25 November 1998

Press Release


Resolution 1212 (1998) Looks to Change of United Nations Role From Peace-Building to Development; Haiti Urged to Political Reforms

Responding to the request of the President of Haiti, the Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) until 30 November 1999. The Mission will assist the Haitian Government by supporting and contributing to the professionalization of the National Police. In adopting resolution 1212 (1998) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), the Council said it did not intend to extend MIPONUH's mandate beyond that date. It asked the Secretary-General to recommend a viable transition to other forms of international assistance. Expressing deep concern over the country's prolonged political stalemate, the Council strongly urged the authorities and political leaders to negotiate urgently an end to the crisis in a spirit of tolerance and compromise.

It called on the Haitian authorities to reform and strengthen the country's justice system, particularly its penal institutions. Stressing the international community's commitment to a long-term programme of support, the Council emphasized that economic rehabilitation and reconstruction were major tasks facing the Haitian Government and people.

The Council said significant international assistance was indispensable for sustainable development. It affirmed that future international assistance to the Haitian National Police should be considered through United Nations specialized agencies and programmes, particularly the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international and regional organizations, and by Member States.

The Secretary-General was asked to report every three months on the implementation of the resolution until the mandate expires.

Statements were made by the representatives of Argentina, Chile, Canada, Costa Rica, Brazil, Kenya, Portugal, France, Russian Federation, China, United States and Haiti.

The meeting was called to order at 1:05 p.m. and adjourned at 2 p.m.

Council Work Programme

When the Council met this afternoon, it had before it a report by the Secretary-General on the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) (document S/1998/1064).

In the report, the Secretary-General stresses that terminating MIPONUH's mandate now would jeopardize real achievements by the Haitian National Police and have a negative affect on the country's efforts to reinforce its institutions. Therefore, he says the Council may wish to authorize an extension of the mandate for another year until 30 November 1999.

The cost of extending MIPONUH's mandate for a year would be approximately $33.6 million, at the current strength of 300 civilian police, 74 international staff, 133 locally recruited staff and 17 United Nations Volunteers.

During the new mandate period, apart from monitoring the field performance of the Haitian National Police, the Mission would reinforce the training of middle and senior cadres, the Secretary-General says. It would also reinforce the creation of a proper administrative and command structure and strengthen community policing. When MIPONUH eventually departs, the central directorate of the police force should be capable of managing the aid from bilateral and multilateral sources that, hopefully, will continue.

Since MIPONUH was established almost a year ago by Council resolution 1141 (1997), it has had a positive effect on police work in Haiti, the report says. The Haitian National Police now has a greater capacity to maintain law and order, and its officers are visible on the roads and in various communities. However, it still lacks the experience, professional skills and cohesion that are the hallmarks of a well-established police force. Instances of excessive use of force by some police officers are often a reflection of inadequate experience and discipline. The police also face formidable and increasing security challenges caused by drug trafficking and banditry. The force must address crime and corruption that occasionally arise within its ranks.

Training of police officers should not be conducted in a legal vacuum, the Secretary-General says. An effective judicial system is of the utmost importance. Judicial reform is also essential to consolidate democracy, respect for human rights, law and order and an end to impunity. Further delays in judicial reform put at risk the progress by the Haitian National Police.

According to the report, the absence of a Prime Minister in Haiti since 9 June 1997 has undermined the consolidation of democracy and good governance. It has also eroded public confidence in the capacity and willingness of the authorities to solve the country's pressing economic and social problems. The protracted political stalemate also jeopardizes international assistance.

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Fully functioning institutions, in accordance with the country's Constitution, and timely democratic elections are basic requirements for stability and progress. The Secretary-General appeals to the Haitian political leaders to negotiate an end to the crisis in the spirit of tolerance and compromise.

Also before the Council was a letter from the Haitian President, René Préval, dated 22 October (document S/1998/1003), noting that remarkable progress had been made by the National Police, "thanks to the support it has received from the United Nations missions in Haiti". However, he said, essential matters still had to be addressed, and he requested that the United Nations continue to cooperate with Haiti to strengthen the National Police. The form of that cooperation and measures could be discussed by United Nations specialized organs and Haiti.

