«On 29 February , the Security Council adopted resolution 1529 authorizing the Multinational Interim Force (MIF) and declaring the Council’s readiness to establish a follow-on United Nations stabilization force to support continuation of a peaceful and constitutional political process and the maintenance of a secure and stable environment.»
United Nations involvement in Haiti started in 1990, when, at the request of the provisional Government, the United Nations Observer Group for the Verification of the Elections in Haiti (ONUVEH) observed the preparation and holding of elections in that country. Following the 1991 coup and the overthrow of the legitimate President, the situation worsened. In response, a joint United Nations- OAS International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) was deployed in February 1993. In September 1993, the Security Council set up the first United Nations peacekeeping operation in the country—the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). However, due to non-cooperation of the Haitian military authorities, UNMIH could not be fully deployed at that time and carry out its mandate.
In July 1994, the Security Council authorized the deployment of a 20,000-strong multinational force to facilitate the prompt return of the legitimate Haitian authorities, maintain a secure and stable environment in the country, and promote the rule of law. The multinational force was followed by a number of successive United Nations peacekeeping missions from 1994 to 2000, including UNMIH, which assumed its functions in full in March 1995, the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH), and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH).
Throughout this period, there were a number of positive developments, including the restoration of some measure of democracy, with the first peaceful handover of power between two democratically elected presidents; the growth of a multifaceted civil society; and its increasing involvement in the development of a political culture based on democratic values. There were, however, also setbacks. Owing to the continuing political crisis and concomitant lack of stability in the country, serious reforms never took hold.
In early February 2004, armed conflict broke out in the city of Gonaives, and in the following days fighting spread to other cities. Gradually the insurgents took control of much of the northern part of the country. On 29 February, having determined that the situation in Haiti constituted a threat to international peace and security, the Security Council adopted resolution 1529 (2004) authorizing the Multinational Interim Force (MIF) and declaring the Council’s readiness to establish a follow-on United Nations stabilization force to support continuation of a peaceful and constitutional political process and the maintenance of a secure and stable environment.
Establishment and activities
On 30 April 2004, acting on the recommendations of the Secretary-General, the Security Council adopted resolution 1542 of 30 April 2004, establishing the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which took over from the MIF on 1 June 2004.
MINUSTAH was originally set up to support the Transitional Government in ensuring a secure and stable environment; to assist in monitoring, restructuring and reforming the Haitian National Police; to help with comprehensive and sustainable Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programmes; to assist with the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law, public safety and public order in Haiti; to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence; to support the constitutional and political processes; to assist in organizing, monitoring, and carrying out free and fair municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections; to support the Transitional Government as well as Haitian human rights institutions and groups in their efforts to promote and protect human rights; and to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the country.
The Mission was authorized to include up to 6,700 military personnel, 1,622 police, some 550 international civilian personnel, 150 United Nations volunteers and about 1,000 local civilian staff.
In the following years, the mandate of MINUSTAH, its concept of operations and the authorized strength were adjusted by the Security Council on several occasions to adapt to the changing circumstances on the ground and to the evolving requirements as dictated by the political, security and socio-economic situation prevailing in the country.
By 2010, although still facing major challenges on many fronts, Haiti appeared to be on track to advance toward a more promising future for its people, thanks to the combined efforts of the Haitian authorities, the United Nations, and the international community. Violence had largely been removed from politics, and public security mostly restored with crime reduced. The media was operating freely and the economy was growing, despite the world economic crisis. Positive constitutional amendments promised sustained economic growth in years to come.
In extending the mission’s mandate for another year on 13 October 2009, the Security Council further tasked MINUSTAH with supporting the Haitian political process, promoting an all-inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation, and providing logistical and security assistance for elections anticipated for 2010.
Devastating earthquake hits Haiti
A tragic setback came with a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake which hit Haiti on 12 January 2010 and resulted in more than 220,000 people dead, including 102 UN personnel, many thousands injured or permanently disabled, and 1.5 million left homeless. The earthquake leveled the capital city, delivered a severe blow to still shaky Haitian economy and infrastructure, and impeded nation-building efforts in the country. The catastrophe also led to a climate of political uncertainty, interrupting a period of relatively smooth progress towards legislative, presidential, and municipal elections previously scheduled to be held in February 2010.
