HOLDING FREE, FAIR, INCLUSIVE ELECTIONS IN 2005 MOST PRESSING, VISIBLE CHALLENGE FOR HAITI, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
HOLDING FREE, FAIR, INCLUSIVE ELECTIONS IN 2005 MOST PRESSING, VISIBLE CHALLENGE FOR HAITI, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
5178th Meeting (AM)
Holding free, fair, inclusive elections in 2005 most pressing,
visible challenge for Haiti, Security Council told
Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg (Brazil) Reports on 13-16 April Mission;
Says Civic Education, Electoral Observers, Special Security Needed
Holding elections planned for later this year was the most pressing and visible challenge for Haitians and for the international community, Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg (Brazil) told the Security Council this morning,as he presented the report of a fact-finding mission he led to that country from 13 to 16 April.
He stressed that free, fair and inclusive elections must take place in accordance with the established timetable, noting that even though elections should not be seen as a universal remedy to Haiti’s crisis, they were essential to the formation of a legitimate government, thus concluding the political transition period started more than a year ago. There was no alternative to the elections and all political parties that rejected violence should be entitled to participate.
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the country’s Transitional Government should launch a broad-based civic education programme to ensure the broadest possible participation in the elections, he said. There was also an urgent need to establish appropriate arrangements for international electoral observation. In addition, special security arrangements may be needed for a limited time in the months preceding and immediately following the elections.
Calling on the Transitional Government to accelerate its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, he said that members of the mission had been concerned over the reported funding gap in the programme, which should be addressed without delay. In addition, the Haitian National Police urgently required reform, in order to obtain the trust of the citizens in providing public security. In addition, all actors without exception must abide by human rights standards and there must be an end to impunity. The mission also stressed the importance of rebuilding Haiti’s judicial and penal systems, many of which were barely functioning.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that a 12-month period for MINUSTAH’s next mandate was required, noting that despite the substantive improvement of the security situation, the environment remained volatile. Additional military forces and civilian police should also be provided. Given the nature of potential threats in Haiti, the United Nations civilian police should enhance its participation in providing security. It was also urgent to expedite the reform of the Haitian National Police, with emphasis on adequate training and equipment. Nevertheless, there could be no sustainable progress in that area without coordinated reform of the judicial system, an area in which international experts and capacity-building programmes could play an important role.
Allan Rock (Canada), Chairman of the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, which was in the country at the same time, aid that its mission together with that of the Security Council was a tangible example of the importance of the debate on how to ensure freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity. Nowhere was the nexus between development, security and human rights more evident than in Haiti. Those involved in both visits had returned with deeper appreciation of the human reality behind the Secretary-General report, “In Larger Freedom”.
He said the Group recommended that the ECOSOC focus on: mechanisms for capacity-building support; playing a direct role in promoting the socio-economic dimensions of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; developing a strong advocacy role on poverty; and promoting a smooth transition for the United Nations integrated mission to sustained economic development, nce MINUSTAH’s mandate had been fulfilled. For the United Nations system, the Group encouraged the establishment of capacity to develop quick-impact projects, as well as investing in the capacity-development of key ministries and ensuring that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was complemented by efforts in support of political dialogue, a stronger judiciary, reconciliation, and security-sector reform. The Group recommended that donors develop flexible and accelerated disbursement processes, align themselves to the maximum extent in support of Government-led strategies, harmonize their activities closely and ensure that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process was sustained beyond MINUSTAH’s departure.
Luxembourg’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, expressed grave concern at the continuing human rights abuses in Haiti. While a strong response by law enforcement was needed to restore law and order, human rights standards must be respected. Thorough investigations into alleged human rights violations by the Haitian National Police should go ahead and the Transitional Government must take the necessary measures to end impunity.
He said the European Union supported the view that there could be no genuine long-term stability in Haiti until the economy was strengthened and development had become sustainable. Excluding bilateral contributions by Member States, the Union’s pledges made at the Washington Donors’ Conference had since been increased to 294 million euros. The Union was doing its part to accelerate disbursements and programme implementation, to noticeably improve living conditions and reduce poverty.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that respect for human rights contributed to the reinforcement of stability and security, and that the interim administration had a special responsibility to respect fundamental political and civil rights, as well as due process. In that connection, Yvon Neptune, the former constitutional Prime Minister of Haiti, who, after voluntarily turning himself over to the Interim Government in June 2004, was still to be brought to trial.
