General Assembly: 91st plenary meeting, 75th session

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14-Jul-2021 04:19:12
General Assembly members, shocked over killing of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse, pay tribute to late leader. Organ also adopts decision on work methods for General Debate.

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The General Assembly adopted a decision today on the organization of work for the general debate of its upcoming seventy-sixth session, while more broadly paying tribute to the late President of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, who was assassinated on 7 July in a brutal attack that speakers roundly condemned in the strongest terms.

In the decision (document A/75/L.110) submitted by its President, the Assembly — noting with concern the ongoing situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic — decided, without setting a precedent, that each Member State, observer State and the European Union may submit a pre-recorded statement by its Head of State, Vice-President, Crown Prince or Princess, Head of Government, Minister or Vice-Minister, to be played in the General Assembly Hall during the seventy-sixth session’s general debate, after introduction by their representative who is physically present in the Hall.

By other terms, the Assembly decided that its President will circulate a compilation document of statements delivered by means of pre-recorded statements — submitted no later than the day on which such a statement is played in the Assembly Hall — to be attached to the verbatim records of the meetings.

The Russian Federation’s delegate, noting that his delegation has consistently called for a return to the United Nations traditional work methods, affirmed that the Assembly’s rules of procedure remain unchanged and must continue to guide its work in all circumstances. His delegation joined consensus, as a number of countries are still experiencing travel restrictions. “This decision does not create a precedent”, he said, explaining that the Russian Federation considers it an emergency measure brought on by extraordinary circumstances.

Further, the decision does not address how the speakers’ list for the general debate will be drawn up, he said. High-level representatives will be in the Assembly Hall, giving rise to questions about whether they should cede their place on the speakers list to those delivering video statements. “This would not just be unfair but would also contradict the rules of procedure,” he said.

According to the rules, representatives are considered to be participating in the Assembly only when they are physically present in the room, he said. Taking another approach could have unpredictable consequences for the working methods of a primary United Nations organ. He urged the Secretary-General to provide instruction, and in drawing up the speakers’ list, to give priority to the level of those present in the Assembly Hall, rather than to those delivering a video statement.

At the meeting’s outset, the Assembly observed a minute of silence in honour of Haiti’s late President Jovenel Moïse, with speakers remembering him not only as a respected Head of State, but also as a husband, father and friend. Delegates from world regions offered their sincerest and deepest condolences to the family, people and Government of Haiti, wishing a speedy recovery to First Lady Martine Moïse, who was injured in the attack.

“This is a tragedy that no country should ever have to endure,” Volkan Bozkır (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, said in a statement read out by Vice-President Keisha Aniya McGuire (Grenada). He condemned the assassination in the strongest possible terms on behalf of 193 Member States, reiterating statements by the Secretary-General, Security Council and the Economic and Social Council Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti. Underscoring the critical importance that a full and thorough investigation takes place, he said: “We cannot allow fear and terror to prevail.”

He called for calm, restraint and the preservation of constitutional order. He urged all Haitians to engage in dialogue, cautioning that the attack cannot be allowed to derail the country’s future. “It is our responsibility to support the people of Haiti as they seek to uphold the rule of law and justice,” he said. This is the only way to ensure universal human rights, peace and security and sustainable development in the country.

Emphasizing that the Assembly will continue to stand with the Government and people of Haiti, he concluded by quoting Mr. Moïse at the adoption of the Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations: “Haiti has always sought to promote and protect the values and principles of universal freedoms, peace and cooperation among nations.”

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, joined the Government and people of Haiti in mourning the loss of President Moïse, extending condolences to the First Lady and children, and to all Haitians who see in this tragic loss an attack against the dignity and sovereignty of a people — and against democracy. She recalled her visit to Haiti in 2017, when she and Mr. Moïse travelled to the south, where he pointed out the agriculture, infrastructure and energy projects he was rolling out across the country. With great enthusiasm, he invited her to join him on a bulldozer operated by a young woman, opening a road to a village nearby.

“We saw and understood his vision of an electrified Haiti, with sustainable infrastructure and a flourishing agricultural sector,” she recounted. The President, understanding the many delicate challenges he faced, greatly informed United Nations efforts to advance conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace consolidation in the country. Under his watch, Haiti saw the eradication of cholera transmission, with the last case reported in 2019.

