February 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 January 2006
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
AMERICAS

Haiti

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which expires on 15 February. After a very bad month for both MINUSTAH and Haiti in January the Council will also be looking to bolster the electoral process, reinvigorate MINUSTAH and encourage a reduction in violence.

Recent Developments
Haiti’s presidential elections were postponed for the fourth time in late December on the grounds that technical difficulties were unresolved and that insecurity was hampering the electoral process. The Council, increasingly concerned at the performance of the Transitional Government, adopted a presidential statement on 6 January, urging the quick announcement of another election date no later than 7 February. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council subsequently declared 7 February as the date of the first round of elections, with a run-off on 19 March if necessary. The official transfer of power to a newly elected leader is scheduled for 29 March.

In January:

  • The security situation deteriorated dramatically, with many kidnappings and assassinations as well as the death of two UN peacekeepers.
  • Sectors of the local business community mounted a campaign to discredit MINUSTAH. The campaign was condemned by the UN Secretary-General.
  • MINUSTAH’s Force Commander, General Urano Bacellar of Brazil, committed suicide.

Key Facts
The Security Council’s active engagement with Haiti dates back to the early 1990s, when a coup overthrew the democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In 1994 the Council authorised the use of force to restore the elected leader in resolution 940. Council-mandated missions remained on the ground for several years, though their scope increasingly narrowed before the final withdrawal in March 2000.

The situation in Haiti never stabilised. In early 2004, violent upheavals against the Haitian government led to President Aristide leaving the country in February. A Multilateral Interim Force (MIF) led by the US entered Haiti to ensure stability. It was replaced a few months later by MINUSTAH, with the mandate to secure a stable environment especially through the reform of the Haitian police, support the political process and monitor human rights.

The transitional government agreed to hold elections in 2005. Regional actors-the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-undertook an important cooperation effort to support the electoral process. MINUSTAH’s troop level was temporarily increased in 2005 to prevent potential violence during the electoral period and subsequent political transition.

Key Issues
The main issue for Council members is for Haiti to proceed with the elections.

The escalation of violence is another issue that will be addressed in February. A stronger focus on the reform of the Haitian National Police will be brought to bear since increasing troop levels is not seen as the solution.

A further issue is how to address the deterioration of MINUSTAH’s credibility in Haiti.

Council Dynamics
In the past months, lack of enthusiasm for the issue of Haiti has prevailed in the Council. France and the US both have some interest in resolving the situation in Haiti, but the lead-country was Brazil, which is no longer a member of the Council. A major troop-contributing country, Brazil’s involvement reflected its willingness to appear as a major regional power able to take care of Latin America’s security. Although the suicide of General Urano Bacellar triggered criticism at home and produced calls for Brazilian troops to withdraw, the prompt announcement by the Secretary-General of a new Force Commander from Brazil suggests that Brazil will sustain its commitments.

Argentina has now taken the lead on Haiti. It favours a strategic long-term involvement in Haiti’s state-building process. However, Argentina also seems reluctant to accept an interventionist type of UN involvement in the political process. Other members may also hold the same view.

China has been disinclined to support MINUSTAH’s mandates, due to disagreements with Haiti’s transitional prime minister, Gérard Latortue, over Haiti’s growing ties with Taiwan.

Options
If the elections occur as planned on 7 February, one option would be a simple renewal of the existing mandate for a period of up to six months to monitor the political transition and allow for the formation of new government.

However, if the elections are postponed again, the Council will inevitably have to react. Its options include:

  • Pressuring the Transitional Government to hold elections as soon as possible, but this could be seen locally as a limp response and further endanger MINUSTAH’s credibility in Haiti.
  • Adapting MINUSTAH’s mandate and authorising it to manage the elections, although this more robust approach would likely raise objections from Council members like Argentina.

The option of early withdrawal is not currently under discussion. There seems to be widespread recognition that a long-term commitment in Haiti is needed to ensure stability.

Underlying Problems
Numerous spoilers of the political process in Haiti pose a major challenge to the holding of elections, which partially explains the delays.

