Expected Council Action
In October, the Council is expected to renew for an additional 12 months the mandate of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which expires on 15 October. A debate, preceded by a briefing by Mariano Fernández, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the mission, on the work of MINUSTAH and the semi-annual report by the Secretary-General (S/2012/678), is also planned.
Key Recent Developments
The Council last debated the situation in Haiti on 8 March when Fernández briefed the Council. He emphasised that tensions between the legislative and executive branches of government needed to be avoided, stating that divisions in the political class hindered progress in the strengthening of institutions. While noting the increased effectiveness of the Haitian National Police (HNP), he said the capacity of the police still needed to be bolstered to address security challenges, pointing in particular to violence against women as a major concern in Haiti. Fernández reported that parliamentary, municipal and local elections, which had been planned for November 2011 but were delayed, needed to be conducted in the near future to promote the country’s stability. He also said that the cholera epidemic, which was traced to UN peacekeepers and sexual assaults committed by UN peacekeepers, had tarnished the image of the mission.
On 3 May, the Chamber of Deputies approved Laurent Lamothe as Prime Minister, in a 62-3 vote. (Exiting Prime Minister Garry Conille had a tense relationship with President Michel Martelly, causing gridlock in governance. Conille resigned after only four months in office.) Lamothe has advocated greater investment in infrastructure projects and tourism as means to develop the economy. He has also outlined an anti-poverty campaign that calls for free primary school tuition and cash transfers to low-income mothers.
A group of army veterans and young recruits, some bearing small arms, gathered outside Parliament in Port-au-Prince on 17 April, demanding an audience with legislators after having heard reports that the government was planning to remove them from sites across Haiti that they had occupied unlawfully. (The protestors are part of a group that demands the reestablishment of the national army and severance pay for army veterans. The army was disbanded in 1995.)
The protestors left the scene without violence. However, Martelly condemned the gathering, indicating that while he wanted to reestablish the army, this needed to be accomplished through legal means.
On 6 May, MINUSTAH launched Operation Sunrise to counter the activities of illegally armed groups. On 18 May, it had dislodged the illegally armed groups from various sites in conjunction with the HNP. No casualties were reported as a result of the operation.
On 19 June, Martelly declared that a series of constitutional amendments had been published, thus coming into effect. Key amendments include:
- the creation of a Permanent Electoral Council;
- the establishment of a Constitutional Council (to provide judicial review of constitutional issues);
- the provision that at least 30 percent of government posts be held by women; and
- the provision that Haitians who also hold foreign passports will be allowed to vote and hold minor political office. (They will not be allowed to serve as President, Prime Minister, Senator or member of the Chamber of Deputies).
On 12 September, the Council held a meeting with MINUSTAH troop- and police-contributing countries. During the meeting, Fernández underscored political progress that had been made in the country, with the appointment of a new Prime Minister and the publication of the constitutional amendments. However, he cautioned that socioeconomic development was necessary to consolidate security gains in Haiti.
The Secretary-General issued his latest report on MINUSTAH on 31 August. He noted that Haiti was making political progress and that the security situation was “relatively stable,” although there had been “sporadic instances of civil unrest” due mainly to “socioeconomic grievance and instability caused by elements of the former armed forces and new recruits.” He recommended that the Council authorise the mission for an additional year and consider reducing troop levels from 7,340 to 6,270 and police levels from 3,241 to 2,601 by June 2013.
Human Rights-Related Developments
From 12 to 15 September, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, visited Haiti to discuss human rights challenges ahead of the revision of MINUSTAH’s mandate by the Security Council. Šimonović noted that Haiti was at a crossroads showing signs of progress but facing challenges on justice reform and poverty and called for the planned downsizing of MINUSTAH’s military forces to be accompanied by further support to the national police and the rule of law institutions.
On 3- 4 July during its 20th session, the Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on Haiti, Michel Forst. Forst welcomed the considerable progress made by the government but noted that gender-based violence and rape persisted and were exacerbated by impunity prevailing in Haiti. Forst also called upon States which are forcibly returning individuals to Haiti to take into account humanitarian factors, as he had recommended in his June report on forced returns of Haitians from third States.
