President Juan Manuel Santos presided over his first UN Security Council meeting Wednesday, which was on the topic of Haiti, and called for a more concerted international effort in the reconstruction process after last year’s devastating earthquake.
At the meeting, attended by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, as well as the 14 other nations who are members of the council, Santos said, “Colombia … wants to promote an open debate about Haiti which renews the drive for stabilization and the strengthening of the rule of law in the country.”
The head of state said that the “precarious results” achieved so far in Haiti call for reflection on the way that foreign countries are fulfilling their duty to assist the Caribbean nation, according to the presidential website.
“Think of what we could achieve if instead of having a high percentage of military personnel, the mission had more civilian personnel and more engineers to assist the removal of debris, a task which is starting to show significant progress thanks to the efforts of the Haitian authorities,” the president said.
He reiterated that the international community’s support for Haiti should be offered “in a way that it is coordinated and coherent with the ambition to attain concrete, sustainable and long-term achievements, leaving aside the chaos of well-intentioned but short-sighted cooperation that does not have lasting effects.”
“If we have a United Nations operation in Haiti, why don’t we use it to serve their immediate needs and begin to cement its transition towards development?” Santos continued.
“Today, the proliferation of organizations operating on this island without any coordination between themselves or the Haitian authorities, undermines any effort to strengthen the institutions of the country and they affect the ability to undertake long-term initiatives which means that their efforts do not lead to anything concrete.”
“It does not help Haiti if the international community does not take into account the vision of the Haitians about their own problems. For this reason if the Haitian people accept the renewed support of the international community, we propose that it be based on a foundation that guarantees the effectiveness of our joint action,” Santos added.
According to the president the foundations that are required consist of, the development of a concrete strategy for long-term development with transparency, a commitment to accountability and eventually, the Haitian people taking ownership of their own destiny.
The Colombian president referred to the specific issues of housing, health, infrastructure, agriculture, education. road construction, water infrastructure and the strengthening of security institutions in Haiti as being the most pressing concerns.
The earthquake that struck the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010 killed 316,000 people and is believed to have affected a further 3 million.