Special Representative Stresses Need to Extend Mandate of United Nations Mission in Haiti, Citing ‘Calm but Fragile’ Security Situation
Special Representative Stresses Need to Extend Mandate of United Nations Mission in Haiti, Citing ‘Calm but Fragile’ Security Situation
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6618th Meeting* (AM)
Special Representative Stresses Need to Extend Mandate of United Nations
Mission in Haiti, Citing ‘Calm but Fragile’ Security Situation
Speakers Concerned about Delay in Forming Government
Following Political Stalemate over President’s Nominees for Prime Minister
A calm but fragile security situation underscored the need to extend the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council today, even as speakers emphasized that any drawdown of its presence must be gradual.
Briefing the Council on the situation in Haiti, Mariano Fernandez, Special Representative and head of MINUSTAH, said political will and cooperation — both “thin on the ground” — were critical steps towards enabling the country to take on the full weight of security and self-governance, including the rule of law. While the surge in the Mission’s authorized troop strength had been critical in the wake of the massive earthquake of 12 January 2010, “the current situation now enables us to think about a reduction” in troops, he said, presenting a report in which the Secretary-General recommends a one-year mandate extension as well as a partial drawdown of the Mission’s military and police personnel on the ground.
“ Haiti has witnessed a historic event,” Mr. Fernandez said in reference to the peaceful transfer of the Presidency from a member of one political part to a member of another in the recent elections. However, the transition was not without its difficulties, he cautioned, noting that following President Michel Joseph Martelly’s election in March, the rejection of two of his nominees for the post of Prime Minister had prompted a political stalemate, preventing the installation of an effective Government. That crucial appointment should be made urgently, he stressed, saying it would “open up the political landscape” and change the country’s future.
Throughout the political turmoil, some 634,000 people remained displaced and living in camps in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince, he said. The pace of reconstruction had slowed as the international community turned its focus away from Haiti or lost confidence in the security situation on the ground. While MINUSTAH had made strides in training the Haitian National Police, the force remained reliant on the Mission, and incapable of shouldering the burden of national security. Meanwhile, high food and fuel prices, as well as a continuing cholera epidemic, were still wreaking havoc on an already-devastated population, he added.
Mr. Fernandez went on to say that MINUSTAH had recently refocused its efforts on establishing “agreements on governability” between Haitian political players. Voices across the country were calling for progress in areas such as education, development and the national budget. The Mission’s constant efforts to bring those voices together would be critical going forward, he stressed. Its peacekeepers would also be needed to ensure stability during upcoming local and administrative elections, planned for November 2011, he added, warning that any setbacks could lead to a new crisis in the country.
For his part, Haiti’s representative said the delay in forming a Government could be explained in part by the lack of majority support for any one candidate in the recent presidential elections. Haiti was at a crossroads, he added, stressing that while MINUSTAH’s presence was a temporary measure, its support was indispensable, and withdrawing too abruptly would be counter-productive.
Attributing the country’s current crime problem partly to the escape of many criminals following the earthquake, he described programmes to fight crime and support at-risk youth. Life was gradually returning to normal, but there were still severe housing and other problems, he said. The start of school had been delayed in order to ensure that all school-age children were enrolled under a programme funded by innovative taxes. Haiti was at a crossroads, and its leaders were focused on peace, security, stability, the rule of law and good governance, he said, emphasizing that MINUSTAH’s continued support in those areas was indispensable.
Many speakers echoedpraisefor MINUSTAH, agreeing that its continued presence was still required. Brazil’srepresentative called for a redoubling of efforts to house the thousands of people still in camps for the internally displaced, who were the most vulnerable. Strong international engagement was necessary to ensure that all pressing humanitarian needs were met, she said, emphasizing that any drawdown of MINUSTAH must be implemented in a manner that would not impact its assets and capacity to preserve stability.
