STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. JUAN MANUEL SANTOS,
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
New York, 6 April 2011
“Men anpil chay pa lou.”
Allow me to begin using a language that is not one of the official languages of the United Nations, but that is very much a part of the lives of several million people in the Caribbean.
“Men anpil chay pa lou” is a Creole proverb that means “many hands make the load lighter.”
Today, before the body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, in the presence of such distinguished guests, I want to tell you that the hands of the world can make Haiti’s load lighter.
And I say it in Creole, because today our heart speaks the language of this island.
Colombia, upon assuming the presidency of the Security Council, wants to promote an open debate on Haiti that renews the effort for the stabilization and strengthening of the Rule of Law in that country.
And this is not precisely to congratulate ourselves for the good job we have done.
The meager results achieved require us to reflect on the manner in which we are carrying out our work.
Haiti’s social and economic problems and its recovery are not new, though they were exacerbated by the tragic earthquake of 12 January of last year.
Haitians themselves say it is necessary to rebuild their country, both physically and institutionally, and the international community has a moral duty to contribute to this end.
But we must do so in a coordinated and coherent manner, aiming for concrete, sustainable and long-term achievements, leaving aside the chaos of well-intentioned but immediate-effect cooperation and without lasting effects.
Today, the proliferation of organizations acting on the island, without coordination among themselves or with Haitian authorities, undermines any and all efforts to strengthen institutionalism and affects the ability to undertake long-term initiatives, preventing these efforts from yielding concrete results.
And what is worse, the feeling of failure feeds the vicious cycle of poverty and corruption.
During my visit to Haiti last year, I realized that if we truly wish to help, we must do it in another manner.
Haitians yearn to be heard.
An international community that does not take into account Haitians’ views of their problems does not serve Haiti.
In this we must be clear: we know that the primary responsibility, the central responsibility for recovery, falls upon the Government of Haiti, and upon Haitian leaders.
We also know that the tragedy suffered by Haitians will not end if local efforts are not complemented by foreign help.
Likewise, if Haitians accept renewed support from the international community, we propose that it be built on foundations that guarantee the effectiveness of our joint action.
Foundations like the following:
· The development of concrete projects with transparency measures that truly lead to an improvement in the quality of life;
· The elaboration of a long-term development strategy;
· A commitment to accountability, and
· Ownership by all Haitians of their common destiny.
It is necessary to combat the greatest enemies of development and stability, such as institutional weakness, the absence of laws or the failure to comply with them, and the fragile control and supply of basic services by the State, including the provision of justice.
We have to believe in and think about Haiti in the long-term to contribute to solving these pressing problems, something that, we must admit, we have not achieved under the current cooperation framework.
Just as I said in September of last year before the United Nations General Assembly, we must all commit to a different vision for rebuilding Haiti.
If we use the available resources in a more efficient and effective manner, ensuring economic and social welfare, we will be able to take more concrete and coherent measures, even using existing structures like the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.
And I think we should go beyond the discussion about whether or not MINUSTAH’s mandate should be modified.
At some point we will have to do it, as it is clear that Haiti’s peace and security problem will only be resolved if this country achieves economic and social development.
Meanwhile, the medium- and long-term development goals set by Haiti should become the required point of reference for coordinating the activities of MINUSTAH and UN agencies, a task in which the work of the Representative of the Secretary-General is essential.
Let this be the opportunity to highlight and recognize the good work of Mr. Edmont Mulet, who took over this position and that of Head of MINUSTAH after the earthquake, and has achieved much in the midst of difficult conditions.
Now, we believe that, even working within MINUSTAH’s already agreed mandate, we can contribute in areas that are essential for the Haitian population.
Think about what could be achieved if, rather than having a high percentage of military personnel, the mission had more civilian personnel and engineers that could coordinate priority matters, such as debris removal, a task where, fortunately, significant progress can already be seen thanks to the efforts of Haitian authorities.
