What's In Blue

Haiti Debate

The Council is set to hold a debate on the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) tomorrow morning (3 October). Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros of Guatemala—which holds the Council presidency this month—is expected to chair the debate. Mariano Fernández, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSTAH, will also brief Council members during the meeting. After tomorrow’s debate, the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing MINUSTAH’s mandate next Tuesday (current MINUSTAH mandate ends on 15 October).

The prospective reduction of MINUSTAH’s force level will likely attract significant attention during tomorrow’s debate. In his recent report (S/2012/678), the Secretary-General recommended that the Council consider reducing troop levels (from 7,340 to 6,270) and police levels (from 3,241 to 2,601) by June 2013. (Such a reduction would include the withdrawal of 1,070 infantry and engineering personnel.) It is anticipated that Council members will discuss their individual perspectives on this issue during the debate, including on the rate and level of reductions. There may likewise be an emphasis in the discussion on the importance of building the capacity of the Haitian National Police as the force level of MINUSTAH reduces.

Another key issue that may be discussed is the new aid-coordination mechanism that has been launched by the government of Haiti. This mechanism is designed to help ensure that international assistance is aligned as closely as possible with Haiti’s long-term development goals. (Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe discussed the new mechanism at a side-event of the General Assembly General Debate on 27 September, which focused on Haiti’s reconstruction; Haitian President Michel Martelly and over 20 bilateral and multilateral donors participated in the event.) It seems that an aid effectiveness committee, which the prime minister will chair, and which will involve civil society groups, businesses, and donors will constitute an important element of the mechanism.

An additional important issue that may be raised during the debate is the need for Haiti to hold legislative, municipal, and local elections, which have been delayed since November 2011. In his recent report, the Secretary-General said that these elections “will help revitalize Haitian institutions and minimize the institutional vacuum following the end of term of 10 senators.” (The terms of these senators ended on 8 May and their seats have not been filled because of the delay in the elections.)

The resolution scheduled to be adopted next week is likely to extend the mission for an additional year, as has been customary. Negotiations on the resolution among the Haiti Group of Friends—which includes Council members Colombia, France, Guatemala, and the US—began several weeks ago. It seems that Council members are largely supportive of the Secretary-General’s recommendation to reduce the authorised military and police strength of the mission. However, some Council members emphasise that the drawdown should not compromise the effectiveness of the mission. Looking towards the future, most Council members consider that gains in security, governance, and rule of law should be consolidated before MINUSTAH leaves the country.

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