As Haiti lives through these difficult days, the United Nations stands with it in a spirit of solidarity and partnership, grounded in helping the country move from emergency assistance to long-lasting solutions: from assistance to investment and cooperation for sustainable development, democracy and opportunity. Recalling that Haitians have never ceased striving for dignity and justice, she said the country has embodied these values since its early days, as the first independent Caribbean State to free itself from slavery and colonial control more than 200 years ago. “Those values will help see Haiti and its people through this trying time to a future of lasting peace and prosperity for all,” she assured.

The representative of Cuba, speaking for the Latin American and Caribbean States, said Haiti is a member of the regional family. He condemned the cowardly killing of President Moïse and categorically rejected violence in all its forms. Calling for dialogue, he expressed support for the constitutional order, rule of law and democratic institutions of Haiti, and expressed confidence that Haitians will overcome this difficult situation and continue forging the path to sustainable development. “The international community must continue to support such efforts,” he stressed.

The representative of the United States, representing the host country, joined others in expressing shock, sadness and strong condemnation of the 7 July attack. She urged all political parties, civil society groups and others to work together to prioritize calm and stability, assuring Haitians that her country’s partnership will continue. A delegation from the United States has travelled to Haiti in response to a request for security and investigative assistance. She encouraged all stakeholders to engage in open dialogue and to reach a political accord that will allow presidential and parliamentary elections to be held. Affirming that the United States stands with the people of Haiti in building a safer, more democratic country, she said: “After so many years of turmoil, this is what the Haitian people need, and this is what they deserve.”

The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the assassination of Haiti’s President has abruptly — and illegally — removed its leadership. Calling President Moïse “part of the CARICOM family and a member we hold dear to our hearts”, he said the region will “forever be scarred by this tragic and brutal act” and that “nothing can justify this act of inhumanity”. It must be condemned, and its perpetrators must be brought to justice in order to avoid a collapse of civilization in Haiti. Recalling that CARICOM has pledged support to Haiti at this time of rebuilding democratic, political and legal institutions, he affirmed the region’s willingness to play a lead role in facilitating national dialogue, helping Haitians to craft an indigenous long-term solution to the crisis.

The representative of Haiti said the barbaric killing of his country’s fifty-eighth President disgusted the conscience of all those who knew him. He thanked delegates for their outpouring of solidarity and tributes to “this great Caribbean leader”. Born on 26 June 1968 into a modest family, Mr. Moïse completed his secondary and university studies in Port-au-Prince, exuding a sense of service.

His entrepreneurial spirit drove him to launch his first business — Jomar Auto Parts — and subsequently establish AgriTrans, Haiti’s first agricultural free trade zone, which created more than 3,000 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect ones, before becoming Secretary-General of Haiti’s Chamber of Commerce. When he won the Presidential election in 2017, he laid out a political vision for sustainable development, focused on seven priorities: energy, road and port infrastructure, agricultural output, water and sanitation infrastructure, State reforms, measures to transform Haiti into an investment destination, and steps to improve education and promote stability through social projects.

He went on to cite the President’s “Caravan of Change” strategy — a set of punchy interventions aimed at providing quality services “to people who had suffered too much” — and construction of 4,000 kilometres of roads to unblock isolated regions, among his other ambitions for transforming Haiti into an emerging economy by 2030, in line with development plans drawn up in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

With that spirit, he said President Moïse tackled energy reforms, corruption, constitutional reforms, diplomatic realignment and policies to improve the administration of official development assistance. He believed the time had come for a new start, wagering that the Haitian opposition would set aside their antipathy towards him and do away with the “hellish” cycle of disruption during presidential elections.

When his death was announced, he said the Prime Minister exerted executive power to lead until the next election, in accordance with Article 149 of the amended 1989 Constitution, aiming to ensure continuity of the State. Noting that the security situation is under the control of the national police and armed forces, he said all measures have been taken to protect the nation. A state of emergency was declared for 15 days — from 7 to 22 July — along with a national mourning period. Noting that authorities are conducting an investigation, he said most members of the commando team who attacked the President’s residence have been found, thanks to efforts by the national police. Two died in an exchange of gunfire with the Haitian national police, while 15 others are in the hands of the justice system.

“At this uncertain time, Haiti needs the support of the international community more than ever,” he stressed, citing the need to organize an inclusive national dialogue and free and transparent elections as among the challenges ahead. In that context, he invoked the image of the Mapou — a mythic tree in the Haitian imagination whose numerous roots run deep — as one that will never be forgotten.

Also delivering tribute statements were representatives of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (on behalf of Asia-Pacific States), Serbia (on behalf of Eastern European States) and San Marino (on behalf of Western European and other States).
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