The representative of Haiti, reiterating the Transitional Government’s absolute commitment to holding the elections by the end of the year, said it would definitely hand over to the newly elected authorities. Alive to the deficiencies in the judiciary and police, the Government was working to rebuild those institutions and intended to adopt all necessary measures to end impunity, dismantle armed gangs and reintegrate them into society, while remaining mindful of the rights of all citizens. Regarding former Prime Minister Neptune, the Interim President had given clear explanations of his situation to the Security Council and Economic and Social Council missions during their visit.
Since April the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH had been tackling gangs that sought to defy State authorities, he said. The Government had also moved to re-establish its authority all over the country by retaking control of police stations taken over by demobilized soldiers. The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme was crucial to government goals, and the Transitional Government’s commitment to carry it out could not be called into question. However, the funds required to implement it exceeded the available government funding and pledged contributions remained limited. Turning aid promises made in Cayenne and Washington into reality was essential for progress in disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating armed groups.
Other speakers included the representatives of Argentina, United States, United Republic of Tanzania, Philippines, Romania, France, Greece, Chile, Guatemala, Peru, Norway and Spain.
Also making a statement was the Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie.
The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m.
Before the Council was the report of its mission to Haiti (document S/2005/302) from 12 to 16 April 2005, which was undertaken in conjunction with the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti of the Economic and Social Council. In Port-au-Prince, the capital, the mission met with Interim President Boniface Alexandre, Interim Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, other ministers and officials, members of the Provisional Electoral Council and representatives of political parties and civil society leaders. In addition, it met with members of the Core Group, chaired by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and comprising the Deputy Special Representative and the Force Commander and representatives of regional and subregional organizations.
According to the report, the mission learned that almost all national actors across the political spectrum acknowledged that Haiti was in deep political, social and economic crisis. While welcoming the international community’s interest and attention, interlocutors expressed frustration that the country again needed to call for international assistance, particularly regarding the need for foreign troops to help provide stability and security, a key attribute of sovereignty. Most interlocutors pointed to poverty and unemployment as the root causes of the instability. The mission found broad agreement that a solution to Haiti’s current situation would not be found in the short term, and while elections were seen as a first and essential step in the process, they were not seen as the comprehensive solution to the crisis. Stabilization and normalization would need to continue for some time, while social and economic recovery would need to be strengthened.
The report says that the security situation, while improved from one year and even a few weeks earlier, remained fragile and that serious incidents continued to occur. There was a need to continue to focus on addressing the security situationm, in order to ensure a sustainable political transition process and socio-economic development. The mission was informed that elements of insecurity included violent actions by supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide; elements of the former military and armed gangs with ties to drug traffickers, illegal arms dealers and other criminal elements; and shifting affiliations. In addition, possibly manipulated and rapidly organized demonstrations expressing political discontent frequently destabilized the security situation.
According to the report, there was awareness and criticism of the earlier inability of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to address fully the security situation, as a result of its slow deployment and diversion of assets for other purposes, such as the humanitarian disaster in Gonaïves. However, some of the criticism of MINUSTAH and the Transitional Government had been exaggerated and fanned by interested groups. The presence of the Mission’s military and police forces was essential in ensuring that the situation did not deteriorate further and in preventing further serious destabilization.
The Security Council mission was headed by Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg (Brazil) and comprised also Abdallah Baali (Algeria), César Mayoral (Argentina), Joël W. Adechi (Benin), Wang Guangya (China), Lars Faaborg-Andersen (Denmark), Jean-Marc de La Sablière (France), Alexandra Papadopoulos (Greece), Shinichi Kitaoka (Japan), Lauro L. Baja, Jr. (Philippines), Gheorghe Dumitru (Romania), Andrey I. Denisov (Russian Federation), Adam Thomson (United Kingdom), Augustine P. Mahiga (United Republic of Tanzania) and Anne Woods Patterson (United States).
Briefing by Head of Security Council Mission
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil), introducing the mission’s report, said that the mission’s main conclusion was that the international community was committed to supporting Haiti in the decisive turning point in the country’s contemporary history to achieve peace and stability, to mitigate its immediate social and economic tribulations and to assist progress towards the road to sustainable development, while observing Haiti’s sovereignty. In line with that, it could not and should not act in Haiti’s stead. The mission had called on Haitians themselves, particularly the Transitional Government, to carry out their State responsibilities and take advantage of the historic opportunity for gaining full ownership of their future.
He stressed that there could be no genuine stability without comparable advances in creating a safe and secure environment; in the political dialogue with a view to national reconciliation; and in the observance of human rights and the promotion of social and economic development. Notwithstanding the fact that the deep-seated root cases of unrest in Haiti, including poverty, required a long-term approach, a number of very serious issues must be dealt with in the short and medium term.