Registration of voters and the publication of lists of candidates and polling stations have been completed. A few logistical challenges remain for the holding of the elections, such as the distribution of identity cards. However, at this point, this is not regarded by the Council as a reason for yet another delay.

Many pledges by international donors for organising the elections have not been fully disbursed. In addition, the Electoral Commission lacks financial resources and personnel to organise the second round of elections and, in the long run, to conduct efficient programs for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.

UN Documents

Selected Resolutions
  • S/RES/1608 (22 June 2005) extended the mandate of MINUSTAH until 15 February 2006 and temporarily reinforced the mission.
  • S/RES/1601 (31 May 2005) extended the mandate of MINUSTAH until 24 June.
  • S/RES/1576 (29 November 2004) extended the mandate of MINUSTAH.
  • S/RES/1542 (30 April 2004) established MINUSTAH.
  • S/RES/1529 (29 February 2004) authorised the MIF to deploy in Haiti.
Reports of the Secretary-General
Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/1 (6 January 2006) expressed concern over the more recent postponement of elections and urged the government to schedule new dates.
  • S/PRST/2005/50 (18 October 2005) pressured Haiti’s administration to hold elections.
  • S/PRST/2005/1 (12 January 2005) called for elections to be held in 2005 and signalled the Council’s intention to send a mission to Haiti.
  • S/PRST/2004/32 (10 September 2004) noted that illegal armed groups continued to undermine stability.
  • S/PRST/2004/4 (26 February 2004) expressed concern over the situation in Haiti.
Letters
Report of the Council’s Mission to Haiti
  • S/2005/302(6 May 2005) stressed that there was no alternative to elections.

Historical Background

7 January 2006 MINUSTAH’s Force Commander, General Urano Bacellar, committed suicide.

18 October 2005

Haiti’s Prime Minister, Gérard Latortue, briefed the Council and said that tremendous challenges remained with regard to the judicial system, the disarmament process and the humanitarian situation.

22 June 2005

The Council extended the mandate of MINUSTAH until 15 February 2006 and supported a temporary increase of troops levels during the electoral period.

April 2005

A Council mission visited Haiti.

29 November 2004 The Council extended the mandate of MINUSTAH to 1 June 2005 with the intention to renew it for further periods.

Late 2004

Rising levels of deadly political and gang violence occurred in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

30 April 2004

The Council established MINUSTAH.

17 March 2004

Interim Prime Minister Latortue formed a transitional government.

29 February 2004

President Aristide was forced into exile. The Council authorised the MIF to deploy in Haiti at the request of the new interim government.

January – February 2004

Violent uprisings against Aristide took place.

1995 to 2000

The multinational force was followed by a number of successive peacekeeping missions until 2000: the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), the UN Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), the UN Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) and the UN Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH).

October 1994

The Haitian military regime relinquished power. Council-authorised forces landed in Haiti to oversee a transition to civilian government, and Aristide returned.

1993

The joint UN-OAS International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) was deployed in February, but due to a lack of Haitian cooperation could not carry its mandate. In June, through resolution 841, the Council imposed sanctions after the Haitian regime rejected an accord facilitating Aristide’s return. In September, the Council established the first peacekeeping operation in the country, UNMIH.

September 1991

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a democratically elected president, was ousted in a coup.


Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary General

Juan Gabriel Valdés (Chile)

Force commander

Lieutenant General José Elito Carvalho Siquiera (Brazil)

Size and Composition of Mission

Current Strength as of 30 September 2005: 8,104 total uniformed personnel
Key Troop Contributing Countries: Brazil, Jordan, Uruguay, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Chile

Cost

1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $541.3 million


Useful Additional Sources
Haiti’s Elections: The Case for a Short Delay, International Crisis Group, Latin America/Caribbean Briefing N°9, 25 November 2005
Haiti’s Flawed Electoral Process Bodes III for Future Stability“, Brian Concannon Jr., Americas Programme Report, 3 January 2006
Full Forecast