NEW YORK, 25 NOVEMBER 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3949th MEETING (The question concerning Haiti)
One year ago, Portugal was one of the sponsors of the resolution before this Council on the constitution of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH).
Despite considerable progress, serious problems persist in Haiti that require the continuation of the assistance of the United Nations. We are concerned at the continuation of violence and unrest, the difficult economic situation, the high level of unemployment, the rising cost of living and the slow pace of change in Haiti.
Moreover, we are distressed to know that the parliamentary and local elections due to take place this month were postponed, prolonging the present political stalemate. This impasse is having a major impact in terms of eroding public confidence in the capacity and willingness of the authorities to solve the pressing economic and social problems facing the country. We strongly appeal to the Haitian authorities and political leaders to embark urgently on a negotiated solution to the crisis in a spirit of tolerance and compromise. The tasks ahead will be of crucial importance to the consolidation of democracy and national reconstruction. For that reason, we believe that comprehensive and sustained long-term assistance by the international community is vitally important.
A continued commitment, in particular from the international financial institutions and other United Nations agencies, is necessary to promote a successful and sustainable development that will underpin political stability in the country. We want to help Haitians build a country where democracy and progress will be a reality. That can be achieved only if the rule of law and respect for human rights are ensured.
The continued presence of the United Nations operation in Haiti, and of MIPONUH in particular, has proved to be an important element for that country's transition to democracy by assisting the Government to form a public force respectful of legality and capable of maintaining public order and security. The Secretary-General in its last report underlines that the Haitian National Police has not yet reached the level of professionalization required to tackle successfully the various problems in daily activities. In fact, a self-sustained and fully functioning police is essential to ensure a secure and stable environment and the economic rehabilitation and consolidation of democracy in Haiti.
We believe that the maintenance of the presence of the United Nations, as requested recently by President Préval, is of the utmost importance. Indeed, the United Nations should continue to help the Government of Haiti to professionalize its police force. We urge Haiti's authorities to pursue their efforts to form a public force respectful of legality and also to pursue their efforts to revitalize Haiti's justice and penal systems.
For all these reasons, Portugal will vote in favour of the draft resolution before us today.