On the one hand, the landscape from before the earthquake would begin to reemerge, restoring the sense of normalcy that leads Haitians to believe that things can change.
On the other, employment opportunities would be generated, a vital goal for the viability of our efforts towards recovery.
Let us look at this matter from a practical standpoint.
If we already have a United Nations operation in Haiti, why not use it to address immediate needs and begin to lay the foundations for its transition towards development?
Another vital project that can be implemented by the international community is the rebuilding of housing, which we could undertake through bilateral and multilateral projects with the support from start to finish of donors with their architects, engineers, environmentalists and landscapers.
In supporting the construction of housing –dignified and well planned housing, that elevates the population’s quality of life- not only would jobs be generated, but the situation of thousands of people that still live in tents would be resolved.
The one-plus-one framework, which involves Haiti –both its government and its society- in its own recovery, is the only viable one if we want to strengthen its institutionalism.
It is Haitians themselves who can help us and should help us prioritize the resources, within that framework, aimed at the long-term recovery of Haiti.
And this should be the same framework that we apply to the other sectors that need to be reorganized.
Health, agriculture, education, the construction of roads and infrastructure, of aqueducts, must be a part of this comprehensive support.
Health and education, for example, cannot remain in the hands of foreign charity organizations, but must be progressively transferred to the leadership and management of the Haitian state itself, with decisive cooperation and support of the international community.
We are talking about training a population where 60 percent are youth, who cannot depend on sporadic aid.
When donor funds fail to arrive and the organizations that provide these services are gone, what will happen to Haitian children and youth?
Ultimately, I also want to reiterate my country’s decisive commitment to strengthen Haiti’s security institutions.
We understand that security is a necessary condition for the Rule of Law and healthy democratic institutions, and for the achievement of sustainable development, and that is why we are contributing to strengthening the Haitian National Police.
We have 31 Colombian policemen and women cooperating with the Haitian police and we renew our commitment to have them fulfill this support mission.
I do not want to conclude without acknowledging President René Préval for the progress made in the country, for the respect for liberties, and for providing guarantees for the recently concluded electoral process.
In the coming months a new government will come into office on the island, and this is an ideal opportunity to reorganize our cooperation with Haiti and our contribution to its sustainable development.
Because peace is not built by increasing dependency and welfarism.
To paraphrase the Liberator Simón Bolívar, whom Haitians helped in a very difficult moment in his life, providing him refuge and supporting him in his military campaign, we could say that peace, and the development that makes it possible, “will not come about through divine providence but through sensible planning and well-directed efforts.”
That is why today, when Colombia honorably holds the presidency of the Security Council, we invite the other nations that make up the Council and the Organization to reflect on what we have done so far in Haiti and how we can implement new methods and concepts in its recovery.
Let us think about building a better Haiti, not just today, not just tomorrow, but for the next 25 years.
We must imagine the Haiti of the future, and lay the foundations so that it is Haitians themselves who continue its reconstruction.
I am sure that this task is not beyond our capacities or the resources that we have already committed and the ones we are willing to commit in a more coordinated cooperation framework.
Likewise, we recognize the people of Haiti for having carried out peaceful and orderly elections, which according to the preliminary results reported by the OAS and CARICOM have yielded Michel Martelly as the winner.
I conclude with a central message:
Let us not give in, let us not leave Haiti behind, let us not forget Haiti, because we feel that no effort is enough.
Let us retake the course of our contribution with clear and precise executable goals.
Today, I invite the international community to look at Haiti in a different manner, and I also invite Haiti to welcome a new cooperation strategy that fulfills a basic precept:
Cooperation through the United Nations system is successful only as long as there are exit strategies, as long as progress is made towards a horizon where the assisted country can live without that cooperation and without the omnipresence of the system.
It is time for Haiti to rise up and make progress, and to take on the task of building its future, with international cooperation and with the decisive efforts of Haitians themselves.
As I said at the beginning, “many hands make the load lighter.”
“Men anpil chay pa lou.”