Draft Resolution

The Council also had before it the following draft resolution:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling all its relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 1141 (1997) of 28 November 1997, and those adopted by the General Assembly,

"Taking note of the request of 22 October 1998 from the President of the Republic of Haiti to the Security Council (S/1998/1003),

"Taking note also of the reports of the Secretary-General of 24 August 1998 (S/1998/796) and of 11 November 1998 (S/1998/1064), and the recommendations contained therein,

"Commending the role of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) in assisting the Government of Haiti by supporting and contributing to the professionalization of the Haitian National Police, and expressing its appreciation to all Member States which have contributed to MIPONUH,

"Commending further the role of the Representative of the Secretary- General in the coordination of activities by the United Nations system to promote institution-building, national reconciliation and economic rehabilitation in Haiti,

"Noting the key role played to date by the United Nations Civilian Police, the International Civilian Mission in Haiti and the United Nations Development Programme technical assistance, as well as bilateral programmes, in helping to establish a fully functioning Haitian National Police force of adequate size and structure as an integral element of the consolidation of democracy and the revitalization of Haiti's system of justice and, in this

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context, stressing the importance of the reform of Haiti's system of justice for the successful development of the Haitian National Police and welcoming continued progress towards professionalization of the Haitian National Police and towards fulfilment of the May 1997 "Haitian National Police development plan for 1997-2001",

"Stressing the link between peace and development, noting that significant international assistance is indispensable for sustainable development in Haiti, and stressing that a sustained commitment by the international community and the international financial institutions to assist and support the economic, social and institutional development in Haiti is indispensable for long-term peace and security in the country,

"Expressing deep concern over the prolonged political stalemate, which presents considerable risks for peace and development,

"Expressing further its deep regret that this political stalemate has not yet made possible the transfer of the activities of MIPONUH to other forms of international assistance,

"Recognizing that the people and the 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,

"1. Reaffirms the importance of a professional, self-sustaining, fully functioning national police of adequate size and structure, able to conduct the full spectrum of police functions, for the consolidation of democracy and the revitalization of Haiti's system of justice, and encourages Haiti to pursue actively its plans in these respects;

"2. Decides further to paragraph 1 above, and at the request of the President of the Republic of Haiti, to extend the present mandate, including the concept of operation of MIPONUH until 30 November 1999 in order to continue to assist the Government of Haiti by supporting and contributing to the professionalization of the Haitian National Police in accordance with the arrangements set out in paragraph 32 of the report of the Secretary-General of 11 November 1998 (S/1998/1064), including mentoring Haitian national police field performance and strengthening the capability of the central directorate of the police force to manage aid provided to it from bilateral and multilateral sources;

"3. Affirms that future international assistance to the Haitian National Police should be considered through United Nations specialized agencies and programmes, in particular the United Nations Development Programme, and through other international and regional organizations and by Member States;

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"4. Requests Member States to provide appropriate support for the actions undertaken by the United Nations and by Member States pursuant to this and other relevant resolutions in order to carry out the provisions of the mandate referred to in paragraph 2 above;

"5. Underlines the importance of full coordination among multilateral and bilateral contributors in order to assure the effective allocation of international assistance provided to the Haitian National Police and requests the representative of the Secretary-General to work closely with Member States to ensure that bilateral and multilateral efforts are complementary;

"6. Strongly urges the Haitian authorities and political leaders to fulfil their responsibilities and to negotiate urgently an end to the crisis in a spirit of tolerance and compromise;

"7. Calls upon the Haitian authorities to pursue the reform and strengthening of Haiti's system of justice, in particular its penal institutions;

"8. Emphasizes that economic rehabilitation and reconstruction constitute the major tasks facing the Haitian Government and people and that significant international assistance is indispensable for sustainable development in Haiti, stresses the commitment of the international community to a long-term programme of support for Haiti, and invites United Nations bodies and agencies, especially the Economic and Social Council, to contribute to the designing of such a programme;

"9. Requests all States to make voluntary contributions to the trust fund established in resolution 975 (1995) of 30 January 1995 for the Haitian National Police, in particular for the recruitment and deployment by the United Nations Development Programme of police advisers to assist the inspector general, directorate general, and department headquarters of the Haitian National Police;

"10. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the implementation of this resolution every three months from the date of its adoption until the mandate of MIPONUH expires on 30 November 1999;