Uruguay’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, stressed that sexual and other violence in camps for the displaced must be addressed as a priority. Speaking in his national capacity, he said that allegations of sexual abuse against five members of the Mission’s Uruguayan contingent had therefore caused much pain, and the country had acted swiftly and unambiguously to conduct an investigation, in conjunction with the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). The Government was determined to follow through on all consequences, through due process, he pledged.
Guatemala’s representative said that while the international community might have the impression that Haiti was in a “spiral of failure”, there was nothing inevitable about that trend. It was important that MINUSTAH not leave prematurely, he stressed, adding, however, that the Haitian Government should work towards taking over some of the Mission’s responsibilities, which it had undertaken only under extreme circumstances. “MINUSTAH cannot and should not replace the State in its primary role and responsibilities,” he emphasized.
The United Kingdom’s representative, however, questioned MINUSTAH’s role during the current reconstruction period and expressed disappointment that the Secretary-General recommended only a partial drawdown of its forces, suggesting that other actors might be better suited to “take the reins” in Haiti. “Troops might not be the most appropriate means of delivering development on the ground,” he said, quoting Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti. Moreover, there was evidence that many ordinary Haitians saw MINUSTAH as an “occupying force”, and it was imperative to explore how non-military actors from the United Nations and elsewhere could best support Haiti, ensuring that it could “stand on its own two feet” in the future.
Other speakers today were representatives of Colombia, South Africa, France, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, Gabon, Russian Federation, United States, Germany, China, India, Lebanon, Chile, Canada, Spain and Argentina.
Also delivering a statement was the acting head of the European Union delegation.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:55 p.m.
Council members had before them the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (document S/2011/540), dated August 2011, which covers the period 24 March to 31 August, and presents the findings and recommendations of a comprehensive security assessment requested by the Council in its resolution 1944 (2010).
The report notes that during the review period Haiti experienced, for the first time in its history, a peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected President to another from the opposition. Following his victory in the second-round election in March, Michel Joseph Martelly was sworn in as René Préval’s successor on 14 May 2011. However, two attempts to designate a Prime Minister failed and a process of constitutional reform stalled. The current political stalemate between the President and Parliament risks undermining political progress and exacerbating the security situation, the report says, adding that it also poses a major obstacle to the fulfilment of the mandate objectives of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Following the presidential run-off election, allegations of corruption against the Provisional Electoral Council intensified, with controversy forming over 17 seats of the Senate and 2 of the lower house, the report says. Although a joint electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) upheld the result, questions remained nonetheless and a report on the matter remained outstanding. Meanwhile, a separate controversy over constitutional amendments initiated during President Préval’s last term remains unresolved.
The overall situation remained relatively calm, albeit fragile, throughout the review period, despite sporadic civil unrest linked to the political process, the report states, warning, however, that conditions could deteriorate unless the current political stalemate is resolved quickly. Trends since the earthquake of 12 January 2010 reveal an increase in all major categories of crime — including murder, rape, kidnapping, robbery and assault — with the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the surrounding West Department accounting for the vast majority of criminal activities. MINUSTAH military and police personnel continue to play a vital role in maintaining overall security and stability.
Among other activities, the Mission worked to disrupt gang activities and helped the Haitian authorities maintain law and order in those areas, the report states, noting that the capacity of the Haitian National Police continues to improve slowly. However, the institution is not yet in a position to assume full responsibility for internal security. Among other challenges, it is constrained by insufficient numbers and a lack of basic equipment and logistics. Critical capabilities, particularly border management and crowd control, remain underdeveloped.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, the report notes that Haiti continues to face significant challenges, with large numbers of internally displaced persons still dependent on assistance for basic survival. As of June 2011, approximately 634,000 internally displaced persons were living at about 1,000 sites. Related challenges include continuing vulnerability to natural disasters, the steady rise of food and fuel prices, an ongoing cholera epidemic and, recently, the withdrawal of many non-governmental organizations due to reduced donor funding.
