Monday, May 18, 2009

Big News: Bill Clinton named special U.N. envoy to Haiti

Former Prez Bill Clinton, who has committed his philanthropic efforts to helping hurricane ravaged Haiti, has been named a special envoy to the Caribbean nation on behalf of the United Nations. Congrats, Bill!

This honor comes two months after he visited Haiti along with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in an effort to raise global attention to the country's effort to rebuild following a year of natural disasters that wreaked havoc on the Haitian economy, its people and its already fragile landscape. The four back-to-back storms left almost 800 dead and created nearly $1 billion in damage. Read the ATHC post on that trip here!

Last month, foreign donors agreed to donate $324 million toward Haiti's rebuilding efforts at a donors conference in Washington, where Clinton encouraged donors to not just donate money but to encourage investments. A few days later, his call to action was joined by that of his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She visited the country to emphasize President Barack Obama's commitment to the country's rebuilding efforts.

"It is an honor to accept the secretary general's invitation to become special envoy to Haiti... Last year's natural disasters took a great toll, but Haiti's government and people have the determination and ability to 'build back better,' not just to repair the damage done but to lay the foundations for the long-term sustainable development that has eluded them for so long."
Following his 24 hour visit to the country, Clinton said he plans to use his Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together the world's top business and government leaders every September, to talk about what he has seen and heard from students, laborers, government leaders and business people.

"I believe Haiti is better positioned to make progress for all its people than at any time since I first visited in 1978... It offers unique opportunities for public and private investment to improve health and education in ways that will be good for Haitians and all their partners in our interdependent world."
Tomorrow the appointment will be made official, but it has been all over the news, including on CNN, the Huffington Post, MSNBC, the BBC and so on... Those familiar with the appointment say it's been in the works for a while and that the goal is to keep the world spotlight on Haiti by having one of the world's most recognizable faces and fundraisers involved in its rebuilding efforts.

I wasn't aware of this but apparently Bill Clinton previously served as U.N. special envoy for tsunami recovery following the 2004 tsunami, during which he helped raise tens of millions of dollars. The U.N. currently has no special envoy for Haiti, and it is expected that Clinton will travel to Haiti at least four times a year.

Interesting little fact: Bill was only the second sitting U.S. president to have visited Haiti when he traveled there in 1995. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first in 1934.


Stacy said...

He'll do a great job- the people of Haiti clearly love him and he is able to bring much-needed attention (and resources) to the country. Congrats Bill!

Sarah said...

yea... this is super exciting! he really is loved there and all around the world

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