Expected Council Action
The Secretary-General’s report on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is before the Council. The mandate of MINUSTAH expires on 15 October. Before then, the Group of Friends of Haiti (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Peru and the US) is expected to review the report and discuss options for a draft resolution. Council discussions on the report seem unlikely in September.
Key Recent Developments
On 23 August, the report of the Secretary-General on MINUSTAH was submitted to Council members. It made the following recommendations:
foster links between institutions at the local level, promote decentralisation, transparency and fight against corruption, particularly through complementary bilateral support;
improve land and maritime border security through assistance to the Haitian government with international expertise and a redeployment of MINUSTAH’s military and police personnel to the borders;
retain MINUSTAH’s troop level but replace 140 military troops with 140 policemen, reduce the military’s presence in rural areas and obtain 16 small crafts for coastal patrolling-to reflect changing circumstances and priorities;
strengthen the community violence reduction programme through labor intensive projects; and
extend MINUSTAH’s mandate for 12 months.
On 1 and 2 August, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti and met with President René Préval, Prime Minister Jacques-Édouard Alexis and Justice Minister René Magloire. During a 1 August press conference, Ban said it was necessary to “consolidate achievements on the security front including by making progress in establishing the rule of law” by fighting corruption and reforming the judicial system. He added that the police vetting process currently underway was also a key element in the reform of the Haitian National Police.
The Secretary-General also supported a one-year extension of MINUSTAH, and he added that the UN should remain involved in Haiti as long as necessary. Finally, he said that international donors had to renew efforts to implement the national development strategy and that MINUSTAH’s role was to create necessary conditions for development in the poorest urban areas. President Préval called for reinforcing MINUSTAH’s help to reform the justice sector and improve basic infrastructure.
On 30 May the Security Council held consultations on Haiti after a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Edmond Mulet. Several countries expressed their support for Haiti remaining on the agenda. The Council adopted a press statement expressing appreciation of the fight against gang violence and encouraging further efforts to reform the justice system.
In late April, the third and last round of local, municipal and legislative elections was held. They were peaceful, but turnout was very low.
The Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) sent a team to Haiti in late April. This Group (composed of representatives from Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Spain, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago) was established in 1999 to help coordinate and develop a long-term assistance program to Haiti. It was reactivated in 2004 and has been chaired by the Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN. It submitted on 13 June its latest report, with several recommendations for the economic and social sector, such as:
boosting the sectors in which Haiti has a comparative advantage: tourism, agriculture and the textile industry;
investing international aid in capacity-building for Haitian institutions; and
reinforcing development planning and aid coordination.
In February the Council renewed the mandate of MINUSTAH for eight months. It emphasised a range of priorities for MINUSTAH:
supporting the Haitian government in strengthening state institutions at all levels;
reorienting the disarmament programme towards a comprehensive community violence-reduction programme;
preventing cross-border illicit trafficking;
increasing momentum for and synchronisation between the reform of the national police and of the justice sector; and
increasing coordination with development and humanitarian actors, especially to complement security operations.
The Council also recognised “the interconnected nature of the challenges in Haiti,” thereby reconciling different views on which areas should be prioritised for UN involvement. Gender issues and sexual exploitation of children, including by MINUSTAH personnel, also emerged as important issues within the resolution. Finally, the Council encouraged MINUSTAH to increase operations against armed gangs.
In light of the strengthened mandate, MINUSTAH and the national police carried out numerous operations against gangs responsible for kidnappings, thefts, rapes and drug trafficking in Cité Soleil and Martissant, two of the most densely populated, insecure slums in the capital Port-au-Prince. Between January and March, more than 400 people were arrested including gang leaders in both urban and rural areas. Some areas have therefore been brought under control. However, the Haitian judiciary and penal systems remain weak and the prisons overcrowded.
Council members have the option to begin discussions of the report in September or wait until the Group of Friends have considered the recommendations and perhaps have prepared elements for a draft resolution.