A set of key issues relates to how the Council responds to the Secretary-General’s recommendation to reconfigure MINUSTAH. In this context, an important issue is whether and how any reconfiguration impacts the mission’s effectiveness. A related issue is how to ensure that the capacity of the HNP continues to grow, especially considering the potential for an ongoing reduction in MINUSTAH’s force structure.
An additional key issue is how to support parliamentary, municipal and local elections, which have been delayed and are crucial to the functioning and strengthening of democracy.
A further issue is the need to ensure that there is effective coordination, cooperation and communication among MINUSTAH, the UN Country Team and the government. (In keeping with this goal, MINUSTAH and the UN Country Team have finalised an Integrated Strategic Framework for 2013-2016 that aligns with Haiti’s Strategic Development Plan and sets out priorities for UN engagement.)
The strained relations between the legislative and executive branches pose a particularly serious challenge in Haiti. (MINUSTAH has made efforts to help nurture them and there have been some modest signs of improvement.)
A potentially serious practical problem resulting from the delayed elections is that it will be highly implausible for the Senate to approve the three appointments allotted to it for the nine-member Permanent Electoral Council. This is because these three appointments require a two-thirds vote of the Senate, and the terms of ten of the 30 senators, or one-third, expired in May and their seats have not been filled due to the delay in the elections.
The most likely option is for the Council to renew the mandate of the mission for an additional year at the reduced force level recommended by the Secretary-General.
In renewing the mission, additional options include:
- emphasising the importance of holding the delayed parliamentary, municipal, and local elections;
- expressing encouragement for signs of progress in improving the relationship between the legislative and executive branches;
- highlighting the ongoing need to strengthen the capacity of the HNP;
- express concern about the impact of the cholera epidemic, which has claimed 7,440 lives to date; and
- requesting more regular briefings from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on the situation in Haiti (in addition to the customary semi-annual briefings coinciding with the Secretary-General’s reports).
There appears to be widespread support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation to reconfigure the force structure of MINUSTAH. Council members recognise that the surge in the mission’s troop and police capacity after the 2010 earthquake was only intended to be a temporary measure. There is also growing awareness among several Council members that the mission cannot remain in Haiti indefinitely. At the same time, most Council members seem to be sensitive about not leaving the country until gains in security, governance and the rule of law are consolidated.
There are differences of opinion regarding some of the tasks that should engage MINUSTAH personnel. Germany and the UK in particular have argued that civil reconstruction activities that the mission is currently engaged in would be better left to civilians and other UN agencies. However, several members, including Colombia, India and South Africa, believe that it is appropriate for the mission to carry out such tasks, expressing their support for the mission’s engineering components in the last debate.
Several Council members have highlighted the need to strengthen the capacity of the HNP and the importance of strengthening the relationship between the executive and legislative branches.
The US is the lead country on Haiti.
UN Documents on Haiti
|Security Council Resolutions|
|14 October 2011 S/RES/2012||This resolution renewed the mandate of MINUSTAH and reduced the number of military personnel by 1,600 and police personnel by 1,150.|
|14 October 2010 S/RES/1944||This resolution renewed the mandate of MINUSTAH and called for a comprehensive assessment of the security environment following the elections.|
|4 June 2010 S/RES/1927||This resolution authorised the deployment of 680 additional officers for the police component of MINUSTAH as a temporary surge, with a particular focus on building the capacity of the HNP.|
|19 January 2010 S/RES/1908||This resolution bolstered the police and troop contingents of MINUSTAH by 1,500 additional police and 2,000 additional military personnel.|
|31 August 2012 S/2012/678||This was a report of the Secretary-General on Haiti.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|8 March 2012 S/PV.6732||This was a debate on Haiti.|
|11 August 2012 S/2012/534||This was the report on the Security Council’s 13-16 February trip to Haiti.|
Other Relevant Facts on Haiti
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSTAH
Mariano Fernández (Chile)
Size and Composition of Mission
Current strength as of 31 August: 10,101 total uniformed personnel, including 7,276 troops and 2,825 police (including formed units). (The uniformed personnel are supported by 475 international civilian personnel [as of 31 July], 1,328 local civilian staff [as of 31 July] and 197 UN volunteers.)
Useful Additional Source
Towards a Post-MINUSTAH Haiti: Making an Effective Transition, Latin America/Caribbean Report No. 44, International Crisis Group, 2 August 2012