OAS Addresses the Situation in Haiti

Thomas R. Hastings, Deputy Chief of Mission, addresses the Permanent Council. (February 1, 2023)

Remarks by
Thomas R. Hastings
Deputy Chief of Mission
OAS Permanent Council
February 1, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the inclusion of this topic on today’s agenda, and welcome this initiative on the part of the Delegation of Haiti.

The United States is encouraged by the actions of the Haitian government, various other political actors and members of civil society and the private sector, who worked to adopt a political accord on December 21.  This marks an important step forward, providing a key opportunity for all Haitians to come together to chart a path towards elections.

At the same time, we remain deeply concerned by the cholera outbreak and deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Haiti, exacerbated by the ongoing political and security crisis, and the ongoing lawlessness associated with armed gangs.

We condemn, in the strongest terms, the violent gang activity that led to the death of several members of the Haitian National Police (HNP) on January 20 and January 25. We offer our deep sympathies to the families and friends of the brave HNP officers killed in the line of duty.

With these developments in mind, the United States urges broader consensus and greater flexibility among leaders from all sectors so Haiti can advance needed reforms – thereby ensuring responsive, democratic governance and improving security.

The United States, Canada, and other international partners remain committed to assisting the people of Haiti and working together on solutions to alleviate the ongoing crisis.  However, we are clear that the ultimate resolution of the situation in Haiti is one that must be resolved by the people of Haiti themselves.

Mr. Chairman, a key illustration of the United States and Canada’s ongoing partnership and commitment to the safety and security of the people of Haiti is our support for the Haitian National Police (HNP) – through the ongoing delivery of Haitian-purchased armored vehicles to Port-au-Prince.  We also appreciate the long-standing support of the OAS for the work of HNP.

In response to a request from the Haitian Council of Ministers, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the United States continues to discuss with international partners the possibility of sending a multinational force composed primarily of police.  We welcome support from OAS member states to help advance this effort, as discussed at the 52nd OAS General Assembly in Lima.

Likewise, we also are developing plans to implement the “U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability in Haiti,” which establishes a comprehensive framework for long-term U.S. government efforts to address the drivers of instability and promote peace in Haiti.  The Strategy’s flexible approach adapts to Haiti’s context and prevents conflicts and crises from breaking out or deteriorating further, particularly looking out over the course of the decade ahead.

Ultimately, Mr. Chairman, in order to have stability in the country — including combatting corruption and a stable security situation — there must be the presence of a democratic and fully representative government, which can only be forged through free and fair elections.  And so, we continue to urge for inclusive dialogue in order to advance plans to hold legislative and presidential elections as soon as appropriate conditions permit.

In closing, the United States is firmly committed to the people of Haiti and will continue to support free and fair elections in the country.  The Haitian people deserve the opportunity to elect their leaders and restore Haiti’s democratic institutions.  The only way out of presidential rule by decree is the conduct of free and fair legislative elections so parliament can resume its constitutional role.

We hope today’s discussion will serve to inform our forthcoming discussions on a new OAS Permanent Council resolution addressing these topics.  The United States looks forward to working with all interested delegations in this important effort.

Thank you, Chair.