April 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 March 2008
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AMERICAS

Haiti

Expected Council Action
In April, the Council is expected to hold consultations and discuss a report on the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). On 15 October 2007, resolution 1780 renewed the MINUSTAH mandate until October 2008, but requested the Secretary-General to submit interim reports. Council members will be looking to the forthcoming report to see whether it contains initial clues on a consolidation plan for MINUSTAH “with appropriate benchmarks to measure and track progress.”

Hédi Annabi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti, is likely to brief the Council during April. (He is also expected to visit Latin American capitals of major troop-contributing countries.)
 

Key Recent Developments
On 21 January, Annabi said the security situation in Haiti had improved significantly since major gangs had been dismantled, but also said peace and stability remained fragile. He said the time was not ripe for a dramatic downsizing of MINUSTAH. It should remain long enough to ensure that the UN would never have to return, he said. He also referred to the limited scope of reconstruction activities that MINUSTAH could perform as it is not a development agency.

The situation along the border with the Dominican Republic deteriorated in recent months with allegations of cross-border incursions, kidnapping and cattle theft.

Allegations of sexual misconduct by Sri Lankan peacekeepers led to the repatriation on 3 November 2007 of 108 Sri Lankan soldiers (including three commanders)—out of a contingent of 950.

On 17 October 2007, President René Préval stated that the current constitution, established in 1987, was a threat to Haiti’s stability because of its complexity (particularly the electoral system) and ambiguities. He called for constitutional reform. Some have raised suspicions that Preval’s underlying purpose might be to seek to remain in power beyond his term, which ends in 2011. A presidential commission has been tasked to study elements for reform and is expected to submit recommendations, although it is unclear when. The constitution, however, is difficult to amend. A related issue in Haiti is a proposal to allow dual citizenship (currently forbidden) so that members of the Haitian diaspora could return and play a role in Haiti’s political process.

At the end of February a vote of non-confidence in Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis, protesting the government’s economic policy, failed by a large majority.

An important development for the judicial reform process was the adoption by the parliament of three major laws in December 2007 on training of magistrates, the status of magistrates and the Superior Council, which will oversee their functions.

On 15 October 2007, the Council extended MINUSTAH for 12 months and reaffirmed its role in supporting the Haitian government in constitutional and political processes, institution-building, police and justice reform, disarmament and reintegration. The Council mandated it to undertake deterrent actions to decrease the level of violence. The resolution also reemphasised MINUSTAH’s role of coordinator for development actors in Haiti. New elements included:

  • an endorsement of recommendations made by the Secretary-General for reconfiguring the mission: reducing its military component while increasing the number of police units, and strengthening MINUSTAH’s capabilities in border control, engineering and mobility;
  • support for Haitian efforts to strengthen border control, in particular through the establishment of maritime patrols;
  • a call on all humanitarian and development actors to complement MINUSTAH’s security operations with activities aimed at improving the population’s living condition; and
  • a request to the Secretary-General to provide a “consolidation plan” including benchmarks to measure and track progress of the implementation of MINUSTAH’s mandate (conditions under which MINUSTAH could withdraw).

Options
There is little appetite for Council action in April. A statement may be a possibility. It could:

  • welcome the Secretary-General’s report;
  • encourage MINUSTAH’s coordinating role;
  • reiterate the importance of indicators of progress for MINUSTAH; and
  • signal a possible Council mission to Haiti.

Key Issues
Key issues the Council is likely to discuss are:

  • Border security and the fight against narcotrafficking, in particular whether the maritime patrols have been put in place (Uruguay pledged to provide several small patrol boats) and whether border management experts will be sent to Haiti.
  • The security situation and how to sustain recent improvements including the effectiveness of the gradual increase of MINUSTAH’s police component at the expense of the military. Discussions may focus on police activities.
  • Constitutional and electoral questions, in particular President Préval’s constitutional reform to reduce the frequency of elections.
  • Judiciary and police reforms are continuing issues. There are currently about 8,400 Haitian police officers and it is estimated that 14,000 are necessary to ensure minimum security.
  • Finally, the issue of corruption and response of the Haitian parliament, in particular whether the pace of the parliament’s adoption of reform legislation is being sustained.

Another issue is the difficulty in identifying suitable benchmarks to track progress. The Secretary-General’s report may not contain much detail—more may be available for the next reporting cycle in September—but this issue is likely to colour discussions. Some members think that this is crucial. However, others fear the definition of indicators will prematurely determine how much longer MINUSTAH will remain.

