What's In Blue

Posted Wed 9 Oct 2013

Renewal of Haiti Mission Mandate

A draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for an additional year was put in blue this afternoon (9 October) and is scheduled for adoption tomorrow morning. As had been expected, the draft authorises a reduction in MINUSTAH’s troop strength from 6,270 to 5,021 while maintaining the size of the police component at 2,601 as recommended by the Secretary-General in his most recent report (S/2013/493).

In keeping with established Council practice, the text was first negotiated in the Group of Friends of Haiti before being circulated to Council members earlier this month. (Current members of the Group of Friends are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Peru, the US and Uruguay.) While the Secretary-General’s proposed troop reduction seemed to be uncontroversial, negotiations among the 15 were not as smooth as had been expected.

It appears that human rights and protection related language was one of the major areas of disagreement in the negotiations. Russia, in particular, seems to have had problems with much of the proposed language, including an implicit reference to homophobic sexual violence that was ultimately deleted. In a final compromise, it appears that a reference to the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti and welcoming his collaboration with the government of Haiti was also deleted, but that a new operative paragraph on encouraging increased women’s political participation in Haiti was retained in the final text.

Another area of contention related to MINUSTAH’s mandate with regard to quick impact projects. It seems the UK insisted that such projects should focus strictly on improving security whereas others argued that wider priorities should be reflected. A compromise seems to have been found with some minor revisions in the paragraph on this issue, notably a reference to capacity building and national ownership, which were not present in last year’s MINUSTAH resolution.

With regard to the long overdue elections in Haiti, which is an issue of major concern for all Council members, the draft resolution urges political actors in Haiti to work together to hold the elections in accordance with the constitution “to ensure the continued functioning of the national assembly and other elected bodies.” This seems intended to address the controversy surrounding the mandate of senators elected in 2009, which according to the constitution does not expire until 2015, whereas the 2008 electoral law provides for it to end in January 2014. (As the Secretary-General notes in his report the parliament would become “dysfunctional” if elections are not held).

Although there were some discussions over whether the Council should reiterate its call for the elections to take place in 2013, as it did in a 28 January press statement (SC/10901), there appears to be general agreement that such a timeline is now increasingly unlikely. In the final draft there is therefore instead a reference in a preambular paragraph to the possibility that delays may affect the holding of elections in 2013 as announced by the Haitian government.

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