Extending UN peacekeeping force in Haiti, Security Council cuts troop numbers

Security Council in session. UN Photo/Ryan Brown

14 October 2011 – The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for another year and agreed to reduce the number of troops on the ground by 2,500.

In a resolution adopted unanimously, the 15-member body extended MINUSTAH’s authorization until 15 October 2012.

The number of uniformed personnel in the Caribbean country will be cut from an estimated 13,000 to just over 10,500, comprising 7,340 troops and 3,241 police officers, as the Council noted that Haiti “has made considerable strides” since the catastrophic earthquake of January 2010.

The resolution noteThe number of uniformed personnel in the Caribbean country will be cut from an estimated 13,000 to just over 10,500, comprising 7,340 troops and 3,241 police officersd that any future adjustments to the size of the mission will be based on the overall security situation, “taking into account the impact of social and political realities on Haiti’s stability and security, the increasing development of Haitian State capabilities, including the ongoing strengthening of the Haitian National Police, and the national authorities’ increasing exercise of the Haitian State’s responsibility for the maintenance of stability and security in the country.”

Council members also called on the international community to work closely with the mission to assist the impoverished nation on education, health, reconstruction and security matters, and placed a strong emphasis on the mission’s assistance in preparation for handing over responsibilities to the Government so that it can gradually take care of its security.

In particular, the resolution pointed to the importance of the collaborative work between MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police, and called for the Haitian Government to support a five-year plan that seeks to strengthen the capacity of its police force to protect civilians.

The resolution also condemned violations against children affected by violence as well as sexual abuse of women and girls, and requested the Secretary-General to take all measures necessary to ensure that troops on the ground comply with a zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation or abuse of any form. It also called for the investigation and punishment of any reported violation by UN personnel.

MINUSTAH was first dispatched as a peacekeeping force in mid-2004 after the then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest, but the mission stayed on and increased its capacity to help the country recover from the earthquake in January last year that killed over 200,000 people and caused enormous damage to the country’s infrastructure.

The country is still facing significant humanitarian challenges, with more than 600,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) dependent on assistance for basic survival, ongoing cholera epidemics, and extreme vulnerability to natural disasters.

The peacekeeping mission has a broad mandate, and its activities range from ensuring security and stability, supporting constitutional processes, helping to organize and monitor free and fair elections, and aiding on reconstruction efforts.

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