Stressing the utmost importance that the next parliamentary and local elections in Haiti be conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner, the Security Council this afternoon stated that it looks forward to the steps taken by the Government of Haiti in that regard and urged the international community to be ready to provide electoral assistance as might be requested.
In a statement read out by its President, Momodou Sallah (Gambia), the Council fully supported the Secretary-General's appeal for Haitian authorities and political leaders to resolve the country's political impasse so it can move forward. The importance of Haiti continuing to settle its contentious issues peacefully and democratically was emphasized, as that would facilitate economic development and the provision of international assistance.
Welcoming the significant progress made by the Haitian National Police (HNP) in the period under review, the Council expressed confidence that the activities of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) would continue to build on the achievements of previous United Nations missions there and further the professional development of the HNP. It also expressed the hope that achievements by the national police would be matched by progress in other areas, including the development of a functioning judicial system.
The Council reaffirmed that the people and Government of Haiti bore the ultimate responsibility for national reconciliation, the maintenance of a secure and stable environment, the administration of justice and the reconstruction of their country.
The meeting, which was called to order at 4:16 p.m., adjourned at 4:20 p.m.
The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1998/8, reads as follows.
"The Security Council recalls its resolution 1141 (1997) of 28 November 1997 and welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) of 20 February 1998 (S/1998/144).
"The Security Council commends the achievements of the Secretary-General's Representative in Haiti, the United Nations staff, and the MIPONUH civilian police officers in Haiti. It notes with appreciation the important contributions made by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH).
"The Security Council welcomes the progress made by the Haitian people towards the establishment of a durable democratic and constitutional system. It also welcomes the sustained improvement in security and stability in Haiti. The Security Council agrees with the Secretary-General in his assessment of the Haitian National Police (HNP) as expressed in his recent report (S/1998/144). It also welcomes the significant progress made by the HNP as mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General and expresses confidence that MIPONUH's activities will continue to build on the achievements of previous United Nations missions in Haiti and to further the professional development of the HNP. The Security Council expresses the hope that HNP achievements will be matched by progress in other areas, including the development of a functioning judicial system, and in this regard, recognizes the importance of judicial reform.
"The Security Council reaffirms that further assistance to the Haitian National Police, should it be needed, should be provided with the full support of the international community through United Nations specialized agencies and programmes, and through international and regional organizations and by interested Member States.
"The Security Council reaffirms also that the people and Government of Haiti bear the ultimate responsibility for national reconciliation, the maintenance of a secure and stable environment, the administration of justice, and the reconstruction of their country. It emphasizes the importance of Haiti continuing to settle its contentious issues peacefully and democratically. It expresses the view that a prompt solution of these issues in Haiti will facilitate economic development and the provision of international assistance. It fully supports the Secretary-General's appeal for Haitian authorities and political leaders to resolve Haiti's political impasse so the country can move forward and welcomes current efforts undertaken to this end.
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"The Security Council stresses that it is of the utmost importance that the next parliamentary and local elections in Haiti be conducted in free, fair and transparent manner in order to allow the broadest possible voter participation, consistent with Haitian law. It notes that a substantial effort will be required to ensure the success of these vitally important elections. The Security Council looks forward to the steps taken by the Government of Haiti in this regard and urges the international community to be ready to provide electoral assistance as may be requested.
"The Security Council recognizes that economic rehabilitation and reconstruction constitute the major tasks facing the Haitian Government and people and stresses that a sustained commitment by the international community and the international financial institutions, as well as the relevant United Nations bodies, to assist and support the economic, social and institutional development in Haiti is indispensable for long-term sustainable development in the country. It commends the efforts of those organizations and countries currently involved in meeting these needs and encourages them to coordinate their activities.
"The Security Council will remain seized of this matter."
For its consideration of the situation in Haiti, the Council had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) (document S/1998/144 of 20 February). The report is submitted pursuant to Council resolution 1141 (1997) of 28 November 1997, which established MIPONUH. Also by that text, the Secretary-General was requested to report on the implementation of the Mission's mandate every three months from the date of the adoption of the resolution.
In his report, the Secretary-General observes that the international community is deeply concerned that Haiti is still without a functioning Government after more than eight months. Not only does the political impasse have consequences for the economic and social development of a country in dire need of economic relief, it also jeopardizes the consolidation of democracy and seriously compromises international cooperation. He reiterates his appeal to the Haitian authorities and political leaders to negotiate an end to the crisis, including the electoral dispute, which has had negative repercussions for many months, in a spirit of tolerance and reconciliation, with a view to reaching an agreement that will allow their country to start moving again towards democracy.
The Secretary-General also observes that the Haitian National Police continues to make steady progress. Nevertheless, the absence of a functioning judicial system severely hinders its ability to carry out tasks and to ensure
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the prosecution of those officers who do not conduct themselves properly. That incidents of human rights violations, corruption and other misconduct continue to be reported, notwithstanding the efforts of the Inspector-General of the Haitian National Police to rid the force of unqualified elements, is cause for concern. The Secretary-General stresses that without a functioning judiciary, the international community's efforts to help create an effective, politically neutral and professional police force could become increasingly difficult.
The report recalls that on 28 November 1997, the Council established MIPONUH for a single one-year period, until 30 November, to continue providing international support to the Haitian Government's efforts to professionalize the country's national police force. The Mission is comprised solely of civilian police officers, but the 300 monitors provided for were authorized to carry personal weapons. It also includes a 90-strong special police unit to provide protection for international personnel and property.
As of 12 February, the civilian police element of MIPONUH included 285 officers from Argentina, Benin, Canada, France, India, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia and the United States, the report states. The Mission's special police unit arrived in Haiti in December 1997 and the substantive police element was redeployed during that month in keeping with the new mandate. The civilian police element is now deployed in all nine departments, including six commissariats in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, at the headquarters of the Haitian National Police and with its specialized units.
The 30 November 1997 withdrawal of the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) -- one in a series of United Nations operations in Haiti -- marked the end of a year-long transition from an international military presence in Haiti to a civilian monitoring operation. The UNTMIH began work in Haiti when the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), which included 500 military troops, left the country in July 1997.
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