"11. Expresses its intention not to extend MIPONUH beyond 30 November 1999 and requests the Secretary-General to make recommendations on a viable transition to other forms of international assistance in his second report referred to in paragraph 10 above, for the consideration of the Security Council, taking into account the need to preserve the progress made in the reform of the Haitian National Police and to strengthen further United Nations support for the consolidation of democracy, respect for human rights and the maintenance of law and order in Haiti;

"12. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

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FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said he understood the hesitation of some Council members with regard to the renewal of the mandate, but he asked them to understand the significance of maintaining the rule of law in the region. The Council had shown its sensitivity in accommodating the needs of specific regions, and he hoped that would be the case now. The effort of the international community must be recognized, but the Haitian leadership must also act to resolve the crisis in that country.

He thanked the Secretary-General and his Special Representative for Haiti for their professional competence in carrying out their functions.

JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) said that with the draft resolution the Council had complied with its obligations under the Charter for maintaining international peace and security. As a member of the Group of Friends of Haiti, he was pleased with the support given by the Council, and he valued the contributions that enriched the text. The task of reconciliation remained outstanding and additional efforts were needed from Haitian leadership to that end.

He said the international community should continue to support the Haitian people. Judicial reform was needed, encompassing procedures and appropriate treatment of the prison system, among other things. He welcomed such steps, particularly those taken by the Commission for Judicial Reform, and the progress made by the Haitian police, which demonstrated that Haiti was not far from an efficient police force that respected human rights.

ANDRE FRANÇOIS GIROUX (Canada) said his Government would continue its level of commitment to the mission in Haiti. A great deal still needed to be done, particularly in judicial reform. Canada remained concerned at the absence of an agreement regarding a Prime Minister, Cabinet and government programme. It was important for the Haitian people to be able soon to express their will through free, honest and transparent elections, in accordance with the Constitution.

It was time for Canada and its partners to reflect on how to continue the strengthening of the Haitian National Police and the Haitian judicial system more broadly, after MIPONUH. The draft resolution encouraged the process to take place and would lead to recommendations by the Secretary- General on a viable transition.

BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said the situation in Haiti was a clear example of the importance of the Council's role from the standpoint of guaranteeing peace and security. Dramatic statistics on Haitian social conditions, including education, health care and poverty levels, were sufficient reason for helping the people of Haiti to promote a new political, economic and social model.

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The United Nations role in Haiti went beyond simple assistance for development; it promoted legal and institutional reforms to prevent a return to hostilities and lawlessness. The Secretary-General's report showed the benefits that the MIPONUH brought to Haiti in assisting national reconciliation. The report also showed the need for all United Nations bodies and agencies to continue to provide active cooperation to establish efficient democratic institutions and sustainable development. His delegation supported the extension of the mandate as recommended by the Secretary-General.

CELSO L.N. AMORIM (Brazil) said that despite remarkable progress by MIPONUH since its establishment a year ago, the consolidation of peace in Haiti was not yet accomplished. The Haitian police was still not self-sustainable and it faced new security challenges, such as drug trafficking and banditry. Moreover, there had been regrettable delays in judicial reform. The political stalemate continued to undermine national institutions and hinder the implementation of essential structural reforms aimed at solving serious economic and social problems facing the country.

He noted that substantive activities had been undertaken by several United Nations agencies in Haiti. The renewed MIPONUH mandate would provide an opportunity to discuss the gradual transfer of the responsibilities of the Mission to the General Assembly, as was accomplished, in the case of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA). He said Haiti would benefit from the new emphasis on the role of the Economic and Social Council mentioned in the draft resolution.

NJUGUNA M. MAHUGU (Kenya) said he endorsed the strong appeal in the draft that urged the authorities and political leaders of Haiti to fulfil their responsibilities and negotiate urgently an end to the crisis. He recognized that the situation in Haiti was complex, and that international attention was critical for its survival. However, attention now needed to focus more on development activities, There was a need to switch from a policing mode to one that focused more on peace-building.

He supported the Secretary-General's recommendation for a one-year extension of MIPONUH, but there needed to be a different mechanism in place to enable a solid transition into peace-building activities.

ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal) said he was concerned by the continuation of violence and unrest in Haiti, the difficult economic situation, the high level of unemployment, the rising cost of living and the slow pace of change. He was also distressed that parliamentary and local elections scheduled for this month had been postponed. He demanded that Haitian authorities and political leaders embark urgently on a negotiated solution to the crisis in a spirit of tolerance and compromise. To achieve the consolidation of democracy and national reconstruction, comprehensive and sustained long-term assistance from the international community was vital.

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Because the Haitian National Police had not reached the level of professionalization required to tackle successfully its problems, the presence of the United Nations was most important, he said. Indeed, it should continue to help the Government of Haiti to professionalize its police force. At the same time, he urged Haitian authorities to pursue their efforts to revitalize Haiti's justice and penal systems.

YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said he shared the view that there should be a progressive phasing out of the activities of MIPONUH, and a transfer of the management of the Mission to another mode. That transition must be organized and carried out in a way that would not spoil the achievements that had already been attained.

He agreed with the request that the Secretary-General recommend suggestions for a successor to MIPONUH by mid-1999. He supported the Secretary-General's appeal to the Haitian leaders and politicians to end their unproductive disagreements and urged them to find a solution to the present political crisis. He deplored the obstacles that prevented true political development. He said it weakened the Haitian administration, prevented the start of true decentralization and slowed down structural reforms.

YURIY V. FEDOTOV (Russian Federation) said Haiti needed financial assistance to get back on its feet. However, overcoming the crisis depended on the Haitian people themselves and would be achieved through political settlement and constructive dialogue. The situation in Haiti was not a threat to international peace and security. The country did not have well-established democratic institutions, but it was no different from many other developing countries who were experiencing problems in establishing democracy and combating crime.

He said his Government understood the importance of a national police for Haiti. However, the national police could not replace all other institutions. Assistance could be rendered through bilateral channels, interested States and regional and subregional organizations. The United Nations and its agencies would continue to play a role. The United Nations Mission had been first deployed five years ago, and had since been extended several times "for the last time" under various names.

However, he added, "we are back to square one" and time had been lost in transferring assistance to the agencies. The proposed draft resolution was being adopted for the "nth time", something which would not enhance the Council's authority or confidence in its decisions. Therefore, the Russian Federation would not be able to support the draft resolution.

The draft was then adopted by a vote of 13 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation).

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CHEN GUESANG (China) said the Mission had existed for five years and had been extended in various forms many times. China had always supported United Nations efforts in Haiti and still believed it could help overcome the political crisis and carry out economic reforms. The situation in Haiti had stabilized and did not threaten international peace and security. Resolution of Haiti's economic problems was the major task facing its people. Stability and development hinged not only on building a professional police force, but also on other factors such as development.

He said China had shown flexibility by suggesting that the mandate be extended for an appropriate period. China's proposal followed established Council practice for extending mandates. However, its suggestions had not been accepted, and China would, therefore, abstain in the voting. He said China supported the United Nations presence in Haiti to help the country's economic and political reconstruction. He hoped elections would be held soon.

A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said his Government welcomed the decision to continue the role of MIPONUH for another year. The Mission would provide effective training and mentoring to help the Haitian National Police. The United States was concerned with the current political situation in Haiti, and urged that it be resolved. Despite progress in professionalizing the Haitian National Police, senior- and middle-level managers still needed training. If the Mission were recalled before that was accomplished, international efforts to sustain the young democracy in Haiti would be jeopardized and undermined. The international community needed to develop a viable mechanism to sustain the professionalism of the Haitian police, he said. The United States remained committed to the Mission's success; today's vote reaffirmed its commitment to building a permanent foundation for democracy.

PIERRE LELONG (Haiti) said adoption of the resolution was very important for the consolidation of democracy in his country. Extending MIPONUH's mandate would ensure the professionalism of the Haitian National Police and help preserve the democratic gains achieved so far.

He said the Haitian National Police had made outstanding progress, thanks to the support it had received from United Nations missions. However, essential steps still lay ahead, including judicial reform. Thanks to the adoption of the solution, Haiti could continue to count on the support of the international community. The international assistance had helped a concrete and durable evolution to reinforce political stability, the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms. Haiti was currently facing a continuing political crisis, but the rule of democracy require that a solution not be forced. The Haitian Parliament was debating the problem in order to find a solution, he added.

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