Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Acting Special Representative Fisher for your briefing. I would also like to welcome Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carrera, a fellow member of the Group of Friends of Haiti, to today's discussion. And Ambassador Gaspard, thank you for joining us today. We value your engagement and partnership.
Last October, we gathered in this chamber with relative optimism about the great strides being made by the Haitian people in rebuilding their country - the appointment of a new Prime Minister, increased roles for women, and constitutional amendments to strengthen the rule of law and democracy, to name but a few.
Today, SRSG Fisher has shared the Secretary-General's observations that Haiti has missed an opportunity to achieve meaningful progress over the past six months. His candid findings remind us all of the hard work that remains to be done.
Mr. President, as the Council noted in January, holding free, fair, inclusive, and credible local, municipal and senatorial elections by the end of 2013 is critical. The absence of such elections impedes stability and socio-economic development.
The Haitian Parliament's designation of its three representatives to the Transitional Permanent Electoral Council last week is an important step forward, and we hope it will be followed swiftly with the actions necessary to schedule overdue elections. Progress on this front will reassure the international community, and the Haitian people, of the government's commitment to democracy, transparency and good governance. Attention can then turn in earnest to creating jobs, fighting food insecurity, and preparing for the next natural disaster.
Another area of concern is security. Without question, the capacity and sustainability of the Haitian National Police should be the single highest priority for MINUSTAH. The ability to transfer full security responsibility is a pre-condition for further reductions in MINUSTAH's forces and its eventual withdrawal. We are encouraged by the robust partnership between MINUSTAH and the HNP and support efforts on this critical priority.
Turning to reconstruction, we are encouraged by the progress made since the 2010 earthquake. In particular, we note that the total number of displaced persons who have sought shelter in camps has fallen to 357,000. We expect MINUSTAH to continue working with the Government of Haiti and international partners to find durable solutions for the sheltering and protection for those vulnerable individuals that remain in the camps. With regard to efforts to eradicate cholera, we commend the Secretary-General for his personal commitment to the issue and support the appointment of Dr. Paul Farmer as the UN's Special Advisor for Community-Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti.
Mr. President, the United States welcomes the Secretary-General's conditions-based consolidation plan and its focus on a core set of mandated tasks to be executed in partnership with the UN Country Team, international partners and, most importantly, the Government of Haiti. The plan is a living document that will evolve in response to developments on the ground, as well as adjustments to MINUSTAH's mandate. We look forward to working with Council members to refine the plan in the coming months.
Finally, I’d like to underscore our appreciation and support for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Every day, those serving in MINUSTAH are working side-by-side with the Haitian people and government to strengthen the country's institutions, provide security, protect human rights, and tackle challenges such as forced evictions and sexual and gender based violence. MINUSTAH carries a heavy responsibility, and we are grateful for the mission's tireless work. We nevertheless insist that any instance of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel is unacceptable, and we expect sustained actions by MINUSTAH's leadership to ensure that such abuses will not be tolerated.
Mr. President, we cannot let setbacks cause us to lose sight of the most important objective - to achieve a self-sustaining, stable and secure nation in which all of its citizens have democratic freedoms, the protection of human rights, and assurance of food, shelter, and basic services. Serious problems persist, but Haiti is gradually moving forward with the help of MINUSTAH, international partners and the hard work and determination of the Haitian people. The United States remains firmly committed to helping Haiti build a brighter future and reach its full potential.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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