Expected Council Action
In March the Security Council is due to hold its semi-annual debate on Haiti, with a briefing by the Special Representative and head of mission, Sandra Honoré. The Council is expecting a report from the Secretary-General on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in early March.
MINUSTAH’s mandate expires on 15 October.
Key Recent Developments
On 23-25 January, the Council sent a visiting mission to Haiti co-led by Ambassadors Samantha Power (US) and Cristián Barros (Chile). The visit took place during an acute political crisis resulting from the failure to hold timely elections, with demonstrations continuing against the government of President Michel Martelly.
Despite the urging of the international community, Haitian politicians were unable to overcome their differences and make the necessary compromises for elections to take place before the expiry on 12 January of the terms of all the members of the Chamber of Deputies and a second third of the senators. (The terms of the first third expired in January 2012.) In a final attempt to avoid the dissolution of parliament, Martelly announced on 11 January that he had reached a deal with the opposition (later referred to as the Kinam accord) involving the appointment of a new Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP) and adoption by parliament, in an extraordinary session, of an amended electoral law that would extend the deputies’ terms until 24 April and senators’ terms until 9 September. The parliament failed to reach the necessary quorum to hold a meeting before the 12 January deadline, however, thus leading to its dissolution and Martelly’s ruling by decree.
According to the terms of reference for the Council mission, a key objective was to “underscore the importance of inclusiveness and constructiveness” to political stability and development and to “urge Haiti’s political actors to work cooperatively and without further delays to ensure the holding of free, fair, inclusive, and transparent legislative, partial senatorial, municipal and local elections” in accordance with Haiti’s constitution.
When the Council delegation arrived in Port-au-Prince on 23 January, the members of the new CEP had just been sworn in. This followed the 16 January installation of Evans Paul, a long-term moderate opposition leader and former Port-au-Prince mayor, as prime minister and the formation on 19 January of a new cabinet comprising 36 ministers. Council members met with Martelly, Paul and other government officials along with the newly appointed members of the CEP and representatives of the opposition and civil society, including women’s groups.
The Council mission also aimed to assess ongoing efforts to strengthen the Haitian National Police and the authorities’ capacity to maintain stability and security throughout the country, as well as implementation of resolution 2180. This resolution, which was adopted on 14 October 2014 and extended MINUSTAH’s mandate for another year, authorised a reduction in the mission’s military component from 5,021 personnel to 2,370 by June 2015. (The police contingent remained unchanged at 2,601.) At the same time, it called on the Secretary-General to ensure that the reductions would only take place after the submission of his upcoming March report to the Council and also to alert the Council in this report of any “major changes” in the situation. Furthermore, the Council emphasised that if conditions changed, it would adapt MINUSTAH’s mandate and force levels to safeguard progress already made towards security and stability in Haiti.
To assess progress in strengthening the police, the Council delegation visited the Haitian National Police Academy in Port-au-Prince. The Council also travelled to the MINUSTAH base in Cap-Haïtien where the force commander, Lieutenant General Jose Luiz Jaborandy Jr. (Brazil), briefed the delegation on the activities of the military component of MINUSTAH and the implications of the planned drawdown.
On 29 January, Power and Barros briefed the Council on the trip. Power focused on the political crisis and said the key message delivered by Council members was that all sides must redouble their efforts to engage in a constructive dialogue and come to an agreement on a framework for free, fair and inclusive elections as soon as possible. She also noted that members had been encouraged by Martelly’s commitment to use his executive authority to ensure the continuity of the state and to organise elections, but she stressed the importance of maintaining political checks and balances. Barros highlighted among other things how the trip had provided Council members an opportunity to assess ongoing efforts to strengthen the police. While noting that progress had been achieved, he also underlined that promoting greater responsibility for the maintenance of stability and security by national authorities was a remaining challenge. With regard to the planned drawdown of MINUSTAH, Barros noted that Council members had an opportunity “to express their different views” in the meeting with the force commander.
Demonstrations against the government continued in February, and there were also several strikes, including a two-day general strike on 9 and 10 February. Principal demands focused on the lowering of gas prices and the resignation of both Martelly and Evans. It was not clear how widespread the protests were (some reports suggested demonstrators were being paid to participate), but they appeared to be largely peaceful.
On 10 February, the CEP presented a tentative electoral calendar with three electoral rounds between July and October 2015–two legislative and one presidential—followed by local elections and the second round of presidential elections in January 2016.
Human Rights-Related Developments
At press time, the independent expert on the human rights situation in Haiti, Gustavo Gallón, was to visit the country from 22 February to 3 March to evaluate the human rights situation, in particular civil and political rights, as a follow-up to his July 2014 mission. He was to focus on five key areas: social inequality, detained persons, the rule of law, human rights violations committed in the past and the impact of natural disasters on human rights. The Human Rights Council will consider Gallón’s report during its 28th session in March.
A key issue for the Council is whether recent developments in Haiti have impacted conditions on the ground in such a way that the decision authorising the drawdown of MINUSTAH beginning in March needs to be revisited. In particular, an important question is whether the timing is right for a drawdown in light of the recent political unrest, continuing uncertainty surrounding the elections and the current capacity of the Haitian police.
A further key issue is whether the Council can do more to encourage Haitian political leaders to reach consensus on a framework that will allow elections to be held this year.
Main options for the Council include:
- adopting a resolution requesting the Secretary-General to delay the drawdown authorised in resolution 2180; or
- adopting a presidential statement as a follow-up to the recent visiting mission to reiterate the Council’s concern about the electoral crisis and its impact on the stability and socio-economic development of Haiti, urge politicians to resolve their differences and call for fair, just and transparent elections to be held as soon as possible.
Taking no action seems to be the most likely option.
Council and Wider Dynamics
It seems that Council members are now less divided with regard to the planned reconfiguration of MINUSTAH than at the time of the adoption of resolution 2180. Although the resolution was adopted by consensus, Latin American members of the Council only reluctantly supported it, as was evident in their explanations of vote. Argentina, an elected member at the time, and Chile expressed regret that they had not been in a position to co-sponsor the resolution, as their concerns about the accelerated drawdown had not been fully taken into account. While most Council members supported the Secretary-General’s proposal for the drawdown to start right away, Argentina and Chile initially wanted to keep troop levels unchanged during the current mandate period, hence the compromise provision in the resolution calling for the drawdown not to start until March.
During the recent visiting mission to Haiti, Latin American countries, including both Council members and some troop-contributing countries, appeared still to have some concerns about the planned reduction of MINUSTAH’s military contingent, given current security challenges and continuing uncertainties surrounding the elections. However, at press time there were no indications that any Council member would push for a reopening of the drawdown decision. Most Council members seem confident that the mission will be able to handle the situation with a reduced military presence. In particular, they note that most of the current security challenges are handled by the police. (There is no disagreement on the continued need for UN police.) It is expected that the Secretary-General’s report will also conclude that there is no reason to change the authorised drawdown plan.
|Security Council Resolution|
|14 October 2014 S/RES/2180||This resolution renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate until 15 October 2015.|
|29 August 2014 S/2014/617||This was the most recent MINUSTAH report.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|29 January 2015 S/PV.7372||This was the briefing on the Council visiting mission to Haiti.|
|14 October 2014 S/PV.7277||This was the adoption of resolution 2180 with explanations of vote by several Council members.|
|Security Council Letter|
|19 January 2015 S/2015/40||This was a letter containing the terms of reference for the Council visiting mission to Haiti.|