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UN Security Council to Hold Emergency Meeting on Haitian Situation Thursday - 2004-02-25

The U.N. Security Council has agreed to hold an emergency session on Haiti on Thursday. From U.N. headquarters, Peter Heinlein has more.

U.N. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast cautioned the Security Council Wednesday that there is no quick fix for Haiti, and no covering up the depth of its problems.

In a closed-door briefing, Mr. Prendergast noted that there have already been peacekeeping missions to Haiti, a human rights mission, and more recently, a U.N. peace-building mission. All that help, he said, has not had the desired effect.

The undersecretary-general said that, faced with bad governance, grinding poverty, and a lack of development, Haiti needs long-term international help, not just short-term solutions applied at times of crisis. Copies of his remarks were made available to reporters after the briefing.

Council members responded to the presentation with a statement condemning violence and human rights violations in Haiti. They also agreed to take up the issue in open session Thursday.

Emerging from the briefing, U.S. ambassador John Negroponte said Washington still holds out hope for the international peace effort spearheaded by the Caribbean Community, and the Organization of American States.

"We are disappointed with the fact that the opposition has rejected this plan, and we have not abandoned our hope that the parties can be persuaded to see the wisdom and benefit of accepting such a plan," he said.

Ambassador Negroponte pointed out that the possibility of U.N. intervention in Haiti had not come up at Wednesday's briefing. "There was no discussion today about any potential peacekeeping effort, nor was there any discussion about a resolution at this particular stage," he said.

French diplomats at the United Nations, however, say they hope to present a proposal to the Security Council Thursday calling for establishment of an international police force in Haiti. They said the plan, outlined by Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin in Paris Wednesday, urges Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to hand over power to a government of national unity.

A spokesman at the French U.N. mission said France is hopeful Secretary-General Kofi Annan will soon appoint a special representative for Haiti to oversee implementation of the plan.