Statement Delivered by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Haiti
Statement22 February 2021
Merci Monsieur le Président, je voudrais également remercier la Représentante Spéciale du Secrétaire-Générale, Madame La Lime, pour son intervention. Je tiens également à reconnaitre la présence de Son Excellence Monsieur Moise, Président de la République d’Haïti. Je souhaite chaleureusement la bienvenue à Madame Roc pour sa présence au Conseil cet après-midi.
On ne peut pas nier que la réunion d’aujourd’hui a un sens d’urgence. La situation en Haïti, comme l’a décrit le dernier rapport du Secrétaire-Générale, mérite (et je dirais, exige) l’attention de ce Conseil. Depuis trop longtemps, le peuple Haïtien souffre d’une série de crises entremêlées et interconnectées. Ce sont des crises politiques, constitutionnelles, sécuritaires, économiques, et bien sûr, humanitaires.
Compte tenu des contraintes de temps, Monsieur le Président, je me concentrerai sur trois points :
First, the unavoidable need for genuine, inclusive dialogue. We are all too aware today that the climate in Haiti remains extremely fraught. For any of us, confidence in the rule of law, in a system of governance, is the bedrock of a functioning democracy. The cancellation of legislative elections, the dissolution of parliament and the frequent and wide-reaching use of presidential decree risk deepening mistrust in the political system and widening gaps between political actors.
The year ahead offers Haiti an opportunity to restore and revitalise its democracy. It is vital that the citizen registration process is conducted transparently and effectively, ensuring all Haitians eligible to vote are given the opportunity to do so, and it is particularly critical that the voices of women and youth in particular are heard.
To be clear, we believe that the Government’s ambitious electoral calendar can only be successful if trust and engagement are built across the political spectrum. We call on all parties to urgently engage in an inclusive dialogue. The process of constitutional reform must be sensitively and carefully managed, including through appropriate public consultation. Once again, that consultation should include the voices of women and youth
We recognize the protection of civil society space, including the right to peaceful protest, as fundamental to a flourishing democracy. We regret the recent arrest of political and community leaders, and call for the protection of journalists and of peaceful protesters. We are particularly concerned regarding the recent redefinition of terrorism to encompass acts of legitimate protest.
Second, Mr President,
Haiti’s most vulnerable citizens are those who are suffering the most as a result of the deteriorating security situation. The reported scale of homicide, rape, abductions and kidnappings are, quite frankly, shocking. Those responsible for those crimes must be held accountable. The impact of the violence and subsequent impunity on women, youth and children is of deep concern. The 95.9% increase in human rights abuses registered by the UN Mission itself is particularly stark. No community should live – or be expected to live - with this level of violence and fear. We urge the Government to prioritise the adoption of the National Action Plan for Human Rights, and the endorsement of the National Community Violence Reduction Strategy.
Ireland welcomes the reported policing reform gains, but remains concerned at ongoing challenges faced by the judicial and penal systems. An end to impunity and unimpeded access to justice are a prerequisite if there is to be any chance of building trust among the people of Haiti. The removal from office of three Supreme Court judges this month is worrying, and we strongly oppose attempts to undermine the role and independence of the judiciary.
On a more positive note, I want to recognise and welcome the important role of the UN Peacebuilding Fund in Haiti, in particular, the projects supporting access to legal and judicial aid services for women and youth are most valuable, and facilitate their engagement in peacebuilding initiatives. This is really how durable and sustainable peace is achieved. Not through all our high-minded statements here, but from the grass roots up, and with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and active involvement of young people. The people of Haiti deserve nothing less than a peaceful life, free from violence and intimidation.
My third point relates to the difficulties in the delivery of basic services, and the chronic humanitarian need of more than 4.4 million Haitians, as we saw set out in the Secretary General’s report. We commend the work of the World Food Programme in helping to keep Haitians from starvation.
The real tragedy of course is that we know this suffering is not inevitable. International NGOs, such as the Irish organisation GOAL, report that humanitarian need is driven by violence, insecurity, climate vulnerability and the instability we have discussed here today. Once again, the most vulnerable in society are again forced to carry the heaviest burden.
Education, particularly that of girls, is the catalyst to deliver on peacebuilding, security, and the advancement of gender equality. The approximately one in three girls and boys who are still out of school following the “lost” school year simply cannot be allowed to fall through the cracks. Mme Roc in her poignant remarks today has clearly demonstrated the dynamic that there is in Haiti’s youth. The international community simply must rise up and meet their impact and promise with our action.
Monsieur le Président,
Pour conclure, nous sommes d’accord avec la Représentante Spéciale que l’année 2021 (deux milles vingt-et-un) pourrait être un moment charnière en Haïti. Il est crucial que le BINUH donne son soutien absolu pour résoudre la crise constitutionnelle et politique, et réalise pleinement son mandat. Je voudrais encore une fois, réitérer notre profond soutien pour le BINUH, la famille d’agences onusiennes, et tous les acteurs qui travaillent avec le peuple Haïtien pour construire un nouvel avenir, basé sur une transition pacifique de pouvoir, un système politique et économique stable, et sans doute, une société sans intimidation ni violence.
Merci beaucoup, Monsieur le Président.