Haitian President calls for UN reform and new paradigm for helping world’s poor

NEW YORK – The President of Haiti today (Friday, Sept. 26) told leaders gathered at the United Nations to “break the paradigm of charity in our approach to international cooperation” and invest instead in helping poor countries develop their own potential through such steps as a genuine liberalization of trade.

“Charity has never helped any country escape from underdevelopment,” President René Préval told the General Assembly on the fourth day of its annual General Debate, even as he thanked the international community for its invaluable “surge of sympathy” in rushing aid to the impoverished Caribbean nation, stricken by four devastating hurricanes since August.

“If the international community wants to do something useful with us, let it help Haitians realize their potential,” he said, citing the work ethic of his people and noting that the region’s original Indian inhabitants and the Africans who were later brought there “helped a good part of humankind build their present wealth.

Mr. Préval stressed that trade liberalization could help the world’s poor by giving them the chance to produce for a larger market, “but only if this liberalization is carried out without hypocrisy or mystification and on the basis of clear, transparent rules that are the same for all and which the powers that promote them are the first to respect.”

He also called for in-depth UN reform to make the world body more efficient, more transparent and truly democratic, declaring his support for the stand of Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto, who earlier this week said too many important decisions did not go through the 192-member Assembly, even though it is supposed to represent the peoples of the world, with its decisions often casually ignored.

Only decisions of the 15-member Security Council are binding.

“Without that (reform), it (the UN) risks becoming an object of resentment for the less powerful, and a source of derision for the big powers,” he declared.

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