Remarks by H.E. Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the UN, at the Informal Briefing by the Secretary-General on the United Nations’ New Approach to Cholera in Haiti
1 December 2016
Thank you for organizing this briefing for Member States to further update us on this situation, which is of great importance to my delegation and region.
At the outset, allow me to extend congratulations to the government and people of Haiti on the holding of national elections, and to wish President-elect Moïse success in his tenure.
Jamaica commends the Secretary General for the action that will be taken to support the people of Haiti in the wake of the cholera epidemic. Furthermore, we welcome the issuance of his Report outlining the new approach that the Organization will take in addressing the presence and effect of cholera in Haiti, a neighbouring state to Jamaica. The urgent need to move ahead with a comprehensive programme for sustainably eliminating cholera from Haiti is manifestly clear. We therefore welcome the elaboration of Track One of the response and urge its accelerated implementation.
With respect to Track Two, we fully support the effort to develop a package of material assistance for the victims and families most affected by the cholera epidemic. This will be of vital importance, not only in addressing the calamity that has befallen a sister Member State of this Organisation, but also in acknowledging the gross injustice that has been visited upon the people of Haiti and the moral responsibility harboured by the United Nations. This is a critical component in the effort to restore the good name of our Organisation.
We concur with the perceived need to ensure consultation with the Haitian people and encourage the Secretary-General to undertake a broad spectrum of engagement, from the family and community level, through local governance structures and up to the national level. We urge the Secretary General to ensure that Haiti is integrally involved in the final determination of the scope, nature and modalities governing the provision of material assistance. Notwithstanding the complexity inherent in any scheme to address individual cases, we encourage the Secretariat to give further consideration to how best this approach could be structured and undertaken.
I wish to underscore the importance of involving the local stakeholders in Haiti at every turn. For too long, Haitians have had external parties descend upon them in the wake of a national crisis or natural disaster with good intentions but, ultimately, little lasting effect. We believe that involving the citizens of Haiti in this response will be critical to gain citizen’s trust and buy-in, which will be critical to ensuring the effectiveness of the new approach.
In closing let me say that we, as the United Nations, have let down the people of Haiti, a founding Member State of this Organisation. I say this not solely in reference to the introduction of cholera into their nation through our collective presence there, but moreso in relation to our failure to take swift and effective action to address the crisis. As the Secretary General’s report states, “The people of Haiti deserve this tangible expression of our respect and solidarity, as well as our regret, and the genuine support that comes with it.” To heal this grievous wound, the Organisation should begin by expressing its regret directly to the Government and people of Haiti. My delegation implores all Member States in a position to do so to provide the resources that will be required to redress the situation in Haiti in a comprehensive and sustainable way.