All too frequently on our TV screens or in the newspapers we see what it is like to live in a country where government is failing, where basic rights to life and security are violated, where sufficient food is a luxury, and where water, health and education are not guaranteed. Poor people are the main victims where the state is unable or unwilling to carry out its basic functions. On one estimate, fragile and failing states contain only 14% of the world‘s population but nearly a third of the world’s poor people and 41% of all child deaths.
The Pan American Sanitary Code was signed ad referendum by 18 countries of the Americas in the assembly hall of the former Academy of Medical, Physical, and Natural Sciences (now the Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Museum of Science History) on 14 November 1924 in Havana, Cuba, during the Seventh Pan American Sanitary Conference. The Code, which was eventually ratified by all the republics of the Americas and remains in force today, represents the greatest achievement in health policy-making in the American hemisphere and the cul-mination of decades of international initiatives aimed at prolonging people’s lives and ensuring their happiness.
Haiti is one of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the Americas. In recent years, conditions have worsened as a result of the unstable social and political situation, and the impact of natural disasters, which have affected large areas of the country. With the decided and manifested commitment to Democracy of the Haitian population, a new Government presided by his Excellency Renè Preval has initiated its mandate providing new opportunities for further solidarity and cooperation from the international community.
Haiti is a resilient society whose rural communities in particular have developed coping mechanisms in response to a long history of underdevelopment and poor governance. Like other fragile states, however, Haiti is beset by widespread poverty and inequality, economic decline and unemployment, institutional weakness and corruption, violence, lawlessness, and recurrent conflict. Nonetheless, while violent conflicts are concentrated in poor countries, poverty alone does not cause conflict. In most cases, violent conflict is a symptom of multifaceted development and governance malfunctions, and the conflict reinforces these malfunctions.
This note follows a two-day visit to Haiti of Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Ambassador Gert Rosenthal, and Dr. Garry Conille, to explore ways to support economic evelopment in Haiti. The mission met twice with incoming President Preval, and also exchanged views with the donor community, civil society organizations, members of the UN country team, and other political leaders.