The report goes on to say that as of June 2011 the construction of at least 73,000 of the 116,000 planned transitional shelters — or 63 per cent — has been completed. Overall, the number of persons living in camps continues to decrease, although at a significantly diminished pace. Mortality has declined steadily in all departments, falling from a cumulative rate of 5.62 per cent at the start of the cholera epidemic to 1.4 per cent as of August 2011.
Recovery and reconstruction efforts are also moving forward, albeit slowly, according to the report. As of 23 June 2011, international public sector donors have distributed 37.8 per cent ($1.74 billion) of the money pledged for the earthquake recovery effort for the 2010/2011 period. Many large-scale reconstruction programmes have been launched, notably a $65 million housing project supported by the World Bank. A major project to relocate internally displaced persons from six major camps to 16 priority neighbourhoods, with initial funding of $30 million, was approved as recently as 22 July 2011.
The report says that MINUSTAH’s other activities during the reporting period included providing crucial support for the electoral process — namely, delivering and retrieving all election materials, providing security at voting centres and conducting joint assessment missions in constituencies where violent post-electoral incidents have occurred. The Secretary-General’s new Special Representative has engaged intensively with the national authorities and other political actors to achieve a consensus between opposing factions on a viable framework for good governance. The reopening of MINUSTAH’s parliamentary liaison office, slated for August 2011, would help to continue those efforts.
The report goes on to describe the Mission’s activities in reducing community violence, protecting vulnerable groups, supporting State institutions, the rule of law, justice, corrections, human rights and anti-HIV/AIDS efforts. The Haitian National Police force, vetted by MINUSTAH, now has a total of 10,001 officers, including 783 women. The Mission continues to support the national authorities in the formulation of the next five-year development plan for the Haitian National Police. Nonetheless national ownership of the plan remains questionable owing in large part to the political stalemate, the report cautions. The Mission has also successfully allocated the $75 million 2010/2011 budget for “quick-impact projects”.
The report details other humanitarian, recovery and development activities, saying that in the context of the inter-cluster coordination mechanism — led by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs — MINUSTAH and the United Nations country team have stepped up their efforts to develop and implement joint programmes. An aid-management platform, jointly overseen by the Government and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, was launched in April 2011 and will be fully operational by the end of the year. It will allow the tracking of donor funds against Government priorities, and better facilitate planning and budgeting decisions.
Regarding the possible drawdown of post-earthquake surge capacities, the report notes that many of the additional challenges that justified the increase in MINUSTAH’s authorized troop and police strength have been met or decreased significantly. The Secretary-General proposes that the Council consider reducing its strength by 1,600 personnel and its authorized police strength by some 1,150 officers. He also recommends that the drawdown begin at the start of 2012, and that the Council extend the Mission’s mandate for an additional year, until 15 October 2012, while taking the proposed partial drawdown into account.
MARIANO FERNANDEZ, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSTAH, said that while the surge in the Mission’s authorized troop strength in the earthquake’s wake had been imperative, “the current situation now enables us to think about a reduction” in troops, alongside a necessary reconfiguration of MINUSTAH to continue to meet the country’s needs.
While stressing that Haiti had witnessed a historic event in the peaceful transfer of the Presidency from a member of one political party to a member of another, he cautioned that the transition was not without its difficulties. The electoral process had been hampered by several controversies, including a decision to change the election results for 17 seats. That and other conflicts had resulted in a political stalemate, he said, adding that the result had been “a paralysis of reform”. A major challenge now was the President’s inability to install a Government, he said.
However, a major positive development had taken place in the last few days with the presentation of Garry Conille as a candidate for Prime Minister, Mr. Fernandez said, recalling that President Martelly had twice failed to get a nominee ratified, and that the executive and legislative branches had been unable to reach basic agreement on Haiti’s main institutions. Early indications were that Mr. Conille would be approved, a change that would “open up the political landscape in Haiti” and change the country’s future.
