Originally: Press Release

Organization of American States

December 3, 2003


The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) decided today to set up a working group to recommend adjustments to the mandate of the OAS Special Mission for Strengthening Democracy in Haiti. The working group will be chaired by Ambassador Joshua Sears of The Bahamas.

The Council?s decision followed a motion presented by Canada?s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Paul Durand, and supported by member states. It comes in response to the November 11 Report of the OAS Secretary General on the Situation in Haiti, which Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi had previously presented to the Permanent Council.

In elaborating on that report today, Ambassador Einaudi also informed the Council about the four-day, four-night occupation of the Office of the OAS General Secretariat in Haiti that began November 25 after a group of nine visitors insisted they would not leave the premises until the Special Mission agreed to take action they were demanding with the government of Haiti. Einaudi stressed that this occupation was ?unacceptable.? He defended the Special Mission?s refusal to ?act under pressure,? citing the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions as one of the oldest principles of international law.

Einaudi reiterated the need for adequate funding for the Special Mission, noting it ?needs the full support and protection of the Permanent Council.? He said part of that protection lies in ?ensuring the Mission?s mandates are reasonable and that they are adequately funded.?

US Ambassador John Maisto emphasized his Government?s position that the OAS should remain engaged and stay the course in Haiti, as mandated by OAS Permanent Council resolution 822, a position shared by virtually all delegations that took the floor.

For his part, Haiti?s Permanent Representative, Ambassador Raymond Valcin, thanked the OAS for its engagement in Haiti, making special mention of the Special Mission, and stressing the need for adequate funding.

Valcin also cited the government of Haiti?s willingness to resume negotiations with the political opposition and other sectors, towards finding a lasting solution to the country?s political crisis.