Expected Council Action
In April, the Council is scheduled to hold a debate on the situation in Haiti with a briefing from Special Representative and head of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) Helen Meagher La Lime ahead of the expiration of MINUJUSTH’s mandate on 15 April. At press time, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is also scheduled to brief. A civil society briefer may also be included. The Council is expected to adopt a decision determining the nature of the UN presence following the end of the mandate of MINUJUSTH.
Key Recent Developments
February was marked by violent protests throughout much of the country in which 34 people were reportedly killed. President Jovenel Moïse and Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant have both pledged to address the root causes of the protests, namely claims of mismanagement, inflation, and embezzlement of money from a programme of discounted oil from Venezuela. The situation has since become calmer. Challenges remain in the form of mistrust between Moïse and Céant as well as Haiti’s barely-functioning and fragmented parliament. According to the Secretary-General’s latest report, in 2018 fewer than half of scheduled parliamentary sessions were held and only seven laws were adopted. On 18 March the Parliament passed a no-confidence vote against Céant and his government. Céant called it “illegal”, and at press time a new prime minister had not yet been appointed.
On 1 March, the Secretary-General transmitted to the Council his report on MINUJUSTH, which included recommendations from the UN strategic assessment. The assessment was to recommend the appropriate time to close MINUJUSTH, which sectors the UN should continue to support, and an appropriate UN configuration post-MINUJUSTH. The Secretary-General said in the report that he believes Haiti remains on a positive trajectory, with varying degrees of democratic functioning and institutional strengthening.
Council members received an update in consultations on 8 March from Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas Miroslav Jenča. They discussed recent political and security developments as well as the upcoming mandate renewal. According to Jenča, all Haitian stakeholders agree that MINUJUSTH’s mandate must end in October. The Secretariat was clear in its desire for a strong UN political presence to remain in Haiti with close cooperation amongst all UN entities. Members agreed to the press elements on the meeting that France conveyed at the media stakeout.
Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller briefed member states on 13 March on the humanitarian situation in Haiti and OCHA’s Humanitarian Response Plan. Mamadou Diallo, the UN Deputy Special Representative, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti, who also participated in the meeting, reported that 2.6 million Haitians will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019. Mueller stressed that last year the appeal for Haiti was funded at just 13 percent, making Haiti the most underfunded crisis in the world; the shortfall in international support threatens Haiti’s strong work towards a better future, she said.
Key Issues and Options
The Council is expected to renew MINUJUSTH’s mandate by 15 April, as resolution 2410 stipulated that the Council should consider “the withdrawal of MINUJUSTH and transition to a non-peacekeeping United Nations presence in Haiti beginning no sooner than 15 October 2019”. What this will mean for the post-15 October period, however, is up for debate and a source of Council disagreement.
The Secretariat wants a smooth and orderly transition that maintains a strong UN political presence in Haiti. It considers a progressive approach important to a successful transition. As the Council now looks ahead to the period after mid-October, the three broad options appear to be a renewal of MINUJUSTH, the closure of MINUJUSTH with replacement by a special political mission (SPM), or the closure of MINUJUSTH with replacement by a strong UN Country Team (UNCT).
A likely option for the Council may be to approve a six-month renewal of MINUJUSTH while simultaneously stipulating what will follow it, either in a separate resolution or as part of the renewal. This would be comparable to the transition of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to MINUJUSTH. The Secretariat will want to know ahead of time what comes next in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Council members are united in supporting Haiti, though questions remain about the best way to do so. In consultations on 8 March, some members were apparently sufficiently worried in the wake of the February protests to suggest that the Council examine extending MINUJUSTH past October. Those members do not want to let Haiti slide back into bad habits, especially with upcoming elections scheduled for October. Some members stressed that human rights will need to remain in any next phase, which may be a source of Council disagreement. Several members have indicated the importance of continued UN support for rebuilding Haitian institutions.
More broadly, members supported the idea of an SPM, as suggested by the Secretary-General. Most seem in favour of a medium-sized SPM, while there has also been some support for a small SPM with a strategic advisory role. However, some members strongly believe that the situation in Haiti does not constitute a threat to international peace and security, and that support can therefore be continued through a UNCT.
The status of the October elections is uncertain. There has been no progress on an electoral budget or law. Some members feel that while the Haitian National Police (HNP) will be able to provide electoral security, it will be necessary for the UN to maintain a presence for electoral and technical support. Some also want the SPM to be able to advise the HNP in planning electoral security. Members may be considering budgetary implications as they determine the future role of the UN, especially given the US initiative to streamline the cost of peace operations.
The situation in Venezuela remains a matter to watch. While there is no explicit link, Russia has said in several public sessions that the differing Western attitudes to Haiti and Venezuela are hypocritical. According to Russia, the US has not welcomed the protests in Haiti, while supporting those in Venezuela.
The US, as penholder, sometimes interacts during draft negotiations with the Group of Friends of Haiti, comprising Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Peru, the US and Uruguay. However, the level of interaction has varied from year to year.
At press time, no draft for the mandate renewal and post-MINUJUSTH plans had been circulated.
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.|
|1 March 2019S/2019/198||This was the Secretary-General’s report on MINUJUSTH.|