He went on to describe the challenges facing the country, including slow reconstruction, high food and fuel prices and a continuing cholera epidemic, while calling on donors to honour their promises of contributions for rebuilding and recovery efforts. The security situation was calm but fragile, particularly due to the lack of an effective Government, and MINUSTAH would therefore need to remain active in ensuring national security. The tragic August assassination of a MINUSTAH sergeant in Port-au-Prince demonstrated the continuing security challenge, he stressed.
MINUSTAH had also refocused its efforts on establishing “agreements on governability” between Haitian political players, he continued, pointing out that voices across the country were calling for progress in areas such as education, development and the national budget. The Mission’s constant efforts to bring those various voices together would be critical going forward, he emphasized, adding that it would be needed to ensure stability during upcoming local and administrative elections, planned for November 2011.
He went on to say that despite progress in training the Haitian National Police, its current reliance on MINUSTAH must change if it was to take over full control of internal security. Additionally, the State’s capacity to provide basic services was quite low resulting in reliance on the Mission’s assistance. Additionally, progress in areas such as the judiciary and the rule of law had diminished, he said, emphasizing that political will and cooperation were “thin on the ground”, jeopardizing the advances made in many areas. Regarding the recommended reduction in MINUSTAH’S authorized strength, he emphasized the need for a greater emphasis on the “quality and specialization” of its officers.
United Nations peacekeeping operations were not long-term development agencies, he said, adding that they were in place to create the environment needed for sustainable and lasting peace. The rebirth of the private sector would also be critical as Haiti moved forward, he said. “All these project are pointing towards peace and stability.” Longer-term solutions were needed, he said, calling for the necessary resources to be made available so that MINISTAH could further reduce its role. “The Haitian people have shown great fortitude in the face of so many challenges,” he said, adding that the international community could be proud of its show of solidarity in the earthquake’s aftermath. Currently, however, any setbacks could lead to a new crisis, he warned, stressing that forward progress would depend on generating political will and continuing international support.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil), while noting the considerable improvement in Haiti’s overall humanitarian situation, called for a redoubling of efforts to house the thousands of people still in camps, who were the most vulnerable. Strong international engagement was necessary to ensure that all pressing humanitarian needs were met, she said. Reiterating her country’s full support for the Interim Recovery Commission, she said Brazil would welcome a renewal of its mandate, expressing hope that such a step would entail national ownership of the reconstruction process, which would, in turn, improve the dialogue between the Commission and Haitian society.
She went on to express her country’s support for the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate and the proposed drawdown of military and police contingents to pre-earthquake levels, on the understanding that such a measure would be implemented in a manner that did not impact the Mission’s assets and capacity to preserve stability. There was also a need to initiate a serious debate on MINUSTAH’s future, taking into account the evolving security situation on the ground in particular. It was essential that efforts on the security front were accompanied by even stronger international support for socio-economic development and the strengthening of the State’s institutional capabilities, she emphasized.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) described Haiti’s recent democratic process as an “historic step” that would facilitate all other progress in the country. However, the consolidation of peace still required the Mission’s support, and the opportunity to draw down its military components was an opportunity to strengthen aspects of social and economic development. Any drawdown should be carried out gradually and in close consultation with the Haitian authorities, he said, adding that future deployment should be determined by the type of operations required. Reinforcing the abilities of the Haitian National Police, particularly in challenging areas such as the fight against illicit drugs, should be a priority, he stressed. Reaffirming the Council’s recent statement that security must be accompanied by social, economic and institutional development, he also affirmed the importance of political will on the part of the Haitian authorities.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) welcomed the peaceful political transition, but expressed concern over the delay in forming a Government. It was imperative that all stakeholders make the necessary concessions so that the Government could lead reconstruction and socio-economic development efforts, he stressed. Expressing concern over Haiti’s crime rate, he said cooperation between MINUSTAH and the national police was vital in that area. Given the continuing challenges, it was troubling that several non-governmental organizations had had to leave the country due to lack of funding, he said, appealing for continuing international support at the present critical time. South Africa agreed with the drawdown of MINUSTAH, as long as it was gradual, and supported an extension of its mandate for the next year. At the same time, the zero-tolerance policy towards sexual abuse must be strictly enforced, he emphasized.
