, comprehensive reform of the Haitian National Police must be undertaken.  To ensure success, all parties involved must have a common strategic vision and the political will to move forward on the policing file and properly begin the even more complex work of reforming the legal system.

He also felt that the strategic plan adopted in March 2005 by the Haitian National Police must serve as a basis for any discussion leading to the adoption of a comprehensive plan.  The international community and its Haitian counterpart must have a clear and common vision of what must be done in the coming years.  Those reforms and the re-establishment of a general state of law were in keeping with a vision of sustainable development.  They were also vital if some major human rights problems in Haiti were to be resolved.  He also stressed the importance of including an aspect of gender equality in the development and implementation of those reforms.

For Canada, he added, Haitian leadership and appropriation of the reforms were crucial ingredients.  He hoped that a MINUSTAH that was properly coordinated with the national Haitian authorities and the donors was finally recognized for what it should be by the Haitian people -- the legitimate expression of the voice of solidarity of the international community in Haiti.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said the successful democratic election now required that the Haitian people, in partnership with the international community, focus on the economic development of Haiti and help launch the nation on a path to sustainable and long-term development.  There could be no security without development, and human rights were difficult to promote and uphold in a situation where there was no political stability.  Therefore, it was incumbent on the United Nations and its agencies, together with the Bretton Woods institutions, to work with the people of Haiti to achieve sustainable development, deepen democracy, and promote political dialogue and national reconciliation.

He believed the new leadership of Haiti was ready to seize the opportunity of working with all segments of Haitian society in building national unity, reconciliation, justice and peace.  A long lasting political future for Haiti depended on the comprehensive resolution of its internal political dynamic.  The time had come for all political parties in Haiti, including the Lavalas Party and its leadership, to join together to create political stability in Haiti.  The international community must make a long-term commitment towards assisting all the Haitian parties to achieving a long-lasting political solution.

RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ (Cuba), describing Haiti as the cradle of the liberation struggles against colonialism in America and the first independent black republic in Latin America and the Caribbean, said the country was currently ignored by the international community.  Agonizing due to its poverty and structural underdevelopment, Haiti was a telling example of the terrible consequences of colonialism and neo-colonialism, the current unjust and exclusionary international order, and the continued interventionism that had characterized its turbulent republican history.

He said that when the United Nations addressed the Haitian situation, attention was focused almost exclusively on security issues, while its serious structural, economic and social problems were, in practice, ignored or diminished.  Peace and security in Haiti required, first of all, the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment.  There could not be peace without development or development without peace. The international community should take advantage of the successful 7 February elections with renewed hope.  Foreign interests had conspired to make that process collapse, but the Haitian people had taken to the streets and thwarted the plot in a clear demonstration that they were ready to demand by any means respect for their legitimate right to self-determination.  Cuba underscored the support and efforts of the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States to achieve sustainable peace and development in Haiti.

The international community must contribute massively, increase assistance and fulfil its financial and human commitments so that Haiti could achieve economic and social rehabilitation, as well as national reconciliation, he said.  Cuba welcomed the recently announced initiative by President Hugo Chávez Frias to incorporate Haiti into the Petrocaribe Programme through which the country would be able to purchase oil and refined products under the preferential financial terms.  For its own part, Cuba had provided 2,246 health-care specialists in more than six years of medical cooperation with Haiti, and their work had allowed more than 8 million consultations.  They had applied 865,202 doses of vaccine, assisted in more than 70,000 childbirths and performed 109,000 surgical operations.  Cuban cooperation also included the training of human resources that allowed short- and medium-term capacity-building.  In addition, there were currently 900 Haitian students in Cuba, 613 of whom studied at the Latin America School of Medicine.

AMPARO ANGUIANO RODRIGUEZ (Mexico) said today's meeting was taking place at a time of great opportunity for Haiti.  The elections of 7 February showed the commitment of the people of Haiti to democracy and to moving forward on the path of durable peace.  She reiterated Mexico's willingness to support the new Government and to continue cooperating with it.  It was crucial that the second round of elections, and the municipal and local elections, took place in a climate of transparency and peace.  Elections were part of a long process of consolidating peace and democracy.  She hoped all parties would maintain a constructive dialogue in the months ahead.  Democracy and peace could not be consolidated unless they were accompanied by policies for long-term social justice and economic development.

It was clear, she said, that Haiti would require the sustained support of the international community for a long time, in order to overcome the challenges it faced.  She hoped the recently established Peacebuilding Commission would be  used to keep international focus on Haiti for some time to come.  Mexico had provided technical assistance in the run-up to the elections, and was currently coordinating other cooperation projects.  In multilateral and regional forums, Mexico would continue to call for Haiti to continue to receive the support it needed.  It was crucial for the United Nations to maintain its presence in Haiti, she added, and the OAS had a role to play in the post-electoral period.

IMERIA NÚÑEZ DE ODREMÁN (Venezuela) reiterated her wish that the will of the Haitian people would be fully respected, so that they and the Government would be able to consolidate a democratic system, whose ultimate objective should be ensuring the well-being of the country and its people.  That would require the unwavering support of the international community.  In that context, President Hugo Chavez made public his view, expressed to President Préval, that Haiti be incorporated in the energy cooperation processes under the Petrocaribe agreement.  That would make it possible for Haiti to finance 50 per cent of its oil purchases for the next 25 years.  She welcomed CARICOM's decision to readmit Haiti and to provide support to it.  She added that, within the OAS, Venezuela had raised the possibility of reactivating the Group of Friends of Haiti, and had referred to the need to channel the financial support that was currently being held in multilateral banks.

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