Expected Council Action
The mandate for the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) expires on 15 August. The Council will review the Secretary-General’s recommendations for MINUSTAH. While not expected to advocate major changes in the mission’s structure, this report will likely suggest a shift in the way the mission implements its mandate to incorporate an increased focus on institution-building, particularly in the security and justice sectors. (The Secretary-General’s Report was publicly available as of 2 August)
The Council is expected to extend MINUSTAH and emphasise reform of the justice sector. The Haiti Core Group (the US, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile and France) is in broad agreement on these issues.
Because the security situation in Haiti remains fragile, a force level close to that authorised by resolution 1608, which included a temporary increase in MINUSTAH’s military and civilian police (CIVPOL) contingents, is likely to be maintained.
The Council could renew MINUSTAH for 12 months, but six months seems more likely. MINUSTAH’s force level could be maintained at or near-current levels, or be reduced to the force level in place before the electoral period. Increases in the authorised level of civilian police, while, theoretically, an option, will be difficult to fill with suitable international personnel.
As the US, France and others envisage, the Council could maintain a security and police focus for MINUSTAH, strengthening the mission’s mandate to undertake institution-building in the judicial sector and supporting robust efforts to restore order to unstable areas, such as Port-au-Prince’s slums. Under this model, MINUSTAH could be a coordinator for certain key sectors such as judicial reform and disarmament, while specialised agencies and bilateral donors could take the lead role in Haiti’s development.
An alternative would be to reshape MINUSTAH in accordance with proposals put forth by the Latin American states. These members, with Japan also leaning toward their perspective, continue to articulate the position of Brazil-a leading troop contributor, Core Group member and a recent Council member. These members view insecurity as symptomatic of a lack of progress on social and economic development. The Council could task MINUSTAH with doing more to promote development, including implementing more “quick impact” projects through increasing the number of military engineers in MINUSTAH, becoming more involved in a process of national reconciliation, or providing greater technical assistance to the Haitian government in development planning.
Council members expect to be engaged for a prolonged period of time, a fact reflected in the Council’s practice of proclaiming its intention to further renew MINUSTAH with each extension. China and Russia, though, dislike this practice, and it may not be continued. While some members would like a 12-month extension, China and Russia may insist on an extension of only six months.
Japan seems to be the Council member most eager to reduce MINUSTAH’s numbers. The US is likely to be open to maintaining the UN presence close to current levels but will want to see strong evidence that forces can be used effectively and that rapid progress can be achieved. China is sensitive about Haiti’s links with Taiwan, one of Haiti’s major donors. Russia has consistently been sceptical about whether Haiti constitutes a genuine threat to international peace and security.
Despite broad agreement on the need for a sustained UN effort in Haiti, Council members may take different approaches. The Latin American states tend to emphasise that providing security-heretofore MINUSTAH’s primary focus-will not stabilise Haiti until an effective development agenda is implemented. They are also more sensitive to avoiding the imposition of decisions on the Haitian government. Without disputing the importance of development (though unwilling to commit assessed peacekeeping funds toward this task), the US, France and others emphasise that security is a prerequisite for development and view MINUSTAH’s role as a guarantor of security. They are eager to underscore that MINUSTAH plays a supporting role for the Haitian government, which retains the primary responsibility for charting the country’s development.
Since the Secretary-General’s recommendations are expected to focus on security and institutional support for the justice sector, this divergence is unlikely to greatly impact the resolution extending MINUSTAH.
President René Préval has expressed his desire that MINUSTAH be maintained for the rest of his tenure (through 2011), until a professional police force is fully trained and the judiciary is improved.
The second round of Haitian parliamentary elections occurred in April, drawing a turnout of below 20 percent. The vote had been delayed after the first round in February elicited complaints of irregularities. Voting was relatively peaceful, although one person was killed in Grande-Saline, in the north of the country.
Local elections, previously scheduled for 23 July, have been postponed indefinitely, though it is hoped that they can be held by the end of the year.
Préval was sworn in as President on 14 May. Préval’s investiture was followed on 10 June with the swearing in of a new government led by Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis, marking the formal transition from the interim government of Gérard la Tortue. The cabinet includes members of Préval’s Lespwa party along with five other parties, including Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas. With his Lespwa movement falling short of a majority in parliament, Préval’s ability to pursue his agenda will depend on his skill to forge alliances with political rivals.
The Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) in June lifted its suspension of Haiti’s membership, and an IMF team visited Haiti in July. President Préval recently secured a commitment from the EU for $293 million for the 2008-2013 period alongside $211 million set to cover 2002-2007. The funds are to be spent on education and infrastructure, with more aid to be pledged if Haiti meets targets on good governance. A donors’ conference took place in Port-au-Prince on 25 July at which the Haitian government was seeking $5 billion to finance government priorities.
While violence by armed gangs relented immediately after Préval’s election victory, it began to rise again in June and July, which were marked by many kidnappings. July saw gang violence in slum neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince that killed twenty people. Some observers have suggested that recent violence has been triggered by Préval’s reluctance to extend an amnesty to gang members.
The Haitian judicial sector still requires much reform. Pre-trial detention periods measured in years are of particular concern to Council members. The Haitian government, however, is ambivalent toward foreign involvement in judicial reform, having rejected a recent proposal by Edmond Mulet, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti, to employ judges from other countries in local Haitian courts to replace corrupt judges.
The 6,000-strong Haitian National Police remains far below the 20,000-member level thought to be necessary to enforce law and order throughout the country, and is often unreliable, with some officers having been implicated in serious human rights violations.
Recruiting francophone policemen for MINUSTAH remains a challenge. MINUSTAH was unable to fill the mandated strength of its CIVPOL component with francophone policemen. Consequently, one-third of the mission’s civilian police are anglophone, which severely circumscribes their utility in Haiti. This situation is unlikely to change.
While the election period was relatively calm, the security situation has deteriorated since.
Haitian civil society continues to voice the need for vastly improved disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes throughout the country. Yet, DDR remains an enormous challenge in a country where gun ownership is legal, and the conventional scenario that precedes DDR-the cantonment of clearly defined forces-does not exist. With armed violence being committed by criminal gangs and militia-type entities scattered throughout the country, any DDR program will necessarily be long-term, complex and will require partnership between MINUSTAH, other development organisations and Haitian authorities and civil society.
Meanwhile, as violent crime has engulfed neighbourhoods, MINUSTAH has come in for criticism among Haitians for its inability to prevent civilians from being victimised. Incidents of kidnapping have reportedly taken place in close proximity to MINUSTAH soldiers. MINUSTAH has also been criticised for heavy-handed tactics during its raids into poor areas. The existence of several spoiler groups (including criminal gangs and those attached to political movements, former military personnel and a business class eager to maintain its privileged position via tax evasion and economic monopolies) threatens the government’s ability to implement its programme.
Some observers note that large sums of assistance pledged to Haiti have not yet produced a commensurate impact on the ground in terms of infrastructure and social services improvements.
|Most Recent Security Council Resolution|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
|Most Recent Secretary-General’s Report|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|Edmond Mulet (Guatemala)|
|Lieutenant General José Elito Carvalho Siquiera (Brazil)|
|Size and Composition of Mission|
|1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $541.3 million|