GÉRARD ARAUD (France), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union delegation, and congratulating the Haitian people and MINUSTAH on the peaceful political transition, called on the authorities to facilitate the formation of a Government by placing national interests above partisan ones. The international community needed political stability in Haiti so that it could pursue its stabilization and reconstruction efforts. Acknowledging the daunting remaining challenges hindering those efforts, he said international partners had risen to the challenges of the past, noting the substantial aid provided by France and the European Union.
He went on to pledge his country’s continued support, not to keep Haiti dependent indefinitely, but with the objective of reinforcing the capacities of the Haitian State and people. The determination of the elected authorities to shoulder their responsibilities was the guarantee of Haiti’s long-term efforts, he said. That applied equally to MINUSTAH’s role. Haiti’s circumstances had changed and must be taken into account, he said, emphasizing that the Mission’s drawdown should be carried out in accordance with the wishes of the Haitian people and authorities. Hopefully, all the changes would be responsible and gradual.
KIO SOLOMON AMIEYEOFORI ( Nigeria), describing Haiti’s political transition as a “major milestone”, said a new Government must rapidly come together to form a common bond and own the national recovery process. Implementation of the national recovery plan required strong institutions, and anti-crime efforts called for a reinforced Haitian National Police force. Any reduction in MINUSTAH’s deployment must not compromise security conditions, he emphasized. He expressed hope that current initiatives would ameliorate the housing shortages and ensure survival in harsh weather. The international community must not abandon Haiti, he emphasized, adding that the Government must reduce the country’s dependence on international support.
IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said Haitian political leaders should reinvigorate their efforts to bridge the political gap and seek compromise. Although the security situation remained relatively calm, there were signs of rising trends in criminal activities, including murder, sexual and gender-based violence, and kidnapping. Children had been used as soldiers, he noted, urging the Government to take strong measures to prevent violence and bring perpetrators to justice. Regarding Haitian National Police, he said it was clear that the force had still not acquired the capacity and strength to guarantee security. Additionally, 630,000 internally displaced persons remained in camps, he noted, calling on the Haitian authorities to proceed with institution-building. “They must do their utmost to improve the living conditions of Haiti’s citizens” by providing basic services, housing and education.
JOSE FILIPE MORAES ( Portugal), welcoming the recent democratic transition in Haiti, said democracy had been consolidated, despite the many challenges the country faced. Security had been a long-standing and central question, and Portugal was concerned that a lack of logistical and other support hampered the effectiveness of the national police force, the capacity of which had been built up by MINUSTAH. The protection of human rights remained a major cause of concern, and the Mission continued to carry out major activities in that area, he said. However, it seemed extra efforts would be required in particular rule-of-law aspects going forward, he said, adding that other areas that needed strengthening were the protection of vulnerable groups, including internally displaced persons, and those suffering sexual or gender-based violence. “Solidarity must be continued”, both thorough MINUSTAH and with the support of the international community, he emphasized. Portugal therefore supported the extension of MINUSTAH’s mandate for another year.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI ( Gabon) stressed that all political forces in the country must scale up the development of the rule of law, adding that the Government must also be able to deal with security issues. Expressing deep concern over the number of kidnappings and attacks on MINUSTAH personnel, he said his country stood ready to support the Mission’s current troop levels and to work for the protection of its personnel as well as the Haitian people. Gabon was also concerned about the continuing cholera epidemic and the fact that thousands of people remained in camps for the internally displaced. He said he was therefore pleased to hear the announcement of a project to move them out of six main camps. Therefore, while fully supporting MINUSTAH’s drawdown, Gabon also supported the renewal of its mandate, as recommended by the Secretary-General.
