Statement Marking First Anniversary of Leader's Return Commends Progress in Meeting Major Challenges


This is the statement of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at a ceremony in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 15 October commemorating the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide:

On behalf of the United Nations and the entire international community, I want to tell you how happy we are to celebrate with you the first anniversary of your return to your country.

This anniversary day also has a particularly auspicious significance for all of us.

It gives us an opportunity to note with satisfaction the real progress made by democracy, justice and law in the political and social life of the Haitian people, of which I am kept regularly informed by my Special Representative and friend, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Day after day, the leaders and citizens of this country are demonstrating, despite the difficulties and hazards involved, the irreversible nature of their choice in favour of democracy, pluralism and tolerance. And if the Republic of Haiti has thus been able to pursue this course resolutely, it is largely thanks to you, Mr. President, to your initiatives, your courage and your authority.

It is that first and foremost which we have come here together to celebrate today.

However, through the example of your country, we must also honour the action undertaken by the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the whole international community. For I see the work done in Haiti as an exemplary illustration of that diplomacy of democratization of which I am an ever more ardent advocate, and which today constitutes one of the basic objectives to be adopted by the international community.

The Haitian people have learned through bitter experience that democratization is a difficult undertaking and a slow process which must form part of the history of countries and the culture of peoples.

Democracy, as your country has likewise learned from painful experience, can be consolidated only if it is accompanied by the awakening of the civic conscience of the community as a whole. That is why the international community wishes to help Haiti to strengthen its young democracy.

To that end, it is essential that the Republic of Haiti possess secure, stable, reliable and efficient institutions. That is the essential guarantee which will enable the Haitian people to live in security and to participate fully in the political and social decision-making process. This means that the culture of democracy must take increasingly deeper root within the country. That entails increasing the awareness of citizens, training senior personnel, organizing the public services and preparing regulations that respect the rule of law.

It also entails creating an independent judicial administration and training a civilian police force that will guarantee public freedoms. We know that real problems still exist in Haiti in this regard. But we also know that security is improving substantially from day to day. That augurs well for the future.

I am aware of the difficulties of your task. I also know how deeply determined you are to embark upon that task. I have come here today to tell you that you are not alone. That the international community must continue to support your efforts. And that we are attentive to your needs and your aspirations.

Currently, with the agreement of the Haitian authorities, we are maintaining our presence here.

The United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), established by the Security Council in 1993, and the Civilian Mission undertaken jointly by the United Nations and the Organization of American States, remain two essential instruments for the assistance that the international community has undertaken to provide to the people of Haiti.

They have helped the Haitian authorities to create and guarantee an environment conducive to the holding of legislative and local elections. They have provided the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council with logistical and financial assistance and technical expertise. And they participated in the maintenance of security during the electoral period.

Today, the United Nations continues to provide support and assistance to the Haitian authorities and people. It is working to promote human rights by monitoring respect for public freedoms, guaranteeing the repatriation of refugees, assisting the National Commission for Truth and Justice in its work, and guiding the work of the Interim Public Security Force and the Haitian National Police.

It is also working to promote development by opening new work-sites, preserving the environment, distributing food, providing care, fostering agricultural production and preparing family planning and literacy programmes. In carrying out this immense undertaking, the United Nations is receiving the constant support of the major States concerned and of specialized agencies, regional organizations and many non-governmental organizations. It is thus truly the international community as a whole which has mobilized to help the Republic of Haiti.

Today, we can say that our joint efforts in the human, financial, economic, political and social fields have unquestionably yielded positive results.

The United Nations has been helping the Republic of Haiti for a long time, in particular through its programmes and specialized agencies. Furthermore, UNMIH is continuing its work with the cooperation of the Haitian authorities. We are well aware that the weeks and months to come will be decisive in this regard.

In view of the foregoing, Mr. President, I wish to say, most solemnly, that I am counting on you, on your charisma, on your international audience and on your political will, to ensure that the cooperation between Haiti and the United Nations can continue in the best possible conditions.

The Republic of Haiti has already demonstrated to the international community its determination to re-establish democratic political life and to work for national reconciliation.

As you are aware, Mr. President, you can count on our full support in pursuing that course.

That is the primary message which I have come to convey, by my presence here today, to you and to the Haitian people as a whole, in order that the course to democratization, respect for human rights and security that we have charted together may be chosen in the future by an ever-increasing number of peoples and nations.


For information media. Not an official record.