Statement by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves at The Arria Formula Meeting on the question concerning Haiti

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives,

I have the honour to address you on behalf of Kenya, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

I further express our sincerest appreciation to all co-sponsors, distinguished briefers and participants, in particular the esteemed representatives of Haiti, including the Honourable Dr. Ariel Henry, Prime Minister and Ms. Magali Comeau-Denis, Coordinator of the Commission for Haitian Solution to the Crisis and Former Minister of Culture and Communication, whose voices are extremely critical for today’s dialogue.

Let me first extend, once more, our deepest condolences to the Government and people of the Republic of Haiti, following the dastardly assassination of President Jovenel Moise, as well as for those who have lost their lives in the wake of the devastating earthquake last August and Tropical Storm Grace.

Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives,

Today’s Arria Formula emerges against the backdrop of multifaceted socio-economic and political crises facing Haiti.  The A3+1 (the Africa 3 plus St. Vincent and the Grenadines) is extremely concerned about the situation in our sister nation. Our hosting of this dialogue and the high-level participation are testimonies to the seriousness with which we view the recent grave occurrences and extant difficulties in our beloved Haiti. We also believe that today’s focus on Haiti is timely and apt; and we hope it will provoke among us all, concrete, solution-oriented recommendations.

Haiti is not only a sister nation of our Caribbean Community (CARICOM); its glorious yet complex history, in particular its march to freedom, is the embodiment of our existence as free nations today. Indeed, we are forever indebted to Haiti. The Haitian Revolution was not only a victory for Haiti, but for all humankind.

Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives,

Haitians are desirous of peace, security, stability and prosperity – an effort which must come from Haitians themselves, with the full support and solidarity of the international community. It is therefore essential that we reaffirm our profound solidarity with Haiti in addressing its underlying drivers of instability. Words alone are insufficient.  We have faith in Haiti’s future; but faith without deeds is wholly insufficient.

As we stated during the Security Council’s briefing on October 4th, Haiti’s legacy of underdevelopment cannot be divorced from the historic injustices meted out against it through slavery, colonialism, and imperialism.  Haiti’s revolutionary overthrow of slavery and colonial rule ignited severe reprisals by old-fashioned colonialism and new-fangled imperialism.  Accordingly, the noble cause of reparatory justice cannot be side-stepped any longer.

At the same time, the pervasive poverty, which is a fundamental root cause of unrest and instability, needs to be tackled frontally. We emphasize that there can be no genuine stability without strengthening the country’s institutions and economy, including through a long-term strategy for sustainable development.

Against the backdrop of all this, Kenya, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines put the following ideas on the table for urgent consideration and follow-up action:

1.The Haitian people, their political organisations/parties and civil society must be the ones to devise and implement a Haitian-led and Haitian-owned solution to Haiti’s problems and challenges. This, we believe, should be carried out through an inclusive inter-Haitian dialogue process, with the full and meaningful participation of all sectors, including youth, and women.

2.Deeply entrenched positions need to be softened so that trust could be built amongst stakeholders. We repeat our call for reasoned, and reasonable, compromise by all political forces and civil society groups, and to undertake gestures and actions that herald a willingness to bridge the existing political chasm so that inclusive dialogue can be facilitated.

3.The Haitian people require meaningful and efficacious engagements with, and support from regional, hemispheric, and international partners to assist in charting and implementing the way forward. These engagements should involve centrally the following practical considerations and measures from specific entities:

i.First: CARICOM, of which Haiti is a member, has offered its instruments and tools and is well-placed to provide:

a.Considerable support to the electoral process for the conduct of inclusive, free, fair, transparent and credible elections, with the full participation of women.

b.A “good offices” role in assisting/advising the political parties/organisations and civil society in Haiti to assist with the full restoration of the democratic order.

ii)Second: The African Union: Haiti is a country predominantly of people of African descent. African countries have tremendous experience in building peaceful, orderly, democratic societies amidst post-colonial challenges. They also have rich experiences in national reconciliation processes which would be critical for Haiti.

iii)Third: The Organisation of American States (OAS), whose Inter-American Democratic Charter remains central to competitive democracies throughout the hemisphere. Haitian authorities should also maximize the use of the OAS’s tools, such as MESISIC to build effective systems to address corruption.

iv)Fourth: The UN, and the Security Council itself, to be engaged where necessary and desirable. There must be an assessment on the current United Nations Integrated Mission in Haiti (BINUH), to determine ways on how its mandate can be strengthened for the purpose or task it is required to undertake.

An analysis should also be conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of the Peacebuilding Commission for Haiti, and the requisite correctives undertaken.

v)Fifth: The Vatican: Vital in helping with political dialogue between parties/groups in Haiti.

vi)Sixth: CELAC – This grouping embraces the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean and can offer its technical advice and good offices to assist with the political dialogue process.

vii)Seventh: Last, but not least, the traditional development partners of Haiti in the North Atlantic, Latin America, and elsewhere, ought in tandem with multi-lateral agencies to fashion, with the Haitian people, a veritable “Marshall Plan” so as to place Haiti on a path of sustainable development in the shortest possible time.  Global funding for Haiti is critical even as its political and judicial institutions are being credibly built and sustained.  

Further, we suggest immediate possible practical next steps for the way forward

a)Strengthening the capacity of the Haitian National Police (HNP) to restore stability and security. The role of gangs, kidnappings and sexual and gender-based violence is very disturbing. We believe CARICOM can offer technical support in this regard.

b)Preparing for credible elections with CARICOM’s assistance.

c) Mobilizing resources, through IFIs, for peace, security, development, and institution-building.

Excellencies, Distinguished representatives,

The foregoing proposals are not exhaustive. Our Haitian brothers and sisters yearn for a new beginning and we continue to listen to their voices. As citizens of the international community, we will never give up on Haiti. Never! It is our solemn duty to remain engaged!

To our Haitians brothers and sisters, we are fully cognizant of your perspectives, we encourage you to own your challenges, and we trust that you will find your own solutions. We stand in solidarity with you and will continue to accompany you on your journey for self-assertion, for a better future, and a better Haiti.

I thank you!

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