Former U.S. President Bill Clinton says that the Caribbean nation of Haiti is well positioned to pull itself out of the grinding poverty that has ranked it as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and create a bright future for its citizens. Mr. Clinton made the remarks Wednesday during his first appearance before the U.N. Security Council in his new capacity as the U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti.
Mr. Clinton said Haiti was once a thriving country and could be again.
"I am convinced that Haiti has a remarkable opportunity to escape the chains of its past for several reasons," said Bill Clinton. "First of all, the president, the prime minister and their government are committed to building a modern state with a diversified economy, and they have the understanding and capacity to do it."
He said that combined with strong international support from donor countries, an active Haitian Diaspora, supportive non-governmental organizations and an improved security situation should all contribute to a better future for the country's nine million citizens.
Mr. Clinton urged countries that committed $760 million towards Haiti's rebuilding at an April donors conference in Washington to follow through with their pledges, saying only $21 million has been dispersed so far.
Development in Haiti has suffered repeated set backs from political violence, poor leadership, corruption, a lack of law and order and natural disasters.
A United Nations peacekeeping force has helped return stability to the country after a rebellion in 2004, but economic progress remains slow.
Prime Minister Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis told the council that her government is committed to fixing Haiti's problems and creating a strong economy as its backbone.
"But despite the tremors to which it is still subject and which still render it vulnerable, the government has resolutely committed itself to creating conditions which can give confidence to local investors and attract foreign investment," said Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis. "Because today, priority has to go to the creation of good and lasting jobs which can also respect the environment."
Part of Mr. Clinton's mandate as U.N. Special Envoy is to help encourage more private sector investment in Haiti. He said in the next few weeks he would be leading a trade delegation to Haiti as part of that effort.