October 2019 Monthly Forecast

AMERICAS

Haiti

Expected Council Action

In October, the Security Council is expected to hold its last debate on the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) before it transitions to the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), a special political mission (SPM), on 16 October. It will also be briefed on the Secretary-General’s final 90-day report on MINUJUSTH. Members could adopt a Council product welcoming the transition.

Key Recent Developments

In a 13 May letter to the president of the Security Council, the Secretary-General submitted operational details of the proposed SPM, including objectives, structure and size. In response, the Council established BINUH through resolution 2476 on 25 June for an initial period of 12 months. BINUH’s mandate will include advising the government on issues related to promoting and strengthening political stability and good governance, the rule of law, an inclusive inter-Haitian national dialogue, and protecting and promoting human rights. The resolution changed the reporting period from 90 to 120 days. It also requested that the Secretary-General provide strategic benchmarks for BINUH to achieve its tasks.

Haiti continues to be beset with political and economic challenges. On 22 July, President Jovenel Moïse nominated Fritz-William Michel, a relative unknown in Haitian politics, as his fourth prime minister since assuming the role of president in February 2017.

Michel, who must form a government and receive Parliament’s approval for his political program, has been facing difficulties with opposition leaders, who have continued to call on Moïse to resign due to accusations of corruption. On 6 August, Moïse urged Parliament to ratify Michel and his cabinet. On 3 September, the lower house of Parliament approved Michel and his proposed cabinet in a stormy session where at one point some furniture was covered in oil and chairs broken in the chamber. At press time, a Senate vote has been postponed because of a senator’s explosive claim on 13 September that, in exchange for his vote in favour, he accepted a $100,000 bribe from Michel. There have also been allegations of other bribes.

Elections were due to be held in October, but have been postponed indefinitely because of the continued absence of an electoral law. Without elections, in January the terms of one-third of the Senate, the entire lower chamber, and all locally elected officials will expire.

On 25 August, Moïse announced that he had decided not to reappoint Haiti National Police (HNP) Director Michel-Ange Gédéon after the completion of his contract. On 27 August, Moïse appointed Normil Rameau as acting HNP director. Rameau is the former head of Haiti’s Central Directorate of the Judicial Police. Some have criticised this decision as a risky one, coming as MINUJUSTH begins to transfer more responsibilities to the HNP and less than two months before mission transition.

Haiti continues to feel the economic impact of the PetroCaribe corruption scandal. Some $4 billion saved from deferred payments for Venezuelan oil was supposed to be used on social programmes and infrastructure improvements in Haiti, but recent government investigations reportedly show that it was embezzled. There is an extreme gasoline shortage in Haiti. Protests have occurred on and off for months, contributing to calls for Moïse to resign.

The 2019 humanitarian response plan for Haiti, with $126 million required, is currently 20 percent funded.

Council members most recently met on Haiti in closed consultations on 22 July. The Special Representative stressed that the ongoing problems in Haiti are political in nature and not related to peacekeeping, underlining that it was appropriate for the UN’s presence to transition into an SPM.

Key Issues and Options

The key issue for the Council will be to monitor how developments on the ground align with the benchmarks approved by the Council for the withdrawal of MINUJUSTH. It will be important to hear if BINUH is ready to start operations and how the transition of tasks is being achieved. Additionally, Council members will want to carefully consider the Secretary-General’s proposed benchmarks for the first year of BINUH, which are due to be submitted with his final MINUJUSTH report in October.

An additional issue is the further indefinite postponement of Haiti’s elections and the effect this will have on the ground.

It seems likely that the Council will adopt an outcome marking the UN’s transition in Haiti. This was done with previous transitions and closures of peacekeeping missions, such as Sierra Leone in 2005, Côte d’Ivoire in 2017 and Liberia in 2018.

Council and Wider Dynamics

In October’s meeting, members may spend some time reflecting on the gains made in Haiti after 15 years of a UN peacekeeping presence in Haiti (the previous mission, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, was established in 2004). They are likely to acknowledge the challenges that remain, and some may express their worry about the lack of strong governance in Haiti.  Concerns raised by some members during April’s final renewal of MINUJUSTH may be voiced again, namely, that the withdrawal process was being rushed despite increased criminality in the country, deteriorating economic conditions, and continued protests. This view was heard particularly from Council members from the region, the Dominican Republic and Peru.

Looking ahead, some members have emphasised the need for an objectives-based SPM, without what some have termed “artificial deadlines” and with any further transition based on ground realities.

As Haitian institutions take over more responsibilities and the UN downsizes, the role of the region in supporting Haiti will be important, and Council members may want to hear further from those invited to the debate on their plans to assist Haiti during this time. Members from the region and parties significantly involved in Haiti are usually invited to participate. In the last debate on Haiti, representatives from Argentina, Canada, and the EU spoke.

The US is the penholder on Haiti.

UN Documents On Haiti 

Security Council Resolutions
25 June 2019S/RES/2476 This resolution established BINUH, an SPM that will continue the UN presence in Haiti following the conclusion of MINUJUSTH.
12 April 2019S/RES/2466 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of MINUJUSTH for six months, until 15 October.
Security Council Meeting Records
12 April 2019S/PV.8510 This was a meeting at which resolution 2466, renewing the mandate of MINUJUSTH for six months, was adopted with 13 members voting in favour of the resolution and abstentions were cast by the Dominican Republic and Russia.
Security Council Letters
13 May 2019S/2019/387 This letter contained expanded recommendations from the Secretary-General for the Special Political Mission.