Haiti Democracy Project

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May 10, 2002

Take me straight there

Statement by His Excellency Jean-Bertrand Aristide, President of the Republic of Haiti

At the special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Children, New York

Mr. Chairman of this assembly, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Distinguished diplomats, Ladies, Gentlemen,

I am pleased to salute you, on behalf of Haitian children who are getting prepared to celebrate in 2004 the Bicentennial of our Independence.

About 1 222 000 Haitian children, are under age 5, i.e. 14% of our population, dream of happiness and love. As well, the 3 897 000 are under age 18, i.e. 49% of the population, dream of a new Haiti and a better world. Their dreams lead us both to explore their collective unconscious mind and to discover their rights.

All the children of the world have the right to life and happiness.

Their rights are indivisible and primordial. Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that, "All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights."

In this special gathering dedicated to children, it is our responsibility to place their rights at the first rank of our priorities and to embrace their suffering and their dreams of happiness. Indeed, over 100 million children do not go to school, more than half a billion of children live with less than a dollar a day.

All their life, they keep psychological marks from this abject poverty. Trauma comes also from their exposure to terrorism, violence and conflicts.

During the last decade, two million children have been massacred, six million have been wounded or handicapped, 12 million have become homeless or left abandoned.

To eradicate this poverty and its deleterious consequences, we must promote a new open policy and a new world partnership in favor of the children. They are eager to change the world. In them, we find privileged partners.

In their name here, at this rostrum, the First Lady of the First Black Republic of the world said no to HIV/AIDS. 1,14 million children under 15 having tested positively, it's appalling!

We will recall that 4,3 million children have died of AIDS since the outbreak of the epidemic.

Vivid in our memory still are the activities organized by our tenth department against AIDS.

A special thanks to the friends who have called for the removal of economic sanctions against Haiti.

Through solidarity beyond borders, and all united against corruption, drugs, impunity and poverty, we will succeed in reducing the child mortality rate and in securing basic education for everyone.

On the eve of our bicentennial independence, we take pride in having adopted a new law prohibiting corporal punishment, while we look forward to eliminating domesticity throughout the country. There is a new dynamic, of course, which opens new horizons for the education of our children.

"Homo doctus in se semper divitias habet." "The educated man always has his richness inside himself."

With models like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, President Mandela and Toussaint Louverture, our children feed on dignity, the blood of economic solidarity.

This dialectical approach to children partakes in the growth of their being and their world, invites us to be listening all the time to children. Yes, we must listen to children!

And at home, in Haiti, we certainly like very much listening to the Haitian children who, since 1995, have their own radio station "Radio Timoun" and their own television station "Tele-Timoun."

The more the heart tunes in its ears to the world's children, the more the rays of hope will guide us toward a better world.

This better world, in which development of the countries of the South, far from slowing down the North, will contribute to a stronger world economy, as European reconstruction from 1945 has shown.

Our children dream of a better world. We do too.

To the inhabitants of our planet, Happiness and Peace!

To the children of the whole world, much, much love!

Thank you.

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