Expected Council Action
In September, the Council will receive the second report on the implementation of resolution 2410 that on 10 April extended under Chapter VII of the UN Charter the mandate of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), and will hold a briefing on the situation in Haiti.
The mandate of MINUJUSTH expires on 15 April 2019.
Key Recent Developments
Resolution 2410, which extended the mandate of MINUJUSTH for another year, set comprehensive reporting requirements on the implementation of the resolution. Starting 1 June, the resolution requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months, conduct a strategic assessment of the mission, and present recommendations on its future. The April meeting was the Council’s most recent meeting on Haiti. It did not hold a meeting in June after the Secretary-General issued his first report on the implementation of resolution 2410. It seems that no Council member—including the penholder, the US—requested a meeting to discuss the report.
Describing the situation in Haiti as relatively stable, the 1 June Secretary-General’s report noted the positive steps taken by President Jovenel Moïse to engage the Haitian population and move forward with political and socio-economic development. While it recognised the progress made over the past several years, the report emphasised the importance of reforming the justice sector, strengthening the rule of law, and improving human rights. The report outlined in detail the specific dates and indicators for achieving benchmarks, with the aim of transitioning responsibilities to the government in coordination with the UN Country Team and in line with MINUJUSTH’s two-year benchmarked exit strategy.
Economic stagnation, coupled with high inflation and a significant budget deficit, has persisted over the past several years in Haiti. On 6 July, the government announced that it would raise fuel prices by about 40 percent, triggering a series of violent protests in Port-au-Prince and other parts of the country. In defending its decision, the government claimed it could no longer afford to subsidise fuel and that it needed to free up funds for other social services. The next day, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced that the government would temporarily halt the price hike. Nevertheless, protests and violence continued for many days thereafter and resulted in several civilian deaths. In a 12 July press statement, the Council condemned all acts of violence and attacks on civilians while emphasising the importance of respect for the rule of law.
Anticipating a no-confidence vote in the legislature, Lafontant formally resigned on 15 July. In early August, Moïse nominated Jean Henry Céant as the new prime minister. Céant has been an active player on the political scene in Haiti and ran in the 2010 and 2016 presidential elections.
Haiti’s Constitution requires the legislature to approve the appointment of a new prime minister. At press time, the legislature still had not reached agreement on Céant’s appointment.
On 1 August, Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Helen Meagher La Lime (USA) as his Special Representative for Haiti and head of MINUJUSTH. La Lime succeeds Susan D. Page, who served in the position for just over six months; on 4 May she had been appointed the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Rule of Law, Global Focal Point Review Implementation. Guterres designated Mamadou Diallo, the Deputy Special Representative, as the acting head of mission following Page’s departure.
Earlier this year, Page was at the centre of a dispute with the Haitian government after she issued a statement welcoming a judicial corruption inquiry into alleged mismanagement of Venezuelan oil loans by former Haitian government officials and called on authorities to examine alleged human rights violations by the Haitian National Police (HNP). The statement drew criticism from the Haitian government, which perceived Page’s comments as overstepping the UN’s role of supporting the country in the enforcement of rule of law and justice. In a sign of protest, several Haitian government ministers and President Moïse cancelled their plans to attend a February retreat on eradicating cholera in Haiti at Greentree on Long Island hosted by the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for Haiti, Josette Sheeran.
In other developments, on 19 April the government of Haiti and representatives of the UN system reviewed progress on the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2017-2021 in light of the UN’s transition to a non-peacekeeping presence. UNDAF 2017-2021 is a joint effort by the government and the UN to promote sustainable development in the country, covering such issues as poverty reduction and employment, social services, resilience, gender equality/protection, and governance. During the meeting, both sides deliberated MINUJUSTH’s activities in support of strengthening the rule of law in the context of transition. Some aspects of MINUJUSTH’s benchmarked exit strategy are also aligned with relevant elements in UNDAF 2017-2021.