Holding elections later this year constituted the most pressing and visible challenge for Haitians and the international community, he said. Free, fair and inclusive elections must take place in accordance with the established timetable. Even though they should not be seen as a universal remedy, elections were essential for the formation of a legitimate government, thus concluding the political transition period started more than a year ago. There was no alternative to the elections and all political parties that rejected violence should be entitled to participate. The result of the vote should be respected by all actors and the technical and political preparation of the elections should continue to be closely monitored regularly by the Council to ensure that it remained on track, he said. Additional resources would probably be required to cover the estimated gap of about $22 million. The mission had strongly encouraged the timely disbursement of committed funds.
MINUSTAH and the Transitional Government should launch a broad-based civic education programme to ensure the broadest possible participation in the elections, he said. There was an urgent need to establish appropriate arrangements for international electoral observation. Special security arrangements may be needed for a limited time in the months preceding and immediately following the elections. Such measures included establishing better coordination procedures between the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH. There was also a need to ensure more coordination between the Mission’s civil police and military components by making the Joint Mission Analysis Cell operational as soon as possible.
He said the Transitional Government should accelerate its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme with the assistance of MINUSTAH. Members of the mission had been concerned over the reported funding gap in the programme, which should be addressed without delay. In addition, the Haitian National Police urgently required reform, so that it could obtain the trust of the citizens and be counted upon to provide public security. Such reform should be planned and executed by the Transitional Government with the support of MINUSTAH and bilateral partners.
Stressing that all actors without exception must abide by human rights standards, he said that an end to impunity and the promotion of respect for human rights were demanded by the Haitian people and the international community. The mission stressed the importance of rebuilding Haitian institutions, such as the judicial and penal systems, many of which were barely functioning, so that the population could trust State structures. Strong additional measures to assist the judicial system must be examined with the Haitian authorities. MINUSTAH’s mandate should be amended to allow international experts to assist and participate in that effort as required. Rapid implementation of quick-impact projects, especially those creating large numbers of jobs, would also help to increase participation in the elections by increasing the self-confidence of the Haitian population.
He renewed the mission’s appeal for the accelerated disbursement of the funds pledged by international financial institutions since the July 2004 International Donors Conference on Haiti. The mission strongly supported the Cayenne follow-up donor conference, to be held preferably no later than July 2005, and called on all donors to resume full cooperation with Haiti by, among other things, supporting the priority areas identified by the Transitional Government, namely infrastructure, road repair and construction, energy generation and transmission, reforestation and management of water resources.
Speaking in his national capacity, he pointed out that the most urgent task was ensuring the minimum conditions for the success of the transition period. In line with that, and taking into account a common understanding regarding the need for a long-term United Nations presence in Haiti, a 12-month period for MINUSTAH’s next mandate was now required. Despite the substantive improvement of the security situation, the environment remained volatile. Special security arrangements may be needed for a limited period in connection with the elections. Additional military forces and civilian police should also be provided. Given the nature of potential threats in Haiti, the United Nations civilian police should enhance its participation in providing security.
He said it was imperative to ensure adequate funding for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. It was also urgent to expedite the reform of the Haitian National Police, with emphasis on adequate training and equipment. Nevertheless, there could be no sustainable progress in that area without coordinated reform of the judicial system, an area in which international experts and capacity-building programmes could play an important role. As for the political area, the Security Council should continue to insist upon and support the holding of free and fair elections in accordance with the agreed timetable. Potential interested international observers should be deployed, with a view to ensuring respect for democratic standards.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said that the recent visit to Haiti had enabled the Council to have direct contact with the main political and religious actors, as well as with civil society and MINUSTAH personnel. Haiti was at a critical juncture in its history. He believed the United Nations Mission should contribute to assisting Haitians achieve peace and stability. The political, economic and social problems besetting Haiti were far from being solved. That situation would be even more dramatic if the United Nations had not taken action. It was essential to secure a level of safety and security to facilitate a normal operation of elections starting on 8 October and proceeding to presidential elections in November.
To that end, he said that an increase in military and police forces was critical until and throughout the elections. MINUSTAH and its authorities should ensure that elections were free, fair and inclusive. And an international presence for the elections should also be coordinated. It was also indispensable to provide assistance to rebuild State institutions, particularly the judiciary and the penal system. Those were all measures that the Haitians and the international community were calling for.
He reiterated that it was now urgent that funds pledged at the Donors Conference be disbursed to implement development projects, to create the necessary conditions for Haitians to enjoy minimum level of welfare and to enable the local population to see that the United Nations was there to help the local people resume economic development and achieve prosperity. The establishment of a safe environment with respect for human rights was fundamental to turning around the situation in the country.
