April 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 March 2017
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AMERICAS

Haiti

Expected Council Action

This month the Security Council is due to extend the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) before the current mandate expires on 15 April. Ahead of the renewal, the Council is expected to convene a meeting with troop-contributing countries and hold a debate with a briefing by Special Representative and head of MINUSTAH Sandra Honoré, who will present the Secretary-General’s latest MINUSTAH report.  

Key Recent Developments

On 20 November 2016, Haiti held presidential and partial legislative elections. The elections were originally scheduled for 9 October but were postponed because of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, which struck Haiti on 4 October. The Council held its semi-annual debate on Haiti shortly thereafter, on 11 October, with the impact of the hurricane as a main theme. On 13 October, the Council renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate for six months with no changes in its authorised military and police strength. It urged Haiti’s political actors to complete the electoral process without further delays.

The November elections took place in a generally calm atmosphere with no major violent incidents, but voter turnout was only just over 20 percent. Following the release of preliminary tallies that showed Jovenel Moïse, the candidate of former president Michel Martelly’s party Parti Haitien Tet Kale (PHTK) with more than 50 percent of the votes, the main opposition candidates—Jude Celestin, Jean-Charles Moïse and Maryse Narcisse—challenged the results. (Moïse also topped the poll in the presidential elections held on 25 October 2015, which were later annulled in response to allegations of irregularities and voter fraud.) The new challenges were rejected by the Provisional Electoral Council, which on 3 January announced the final results, confirming that Moïse had obtained 55.6 percent of the vote, thus removing the need for a second round. In a 4 January press statement, Council members welcomed the announcement and urged all political actors to accept the results, refrain from violence and work together to build a stable and prosperous Haiti.

On 29 January, the second round of the remaining parliamentary seats and the single round of local elections were held, giving PHTK a majority in parliament. Following both the 20 November and 29 January elections, the electoral observer mission of the Organization of American States concluded that no major irregularities had been observed that could have changed the outcomes.

Moïse was inaugurated on 7 February, as foreseen when the Council renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate in October. On 22 February, Moïse announced the selection of Jack Guy Lafontant, a medical doctor, to serve as his prime minister. As required by the constitution, parliament confirmed Lafontant’s 18-minister cabinet and his government programme on 21 March. In his inaugural speech, Lafontant stressed the seriousness of the challenges Haiti faces and called for national unity as he outlined the government’s new priorities.

On 16 March, the Secretary-General submitted his report to the Council with recommendations for the future reconfiguration of MINUSTAH based on the strategic assessment mission to Haiti conducted from 6 to 11 February. The mission concluded that despite recent positive developments on the political front, Haiti is still in “a delicate period of political transition”. It would be important to avoid a security vacuum and to not repeat the failures of past transitions, such as the closing in 2000 of the previous UN operation in Haiti, which was followed by an electoral crisis and large-scale public unrest. The mission emphasised the importance of a strong UN political and good offices role.

Based on the findings of the mission, the Secretary-General recommended a final six-month extension of MINUSTAH involving the gradual withdrawal of the military component. He further recommended the establishment of a smaller successor peacekeeping mission focused on the rule of law and police development, which would retain seven of the current 11 formed police units, while the number of individual police would be reduced from 1,001 to 295. In an annex, the report provided an update on progress in achieving the mandated tasks identified in the Secretary-General’s initial consolidation plan as outlined in his 8 March 2013 report to the Council.

On 25 November 2016, the Secretary-General submitted a report to the General Assembly that provided more details on the UN’s new approach to cholera in Haiti. It was first signalled on 19 August when the UN spokesperson said the Secretary-General regretted the suffering of the Haitian people resulting from the cholera epidemic and that the UN had “a moral responsibility to the victims”. As outlined in the report, the UN will work along two tracks. Track one involves intensifying the UN’s support for efforts aimed at reducing and ultimately ending the transmission of cholera, improving access to care and treatment, and addressing the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems in Haiti. Track two involves developing a package of material assistance and support to Haitians most directly affected by cholera, drawing on contributions from member states.

