Skip to main content

Haiti/international donors’ conference

Published on April 1, 2010
International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti – Speech by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Paris, March 31, 2010

First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the victims of the 12 January earthquake. I would also like to pay tribute to those who are mourning them; to those who now, back on their feet, must look to the future and need the support that the international community can and must provide them.

Certainly we must think about reconstruction – that’s what we’re here for. But it remains urgent to provide assistance to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are still in tents or in the rain. We don’t think that moving from emergency aid to humanitarian aid requires a lesser effort. On the contrary, we must help these people first. The entire world stands by their side – a fact reflected by this assistance effort.

Here at the United Nations, I am thinking too in particular of our friends in MINUSTAH, which suffered very heavy losses, and which very swiftly recovered and continued contributing to the country’s recovery.

I would like to thank the United States and the UN, co-hosts of this conference, for their excellent cooperation. The work they accomplished, together with the Haitian government – and there’s no question of doing it without the Haitian government – and all the donors enabled us to formulate in record time, armed with a loss-and-damage assessment and a road map, the Action Plan for the Reconstruction and National Development of Haiti.

We are meeting here in order to act, together, side-by-side with the Haitian government, to make a determined effort to rebuild Haiti and get her back on her feet. This exceptional disaster must lead to new objectives, to a new surge of solidarity for a Haitian State built on new foundations, resolutely set on the path of development, and an easing of political tensions.

Haiti has a crucial need for development, but make no mistake – it is also crucial for the entire international community and for suffering populations throughout the world who are watching us: today we must demonstrate that collective action is possible, that development aid can work, that in 10 years, the Haitians’ situation will be considerably, and structurally, improved.

France, who shares with Haiti a long and sometimes tumultuous history, as well as her language and culture, will rise to this challenge. We are committed to this alongside the European Union, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie [international Francophone organization] and international community.

France immediately mobilized to provide emergency aid to the Haitian people. Now she must stand by Haiti in the long term.

In 2010 and 2011 alone, French aid will amount to €180 million, plus the immediate, already effective cancellation of €56 million of Haiti’s bilateral debt to France and France’s direct contributions to European and multilateral aid.

Where will French official aid go? France has decided to allocate €20 million annually for budgetary aid, €5 million of which will be disbursed before the end of this month.

This aid will be designed:

- to acquire seeds, on an emergency basis, to support the needs of the people ahead of the next planting season;

- but also to directly support the administrative, financial and security capabilities of the Haitian State and enable it to carry out its Action Plan for Reconstruction.

French aid is designed to support a new political, economic and social model for Haiti, a model based on more transparent financial architecture and a more balanced distribution of resources resulting from true political, institutional and economic decentralization.

France supports a new model incorporating human rights as an essential part of reconstruction strategies – and I’d like to emphasize the special attention focused on women, who are even more vulnerable in crisis and post-crisis situations.

The tragedy that struck Haiti must provide the opportunity to establish a long-term project promoting sustainable development and thus offering the Haitian people the living conditions to which they are entitled, as regards health, housing and education – which President Préval so rightly stressed – and culture.

This is the logic behind our priority projects: rebuilding Port-au-Prince’s State University Hospital, vital when it comes to providing high quality healthcare services; and a project to establish a social welfare net. I underline this point: France stands ready, along with others, to build with our Haitian friends a system of health insurance capable of offering equal access to healthcare. I want this proposal to be part of this conference’s final document. Also necessary is a programme fostering the establishment of a land registry to support a strategy of sustainable development.

French civil society is fully engaged in this enormous global surge of solidarity. Local governments, NGOs and French companies raised nearly €80 million.

I also want to pay tribute to the preparatory meetings held on both sides of the Atlantic with the private sector, NGOs, the Haitian diaspora and members of Haitian civil society. France, for her part, organized the International Conference of World Cities and Regions for Haiti, held in the French West Indies on 23 March. Local authorities will thus help sketch out the new development model for Haiti, who can count on the strengthening of our decentralized cooperation, particular through efforts by the French West Indies and French Guiana.

Ladies and gentlemen, this conference is only a beginning, not an end. The decisions we take today will have to be vigilantly followed up at the political level. That is why we are calling for the implementation of a transparent system for following up on the commitments of donors and the Haitian government. Thank you./.

      top of the page