STUART W. HOLLIDAY (United States) saluted the personnel of MINUSTAH. He noted that when Ambassador Anne Patterson returned from the Council mission to Haiti, what had struck her most was the lack of a functioning judiciary, without which police reform would never achieve real success. Most of those in prison had already been incarcerated for longer periods of time than they would have if they had been convicted and sentenced. That was unacceptable. He had asked the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to discuss with judicial reform experts about the possibility of undertaking an assessment of Haiti’s judicial system. He hoped others would agree that such an assessment would be a good first step.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that after a slow start with deployment and operating under very difficult circumstances, MINUSTAH was steadily stabilizing the country. The level of violence was being contained to bring a modicum of stability for the Transitional Government to operate, and relative security to the civilian population. The major continuing threats to security, which needed to be addressed, came from elements of the armed forces and various armed gangs with different agendas -- political and criminal. While MINUSTAH’s tactical intelligence should be improved for its stabilizing function, the Transitional Government needed to show more commitment to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.
The principle of the rule of law had long been compromised in Haiti, as evidenced by the failure to bring powerful criminals to justice, politicization of the police and intimidation of judges, he said. Most important, Haiti needed to be set on the path to economic recovery. Messages of self-reliance and empowerment were needed. The role of the region and the wider international community in assisting Haiti would be enhanced by a commitment of the people to own the process of their own development. The Government should be willing to listen to the genuine concerns of Haitian nationals, including those in the diaspora.
National dialogue was essential for reconciliation and political accommodation, he said. It should be more inclusive and ongoing after the election. The opposition must become part of the mainstream political dialogue. They must also display a convincing interest in the social and economic advancement of the Haitian people. Elections in Haiti were an essential starting point for a new political dispensation in the country. In addition, employment-generation projects should be initiated as part of the stabilization effort and as a foundation for the reconstruction effort, as well as a foundation for the reconstruction efforts in the post-electoral period. What was required was coordinated disbursement of pledges already on paper.
BAYANI S. MERCADO (Philippines) expressed thanks for the condolences expressed to the Philippine Government over the killing of a Filipino peacekeeper in the Port-au-Prince slum of Cité Soleil while the mission was in Haiti. The mission had been an eye-opener for all. More than a year after the international community had jumped in with its lifeline, Haiti continued to struggle. The mission had been the strongest message that the Council could convey to the Haitian people of the international community’s commitment.
The lack of security remained the most serious concern, he said. The situation remained volatile and peacekeepers regularly came under fire from political partisans, criminals and street gangs. The Philippines favoured more robust rules of engagement for MINUSTAH, as well as a more robust posture which would allow the Mission to move more quickly and effectively in pursuit of gunmen, if peaceful elections were to be held successfully by the end of the year.
He called for: an end to extrajudicial executions, and the retraining and reform of the Haitian National Police, to make it more professional. Regarding human rights, the former Interim Prime Minister hovered near death, as a result of his hunger strike to protest what he had described as trumped up charges. The Philippines called on the Transitional Government to withdraw the charges against him, as a humanitarian gesture.
Gheorghe Dumitru (Romania) said that the Council mission had special importance to his delegation. The situation in Haiti at the beginning of 2004 was one of the first crises Romania, along with other Council members, had addressed as a new member of the Council. Almost a year after that, the decisions taken then had borne fruit leading to positive changes, beginning with an improved security situation. During the recent visit, the Council had first had an assessment of the excellent work done by MINUSTAH. The overall experience gained by a number of countries in transition showed that elections were the primary stage for ushering in political stability. In the case of Haiti, he supported the emphasis placed by the mission on the responsibility of the Transitional Government and political forces. The experience of countries in transition had also shown that long-term efforts were required at several levels, including political and economic.
He fully supported the view that success in Haiti involved the multidimensional, long-term involvement of the international community. It was also important that the international community, this time, had, in internal Haitian stakeholders, partners acting in good faith. The fragility of the situation in Haiti was due to a lack of trust that persisted among leaders and the population. The Council must encourage the full normalization of relations between Haiti and other Caribbean countries. He hoped that, during the thematic debate to be organized by Romania in October, Haiti could be portrayed as a success story.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said the Council mission had conveyed a message to the Haitian people and his country supported its recommendations. Efforts were now needed to ensure that municipal, legislative and presidential elections could take place later in the year. They must be held on time and be free, fair and open to all parties that renounced violence. They should also permit the participation of as many people as possible, which was the major challenge facing the Haitian people.
