Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
June 17, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Special Representative La Lime, for your comprehensive briefing on the situation in Haiti. The United States is highly appreciative of the work you and your team have done and continue to do. Ms. Hudicourt Ewald, thank you for your insights and for sharing your expertise on the challenges Haiti is facing. Acting Prime Minister Joseph, we welcome your presence here today.
In the four months since this Council last met to discuss the work of BINUH, we believe that the Government of Haiti has not sufficiently focused on addressing Haiti’s most urgent priority: organizing parliamentary elections that would end the current period of rule by decree by President Moïse. We note with appreciation the efforts by the government to undertake voter registration, but more must be done. The United States has repeatedly urged both the Government of Haiti and political stakeholders to create the conditions for free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections this fall.
Most recently, the United States was part of an Organization of American States delegation that visited Haiti from June 8 to 10 to discuss the ongoing stalemate with the government, and to meet with political and civil society stakeholders. We look forward to the report of the OAS, and will continue to engage closely with the UN, the OAS, and the international community.
As we have said repeatedly, the people of Haiti deserve the opportunity to elect their leaders and to restore Haiti’s democratic institutions. The only way out of presidential rule by decree is the conduct of free and fair legislative elections so that Haiti’s legislature can resume its constitutional role, and an elected president should succeed President Moïse when his term ends on February 7, 2022.
We welcome the indefinite postponement of the referendum to amend the constitution given our concerns that the Government of Haiti’s preparations to hold a referendum have not been sufficiently inclusive, participatory, or transparent. We have emphasized to the Government of Haiti that the focus must be on holding free and fair legislative and presidential elections in 2021.
To assist in that effort, the U.S. government is providing more than $3 million to the Consortium for Elections and Political Processes Strengthening, which includes the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Their activities include focusing on improving electoral administration, strengthening the competitiveness of political parties, educating voters on electoral processes, promoting electoral transparency, and ensuring inclusive voter participation.
On COVID-19, the United States remains fully committed to ending the global pandemic as soon as possible. The United States will share at least three-quarters of its donated doses through COVAX, prioritizing Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Approximately six million doses from the first tranche will go to South and Central America, including Haiti. In addition, the United States has invested more than $16 million to meet the immediate COVID-19 health needs of Haitians, while focusing on reducing widespread transmission.
Despite the Haitian government’s commendable September 2020 decision to increase the budget of the Haitian National Police, we remain concerned by lack of resources devoted to law enforcement given the increase in gang violence, a 36 percent increase in kidnappings in the first four months of 2021, and a 17 percent increase in homicides. The United States is providing $21 million in equipment, training, and technical advice to build the HNP’s capacity as an effective and accountable law enforcement agency. We call on other donors to increase their support as well. We are also encouraging Haiti to take a holistic approach to countering gangs and are providing $5 million to strengthen the HNP’s capacity to work with communities to resist gangs.
The United States is also working to strengthen the HNP’s capacity to provide election security and to protect protesters’ human rights, which have been under grave threat during the past several months. The United States and Haiti are working together to vet officers in HNP crowd control units, retrain them, restructure the units, and equip them so they can quickly respond and protect Haitians from civil unrest and election-related violence.
We remain deeply concerned by the ongoing scourge of corruption, which continues to fuel discord and instability. We are still awaiting effective action by the Haitian government to ensure accountability for human rights abuses, particularly in the emblematic cases this Council has repeatedly highlighted, including Grand Ravine, La Saline, and Bel-Air, and the August 2020 murder of Monferrier Dorval. The United States will continue to use all appropriate tools to promote accountability for all corrupt and malign actors in Haiti.
Mr. President, Haiti faces a variety of serious and complex challenges. None of them can be fully addressed without political stability in the country. That stability can only be achieved by free and fair elections that deliver a democratic and fully representative government. The time for action by President Moïse and all key stakeholders is now. The people of Haiti cannot afford any further delays, and the United States will continue to stand with them.