A key issue is the link between economic and social development and stability. Some members argue that there is a need not only to focus on security indicators but also development indicators and institutional indicators (e.g. successful elections, improved rule of law, etc). A related issue is whether it will be possible to measure the sustainability of any benchmarks.

Another important issue is the need for more effective coordination between donors and other development actors (including UN agencies) in Haiti, MINUSTAH and the Haitian government. The 2004 to 2006 Interim Cooperation Framework, which aimed at identifying priority areas of intervention to support Haiti’s development, and the monthly UN Heads of Agency meetings and regular donor meetings to coordinate aid (usually held by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator), seem not to have worked to harmonise donors’ strategies. MINUSTAH has increasingly taken over coordination activities, but for some its mandate still remains too weak. A related issue is also whether emphasis should be placed on ownership by the Haitian government of development resources, despite legitimate concerns about its capacity to properly manage funds and development processes. An international donors’ conference is scheduled for 25 and 26 April in Port-au-Prince, at the initiative of the Haitian government, with the aim of strengthening coordination among key actors in implementing the final Poverty Reduction Strategy that the Haitian government outlined in November 2007.

Finally, an issue which remains to be discussed is whether the Council should visit Haiti and when would be the best time. The last Council visit was in April 2005.
 

Council and Wider Dynamics
There seems to be an increasing consensus among the Group of Friends of Haiti (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Peru, Uruguay and the US) and within the Council that both security and development are necessary. However, some members (US and Canada) believe that MINUSTAH’s development-related activities should be limited to quick-impact projects and assistance to the Haitian government for institutional reforms and the rule of law, and that development actors such as the UN Development Programme should lead on development tasks. They concede that perhaps MINUSTAH could coordinate poverty-reduction strategies. Others (particularly the Latin American members) are pushing for more MINUSTAH’s development-related activities—although they acknowledge the existence of limitations.

All seem to agree that eventually, full ownership of the stabilisation process by the Haitian government is necessary.

Uruguay recently joined the Group of Friends as a troop contributor. Peru continues to be the Group’s coordinator, although is it no longer a Council member. There is currently no Latin American Group of Friends’ member on the Council. For that reason, and also because of a general interest in Haiti, Panama expressed its desire to become a member of the Group of Friends. But its candidacy was rejected ostensibly because Panama does not contribute militarily and financially. It seems that both Panama and Costa Rica, as Council members, will be invited to participate in some discussions of the Group. However, France and the US will take the lead on Haiti in the Council, replacing Peru. Many within the Group of Friends support the idea of a Council’s visit to Haiti.

Despite a general consensus on Haiti, defining indicators of progress may become contentious because of differing visions within the Council on the future of MINUSTAH. Some support giving the force a clear deadline for withdrawal. Mindful of previous mistakes of premature UN withdrawals, others want to see clear progress in several important aspects before determining a timeframe for MINUSTAH’s disengagement. Such benchmarks would include the end of President Préval’s term, reform of the judiciary, the national police and the prison system, and improvements in the economic situation that would be felt by the population. Members of the Group of Friends in particular seem to agree that it is still too early to address the issue of an eventual drawdown of the force. Some in the Council (Burkina Faso, China, South Africa) may be interested in placing Haiti on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)— although not in the very near future—but many others, including the Haitian government itself, believe that the situation in Haiti is not ready. Nevertheless, the demand for benchmarks echoes the PBC’s existing indicators for measuring progress in the transition from conflict to sustainable development, and it may be that there are other lessons the Council can draw from the work of the PBC.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1780 (15 October 2007) renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate for one year.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Hédi Annabi (Tunisia)

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Luiz Carlos da Costa (Brazil)

Force Commander

Major General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil)

Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator, UNDP Representative

Joel Boutroue (France)

Size and Composition of Mission

  • Authorised strength as of 15 August 2006: military component of up to 7,200 troops and police component of up to 1,951 officers
  • Current strength as of 31 January 2008: 8,993 total uniformed personnel, including 7,066 troops and 1,927 police, supported by 498 international civilian personnel, 1,140 local civilian staff and 197 UN Volunteers
  • Contributors of military personnel: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Jordan, Nepal, Paraguay, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, United States and Uruguay
  • Contributors of police personnel: Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, DR Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Grenada, Guinea, Jordan, Madagascar, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Togo, Turkey, US, Uruguay and Yemen 

Cost 

1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008: $535.37 million

Useful Additional Sources

Full forecast