NIKITA Y. ZHUKOV ( Russian Federation) said it was encouraging that the situation in Haiti was gradually stabilizing, and called for the convening of a national dialogue by the recently elected President, as well as an assurance that all disputes would be resolved solely through legal mechanisms. Welcoming the efforts of all partners, he agreed with the Secretary-General’s conclusions that their efforts were bearing fruit, but emphasized that security, recovery and development institutions must be further built up. All aid to Haiti must be provided in accordance with unconditional respect for State sovereignty, he stressed.
JEFFREY DE LAURENTIS (United States), expressing support for the extension of MINUSTAH’s mandate under roughly the same terms as the existing one, paid tribute to the Mission’s accomplishments, underscoring the importance of United Nations electoral support. The United States supported rational troop reductions, he said, stressing, however, the critical importance of strong rules of engagement for the remaining Mission forces. Any future adjustments of force strength must be done in coordination with conditions on the ground, he said, pointing out that the national police force was not yet ready to assume full responsibility for national security. The programme to build its capacity must be improved, he added.
Urging the Haitian authorities to fill all remaining vacancies in the judiciary, he said sufficient resources must be devoted to the national police, which must in turn fully support the office of the Inspector General. There must be an end to impunity for abuses of power, he emphasized, expressing disappointment with the halting of the vetting process for cadets. It must be continued throughout individual careers, particularly in respect of promotion. It was also necessary to ensure that peacekeepers never exploited or abused the people they were meant to protect, he emphasized, expressing concern over recent allegations and welcoming the consequent investigations. He pledged his country’s support for the neighbourhood-return approach developed by the Government and called for a human-rights perspective in all reconstruction and development efforts.
PETER WITTIG ( Germany) welcomed the recent elections while emphasizing that Haiti’s political leaders must end the stalemate and start working together since political certainty was needed to attract foreign investment. Paying tribute to MINUSTAH, he agreed that force reductions could be considered in line with the Secretary-General’s recommendations. He also stressed the paramount importance of preventing peacekeepers from exploiting civilians. There would be a critical need for longer-term development perspectives in all future efforts, he said, encouraging all donors to participate in relevant coordination efforts under United Nations leadership and expressing support extending MINUSTAH’s mandate.
WANG MIN (China) also commended recent political progress, but noted that “at present, Haiti is still faced with daunting challenges”. Underscoring the urgent need to move forward with the creation of a unified Government, he expressed hope that political parties would take advantage of opportunities to consolidate hard-won gains. “The international community needs to keep its focus on Haiti,” he stressed, urging a particular emphasis on national priorities and leadership. Moving forward, China hoped MINUSTAH would continue to focus on its mandate of supporting Haiti’s recovery efforts, he said.
PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) noted with disappointment that no Prime Minister had yet been appointed. “The impasse risks raising political tensions,” he said, adding that the confidence gained following the elections could be undermined. “Troops might not be the most appropriate means of delivering development on the ground,” he said, quoting Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti. There was a growing consensus that peacekeepers should not be the driving force behind development, he said, cautioning that their efforts in that area might be slowing the ability of those better equipped to move in.
There was evidence that many ordinary Haitians saw MINUSTAH as an “occupying force”, he continued, adding in that regard that the presence of a large number of troops was counter-productive. The United Kingdom was therefore disappointed that the Secretary-General’s report recommended only a partial drawdown of forces. Agreeing that Haiti would continue to require the Mission’s help and that of the international community, he added that it was imperative to explore how non-military actors from the United Nations and elsewhere could best support Haiti’s forward progress. As Haiti entered a new era, it was important for the international community to respond accordingly so as to ensure that the country could “stand on its own two feet”.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said the peaceful atmosphere in which the elections had been carried out had demonstrated the “vibrancy” of the Haitian people and lent credibility to the whole process. However, the delay in forming a new Government could threaten the recovery process, he warned, noting also that reduced donor funding — which had been “eroded” by security concerns and the political impasse — was clearly affecting recovery efforts. As a first step, the political leadership must show resilience, and set aside their differences to create an effective Government, he stressed, pointing out that MINUSTAH and other United Nations actors had made “sterling efforts” in the earthquake’s aftermath and during the recent elections, with Indian troops as major players. However, the Mission should now focus on building institutional capacity and other supporting roles, he said, expressing support both for the proposed drawdown of troops and the recommendation to renew MINUSTAH’s mandate for one year.
NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon), President of the Council for September, spoke in his national capacity, appealing to all parties to appoint a new Prime Minister and form a Government that could face the challenges facing the country. Paying tribute to MINUSTAH, he supported the extension of its mandate and expressed hope that any drawdown would not have a negative effect on security and other efforts. Calling for a permanent strategic partnership on Haiti’s future, he appealed to all partners to continue their assistance in that light.
JEAN WESLEY CAZEAU (Haiti), thanking the international community for its efforts and paying tribute to MINUSTAH, acknowledged domestic criticism of the Mission and expressed appreciation for the rapid investigation into all related allegations. He said the delay in forming a Government could be explained in part by the lack of majority support for any one candidate in the recent elections. The current crime problem was partly due to the escape of many criminals during the 2010 earthquake, he said, describing programmes to fight crime and support at-risk youth.
Life was gradually returning to normal, but there were still severe housing and other problems, he said. The start of school had been delayed in order to ensure that all school-age children were enrolled under a programme funded by innovative taxes. Haiti was at a crossroads, and its leaders were focused on peace, security, stability, the rule of law and good governance, he said, emphasizing that MINUSTAH’s continued support in those areas was indispensable. While understanding that the Mission must eventually leave, he said an abrupt withdrawal would be counter-productive.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) pledged his country’s continuing support to MINUSTAH and stabilization efforts, which had yielded many success stories. At the same time, serious challenges remained, particularly regarding the rule of law and the full establishment of a judiciary. Additionally, he urged Haitian leaders quickly to complete the formation of a Government and help create conditions conducive to investment. Alleviating unemployment was crucial, he continued, adding that his country was focused on assistance in many areas. Chile pledged to continue its support, particularly in the area of police training, he said, emphasizing the importance of developing a firm strategy to meet current needs in that area. A fluid dialogue was needed with the authorities in that effort, he said, adding that national ownership was critical. Agreeing with the recommended reduction of MINUSTAH troops and police, he also stressed the need to focus on developing national institutions so they could take full responsibility for Haiti’s welfare.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) saluted Haitian resilience in recovering from a series of aftershocks following the earthquake, which had created a constant state of humanitarian emergency, setting back the development agenda, which had already been in trouble before the disaster. The general impression had been created that Haiti was in a “spiral of failure”, he said, emphasizing, however, that there was nothing inevitable about the trend. Guatemala strongly supported Haiti’s efforts to escape the cycle. It was important that MINUSTAH not leave prematurely, he stressed, adding that the concerns discussed today warranted its continued presence. However, the Mission should stay focused on priority areas and set benchmarks with an eye to an exit strategy.
Building political stability should be the first priority, and the second related to recovery and reconstruction, he said, emphasizing the critical need to go beyond recovery towards political and economic development. “Many lessons have been learned,” he said, adding that the international community now understood the importance of building on and complementing existing strategies and programmes. A main concern now was the decline in funding and other resources, she said, urging the Government to take up some of MINUSTAH’s responsibilities which the Mission had undertaken only under extreme circumstances. “MINUSTAH cannot and should not replace the State in its primary role and responsibilities,” he emphasized, adding nonetheless that his delegation supported the extension of its mandate.