Emphasizing the need to strengthen security so that the elections could be held as securely as possible, he said there was a need to ensure that MINUSTAH’s civilian police personnel were able to cope. There was also a need to implement quick-impact development projects leading to tangible improvements, which were needed to give the people hope. France welcomed the organization in June of a follow-up to the Cayenne conference and all donors should cooperate in that effort. It was also important to monitor the electoral process very carefully, especially voter registration and civic education. However, it was necessary to note that, while the elections were a necessary stage, they were not enough to guarantee stability. Reconstitution was essential, especially the rebuilding of the judicial system.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece) said that the political landscape in Haiti was highly complex. Having a truly representative and legitimate government and a smooth transfer of power on 7 February 2006 was the crucial first step towards the normalization of the situation and the stabilization of the country. Elections must take place according to the established timetable and must be free, fair, democratic and open to all political parties who publicly renounced violence.
Second, the problems facing Haiti were huge, with deep roots and difficult solutions, he said. Nobody expected them to be solved miraculously through an election process, or a political dialogue, or international assistance alone. Institutional reform and development, respect for human rights and the rule of law, treating ecological disasters, addressing urgent and basic humanitarian needs and pursuing developmental goals demanded long-term, hard work and commitment.
In addition, he said poverty had led to violence and instability, which could not be reversed without injecting massive, immediate aid. Therefore, he appealed to all donors to disburse the funds pledged at last year’s Donors Conference. MINUSTAH was in Haiti for the long-term, and its main role was not limited to security, but also to help foster economic development, along with other United Nations agencies in the country and in the framework of the international community’s long-term commitment to the people of Haiti.
ALLAN ROCK (Canada), Chairman of the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, said that its mission, together with that of the Security Council, was a tangible example of the importance of the debate on how to ensure freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity. The nexus between development, security and human rights was nowhere more evident than in Haiti. Those involved in both visits had returned with deeper appreciation of the human reality behind the Secretary-General report, “In Larger Freedom”. They had seen for themselves the need to better manage the continuum of support from relief to recovery, to reconstruction, to self-sustaining growth development, in a close and mutually beneficial partnership with local stakeholders and with a seamless transition from one stage to another. While there was a need to sequence that process, the planning for recovery should start as relief work began; and the planning for long-term development should parallel reconstruction efforts.
That was the challenge that the Transitional Government faced, he said. While there had been good progress in stabilizing the macroeconomic framework, which was essential for future progress, there had been, for many reasons, a slower start on such other urgent needs as jobs, roads, schools, health, water and sanitation. The Ad Hoc Group’s report recognized the immense challenges that would face the incoming government in February 2006. The national report on Haiti’s progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals underlined how much remained to be done at the most basic levels and the Group would, therefore, propose that the new government consider anchoring its medium-term planning in a Millennium Development Goal-based poverty reduction strategy paper.
He said the Group recommended that the ECOSOC focus on: mechanisms for capacity-building support, playing a direct role in promoting the socio-economic dimensions of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; developing a strong advocacy role on poverty; and promoting a smooth transition for the United Nations integrated mission to sustained economic development, once MINUSTAH’s mandate had been fulfilled. For the United Nations system, the Group encouraged the establishment of capacity to develop quick-impact projects, as well as investing in the capacity-development of key ministries and ensuring that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was complemented by efforts in support of political dialogue, a stronger judiciary, reconciliation, and security-sector reform. The Group recommended that donors develop flexible and accelerated disbursement processes, align themselves to the maximum extent in support of Government-led strategies, harmonize their activities closely and ensure that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process was sustained beyond MINUSTAH’s departure.
JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that, while the mission was of the view that some measure of progress had been achieved regarding security, including through improved cooperation between the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH, he noted that the overall situation remained fragile. The Haitian National Police struggled to maintain law and order. An adequate and effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme was still lacking, and he took notice of the mission’s concerns regarding the firm commitment of the Transitional Government in that regard. The establishment of the National Commission on Disarmament was a welcome first step, but substantial and speedy progress was needed in that field, with the assistance of MINUSTAH, ahead of the elections this fall.
The persistence of widespread violence in some areas of the country would pose a serious risk to those elections, as a secure environment was essential for political debate, campaigning and voting. To further assist the Haitian National Police, a temporary increase of the civilian police component of MINUSTAH and an adjustment of its mandate to address the increasing security challenges should be envisaged for the period leading up to the elections.
The Union remained gravely concerned at the human rights abuses which had been and continued to be committed in Haiti, he said. While a strong response by law enforcement was needed to restore law and order, it must respect human rights standards. Thorough investigations into alleged human rights violations by the Haitian National Police should go ahead. He called again on the Transitional Government to take the necessary measures to put an end to impunity.
