What's In Blue

Briefing by Outgoing Head of the UN Mission in Haiti

Tomorrow morning (22 January) Council members will be briefed in consultations by Mariano Fernández Amunátegui (Chile), the outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Although no outcome was anticipated at press time it is possible that Council members may decide to issue a statement following the consultations.

It seems the Group of Friends of Haiti (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Peru, Uruguay and the US) requested the briefing as Fernández is leaving after 20 months as Special Representative. As this will be his final briefing to Council members, Fernández may wish to provide a frank overview of his time in Haiti and of the current situation on the ground. However, the briefing and consultations are not expected to be particularly controversial.

Council members will be keen to receive an update on MINUSTAH’s work in a number of areas, including progress in the security situation and on the reduction of the mission’s overall force levels to 6,270 troops—from the authorised military strength of 7,340—due for completion by June 2013. Council members are also likely to be interested in hearing news on progress in the reconfiguration and consolidation plan for MINUSTAH outlined in the Secretary-General’s report of August 2012 (S/2012/678). (MINUSTAH’s mandate expires on 15 October 2013.)

Council members may also be interested in hearing Fernández’s views on several key areas that are expected to be elaborated upon in the next report of the Secretary-General due in March. Fernández may be asked to provide information on progress made in building the capacity of the Haitian National Police (HNP) so that it can double its current strength of 10,000. (This aim is reflected in the HNP Development Plan 2012-2016 adopted by the government on 31 August 2012.) Some Council members are watching this carefully as the increase in capacity of the HNP will in turn allow a further reduction of MINUSTAH troops.

Another area Fernández may cover is oversight and accountability related to the holding of local, municipal and mid-term legislative elections. On 18 January, the Special Representative called on the government to carry out free and fair elections as soon as possible in 2013, after a delay of more than a year. Council members may ask Fernández for his views on how MINUSTAH could support the urgent formation of a functioning Electoral Council, as well as the organisation of elections in Haiti. In addition, Fernández may choose to address the issue of institution building and the rule of law.

At press time, there was no indication of who would be replacing Fernández. (In December 2012, there were media reports—including in the Haitian press—that career diplomat Sandra Honoré (Trinidad and Tobago) would succeed Fernández. However, it appears that there was opposition to Honore’s appointment by at least one Council member). On 17 January, the Secretary-General announced that Carl Alexandre (US) will take up the position of Deputy Special Representative on 1 March replacing Kevin Kennedy (US), who served in that position from April 2010 until December 2012. Until Alexandre’s arrival in March, Ross Mountain (New Zealand) is serving in the position, effective from 14 January.

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