March 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 26 February 2009
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Expected Council Action
The next Secretary-General’s report on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is expected by 9 March. It is likely to provide an overview of developments regarding the implementation of indicators of progress in key areas of stabilisation.

From 11 to 14 March the Council will conduct a mission to Haiti, the first since April 2005. Costa Rica is the lead country. The visit was originally envisaged for September 2008 but was postponed because Haiti was recovering from a series of hurricanes.

The main goal for the visit appears to be assessing progress in stabilisation, taking into account last year’s setbacks from the hurricanes and the food crisis and in particular assessing implementation of the mandate of the MINUSTAH.

On 19 March Costa Rican Ambassador Jorge Urbina is expected to brief the Council on the visit.

Key Recent Developments
In late August and early September, hurricanes killed about 800 people in Haiti and led to around $1 billion in damage (according to World Bank estimates). The UN launched an appeal in September seeking nearly $108 million to provide humanitarian help in the next six months, but only 48 percent had been pledged as of December.

On 15 October the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Haiti, Joël Boutroue, said some three million Haitians lacked food security. He added that the UN did not have the capacity, without further contributions, to provide water and sanitation in emergency shelters. This was reiterated by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes who said after a visit to Haiti in October that the devastation from the hurricanes had dealt a severe blow to efforts to combat poverty.

Banditry and kidnappings have risen recently, leading MINUSTAH to conduct a special security operation in urban centres. This was followed in December by a large-scale anti-drugs operation in the south of the country.

In November, the Secretary-General commissioned the economist Paul Collier (author of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It) to conduct a study assessing the impact of the 2008 food crisis and hurricanes on Haiti’s economy and proposing a strategy for achieving economic security. Collier visited Haiti from 1 to 5 December and submitted a report in January. His recommendations focus on job creation, provision of basic services to the population, the achievement of food security and environmental sustainability.

Human rights in Haiti have also been addressed. Following a visit from 2 to 5 November, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay highlighted that Haitians face several human rights issues, including lack of access to food and water, prolonged detention without trial and poor prison conditions. Independent UN expert, Michel Forst, visited at the end of November and, while recognising that Haiti had made progress in the area of civil and political rights, urged the government to make further progress, especially improving the penal system. He also stressed the need to tackle corruption and economic exclusion.

On 14 October the Council adopted resolution 1840 renewing the mandate of MINUSTAH for one year and further detailing its mandate. At that time the Council recognised that natural catastrophes and price hikes for food and fuel had adversely affected Haiti’s long-term stability and security. On the political side, it encouraged the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to facilitate dialogue between the Haitian government and relevant political actors to ensure implementation of the National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction. MINUSTAH was also given a greater coordination mandate with the UN country team. The resolution also invited member states to coordinate with MINUSTAH to address the cross-border trafficking of persons, drugs, arms and other illegal activities. It strongly condemned the grave violations against children affected by armed violence including sexual abuse of girls and reaffirmed resolution 1820 on sexual violence against women, as well as MINUSTAH’s human rights mandate. Finally, the Council recognised the need for a high-level donor conference. (This is scheduled for April in Washington.)

The Council did not take up the 2 October letter from Haitian President René Préval requesting that reference to Chapter VII of the UN Charter (action with respect to threats to peace, breaches of peace and acts of aggression) be removed from MINUSTAH’s mandate. President Préval argued that this would contribute to creating a favourable climate for foreign investments. Clearly, Council members considered that this proposal was misjudged.

Briefing the Council on 8 October the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Haiti, Hédi Annabi, said the need to respond to natural disasters in September had helped Haitian politicians unblock the five month old political standoff and generate a sense of solidarity. He added, however, that historic tendencies towards political confrontation could easily reemerge in the context of the 19 April elections. He warned that the suffering created by the economic crisis and natural disasters produced a reservoir of discontent that could be manipulated for political reasons. He then highlighted MINUSTAH’s humanitarian role in supporting the response to the hurricane catastrophe and discussed MINUSTAH’s accomplishments and upcoming challenges in terms of meeting indicators of progress elaborated by the Secretary-General in his consolidation plan. Development was not the business of peacekeeping operations, although they had the task to create an environment conducive to economic and social development, he said. He finally pointed out that advancing longer-term planning for implementing the Poverty Reduction Strategy, taking into account the damage created by the hurricanes, was needed.

On 16 February the Haitian Electoral Council announced that it had barred candidates from the Lavalas Family party, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide who lives in exile in South Africa, from running in the Senate elections, due to failure to submit registration on time. Given the popularity of the party in Haiti, this has raised fears that it may lead to political instability.

