The Bahamas Weekly
The Member Countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) today renewed their commitment and support for the reconstruction of Haiti in a special session of the Permanent Council of the Organization in Washington, DC., in which they addressed the future of the Caribbean country following the devastating earthquake of January 12.
Among the speakers at the Special Meeting of the Permanent Council on efforts towards the reconstruction of Haiti were OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza; OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin; the Special Representative of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for Haiti, Percival J. Patterson; the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Haiti and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Edmond Mulet; and the Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thérèse Marie Michèle Rey.
Permanent Representatives of OAS member states—the United States, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mexico, Guatemala, Uruguay, Panama, Argentina, Jamaica, Chile, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia—also intervened during the meeting, as well as representatives of Spain and the European Union.
Secretary General Insulza said the international community remains committed to rebuilding Haiti following the January 12 earthquake. “As many of you know, we have been concerned about the immense challenge of coordinating the massive relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti since the day of the earthquake,” he said. “I am heartened to see by several positive steps taken by the Government of Haiti and the international community in recent months, which I believe improve the coordination of the aid to Haiti and lay the groundwork for its effective reconstruction.”
Among them he named the Haiti Government’s presentation of a clear and comprehensive National Reconstruction and Development Plan; the recent creation of the Haitian Recovery Commission; the inclusion of the Haitian Diaspora in the process of consultation and planning; and efforts to mobilize the Haitian and international private sectors.
Secretary General Insulza said the OAS, “after much consultation with the Government of Haiti and others in the international community,” has decided to focus its efforts and limited funds in areas where “we have a proven track record: governance, institutional strengthening and capacity building.”
More specifically, he said the OAS would continue its support to the Haitian electoral process by assisting the Provisional Electoral Council and other electoral authorities in the upcoming elections; continue to execute its Civil Registry Program, which has helped register and issue identification cards to over 90% of the adult population in Haiti; and embark on an ambitious program to create a cadastre—a modern, safe and efficient system of property rights for Haiti.
“We are in the process of sourcing funds for all three of these important initiatives,” the Secretary General concluded. “We welcome the cooperation of all of you seated here today to make these programs a reality for Haiti.”
For his part, Assistant Secretary General Ramdin, who also chairs the OAS Task Force on Haiti, focused on the OAS assistance to the Government of Haiti with respect to the upcoming presidential, legislative and local elections.
“We welcome the clear statement of President Préval that it is important to avoid the establishment of a transitional government and therefore the need for presidential, legislative and local elections to be held in accordance with the constitution,” the Assistant Secretary General said. However, he added, the political forces in Haiti “are not organized and alternative propositions on the way forward are not easily discerned.”
Pointing to the need for political understanding to be reached in order to have successful elections, Ramdin said the OAS “stands ready to support the electoral process,” to continue to monitor the debate on the elections and to contribute to producing a voter registry that accurately reflects the population shift that took place after January 2010.
In conclusion, Ramdin said, “there seems to be an increased need to force dialogue with the political actors and civil society in general in Haiti, to facilitate a common understanding on the way forward,” adding that technical preparations for the elections should start “as soon as possible” and that the OAS will coordinate its efforts with the United Nations, CARICOM and others “always under the leadership of the Haitian authorities.”
The Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thérèse Marie Michèle Rey, thanked those present for their support, “the support you have shown since the beginning of this drama that has had such dramatic human consequences for us,” she said, adding that “you have expressed the support of your countries and we value it, we are certain we will receive it. I take this opportunity to tell my compatriots, those here, those inside and outside Haiti that together we must remain united to face this challenge, as we have done in the past, and rebuild Haiti.”
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