The elections planned for later this year would be an essential building block in a long-term effort to rebuild the country. To maintain the necessary momentum, the announced calendar for those elections must be maintained. The Union was considering the possibility of dispatching an election observer mission to Haiti. To that end, an assessment mission was planned for the beginning of the summer.
The Haitian people, he added, must be provided with the capacity to ensure the country’s stability and prosperity in the long term. The Union supported the view that there could be no genuine long-term stability in Haiti until the economy was strengthened and development had become sustainable. Excluding bilateral contributions by Member States, the Union’s pledges made at the Washington Donors Conference had since been increased to 294 million euros. The Union was doing its part to accelerate disbursements and programme implementation, to noticeably improve living conditions and reduce poverty.
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said he agreed with the need to implement, without further delay, an in-depth and comprehensive programme of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Bringing peace to Haiti required the disarmament of the entire Haitian society, and not only of those who served in the army. But disarmament alone, without the reintegration of those forces back into society as economically active members, would not achieve the ultimate objective of consolidating peace. In that connection, it was vital for MINUSTAH to be provided with the budgetary resources requested by the Secretary-General to begin the effective implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.
One of the main tasks for the international community was to equip Haiti with a police force whose institutional doctrine was founded on respect for the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights, he said. Such a force must be recruited and trained in a transparent manner and with extreme prudence. Only then could it gain the trust of citizens and be in a position to achieve its primary goal of providing human security to the Haitian people. When the United Nations forces leave the country, the National Police must be the backbone for the maintenance of the rule of law. Also, efforts to strengthen the Haitian police would prove fruitless if not pursued within the context of a total overhaul of the key institutions of the rule of law.
He noted with special interest the recommendation which the Council had made to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the security situation in Haiti to determine whether it might be necessary to strengthen its military and police forces, especially bearing in mind the vital need for a secure environment for the holding of upcoming elections. While the success of the elections would not in and of itself resolve all the problems of Haiti, a smooth and legitimate electoral process was a necessary condition for progress toward the strengthening of democracy and the full restoration of the rule of law. Chile had consistently emphasized the urgent need for a broad national dialogue involving all stakeholders of Haitian society who renounced the use of violence.
No one could deny, he said, that security and development were inseparable and mutually reinforcing requirements. Therefore, it was essential for Haiti to receive as soon as possible the resources pledged at the Donors Conference, held a year ago in Washington. Those resources would enable the country to address its urgent social needs and to launch medium- and long-term reconstruction programmes. In order not to repeat the failures of the past, a long-term approach must be adopted for the implementation of the mission of the United Nations in Haiti. Thus, he urged the Council to renew the mandate of MINUSTAH for a period of no less than 12 months to guarantee its continuity throughout the electoral process and the subsequent transfer of power to the new national authorities.
JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) noted that the work carried out by the Economic and Social Council offered the possibility of highly productive interaction with the Security Council. The role of the United Nations was not to merely stabilize the situation, but to provide humanitarian assistance and put in places institutions for long-term development. He hoped an environment favourable to democracy and economic development would be established. That goal could only be achieved if the international community assisted Haiti’s citizens. In keeping with its policies, Guatemala reaffirmed its readiness to participate in MINUSTAH. He supported the work carried out by MINUSTAH, whose principal military and civilian components were Latin American.
He shared the concern over the delicate security situation in the country and the conditions regarding the former army and armed gangs. He was also worried by the weakness in the administration of justice and the continuing problem of impunity, which were major hurdles in achieving progress. He urged the Transitional Government to adopt concrete measures to prevent abuses, and for the effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators. He was also concerned over the problems described in the report regarding the economic state of the country. In addition, he stressed the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and shared the mission’s concern over delays in the implementation of programmes and the financial difficulties in that regard. He also highlighted some fundamental problems, such as poverty and illiteracy, which aggravated the consequences of the non-observance of fundamental basic rights.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru), noting that there was, as yet, no minimum social contract or agreement to underpin the existence of the State and to legitimize its authority, said the forthcoming renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate should be for 12 months, as the Mission was the guarantor of the minimum conditions of peace and security in the country and it must have a time line enabling it to guarantee continuity. The friends of Haiti everywhere must resolutely converge in pursuing that goal. It was not the responsibility of the international community to support or reject any particular political actor or group, or to express opinions on the process that had placed Haitians in their present situation. What was important was international commitment to support the Haitians, hence the need to support the political process culminating in the elections.