Developments in the Human Rights Council
On 24 September 2008, the President of the Human Rights Council made a statement welcoming the formation of the new Haitian government, the cooperation between the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH in curbing violence, and the adoption of new regulations on the judiciary. The statement also expressed deep concern at the deterioration of Haitians’ standard of living, partly as a result of the economic crisis. Finally, he welcomed the appointment of Michel Forst as independent expert and welcomed the Haitian government’s request to extend his mission until September 2010. (PRST/9/1)

Key Issues
The terms of reference for the Council’s mission, drafted by Costa Rica and discussed with the Group of Friends of Haiti (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and the US), and approved by the Council on 20 February, reflect a number of key issues that the Council will address during its visit.

Reaffirming the Council’s support for Haiti and for current efforts towards stabilisation is a key issue. At the same time, the terms of reference also reflect the importance of Haitian ownership and primary responsibility in the stabilisation process. There seems to be a realisation that the success of international involvement in Haiti will require strong Haitian engagement at all stages of the process. Therefore, a key issue for the Council is to send a message of support while reaffirming basic expectations from the Haitian authorities, particularly regarding deeply needed political dialogue and national reconciliation as well as socioeconomic development. A related key issue, which may be addressed during the visit, is clarifying that the Chapter VII mandate does not contain the negative implications that Haiti’s government seems to fear.

Another issue is assessing progress made in all key areas of stabilisation: political dialogue, extension of state authority, security sector reform, rule of law and human rights, and social and economic development. This assessment will be crucial for future Council discussions on the mandate of MINUSTAH, and the recent human rights assessments are also relevant in that regard.

Evaluating preparations for the upcoming elections is a further issue, especially regarding recent developments. Frequent elections in Haiti are costly and are considered as a potential factor for further destabilisation. Although President Préval has expressed his willingness to reform the electoral system, constitutional reform remains a divisive issue.

A further issue is cooperation among international actors in Haiti for the implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. This has been a major area of concern for the Council, which in resolution 1840 enhanced MINUSTAH’s mandate to ensure better coordination among all actors. The role of regional actors in Haiti may also be explored.

A related issue is assessing the general humanitarian situation in Haiti. A main goal will also be to grasp the extent of economic and humanitarian setbacks suffered during the past months and their impact on meeting the benchmarks developed by the Secretary-General. A disaster and risk reduction strategy may be important as Haiti has been hit several times by devastating storms.

Finally, the Council will review progress in tackling cross-border illicit trafficking of persons, drugs, arms and other illegal activities.

Council and Wider Dynamics
The draft of terms of reference was not controversial within the Council. There is a general view within the Council that the time is not ripe for placing MINUSTAH under a Chapter VI mandate as the situation continues to be extremely fragile, and the Council needs to continue to send a message of strong engagement. Also, in practice the actual operations of the mission need to remain the same. Activities under a Chapter VI mandate would therefore not differ from activities under Chapter VII. This issue is likely to also be discussed during the visit.

Members of the Group of Friends seem to be less divided than in the past over issues of security versus development in MINUSTAH’s mandate. However, some Council members, including Russia and China continue to believe that rehabilitation activities should not be conducted by a peacekeeping mission.

Canada, one of the biggest donors to Haiti, as a member of the Group of Friends, has argued that MINUSTAH should play a stronger role in the political reconciliation process.

For the US, security seems to remain a priority. The US also has a priority that MINUSTAH utilises resources effectively and efficiently. The US suggested including a mention in the terms of reference of how insights on lessons learned from MINUSTAH could inform Council’s consideration of broader peacekeeping issues.

Mexico, a new Council member, recently joined the Group of Friends of Haiti. While Mexico is not a troop contributor, it has recently sent police officers specialised in kidnapping to Haiti.

UN Documents

Latest Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1840 (14 October 2008) renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate for one year.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2008/586 (27 August 2008) presented a consolidation plan with key indicators to measure and track progress.

Report of the Latest Security Council Visit to Haiti

Latest Briefing to the Council

  • S/PV.5990 (8 October 2008) was a briefing by Hédi Annabi.

Latest Letter

  • S/2008/640 (2 September 2008) was a letter from Uruguay enclosing a Joint Communiqué following a meeting of deputy ministers of foreign affairs and deputy ministers of defence of the Latin American “2×9 Mechanism” on Haiti, held in Montevideo on 29 August.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSTAH

Hédi Annabi (Tunisia)

Principal 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

Joël 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 30 December 2008: 9,089 total uniformed personnel, including 7,036 troops and 2,053 police.
  • Contributors of military personnel: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Jordan, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Phillipines, Sri Lanka, US and Uruguay
  • Contributors of police personnel: Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Columbia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, DR Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Grenada, Guinea, India, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Madagascar, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Togo, Turkey, US, Uruguay and Yemen


1 July 2008-30 June 2009: $601.58 million

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