Expected Council Action
In September the Council will hold a debate on Haiti to consider the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of mission, Sandra Honoré, is expected to brief.
Ahead of the debate, the Council is planning a meeting with MINUSTAH’s troop and police contributors.
Also in September, Council members are likely to start discussions on the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate, which expires on 15 October.
Key Recent Developments
When the Council last discussed Haiti, on 24 March, there had been some encouraging progress in the preparations for the long overdue local and legislative elections. In particular, Council members as well as Honoré in her briefing welcomed the 14 March “El Rancho” accord between the main political players. The accord provided for the amendment of the 2013 electoral law to allow for combined elections to be held by 26 October for two-thirds of the senate, the entire chamber of deputies, municipal administrations and local councils. It also called for the conversion of the former Transitional College of the Permanent Electoral Council into a new Provisional Electoral Council with each branch of power changing up to one of its three nominees, as well as a partial cabinet reshuffle.
In the period since the accord was concluded, however, implementation of its key provisions has been hampered by continuing political bickering and it is now unlikely that elections will be held by 26 October. While the chamber of deputies adopted the necessary amendments to the electoral law on 1 April, the vote in the senate has been blocked by a group of six senators who oppose the accord on constitutional grounds. On 11 August, the electoral council informed President Michel Martelly that it would be technically impossible to organise the first round of elections by 26 October due to the absence of an amended electoral law providing the required legal framework. At press time, there were reports that the application of article 12 of the “El Rancho” accord was being considered as a way out of the crisis. This article states that in the event that the two branches of parliament have not voted on the amended electoral law within 10 days of signature of the agreement, the law is automatically on hold and the electoral council is allowed to override the lack of approval and move forward with elections.
The Secretary-General visited Haiti on 14-15 July, meeting with the president, the prime minister, parliamentarians, judges, police and representatives of civil society, as well as families affected by cholera. A small group of demonstrators told him to go home while calling MINUSTAH an occupation force responsible for the cholera epidemic. In a press conference at the end of the visit, the Secretary-General expressed concern about the political gridlock and also conveyed his regrets to the victims of the cholera epidemic. (Meanwhile, the UN is continuing to claim it has immunity against lawsuits filed in US courts by the victims.)
In his report on MINUSTAH, which was circulated to Council members on 22 August, the Secretary-General strongly emphasised the importance of elections in Haiti to be held this year and called on political actors to rise above their differences to ensure the holding of transparent and inclusive elections “in the higher interest of their country” (S/2014/617).
The Secretary-General’s report also contains recommendations for a further drawdown of MINUSTAH based on a strategic assessment mission which was deployed to Haiti in June as announced in his 7 March report to the Council. (This report presented five options for a post-2016 UN presence in Haiti ranging from the termination of the peacekeeping mandate and appointment of a UN Special Envoy for Haiti or establishment instead of a UN special political mission, to replacing MINUSTAH by a new, much smaller peacekeeping mission or maintaining MINUSTAH with a revised mandate.) The review concluded that it would be desirable to ensure the continuity of UN support until elections have taken place and a new government has been installed and that MINUSTAH’s shutdown would be premature.
At the same time, the Secretary-General argues that there is scope for a further consolidation of MINUSTAH in light of recent security gains. He therefore recommends a two-step drawdown of the mission, involving first the renewal of its mandate for one year with a reduction of the authorised military component from its current level of 5,021 troops to 2,370 by June 2015. (The police component would remain at its current level of 2,601 officers.) As a second step the force could then be further reduced following the 2015 presidential elections and the installation of a new government, depending on the situation at the time.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallón, visited Haiti from 15-22 July. In a press conference on 22 July in Port-au-Prince, Gallon highlighted main areas of concern, including high levels of social and economic inequality, the practice of prolonged pretrial detention, with 80 percent of prisoners awaiting trial, and weaknesses in the rule of law.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, undertook a visit to Haiti from 28 June to 5 July, to assess the overall situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country. During a press conference in Port-Au-Prince on 4 July, he emphasised that although the number of IDPs has decreased from 1.5 million to approximately 100,000, it was time to focus on a development approach for the achievement of durable solutions for the displaced. In this regard, Beyani welcomed the creation of sectorial platforms and inter-ministerial committees to coordinate development activities, but cautioned that these measures should extend to IDPs as well, particularly in key areas such as water, sanitation, health, education, employment and agriculture. He also recommended conducting a “needs based assessment” of all IDPs as well as verifying the location of those who live outside of camps.
The difficult political situation, including the continued impasse over matters relating to the elections, remains a key issue for the Council. The mandate of two thirds of the senators and all members of the chamber of deputies will expire in January 2015 and the inability to hold elections by then could therefore lead to the dissolution of parliament and Martelly ruling by decree.
Other key issues include ongoing efforts to strengthen the rule of law, enhance the capacity of the police, improve the humanitarian situation, combat cholera and promote economic development.
A separate key issue is the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate and whether to authorise a reduction of its military strength along the lines recommended by the Secretary-General.
One option for the Council would be to adopt a statement voicing concern about the continued delays in the preparations for elections, urging political actors to resolve their differences, expressing support for the Special Representative and calling for elections to be held this year. (In a 28 January 2013 press statement, Council members called for the holding of elections by the end of that year.)
Another option in September is simply for Council members to listen to the Special Representative’s briefing and express their national positions in the debate.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members are united in their concern about the political situation and the lack of progress in organising elections. There is a sense among key Council members, however, that the scope for Council action is limited and that the situation can best be dealt with bilaterally. There is also a belief that any outside pressure which is seen as favouring one side over another may only make the situation worse.
As for the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate, at press time Council members were still studying the Secretary-General’s recommendations in this regard, but views on the way forward are likely to differ. Whereas members generally agree that conditions on the ground must be taken into account when considering a further drawdown, some are more cautious than others about reducing the military strength of the mission under the present circumstances, in particular in light of the continued uncertainty surrounding the elections, and may consider the Secretary-General’s recommendation as going too far. Others, such as France and the UK, who have in the past expressed their preference for an accelerated drawdown, may be more likely to support the recommendations.
While the US is the penholder on Haiti, the Group of Friends of Haiti plays an influential role. (Current members are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Peru, the US and Uruguay, which is the chair.)
UN Documents on Haiti
|Security Council Resolution|
|10 October 2013 S/RES/2119||renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate until 15 October 2014.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|28 January 2013 SC/10901||called for the holding of elections by the end of 2013.|
|29 August 2014 S/2014/617||was the latest MINUSTAH report.|
|7 March 2014 S/2014/162||was the report on MINUSTAH which outlined five options for a post-2016 UN presence in Haiti.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|24 March 2014 S/PV.7147||was the most recent Council debate on Haiti.|