Expected Council Action
In April, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), which expires on 15 April.
Key Recent Developments
On 20 March, the Secretary-General transmitted his strategic assessment of MINUJUSTH, which was requested in resolution 2350. The report contained 11 benchmarks for an exit strategy toward a non-peacekeeping UN presence, developed over the past three months. The exit strategy was developed by MINUJUSTH in collaboration with a number of Haitian interlocutors, including the government, the Parliament, judicial institutions, the Haitian National Police (HNP), and civil society organisations. Any future planning for a staggered withdrawal of the formed police units will be linked to progress in related benchmarks. The benchmarks describe the desired end state for the situation in Haiti in the last quarter of 2019, which would facilitate a smooth transition to the UN country team. They are:
- The executive and legislative branches would have promulgated legislation that improves access to justice, enhances the HNP’s development, and addresses prolonged pre-trial detention, which is currently resulting in prison overcrowding, and all branches would have initiated implementation of the new legislation, including through sustainable budget allocations.
- The Haitian authorities would make timely, gender-balanced and merit-based appointments in the justice sector, including in the High Council of the Judiciary, High Court of Appeals, and the High Court of Audits and Administrative Disputes.
- The Corrections Directorate would perform key management functions, providing basic services to all detainees and ensuring respect for their rights.
- The HNP would respond to public disorder and manage security threats throughout Haiti without requiring international support and demonstrating elevated levels of professionalism, human rights awareness and gender-sensitivity, as a result of the implementation of the relevant priorities of the HNP Strategic Development Plan for 2017-2021.
- There would be strengthened internal oversight and accountability mechanisms in the justice, corrections and police sectors, addressing misconduct and ensuring increased effectiveness and compliance with human rights.
- Haitian women and men, and in particular those from the most vulnerable and marginalised communities, would demonstrate increased trust in the capability and willingness of the justice system to address crime and of the HNP to provide security.
- The national Office for the Protection of Citizens would function independently and protect citizens whose rights have been violated.
- Civil society organisations, including those representing women, would advocate with the Haitian authorities to promote and protect human rights and be empowered to bring allegations of human rights violations to the competent judicial or administrative authorities.
- National authorities would comply with international human rights obligations, including holding individuals responsible for current and past human rights violations and fulfilling their reporting obligations to human rights treaty bodies.
- Rule of law and anti-corruption institutions would demonstrate increased capacity to fight corruption.
- The Permanent Electoral Council would be established through a credible and transparent process and would exercise its electoral responsibilities in an independent and transparent manner, without requiring international support.
According to the report, MINUJUSTH will establish a monitoring mechanism to track progress toward these benchmarks, in close cooperation with the government of Haiti, which would set the timeline and jointly agreed indicators as operational components of the exit strategy. MINUJUSTH and the UN country team will assess their preparedness for the upcoming transition, including through a capacity assessment of the country team against the programmatic aspects of MINUJUSTH’s mandate, which will be informed by gender and women, peace and security perspectives.
The Secretary-General also recommended that the Security Council extend the mandate of MINUJUSTH to reflect the timeline defined by the benchmarked exit strategy. He will continue to keep the structure of the mission under review and will report to the Council with his recommendations for a staggered withdrawal based on results achieved against the benchmarks and the situation on the ground.
On 28 February, Secretary-General António Guterres and Special Envoy for Haiti Josette Sheeran hosted an overnight retreat on eradicating cholera in Haiti at Greentree on Long Island. Several Haitian government ministers were scheduled to attend, along with President Moïse. However, the delegation cancelled its attendance after a dispute erupted a day earlier following the issuing of a statement by head of MINUJUSTH Susan D. Page that welcomed a judicial corruption inquiry into how $2 billion in oil loans from Venezuela was spent by former Haitian government officials and called on authorities to look into alleged human rights violations by the HNP. Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue said Page’s statement went beyond the UN’s role to support the country in the enforcement of rule of law and justice.
Human Rights-Related Developments
In his opening statement at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on 7 March, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed his regret at the “lack of action regarding development of a national Plan of Action to implement recommendations of human rights mechanisms”. On 22 March, the High Commissioner gave an oral briefing to the HRC on the human rights situation in Haiti.
Key Issues and Options
The key issue is whether or not the ambitious benchmarks laid out for the transition to a non-peacekeeping UN presence in Haiti are achievable in the projected timeframe and, if not, how long the mission should be given to continue its work towards these goals. Related ongoing issues for the Council include the need for MINUJUSTH to develop further the capacity of the HNP and continue to encourage progress across all rule of law sectors and concerning human rights-related reforms, in particular with regard to criminal justice, before its projected closure in the last quarter of 2019. The Council may need to closely monitor developments in regards to the benchmarks, which could be reflected in the April resolution renewing the mandate, and continue to tailor the mandate accordingly.
Another issue is the lack of funding for the Secretary-General’s new approach to cholera. In response to his July 2017 invitation to member states to voluntarily waive the return of the 2015-2016 unencumbered balances and credits from MINUJUSTH’s predecessor, MINUSTAH, to support the UN New Approach to Cholera, 31 member states positively responded; however this only amounted to $3.3 million out of $40.5 million. A total of $7.7 million has been pledged in support of cholera efforts. The Secretary-General had estimated that the new approach would cost $400 million.
Council members seem content with the progress Haiti has achieved in the last year. The presidential, legislative and municipal elections were all held peacefully without major threats to overall security, and President Jovenel Moïse’s inauguration marked the restoration of constitutional order. This was the backdrop for the Council’s adoption of resolution 2350, which authorised the gradual drawdown and closure of MINUSTAH by 15 October followed by the establishment of a much smaller successor mission, MINUJUSTH.
While the Council voted unanimously in favour of resolution 2350, some members expressed concern regarding certain aspects of the resolution. Most notably, in explaining their votes, Russia and China objected to the inclusion of a human rights mandate for the successor mission and to its being established under Chapter VII, which authorises enforcement action in order to restore international peace and security. Bolivia also expressed reservations about invoking Chapter VII in the resolution, noting that this does not reflect the reality in the ground. Furthermore, Russia has also argued that some of the aspects of the MINUJUSTH mandate are not clear and would be difficult to implement in practice. These concerns may be raised again during the April mandate renewal.
Council practice is that draft resolutions on Haiti are 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.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|13 April 2017 S/RES/2350||This was a resolution extending MINUSTAH’s mandate for a final six-month period until 15 October and authorising the establishment of a smaller successor peacekeeping mission, the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).|
|20 March 2018 S/2018/241||This was the Secretary-General’s report of the strategic assessment of MINUJUSTH.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 October 2017 S/PV.8068||Special Representative for Haiti Sandra Honoré delivered the final briefing on MINUSTAH ahead of its 15 October closure.|