OAS prepared to mediate in dispute between Haiti and Dominican Republic
Massacre River (Photo: CMC)

WASHINGTON (CMC) – The Organization of American States (OAS) says it has initiated consultations with the authorities of Haiti and the Dominican Republic regarding the border dispute relating to the construction of an irrigation canal in Haiti.

The two countries make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but two weeks ago, the Dominican Republic closed its land, air and sea borders with Haiti as the two countries continue to be at odds over the construction of the canal.

Water for the canal comes from the Massacre River which flows between the two countries.

In a statement, the OAS General Secretariat said “water resources are vital for both, given the needs of its inhabitants, especially in the current context of drought. This use must be ensured in accordance with international law and the treaties in force between both countries.”

The OAS added: “We are confident that both parties have the capabilities to assure the other of good faith to resolve these issues.”

The organisation’s General Secretariat went on to offer its support, either directly or through any associated State or sub-regional organisation, to collaborate with all the necessary aspects to resolve the dispute.

“This controversy must be resolved based on the principle of good neighborliness and friendship between both countries and their leaders. In this context, dialogue and mutual understanding are imperative, avoiding any tension and working to overcome disagreement,” the OAS warned.

“The current situation does not benefit either party. It is essential that the Dominican and Haitian authorities meet as soon as possible to carry out a frank dialogue, for which the General Secretariat of the OAS and its Secretary General are in the best position to collaborate in the search for a beneficial solution for both countries,” it added.

Last Friday, as he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, (UNGA), Haitian Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry said his country has no intention of going to war with the Dominican Republic over the situation that in the past few days “has been causing unnecessary problems” between them.

But Henry said Haiti reaffirms this sovereign right of the Haitian people to use high natural water resources, just like the Dominican Republic and we call for an equitable sharing of the river resources.

“The Haitian people choose the path of dialogue and negotiation to peacefully resolve any differences, any conflict under the auspices of international agreements signed between the two states in 1929 and again in 2021,” Henry told the UNGA.

President Luis Abinader defended his decision to close the border with Haiti, saying it would continue until the construction of the canal is suspended.

“We neither wish nor seek confrontation, but we are faced with uncontrollable people who maintain insecurity in Haiti and who, because of their private interests, are now also conspiring against the stability of their government and the security of our resources in water,” he said, adding “this is not a conflict between two peoples, because neither the Dominican people nor the Haitian people want confrontation”.

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