He said that, over the past months, the Peruvian contingent in MINUSTAH had been used for operations in Port-au-Prince, including Cité Soleil and other places where gang activity was prevalent. Peru deplored the losses that the Mission’s military contingent had suffered and would send additional troops to double its strength. The insecurity arising from the activities of illegal armed groups made such special efforts necessary. The political and institutional development could not be separated from Haiti’s socio-economic development. It was the responsibility of the Transitional Government to lay the internal foundations for that. However, it did not have the necessary resources and, therefore, required the support of the United Nations, the donor community and international financial institutions.
JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said that Haiti now needed both to restore security and to implement investment and aid, to lay the foundation for the country’s reconstruction and the strengthening of the rule of law. A concerted effort by the United Nations, regional organizations and the international community was essential in achieving that. Lasting and sustainable peace depended on the existence of legitimate national authorities. The upcoming elections gave the possibility for a new start, so Haiti could begin addressing its multitude of challenges. Priorities right now were the restoration of security and successful elections.
There was a strong need to promote and facilitate national reconciliation in an open and inclusive peace process, he said. Haiti needed to develop a political climate and culture of dialogue, tolerance and respect. There was no alternative to dialogue and compromise to solve the challenges facing the country. Good governance -- based on democracy, respect for human rights, sound economic management and accountability -- must come from within.
Despite efforts by the United Nations, regional organizations and others, the situation remained difficult and there were no signs that gave reason to expect significant improvement in the near future, he said. There was a lack of a timely, adequate and secure financing, including for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities. That must be addressed. As Member States approached the September summit, it was his view that the situation in Haiti underlined the need for a new approach to peacebuilding. He encouraged all delegations to bear that in mind when considering the proposal of establishing a United Nations-led consolidated peacebuilding mechanism.
PHILIP SEALY (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the report described in detail the challenges confronting Haitian society in many spheres and at varying levels. Insecurity or the lack of personal safety continued to be a predominant feature of the Haitian landscape, caused in no small part by the actions of illegally armed groups. One could only hope that, through the firm resolve of MINUSTAH together with the Haitian National Police, there would be an increased sense of security not only for Haitians in their daily lives, but also to enable the electoral process. He supported the recommendations of the Council mission, which sought to ensure that the electoral timetable was adhered to, that the required funding was provided to the Provisional Electoral Council and that MINUSTAH’s military troop and civilian police strength was reinforced, as appropriate, so as to guarantee the peaceful conduct of the elections.
The report also addressed a number of other pressing issues, including the need for observing human rights, he said. Respect for human rights contributed to reinforcing stability and security, and the interim administration had a special responsibility in adhering to human rights, particularly respect for fundamental political and civil rights and due process. Those should be addressed as a matter of urgency to restore the confidence of all Haitians in the law, the police and the judiciary. In that connection, he drew attention to the situation of Yvon Neptune, the former constitutional Prime Minister of Haiti, who, after voluntarily turning himself in to the Interim Government in June 2004, was still to be brought to trial. He stressed the importance of inclusiveness in the political process to promote national unity and a conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections.
The report, he added, also addressed to some extent the dire socio-economic conditions facing Haiti’s population. In the immediate future, priority attention should be placed on helping Haiti to build the necessary absorptive capacity to utilize most effectively the assistance being provided by the donor community. He urged the international community and the United Nations system, through its funds, programmes and agencies, to collectively provide all the necessary support and assistance to Haiti, enabling it to overcome the tremendous challenges it was currently facing.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain), supporting the European Union statement, said his country’s active commitment to the development of Haiti was evident through its military and civilian police contingents in MINUSTAH. Also, Spain participated in the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti and shared the recommendations of its missions, as well as those of the Security Council mission.
He said that while the elections planned for the end of the year were among the most serious short-term challenges for Haiti and the international community, they would not solve the country’s long-term problems. Any political party that renounced violence must be allowed to participate, and it was hoped that there would be the widest possible participation. The presence of international observers would be very useful, as would be the provision of adequate security, without which the process would be in danger.
He said that the political forces in Haiti had a special responsibility to ensure that any dialogue before the elections would continue after the elections. The Transitional Government should provide a framework for the implementation of long-term development objectives. Resolving Haiti’s fragile situation was not a purely military function, but must also involve development. The two aspects were interlinked. A new concept of operations for MINUSTAH must be based on a civilian police component that provided for a military role. That must be in place before the elections and the civilian police contingent must work with the Haitian National Police and enhance its intelligence gathering capability.
