Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council 13th Special Session: “Support to Recovery Process in Haiti: A Human Rights approach”
Geneva, January 27, 2010
Delivered by Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Douglas Griffiths
Thank you, Mr. President
As the tragedy of the January 12 earthquake continues to unfold, we offer our deepest condolences to the people of Haiti, and to all those who have lost loved ones in the wake of this natural disaster.
Here among the dedicated staff of the High Commissioner, we recognize as well the losses suffered by the United Nations and by the multiple governments whose peacekeeping forces were among the victims. They died in service to Haiti and to the greater vision and purpose of the United Nations. We are grateful for their ultimate sacrifice for the cause of a better and more just world.
We are also humbled by the faith and courage of the Haitian people. Few can imagine the devastation faced right now by so many, yet all are impressed by the fellowship, charity, and compassion shown by the brave residents of Port au Prince and the surrounding areas, and by Haitians around the world.
The generosity of the world community has been equally remarkable, and their continued generosity is desperately needed. As of January 26, the UN Flash Appeal was funded at roughly 66 percent; OCHA has recorded some 1 billion, 50 million USD in humanitarian assistance for Haiti from all sources. The World Food Program has delivered nearly 10 million meals since January 12, and their capacity is growing.
Organizations like the ICRC and countless NGOs, large and small, continue to arrive in country with teams to focus on water and sanitation and health care, among others.
The scale of assistance, even with so many still in need, is so great that the small airport in Port au Prince, which used to serve about 15 flights a day, is currently landing between 150 to 160 flights daily. This shared response by the community of nations truly shows the greatest qualities of our United Nations.
The United States government is proud of the overwhelming show of support by the American people for Haiti. We are glad that the devoted men and women of the U.S. armed forces have been able to assist with airlift support, medical treatment, air traffic control, logistics, security, and tens of thousands of tons of food, medical supplies, tents, field hospitals, and communications and search and rescue gear. To date, U.S. Government assistance to Haiti, as reported to the UN, is over 316 million USD.
It is in this spirit of support for the Haitian people and solidarity with the international community that we participate in this special session and that we begin together to cast our thoughts to long-term reconstruction.
Regrettably, I must note our disappointment that one delegation sullied this occasion with baseless, tendentious accusations. UN representatives in this very room have affirmed the unique and essential role that my country has played, and I quote, “with capacity that we (the UN) just do not have.”
It is our commitment to respond to the humanitarian crisis as quickly as possible while respecting Haitian sovereignty. The Haitian government is setting the strategic goals for the operation, and we are closely coordinating with President Preval and the United Nations to ensure that their vision in executed.
This week, leaders in Montreal, including Prime Minister Bellerive, agreed on principles to guide a reconstruction effort that is directed by the Haitian people and government, and that is sustainable, effective, inclusive, and accountable.
The promotion and protection of human rights must be part of this effort – and will aid in reconstruction efforts. Not only is it the responsibility of the Government to protect the rights of its citizens and residents but it is also our firm belief and experience, shared by members of the international community, that democracy, development and human rights are mutually reinforcing, and that governments that adopt respect for human rights and the rule of law are more effective, sustainable, and better able to respond to the needs of their people.
We believe that the High Commissioner and the Independent Expert should be called upon to provide an informed assessment on how to integrate human rights into the rebuilding of national institutions and can provide helpful guidance through the reconstruction process.
As in our humanitarian efforts now, and as we transition to reconstruction and rebuilding, the United States looks forward to working together with the international community and most importantly, with the government of Haiti to assist in its revitalization.
Thank you, Mr. President.