The members of the Economic and Social Council Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti visited Haiti in May, meeting with President Moïse and other key political actors, civil society and development agencies operating in the country. The discussions between the group and its interlocutors focused primarily on socio-economic issues, development priorities and rule of law. The group was established in 1999 to provide recommendations to ECOSOC on how to achieve the most effective and coordinated approach over international assistance to Haiti, but became inactive within months. In 2004, ECOSOC reactivated the group with the mandate to promote socio-economic recovery and to seek coherence and sustainability in international support to Haiti.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 3 July, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue during its 38th session with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and considered his report on the development of a national plan of action to implement the recommendations of international human rights mechanisms, including those made in the context of the Universal Periodic Review and by the independent expert on human rights in Haiti (A/HRC/38/30). The report addressed efforts by the government of Haiti to implement recommendations regarding pre-trial detention, prison overcrowding, criminal legislationreform, accountability, illiteracy and the situation of internally displaced persons and migrants. “There has been very little progress in all these areas,” the High Commissioner said. The report recommended that the HRC continue to pay close attention to the human rights situation in Haiti and monitor progress made in the development and implementation of a national human rights action plan.
Issues and Options
Chief among the issues the Council faces in Haiti is achieving the mission’s benchmarked exit strategy within the projected timeframe of two years from the date of 15 October 2017. Given the possibility of failing to do so, the Council will have to consider how long the mission should continue to work towards these goals. Remaining issues for the Council include the need for the mission to develop further the capacity of the HNP and to continue to encourage progress across all rule of law sectors, in particular regarding reforms related to human rights and criminal justice, before the projected closure of MINUJUSTH in the last quarter of 2019.
The recent tensions in Haiti have exposed some of the underlying socio-economic issues that could potentially threaten the overall security situation. Should this persist, the Council could issue a statement calling for calm and dialogue and supporting the work of the mission and its special representative. It could also, in due time, reassess the plans for the drawdown of the mission and the timelines of the benchmarked exit strategy.
The protracted absence of sufficient funding for the Secretary-General’s new approach to cholera in Haiti is another concern for the Council. To date, only around $8.7 million has been deposited to support cholera efforts; the Secretary-General had estimated that the new approach would cost $400 million.
The prevailing view among Council members is that Haiti has recently made notable progress. The Council commended, as a major milestone, the successful holding of the presidential, legislative and municipal elections and restoration of constitutional order in 2017. This was the backdrop for the Council’s decision to initiate a gradual drawdown and the eventual closure of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the establishment of the smaller successor mission MINUJUSTH in October last year.
Negotiations on the last two mandate renewal resolutions have exposed some diverging views about the scope and the mandate of the UN mission in Haiti. Although in April 2017 the Council voted unanimously for resolution 2350—renewing the mandate of MINUSTAH until 15 October, to be followed by the start of MINUJUSTH the next day—China, Russia and to some extent Bolivia raised concerns regarding the inclusion of human rights in the MINUJUSTH mandate and its being established under Chapter VII, which authorises enforcement action in order to restore international peace and security. During the last mandate renewal, in April, Russia and China abstained during the vote on resolution 2410, citing similar concerns. The Russian representative noted that while there was consensus among Council members that the situation in the country continues to improve, the penholder decided to toughen the draft resolution by invoking the application of Chapter VII for the entirety of the mission’s mandate. He further noted that over the past 14 years, application of Chapter VII has been “carefully limited to the specific tasks of ensuring the physical security of the civilian population and the peacekeepers themselves”. Bolivia voted in favour of the resolution but also echoed these concerns.
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, Uruguay and the US, before being circulated to all 15 Council members by the US as the penholder.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|10 April 2018 S/RES/2410||This was a resolution extending the mandate of MINUJUSTH for another year under Chapter VII and set a timeline for the gradual drawdown of formed police units.|
|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).|
|1 June 2018 S/2018/527||This was the Secretary-General’s latest report on MINUJUSTH.|
|20 March 2018 S/2018/241||This was the Secretary-General’s report of the strategic assessment of MINUJUSTH.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|12 July 2018 SC/13419||This was a press statement that condemned the recent violence in Haiti which resulted in several deaths.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|10 April 2018 S/PV.8226||This was the meeting at which the Council adopted resolution 2410 which extended the mandate of MINUJUSTH for another year under Chapter VII and set a timeline for the gradual drawdown of formed police units.|
|3 April 2018 S/PV.8220||This was the regular debate on Haiti with a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.|