MINUSTAH was carrying out a very important role in deterring violence even where the situation was calm at the moment, he said, adding that it was important to improve the population’s impression of security, because people often hesitated to take a step forward in disarming in case their security was not guaranteed. The fragility of State institutions was evident in the fields of law enforcement and the judiciary and any development must be based on rebuilding the State. There was a palpable sense of popular frustration in terms of the scant international assistance, and it was vital to identify quick-impact projects in key areas. A continued effort by the international community was required. The peacebuilding operation undertaken by the United Nations last year must, therefore, be a long-term one.
RIDHA BOUABID, Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie, said today’s meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the recommendations of the Council mission and to identify adjustments to MINUSTAH’s mandate. It was a crucial time for Haiti, which was just a few months away from the elections, whose credibility would be one of the main pillars of the long-term stability of the country. He wanted to see Haiti break the cycle of violence and usher in an era of peace and stability. Haitians must make efforts to embark on the path of peace, democracy, rule of law and development. They must be able to rely on the assistance of the international community to establish the basis for a better future. He saw in the Council mission a reflection of the shared objectives of the Council and his organization.
The first shared concern was security, he said. The electoral process could not be conducted in a tense security situation. He supported the request of the Transitional Government to “beef up” security forces during the elections and to deploy more French-speaking civilian police forces. He hoped the mission dispatched by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to assess the security needs would make positive recommendations on that, and that the Council would act on those recommendations and authorize a significant increase in civilian police personnel. Were the Council to adopt that measure, his organization could help mobilize its member countries to provide more French-speaking personnel. Out of some 30 countries providing civilian police personnel, almost half were members of his organization.
Another concern was compliance with the electoral timetable and ensuring that the elections were free, fair and transparent, he said. The international community had a crucial role to play there, particularly regarding the provision of technical assistance and financial support. His organization would make available to the Electoral Council its expertise in that area. Also, it was necessary to live up to the commitments undertaken at the Washington Donors Conference. His organization wanted to do its part, and intended to give concrete follow-up to the two missions it had dispatched to the country in recent months. He also supported the need for an inclusive national dialogue for long-term reconciliation, and the necessity of implementing a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. He was in favour of a long-term United Nations presence in Haiti.
LÉO MÉRORÈS (Haiti), noting that MINUSTAH’s presence was particularly crucial in creating security, said that as the Council mission had noted, poverty and unemployment were the reasons for the crisis. However, since April the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH had been tackling gangs that sought to defy State authorities. The Government had also moved to re-establish its authority all over the country by retaking control of police stations that had been taken over by demobilized soldiers.
Stressing the crucial importance of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme to government goals, he reiterated that the Transitional Government’s commitment to carry it out could not be called into question. However, the funds required to implement it exceeded the available government funding and pledged contributions remained limited. Turning aid promises made in Cayenne and Washington into reality was essential to progress in disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating armed groups.
He said the Transitional Government remained alive to the deficiencies in the judiciary and police and was working to rebuild those institutions. Reform initiatives had been taken on board and the Government had undertaken a policy of reaching out to certain political parties. It also intended to adopt all necessary measures to end impunity, dismantle armed gangs and reintegrate them into society, as well as to embark on judiciary reform, while remaining mindful of the rights of all citizens. Regarding former Prime Minister Neptune, the Interim President had given clear explanations of the situation to the Security Council and Economic and Social Council missions during their visit. In addition, the Government was absolutely committed to holding the elections by the end of the year and would definitely hand over to the new elected authorities. The Ad Hoc Advisory Group’s mission had seen, at first hand, the enormous challenges confronting the Transitional Government and the link between peace and development, and its finding that Haiti was far from achieving the Millennium Development Goals deserved the attention of all. The challenges were well known and the Government appealed to the Economic and Social Council to assist it, as well as future Haitian governments, to overcome them.
Responding to comments made, Mr. SARDENBERG (Brazil) said it had been a valuable debate with substantial contributions by Council members and others. As a result of today’s debate and the recommendations emanating from the Council mission, the Council would be in a position to consider the issues related to Haiti, including MINUSTAH’s mandate, by the end of the month.
Regarding the comment made by Ambassador Sealy of Trinidad and Tobago concerning the case of Mr. Neptune, which was also mentioned in paragraph 44 of the report, he noted that, in Haiti, long detentions were unfortunately the rule and not the exception. The state of high-level officials should be taken into account in preparing for elections. The mission, while it was in Haiti, had stressed the need to speed up such cases. He thanked colleagues for their contributions to the work of the mission and for the kind words addressed to the Brazilian delegation, as well as for the assistance provided by the Secretariat.
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