Bill Clinton photo

Statement on Signing Legislation Regarding United States Policy Toward Haiti

October 25, 1994

Today I have signed into law S.J. Res. 229, "Regarding United States policy toward Haiti."

In signing this joint resolution, it is important to clarify the interpretation of a provision related to the President's authority and responsibility as Commander in Chief.

Section 2 of the resolution calls, inter alia, for a detailed description of "the general rules of engagement under which operations of the United States Armed Forces are conducted in and around Haiti." I interpret this language as seeking only information about the rules of engagement that I may supply consistent with my constitutional responsibilities, and not information of a sensitive operational nature.

Let me take this opportunity to associate myself unreservedly with the joint resolution's commendation of the professional excellence and dedicated patriotism with which the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces are performing their mission in Haiti.

The combination of determined diplomacy and military resolve achieved, just 1 month ago, an agreement that permitted the peaceful deployment of U.S. and multinational forces to Haiti pursuant to the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 940. And on October 15, culminating 3 years of international efforts led by the United States, Haiti's democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, stood on the steps of the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince and addressed tens of thousand of his countrymen and women in an atmosphere of joy, reconciliation, and rebuilding.

That historic achievement capped a breathtaking month of democratic restoration and the beginnings of Haiti's economic recovery, all made possible by the dedicated efforts of our service men and women in Haiti. The Haitian people no longer live in fear; they now have hope. The coup leaders are gone from Haiti and the thugs are no longer in control. Haiti's parliament is open. It has enacted an amnesty law and is busy laying the legislative groundwork for stronger democratic institutions. The Mayor of Port-au-Prince has been restored to office after 3 years of internal exile, the legitimate Prime Minister and Cabinet have reclaimed their offices, and the state media are back at the service of the people. The lights are on again in Cap-Haitian after 2 years of darkness as electrical service is expanded throughout the country. With the lifting of all U.S. and international sanctions upon President Aristide's return to Haiti, commercial fuel and food shipments and airline service have resumed.

The full restoration of democracy opens a period of hope for the Haitian people. Only they can reconcile their country. As the international community supports them with a major program of economic assistance, our military personnel participating in the multinational force will maintain the climate of basic security in which those goals can be achieved. Through police monitors and trainers, the multinational force will lay the groundwork for the transition of the Haitian army to a professional defense force and for the creation of a civilian police force.

We expect that within months, the bulk of our military personnel will leave Haiti. The multinational coalition will transfer responsibility to the United Nations Mission in Haiti in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 940. Our forces' accomplishments in the last month have been superb. I am confident they will maintain their outstanding record and leave a Haiti poised to consolidate its hard-won democracy, create a brighter future for all its people, and become a factor for stability in the region and hemisphere.


The White House, October 25, 1994.

NOTE: S.J. Res. 229, approved October 25, was assigned Public Law No. 103-423. This statement was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 28.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing Legislation Regarding United States Policy Toward Haiti Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives