February 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 February 2007
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AMERICAS

Haiti

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which is due to expire on 15 February.

China has hinted at some reluctance to support renewal, however, because of recent complications over Haiti’s relations with Taiwan. But at press time, China and Haiti were informally discussing ways to defuse tensions.

Key Recent Developments
The Secretary-General issued his latest report on MINUSTAH on 19 December. The report noted that the completion of the electoral process was “largely successful”, and that the overall security situation remained relatively stable, although still somewhat volatile. Indeed, on 22 December, when UN forces and the Haitian police launched a joint operation aimed at fighting gangs in Cité Soleil, a shantytown in Port-au-Prince, at least nine civilians were killed.

The Secretary-General’s report also noted progress in the reform of rule of law structures. However, progress in disarmament remained limited.

The Secretary-General recommended a 12-month extension of the mission, maintaining the same level of troops and police units.

Council members received a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Edmont Mulet on 29 January and during consultations it appeared that there was broad support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations.

More detailed developments and background are contained in our January 2007 Forecast Report.

Options
The Council has the following options:

  • Accommodate China’s likely demand that renewal be for six rather than 12 months, or reach a compromise, such as a renewal of nine months and a reduction in troop levels.
  • If the situation between Haiti and China is not resolved, adopt a short-term technical rollover of the mission coupled with an informal request that the Secretary-General use his good offices to facilitate a solution.

Non-renewal is a remote possibility. The Group of Friends of Haiti (comprising Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Peru and the US) are extremely reluctant to envisage this alternative.  They remain hopeful that a solution will be found and in that spirit have encouraged Peru to initiate discussion amongst Council experts on a draft resolution.  This process commenced on 29 January.

Key Issues
The main issue is whether Haiti and China can reach an understanding that will facilitate the renewal of MINUSTAH.

In preparing a draft resolution, the Group of Friends is focussing on the following issues:

  • The duration of the mandate renewal. While the Group of Friends supports the recommendations of the Secretary-General for a 12-month renewal, it will have to take into account the Chinese position that a six-month renewal is preferable. (China’s position seems to be driven by the perception that Haiti has given active support to Taiwan’s endeavours to become a member of the UN.)
  • Troop levels. The issue is whether these should stay at present authorised levels, or whether they should be reduced, perhaps to the earlier pre-election levels. Although the election process has now been completed, it is argued that the presence of extra troops in Haiti acts as a preventive measure against further destabilisation of the country. A related issue is that, although the current maximum authorised strength is up to 7,500 military personnel and 1,897 police, this level has never been reached.
  • Increased efficiency may be seen as a reason to adjust some of MINUSTAH’s activities. Although the mandate would remain the same, the Council may want to send a signal that additional efforts have to be made in some fields (such as disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, justice sector reform, and the work of the Provisional Electoral Council).

Council Dynamics
China argues that a downsizing of MINUSTAH’s troop level and adjustments of its composition are necessary. It also favours a six-month renewal. China would like to see MINUSTAH more involved in peacebuilding activities and is considering a request for Haiti to be added to the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission.

China also seems to resent Haiti’s recent public statements on Taiwan and has asked for a formal apology coupled with a lower profile on this issue as a condition for supporting MINUSTAH’s mandate. While China has made its position clear, Haiti’s response to China’s request remains unclear at this time.

The Group of Friends strongly supports the recommendations of the Secretary-General. But it also seems ready to be flexible to accommodate China, as long as it does not affect the work of MINUSTAH too negatively. Some of its members, individually, appear willing to provide assistance in attempting to resolve the current tensions between China and Haiti.

A meeting of most members of the Core Group convened by US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns is scheduled on 1 February in Washington as a follow-up of a similar meeting that took place on the margins of the General Assembly in September 2006. The aim will be to discuss the mandate renewal, the security situation and how to improve coordination between donors. The Core Group is composed of the leading countries, troop-contributing countries, donors and regional organisations.

Assuming that the issues raised by China can be resolved, the positions of the elected members of the Council are not expected to diverge from the Group of Friends.

Selected UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1702 (15 August 2006) prolonged the mandate of MINUSTAH for six months with the intention to renew for further periods.
  • S/RES/1658 (14 February 2006) renewed the mandate of MINUSTAH until 15 August.
  • S/RES/1608 (22 June 2005) extended the mandate of MINUSTAH until 15 February 2006 and temporarily reinforced the mission.
  • S/RES/1542 (30 April 2004) established MINUSTAH.

 Most Recent Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2006/22 (15 May 2006) congratulated René Préval on his inauguration as president of Haiti and underlined that many challenges remain to be tackled.

 Latest Secretary-General’s Report

 Latest Letters

  • S/2007/11 (8 January 2007) and S/2007/12 (10 January 2007) were letters confirming the appointment of Major General dos Santos Cruz as Force Commander of MINUSTAH.
  • S/2006/726 (31 August 2006) was a letter from the Secretary-General conveying a letter from Haiti confirming the adoption of the police reform plan and enclosing a copy of the plan.

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General
 Edmond Mulet (Guatemala)
 Force Commander
 Major General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil)
 Size and Composition of Mission
  • Current strength (31 December 2006): 8,376 total uniformed personnel, including 6,684 troops and 1,692 police
  • Key troop contributing countries: Brazil, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Nepal, Argentina, Chile
 Cost
 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: $510.039 million

Full forecast