MINUSTAH was also decimated. The loss of UN staff, including the Special Representative and his principal Deputy, was by far the greatest for any single event in UN peacekeeping’s 62-year history.
Within hours of the earthquake, emergency relief operations were launched by the United Nations and a number of Member States. Specialized military and civilian units undertook search-and-rescue operations, established field hospitals and provided immediate support to life-saving assistance efforts and restoring key infrastructure. Despite its vast losses, MINUSTAH made extraordinary efforts to restore its capacity and acted decisively to respond to post-earthquake needs within its mandate and in line with the priorities of relief, security and restoration of State capacity. [For more information on the Mission’s activities and the international response, please see Secretary-General’s report S/2010/200 of 22 April 2010.
In light of the catastrophic consequences of the earthquake on the capacity of the Haitian state, the Security Council, by its resolution 1908 of 19 January, endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to increase the overall force levels of MINUSTAH by 2,000 troops and 1,500 police to support immediate recovery, reconstruction, and stability efforts in the country.
In his semi-annual report (S/2010/200) of 22 April 2010 on the situation in Haiti, the Secretary-General provided recommendations on the future role of the UN mission in Haiti. After entering a period of consolidation, MINUSTAH would require a surge effort in order to help the Government preserve the gains of stabilization to date and enable a smooth transition to long-term reconstruction. While much of this could be achieved by scaling up activities within the current mandate, the Secretary-General pointed to the need for greater technical, operational and logistical assistance to Government and state institutions.
Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report and its recommendations, the Security Council in its resolution 1927 of 4 June 2010 authorized the deployment, on a temporary basis, of an additional 680 police to MINUSTAH to focus on building the capacity of the Haitian National Police. The Council also decided that, for the time being, the Mission would consist of a military component of up to 8,940 troops of all ranks and of a police component of up to 4,391 police.
The resolution further reiterated that the ownership and primary responsibility for stabilization and development lay with the Government and the people of Haiti, and recognizes the supporting role of MINUSTAH in this regard.
The Security Council also recognized the need for MINUSTAH to assist the Government of Haiti in providing adequate protection of the population and requested it to continue collaboration with OCHA and the United Nations Country Team in supporting the humanitarian and recovery efforts.
Amongst other things, the Council asked MINUSTAH to continue its support to the Haitian Government and to the Provisional Electoral Council in the preparation and conduct of Haiti’s elections, and to coordinate international electoral assistance to Haiti in cooperation with other international stakeholders including the OAS.
2010 -2011 Presidential elections
MINUSTAH supported the government in holding presidential and legislative elections in 2010. The mission did this through the provision of technical, logistical, and administrative assistance as well as providing continued security.
The run-off round, that took place on 20 March 2011, was won by popular musician Michel Martelly. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking on 6 April 2011, commended the election and the people of Haiti for taking an important step towards the consolidation of democracy. Mr. Ban pledged the continued assistance of the UN, as Haiti faces a number of daunting challenges such as reviving its crippled economy and strengthening the rule of law.
Mission's force levels adjusted
On 14 October 2011, recognizing that the overall security situation in Haiti, while fragile, had improved in the year since a powerful earthquake struck the nation, the Security Council, by it resolution 2012 (2011) , extended the mandate of MINUSTAH and adjusted its force capacities. The Council decided that the overall force levels of the Mission would consist of up to 7,340 troops of all ranks and a police component of up to 3,241, consistent with recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report [S/2011/540 ] .
In that report, the Secretary-General expressed confidence that a partial drawdown of the Mission’s post-earthquake “surge” military and police capabilities would unlikely undermine progress made so far on the security front. He, therefore, recommended reducing the Mission’s authorized military strength by 1,600 personnel and reducing the authorized police strength by 1,150 formed police unit officers, to be completed by June 2012.
The Secretary-General also noted that Haiti had made considerable strides since the 12 January 2010 earthquake and that for the first time in its history, there had been a peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected President to another from the opposition.
The overall force levels of MINUSTAH were further adjusted by resolution 2070 of 12 October 2012 when the Security Council decided that the Mission shall consist of up to 6,270 troops of all ranks through a balanced withdrawal of infantry and engineering personnel and of a police component of up to 2,601 personnel, consistent with paragraph 50 of the Secretary-General’s report [S/2012/678 ].