Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at the United Nations Transition Ceremony in Port-au-Prince

March 31, 1995

Mr. Secretary-General, President Aristide, members of the United Nations mission in Haiti: members of the multinational force in Haiti, We gather to celebrate the triumph of freedom over fear. And we are here to look ahead to the next steps that we will take together to help the people of Haiti strengthen their hardwon democracy.

Six months ago, a 30-nation multinational force, led by the United States, entered Haiti with a clear mission: To ensure the departure of the military regime, to restore the freely elected government of Haiti, and to establish a secure and stable environment in which the people of Haiti could begin to rebuild their country. Today, that mission has been accomplished, on schedule and with remarkable success.

On behalf of the United States, I thank all the members of the multinational force for their outstanding work, and pledge our support for the United Nations mission in Haiti.

Over the past 6 months, the multinational force has proved that a shared burden makes for a lighter load. Working together, 30 nations from around the world—from the Caribbean to Australia, from Bangladesh to Jordan—demonstrated the effectiveness and the benefits of international peacekeeping. And they helped give the people of Haiti a second chance at democracy.

The multinational force ensured the peaceful transition from the military regime to President Aristide. It removed more than 30,000 weapons and explosive devices from the streets. Through the international police monitors, led by Commissioner Ray Kelly, it trained and monitored an interim police force and worked side by side with them throughout Haiti. And it helped to prepare a permanent civilian police force that will maintain security and respect for human rights in the months and years ahead.

Let me say to the members of the new permanent police force who are with us here today: You are the guardians of Haiti's new democracy. Its future rests on your shoulders. Uphold the constitution. Respect democracy and human rights. Defend them. That is your sacred mission and your solemn obligation.

Now it is the United Nations mission's task to secure and stabilize the environment in Haiti and to help the government prepare for free and fair elections. The mission, with participants from 33 countries, has the tools it needs to succeed: a 6,000-strong military force under the command of United States Army General Joseph Kinzer; a 900-member international police force led by Chief Superintendent Neil Pouliot of Canada; and dozens of well-trained economic, political, and legal advisers.

The United Nations mission will end its work here in February 1996, after the election and inauguration of a new President. To all of you taking part in the U.N. mission, I know many challenges lie between here and there. Your work will be demanding and difficult. But the multinational force has set a strong foundation of success upon which to build.

Most important of all, the people of Haiti, have shown a powerful commitment to peace and to reconciliation. Working with them, you can help make real Haiti's reborn promise of democracy. I know you will do that.

Good luck, and Godspeed.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:16 p.m. at the National Palace. In his remarks, he referred to United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the United Nations Transition Ceremony in Port-au-Prince Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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