During a General Assembly meeting on 1 December 2016, the Secretary-General estimated that the new approach would require additional funding of $400 million and called on member states to make contributions to the UN Haiti cholera response multi-partner trust fund already established. The General Assembly adopted a resolution on 16 December welcoming the new approach, calling on member states and other stakeholders to support it, and requesting the Secretary-General to submit another report during the General Assembly’s current session. According to a letter from the Secretary-General sent to member states in February, however, the voluntary contributions that had been received as of 8 February amounted to only 2 percent of the total amount sought.

Human Rights-related Developments

On 21 March, the Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue during its 34th session with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallón—who visited the country from 28 February to 11 March—to discuss his most recent report. The report, which covers the period from 24 March 2016 to 25 January 2017, welcomed the completion of Haiti’s electoral process and its insufficient but encouraging progress on women’s rights. However, the report also highlighted the extremely inhuman, cruel and degrading detention conditions in Haitian prisons and expressed concern at the lack of progress in the trial of former president Jean-Claude Duvalier’s associates. Gallón reiterated his recommendations to set up a truth, justice and reparations commission to address past human rights violations and a similar commission to provide remedies to the victims of cholera.

Key Issues

A key issue for the Council in April is the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate and whether to endorse the Secretary-General’s recommendations. Related issues include the continued need to develop the capacity of the Haitian National Police and address the lack of progress in the areas of rule of law and human rights-related reforms, in particular with regard to criminal justice and ensuring accountability for past abuses, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report.

A further issue is the lack of funding for the new cholera approach and the implications for the UN’s standing in Haiti.

Options

The main option for the Council is to adopt a resolution extending MINUSTAH for a final six-month period and authorising a smaller successor mission, as recommended by the Secretary-General, with a strong rule of law and human rights monitoring mandate. It could also urge member states to make contributions to the cholera trust fund.

Council Dynamics

According to established Council practice, draft resolutions on MINUSTAH are normally negotiated and agreed among the Group of Friends of Haiti, which comprises Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Peru, the US and Uruguay, before being circulated to all 15 Council members by the US, as the penholder. At press time, it seems members of the Group of Friends were close to reaching agreement on a draft endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendations.

While some members apparently advocated a 12-month extension of MINUSTAH’s mandate in discussions with the Secretariat ahead of the issuance of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, there was no push-back in the Group of Friends on the proposed six-month renewal. Negotiations this time have instead focused on whether to include more language on the humanitarian situation, human rights and peacebuilding and add references to the new approach on cholera. It seems that France and the US have pushed for a shorter text and have reservations about including proposed language on cholera, while Brazil and other Latin-American countries feel it is important to reflect some of the observations on human rights and humanitarian challenges and the importance of peacebuilding contained in the Secretary-General’s report. Other Council members seem supportive of the Secretary-General’s recommendations and are expected to go along with the draft agreed by the Group of Friends without any major changes.

UN Documents 
Security Council Resolution
13 October 2016 S/RES/2313 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of MINUSTAH for six months while maintaining its authorised troop strength at 2,370 military personnel.
Secretary-General’s Reports
16 March 2017 S/2017/223 This was Secretary-General’s Report on MINUSTAH.
25 November 2016 A/71/620 This was Secretary-General’s report on the new approach to cholera in Haiti.
8 March 2013 S/2013/139 This was a report on MINUSTAH.
Security Council Meeting Record
11 October 2016 S/PV.7789 This was a debate on Haiti.
Security Council Press Statement
4 January 2017 SC/12666 This statement welcomed the announcement of the final presidential results from the 20 November 2016 elections in Haiti.
Other
8 March 2017 A/HRC/34/73 This was the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti.
13 January 2017 A/RES/71/161 This was the General Assembly resolution welcoming the new cholera approach.