What's In Blue

Posted Tue 27 Aug 2013

Haiti Debate

Tomorrow (28 August), the Security Council will hold a debate on the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The Defence Minister of Argentina Agustín Rossi is expected to chair the meeting while Sandra Honoré, the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of mission, will brief. After tomorrow’s debate, the Group of Friends of Haiti—which includes Council members US, France, Argentina and Guatemala—is expected to start negotiating a resolution renewing MINUSTAH’s mandate with a first draft expected by early September. (MINUSTAH’s current mandate ends on 15 October and the first draft of the resolution renewing the mission is produced by the Group of Friends although the US is the penholder on this issue).

The current timing and priorities of MINUSTAH’s conditions-based consolidation plan will likely attract significant attention during tomorrow’s debate. The plan, which was presented by the Secretary-General as an annex to his 8 March report (S/2013/139), was developed in consultation with the UN country team and the government of Haiti. It foresees focusing MINUSTAH’s work on a core set of mandated tasks between 2013 and 2016 and includes a number of benchmarks to serve as indicators of progress in the stabilisation process: development of the capacity of Haitian National Police (HNP) ; promotion of the rule of law and human rights protection; electoral capacity-building; and progress on key governance issues. Furthermore, the plan points out that—assuming the security situation remains the same, the HNP is deployed throughout the country, its capacity is built and electoral logistical arrangements take place—the mission’s uniformed strength could be reduced by 30 percent ahead of the presidential elections in 2015.

Following the reduction of military and police personnel authorised by resolution 2070 of 12 October 2012 (by 1,070 military personnel and by 640 police personnel), troop- and police-contributing countries might have concerns about the pace of the reconfiguration. Some member states may raise the need to re-evaluate this process based on the security and political situation on the ground instead of a pre-set time frame.

Participants in the debate might want to hear more about the Secretariat’s thoughts on the type of mission which would be appropriate after 2016. In his 19 August report (S/2013/493), the Secretary-General states that “it is worth examining whether a large multidimensional peacekeeping operation is still the most appropriate form of international support to Haiti” and proposes to explore the option of a “smaller, more focused assistance Mission by 2016”.

Some members may wish to discuss the partial senate, municipal and local elections which have been delayed since November 2011 and whether the government is fully committed and has the capacity to hold them before the end of 2013. (The Transitional College of the Permanent Electoral Council submitted a new draft electoral law to President Michel Martelly on 1 July but the draft law has yet to reach the parliament. In addition to this, the possible expiry of the term of a second third of the Senate in January 2014 could result in a dysfunctional Senate, and by extension National Assembly if elections do not take place before that.)

Another issue that may be discussed is the strained relations between the Executive and Legislative branches of the government over issues such as the end date of the term of Senators elected in 2009 as well as the allegations of lack of accountability over the government’s management of funds allocated after Hurricane Sandy.). In this context there is likely to be interest in Honoré’s plan to renew efforts in mediating between Haiti’s political alliances.

In addition to discussing the consolidation plan and the steps taken towards the stability of Haiti, Honoré is likely to brief the Council on the Secretary-General’s initiative to support the National Plan for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti. In this context, she might stress the importance of this initiative getting enough funding to fulfill its objectives. While this issue may remind members of the possible lawsuits by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti against the UN in national and international courts seeking individual reparations for cholera victims, it is not likely that they will want to discuss this during the debate.

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