Tomorrow (25 June), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution that details the transition of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) to a special political mission once the MINUJUSTH mandate expires on 15 October.
The draft resolution incorporates most of the recommendations submitted by the Secretary-General in a 13 May letter to the president of the Council. In that letter, Secretary-General António Guterres recommended “a special political mission with an advisory mandate, led by a special representative at the Assistant Secretary-General level, who would report to the Secretary-General through the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.” He further stressed the need to have “strong cooperation and coordination” with various stakeholders, including the UN Country Team, regional organisations, bilateral partners, and international financial institutions.
Consistent with the Secretary-General’s recommendation, the resolution requests the Secretary-General to establish a special political mission (SPM), referred to as the “United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti”, or BINUH, using its French acronym. It will be led by a special representative who is expected to “play a good offices, advisory, and advocacy role at the political level”.
The draft resolution calls on BINUH to assist the government of Haiti with such duties as:
- planning and executing elections;
- reinforcing the Haitian National Police through training on human rights and responding to gang and sexual and gender-based violence;
- developing an inclusive approach with all societal sectors to reduce inter-communal violence (gang violence in particular);
- addressing human rights abuses and violations and complying with international human rights obligations;
- improving administration of Haitian prison facilities; and
- strengthening the justice sector through adoption and implementation of key legislation.
The draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to provide, in his final MINUJUSTH report in October, strategic benchmarks that BINUH can follow to achieve these tasks.
The draft resolution is expected to mandate BINUH for a one-year period, beginning on 16 October. It requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of the resolution (that is, on the mission) every 120 days, rather than every 90 days, as had been the case with regard to MINUJUSTH. One member in particular expressed a preference for the reporting cycle to remain at 90 days, but this was not accommodated.
The draft resolution specifies that there will be “up to 30 civilian and seconded personnel to serve as police and corrections advisers and led by a UN Police Commissioner.” The total size of the SPM, anticipated to number 80-100 personnel, will be determined by Fifth Committee negotiations.
The US, as penholder, began negotiations on the text for the SPM in mid-June. Some members apparently would have preferred if the negotiations had started earlier, as they wanted the resolution adopted quickly to allow for ample time to prepare for a smooth transition to the new mission. There were multiple rounds of negotiations, which extended to a visit to the Dominican Republic by Council members this past weekend, where they spoke about Haiti with Miguel Vargas, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic.
In negotiating this plan for the future of the UN mission in Haiti, members remained apprehensive about the situation on the ground. Many members reiterated concerns previously voiced during the adoption of a MINUJUSTH resolution in April. For example, in April, the Dominican Republic expressed its anxiety that MINUJUSTH’s withdrawal could coincide with Haiti’s scheduled elections in October and attendant potential instability, while Peru said that any exit strategy must consider the security conditions on the ground and the ability of Haiti to maintain security throughout its territory. Several members felt that the concerns of these regional neighbours must be given due consideration.
In order to have the resolution better reflect their concerns, a group of like-minded elected Council members (Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Peru and Poland) undertook to submit several edits jointly in order to add weight to their suggestions. They added several amendments about corruption, gender inclusivity, the need for a national dialogue, and the relevant impact of climate change on Haiti. These efforts were supported by France. While ultimately successful with most of their language, the US, supported by China and Russia, disagreed with any explicit reference to climate change. Instead, the text has a paragraph “recognizing the adverse effects of natural disasters on the stability of Haiti”.
The draft resolution was put into blue this afternoon, 24 June, despite one member having broken silence earlier in the day due to its concern that the draft provided too much detail and was overly prescriptive. Ultimately, however, the US went ahead and put the resolution in blue.
* Post-script (26 June 2019): On 25 June, resolution 2476 was adopted establishing the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for 12 months, beginning on 16 October 2019. Thirteen members supported the resolution, while China and the Dominican Republic abstained. China said that the draft resolution adopted “fails to adequately reflect” the concerns and amendments it proposed during negotiations. The Dominican Republic was critical of BINUH’s mandate . Ambassador José Singer (Dominican Republic) said that BINUH was not given enough resources to sufficiently tackle the root causes of the situation in Haiti. The Dominican Republic remains concerned about what it views as the deterioration of Haiti, including the economic situation and social instability. It also criticised the lack of language on the impact of climate change on Haiti and how to respond to its effects. It said that “an approach based solely on public security is not enough.”