The increase in drug trafficking has become an important issue, with Haiti being a busy transhipment point for Colombian drugs bound for the US. Smugglers may be contributing to instability and aggravating corruption in the judicial and executive branches.
Making MINUSTAH more effective in justice and police reforms may also become an important issue. It was certainly highlighted by the Secretary-General as a priority during his trip to Haiti. A central issue in this regard is persuading the Haitian parliament to pass the necessary legislation to reform the judicial system. (Laws on the judiciary have been adopted by the senate but await action in the chamber of deputies).
MINUSTAH’s transition from a military to a police mission and whether the Council should follow the Secretary-General’s recommendations to revisit the current balance between military troops and police units to meet increasing needs in civilian security and border control are related issues.
A recurrent key issue is whether MINUSTAH’s role in development-related issues should be further enhanced. The last resolution encouraged greater coordination with development agencies. Consequently, the budget for the civilian component of MINUSTAH increased, but it was largely viewed as a balance to a strengthened security mandate.
In February, the Council had expressly requested from the Secretary-General a comprehensive assessment of the security risks, challenges and priorities facing Haiti. How to accelerate the peacebuilding process will also be an important issue.
At press time the political question that arose in February over Haiti’s diplomatic recognition of Taiwan seemed quiet. In February, China had been reluctant to renew the MINUSTAH mandate for that reason.
Council members seem to be pleased with recent progress in security but believe that continued vigilance is important. There is also general agreement that MINUSTAH should progressively be given a more prominent police role.
An ongoing divergence within the Group of Friends, which could impact dynamics within the Council, is that Latin American countries consider that development should be an integral feature of the stabilisation effort in Haiti and believe that peacekeepers should be involved in development projects. Most, however, recognise the practical limits of this approach. The US and Canada, on the other hand, are reluctant, being inclined to focus in the Security Council principally on security issues and institution-building. There is increasing awareness on all sides, however, that these issues are interconnected.
Because 80 percent of MINUSTAH’s troops are from Latin America, Latin American members of the Council (Peru and Panama) and of the Group of Friends (Brazil and Chile) seek to play an important role in decision-making for MINUSTAH. A common position for the Latin American members of the Group of Friends ahead of the MINUSTAH mandate renewal is likely to be discussed at the next meeting of the foreign and defence vice ministers of the nine Latin American troop-contributing countries due to take place in Guatemala on 31 August, and at a meeting of defence ministers in Port-au-Prince on 5 September with President Préval and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative. In addition Panama (although not a troop contributing country) will participate in its capacity as a Council member. A meeting of defence ministers will follow to tackle more technical issues.
The task of bringing security to the people of Haiti is huge. Violent crime and illicit trafficking are still on the rise. There are an estimated 250,000 guns in private hands, hence the necessity to combine security operations with disarmament programmes.
The Secretary-General’s report noted that at least four more years were necessary to reach a minimum figure of 14,000 Haitian officers for basic policing duties. In addition to the reform of the judicial system, prison reform is a necessity. Prisons are overcrowded and the recent arrests as well as prolonged pre-trial detentions have aggravated the situation. A five-year prison reform plan was approved by the prime minister on 7 August.
|Selected Security Council Resolution|
|Latest Secretary-General’s Report|
|Report of ECOSOC’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|Edmond Mulet (Guatemala), to be replaced by Hédi Annabi on 31 August|
|Major General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil)|
|Size and Composition of Mission|
|1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008: US $561.34 million|
Consolidating Stability in Haiti, International Crisis Group, Latin America/Caribbean Report No. 21, 18 July 2007
Haiti: Prison Reform and the Rule of Law, International Crisis Group, Latin America/Caribbean Briefing No. 15, 4 May 2007
Haiti: Justice Reform and the Security Crisis, International Crisis Group, Latin America/Caribbean Briefing No. 14, 31 January 2007
MINUSTAH Website (in French)