March 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2019
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AMERICAS

Haiti

Expected Council Action

In March, the Council is expected to receive a briefing on the situation in Haiti from Special Representative and head of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) Helen Meagher La Lime. It will also consider the most recent report on the implementation of resolution 2410 and political and security developments in the context of the 15 April expiry of MINUJUSTH’s mandate.

Key Recent Developments

The security situation in Haiti remains volatile. After violent protests in October, November and December 2018, a fresh wave of protests started on 7 February after celebrations meant to mark 33 years since the end of the Duvalier regime. Among the underlying issues are claims of mismanagement, inflation, and embezzlement of money from a discounted oil program from Venezuela. Thousands have taken to the streets to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, with ensuing violence, looting, and property destruction. Living conditions have deteriorated as a result of disrupted transportation and trade. In addition to Port-au-Prince, demonstrations have been reported throughout the country, including in Cap-Haïtien and Les Cayes. At press time, at least seven people had died in the February unrest.  On 12 February, 78 detainees escaped from a prison on Tiburon Peninsula in southern Haiti during a protest in front of a police station and the adjoining prison.

President Moïse has dismissed calls to resign, insisting he was elected in free, fair, and legitimate elections, and offering instead to talk with opposition stakeholders to find a solution. Parliamentary and legislative elections are scheduled to be held in 2019. In an attempt to calm protesters, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant announced on 16 February that there would be a 30 percent reduction in government expenses, as well as decreased privileges for government officials, such as allowances for telephones and foreign travel.

On 26 February, the Secretary-General transmitted his report on MINUJUSTH. The mission’s core mandate is to assist the government in strengthening rule-of-law institutions, reinforcing national police capacities, and engaging in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis. As requested in resolution 2350, the Secretary-General created 11 benchmarks in 2018 towards a non-peacekeeping UN presence, based on recommendations by MINUJUSTH and Haitian stakeholders. Any planning for the discussed withdrawal of the formed police units is linked to progress on these benchmarks.

The Council’s most recent formal meeting on Haiti was in December 2018. La Lime, who took her post in August, briefed for the first time. She praised the efforts of the Haitian National Police (HNP) in handling the 2018 protests. She said MINUJUSTH continues to strive to implement its mandate, despite challenges. It assists rule of law institutions, increasing the capacity of HNP and promoting human rights in Haiti. She reported on the creation of a joint commission with Haitian stakeholders to remove decision-making bottlenecks and create a forum for discussions. She said Haiti is dedicated to improving human rights, including expanding the ability for human rights organisations to operate.

La Lime highlighted some remaining plans, such as replicating pilot programmes for reducing pre-trial detention countrywide, increasing the capacity of investigative mechanisms, tackling gang violence, and securing parliamentary approval of essential legislation such as a new criminal and procedural code. While not every benchmark will be achieved by the target date of 15 October, with careful and responsible planning, all options for reconfiguring the UN presence to a non-peacekeeping role are possible, she said.

On 21 February, at the request of France, Germany, and the US, La Lime briefed Council members on the February protests under “any other business” in consultations. After the meeting, the Council president read out elements for the press that urged all Haitian citizens to act peacefully, called on actors to engage in good faith, and reaffirmed the commitment of Council members to working with the people and the government of Haiti towards a more secure and prosperous future.

Key Issues and Options

The focus remains on tracking progress towards achieving the benchmarks necessary for the transition to a non-peacekeeping UN presence in Haiti. The Council will also continue to monitor the effects of the riots and any possible discussions between the government and members of the opposition.

Council Dynamics

Council members overall appear united in viewing developments in Haiti as mostly positive. It seems likely that in the near future MINUJUSTH will be replaced by a special political mission, and Council members will want to hear more details and recommendations, which are expected to be included in the Secretary-General’s report. The Council appears anxious to have a smooth transition that considers the needs and desires of the host country while protecting the investment of the international community.

However, some differences remain. Council members have been particularly divided on the use of Chapter VII in MINUJUSTH’s mandate. While the Council voted unanimously during the last mandate renewal, explanations after the vote revealed objections by Russia and China to using Chapter VII in a situation which they deem as posing no threat to international peace and security.

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. During the last mandate renewal in April 2018, however, this practice was not followed. The US submitted the draft to the Group of Friends for comments only. 

UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI

Security Council Resolutions
10 April 2018S/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 2017S/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).