Expected Council Action
In October the Security Council will adopt a resolution extending the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) before the current mandate expires on 15 October.
Key Recent Developments
On 11 September, the Council held a debate on the Secretary-General’s latest report on MINUSTAH (S/2014/617), featuring a briefing by the Special Representative and head of mission, Sandra Honoré. Haiti also participated in the debate, along with Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Uruguay and the EU.
Commenting on the political deadlock over the electoral process, Honoré said that, given the time needed for logistical preparations, the window for holding the elections before the end of the year was rapidly closing. She noted that if elections were not held by 12 January 2015 (when the terms of the remaining two-thirds of the senators and all members of the chamber of deputies expire) parliament would become dysfunctional and a constitutional vacuum would result. She welcomed ongoing efforts to find a way out of the impasse but emphasised that any solution must be based on the constitution and have a solid legal frame allowing for “credible, inclusive and transparent elections”.
With regard to the Secretary-General’s recommendation in his report for a further drawdown of MINUSTAH, Honoré stressed that this was based on a careful analysis of the situation on the ground, the capacity of the Haitian National Police (HNP) and the mission’s activities. (The report calls for a downsizing of the mission’s military component by over 50 percent by June 2015.) She expressed confidence that the mission would be able to fulfil its mandate with a reduced presence, including in areas related to the electoral process and development of the HNP. While noting that the performance of the police continued to improve, Honoré nevertheless strongly emphasised that all stakeholders had to redouble their efforts to enable the police to meet major benchmarks by 2016 and assume full responsibility for security and stability in Haiti.
In the period since the Council’s meeting, there appears to have been little progress towards resolving the political deadlock. Efforts to launch a new dialogue between President Michel Martelly and the senators blocking the adoption of the amended electoral law (which is needed for the elections process to move forward) have been unsuccessful so far. The senators have continued to refuse to meet with the president, and did not participate in consultations convened by Martelly on 22 and 23 September.
On 24 September, Martelly departed for New York and on 26 September spoke at General Assembly where he said he had spared no effort in trying to find a consensus on the elections and also expressed support for the gradual withdrawal of MINUSTAH. He attended a donors’ meeting on 25 September.
Adding to the already difficult political situation, there has been increasing controversy about the investigation of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on charges of corruption. Amid ongoing demonstrations by Aristide’s supporters claiming the investigation was politically motivated, the Martelly-appointed investigative judge issued an order for Aristide to be put under house arrest. A delegation of opposition politicians visited Aristide on 16 September to show their solidarity, defying the judge’s order that all visitors seek permission in advance.
In other developments, on 20 September five inmates escaped from a prison in Cap-Haitien. That followed a 10 August breakout from a prison in Port-au-Prince in which 329 prisoners escaped (and of whom only 80 have been caught), thus adding to already existing concerns about the capacity of the Haitian corrections sector.
The continued political impasse over matters relating to the elections remains a key issue for the Council, in particular with regard to its potential impact on the security situation and the future stability and development of Haiti.
A further key issue for the Council in October is the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate and whether to authorise a reduction in its military strength. This includes the question of whether the timing is right for such a decision amid continuing uncertainty surrounding the elections and growing concerns that the deadlock might lead to a constitutional crisis.
Other ongoing key issues include the need to strengthen the rule of law, enhance the capacity of the HNP, improve the humanitarian situation, combat cholera and promote economic development.
Options for the Council include adopting a resolution which could:
- extend MINUSTAH’s mandate for one year and authorising a further drawdown of the mission’s military component by June from 5,021 personnel to 2,370 (equivalent of two battalions) while keeping the police contingent unchanged at 2,601, as recommended by the Secretary-General; or
- authorise a short term technical roll-over of four to six months that would keep current numbers in place in anticipation of more clarity on the timeline for elections; and
- express concern about the political crisis and its impact on the stability and socio-economic development of Haiti, urging political actors to resolve their differences and calling for fair, just and transparent elections to be held as soon as possible.
Council and Wider Dynamics
At press time, the Council had yet to begin negotiations on MINUSTAH’s mandate renewal, but most members indicated their positions in the 11 September debate, with the overwhelming majority supporting the Secretary-General’s recommendation. Argentina and Chile, however, reiterated concerns expressed earlier about the risks associated with an accelerated drawdown while Jordan also seemed to have some reservations.
At the time of writing, it was unclear how these divisions might be bridged. The US is the penholder on MINUSTAH and normally prepares the first draft resolution on the basis of discussions in the Group of Friends on Haiti, but so far this group has also been divided. (The Group of Friends comprises Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Peru, the US and Uruguay, which is the chair.) Brazil, Canada, France and the US strongly favour the proposed drawdown plan, emphasising that it is the result of a careful and thorough review and has the support of the force commander and the Haitian government, but the other Latin American members of the group appear to support a proposal made by Chile to extend MINUSTAH’s mandate for a period of six months without any reduction in its authorised strength.
Also, it is possible that continuing differences among Council members over whether MINUSTAH should be mandated to conduct so-called quick-impact projects may affect the negotiations. When MINUSTAH’s mandate was last renewed in October 2013, the UK gave an explanation of vote in which it called for an end to this practice, arguing that other UN actors were better placed to perform such tasks. Other Council members, however, seem to feel equally strongly that quick-impact projects are still relevant to the objectives of the mission.
Discussions in the Group of Friends were on hold during the ministerial week of the General Assembly, but MINUSTAH’s mandate renewal was expected to be a theme in some of the bilateral high-level meetings during this time, along with the larger issues related to the situation in Haiti. At press time, the Group of Friends was expected to meet again on 30 September.
UN Documents on Haiti
|Security Council Resolution|
|10 October 2013 S/RES/2119||renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate until 15 October 2014.|
|29 August 2014 S/2014/617||was the latest MINUSTAH report.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|11 September 2014 S/PV.7262||was the most recent debate on Haiti.|
|10 October 2013 S/PV.7040||was the adoption of resolution 2119 with a UK explanation of vote.|