Statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Situation in Haiti
Statement17 June 2021
Thank you Mr. President. Let me also thank you, Special Representative La Lime, for your briefing today. My appreciation also to Ms. Ewald for her valuable presentation, and I also acknowledge the presence of the Interim Prime Minister Caude Joseph with us here today.
Mr. President, I want to focus on three points today.
The first, relates to the crossroads in Haiti’s political future. During our last meeting, we spoke of the opportunity 2021 offers to restore and revitalise democracy in Haiti. However, with fewer than 100 days remaining before the proposed first round of legislative elections, preparations must be urgently stepped-up so that the people of Haiti can exercise their democratic will at the ballot box. It has never been more important that the Haitian people choose their own legislators, and in time, their next elected President. We join the recent calls of the United Nations, the Organisation of American States and the European Parliament to ensure that credible, inclusive and transparent elections take place, in a safe and timely manner.
Elections, of course, are not an end in themselves. But they are a vital step on the path to restored and reinvigorated democratic institutions in Haiti. We reiterate our belief in the power of dialogue to generate understanding and create the space for agreed compromises and a path forward. Much remains to be discussed, including on constitutional reform. Those with such experience know the impact a representative citizens’ assembly, with the full and equal participation of women, can have on the deliberation of constitutional questions and generating shared investment in the future.
My second point, Mr. President, relates to the multiple structural and systemic challenges Haiti faces. We are gravely concerned by reports of continuing violence, insecurity, and economic depression, compounded by the challenge of responding to Covid-19.
Gang-related violence, prison overcrowding, lengthy pre-trial detentions, impunity for human rights violations and sexual and gender-based violence are issues of serious concern. We also note an alarming rise in the rate of kidnappings and homicides. The government must address pervasive issues in law enforcement and the justice system, and take urgent steps to progress the National Strategy for Community Violence Reduction. We welcome the establishment of the Board of the Legal Aid Council, with the support of BINUH.
Ireland also remains concerned about the shrinking civil society space, particularly as it affects Haitian women and youth. The combined pressures I have outlined are preventing women from asserting their rights and claiming their place in politics and in society. More than half of all households in Haiti are women led. What affects Haitian women affects the future trajectory of Haiti.
Finally, Mr. President, my third point. I wish to address the very grave humanitarian situation in Haiti. The scale of the challenge is truly daunting. We are particularly alarmed by widespread severe food insecurity, including, particularly regrettably, persistent child malnutrition. As we know the effects of malnutrition have intergenerational consequences, further undermining Haiti’s ability to build its future. This crisis requires a strong collective response from the international community. However, the safety and security of humanitarian workers, , who have suffered direct attacks in the course of their vital work, must be guaranteed. We call on the Haitian government to ensure the safety of all providing vital assistance. Given the security situation, the UN Humanitarian Air Service, is critical to the functioning of the UN Country Team and its partners. We are concerned at reports that its future activity is under threat due to underfunding.
Mr. President, as the Secretary General’s report rightly states, and despite the many interwoven challenges it faces, Haiti has numerous strengths. Not least its resilient people. The international community must match their resilience with continued commitment, support efforts to build faith in the electoral system and work with the new elected government to address the underlying issues holding Haiti back from building a future based on those strengths.
Thank you, Mr President