GUILLERMO E. RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) expressed strong support for the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate, agreeing with the Secretary-General’s assessment that the Mission could begin returning to pre-earthquake deployment levels. That eventual downsizing should be accompanied by refocused efforts to support the political process, consolidate State authority and assist in building the capacity and accountability of State institutions. Among other things, Canada was currently supporting MINUSTAH through the deployment of 150 police officers, 25 correctional officers and 10 military officers. It was also building the force’s new headquarters and providing it with training facilities and programmes.
Underlining the nexus between security and development, he stressed that future commitment to Haiti must now include a much stronger emphasis on political will, good governance and the rule of law. Canada encouraged political actors to enact constitutional reform, work for the creation of a permanent electoral council, strengthen political parties, appoint judges and a head of the Cour de Cassation, and establish the Conseil Supérieur du Pouvoir Judiciaire. He also expressed strong support for the Secretary-General’s proposal for the development of a rule of law compact, which could be a major step towards improving governance.
JUAN PABLO DE LAIGLESIA ( Spain), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, said Haiti was at an unprecedented stage in its development. “It won’t be easy,” he cautioned, adding that there could be no delays. The international community needed an interlocutor with which it could engage, in the form of an effective Government, and the Haitian people needed institutions in which they could place their trust, he stressed. However, recent indications were not good. Criminality had gone up, thousands remained in camps for the displaced and the Haitian National Police force was still not ready to shoulder the burden of ensuring national security, he said, adding that the cholera epidemic remained a threat, with a high number of total cases. Considering those challenges, the first priority must be for international players to meet their financial commitments, he stressed, noting that only 37 per cent of the commitments for the 2010/2011 biennium had been met.
JORGE ARGÜELLO (Argentina), associating himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Group of Friends, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to supporting Haiti’s development. MINUSTAH remained a decisive factor in “finally establishing a secure environment in Haiti”, and in bringing about the country’s reconstruction and recovery. While supporting the extension of the Mission’s mandate, Argentina nonetheless believed it was possible to shift its focus towards supporting national institutions without detracting from safety and security. He called for a “deeper analysis of future aims” in order to plan a well structured withdrawal, emphasizing that the strengthening of institutional capacity — including in areas such as justice, human rights and socio-economic development — should be essential components of those future aims.
JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti and welcoming the recent transfer of power, expressed firm support for MINUSTAH and for the country’s people and Government as they worked for progress on all fronts. Political stability was essential for those objectives, he said, calling on all leaders to work in concert. The Group of Friends would work closely with the Haitian Government in all areas, he said, emphasizing the particular importance of assisting the hundreds of thousands of remaining internally displaced persons.
Sexual and other violence in camps for the displaced must also be addressed as a priority, he said. Security must go hand-in-hand with development, and the strengthening of democratic institutions was crucial, particularly in the rule-of-law area, for which MINUSTAH should continue to provide support, in conformity with its mandate. He supported the extension of MINUSTAH’s mandate, saying he shared the Secretary-General’s opinion that reductions in certain areas would not affect the Mission’s ability to perform.
Speaking in his national capacity, he described his country’s substantial contributions to MINUSTAH, recalling that eight Uruguayans had lost their lives in service to the people of Haiti. Allegations against five members of the Uruguayan contingent had therefore caused much pain, and the country had acted swiftly and unambiguously to conduct an investigation, in conjunction with the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), and in anticipation of referring the results to Uruguay’s criminal justice system. The Government was determined to follow through on all consequences, through due process, he pledged.
PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the European Union delegation, welcomed Haiti’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power, underlining, however, the critical importance of accelerating consultations on the formation of a Government. He warned that the security situation, which had remained calm in recent months, could deteriorate due to political tensions and popular frustration. Even though the national police force had progressively improved its effectiveness, it did not seem ready to assume full responsibility for national security. Transferring expertise, strengthening rule-of-law institutions and improving protection of the displaced population and other vulnerable persons were priorities for MINUSTAH, he stressed.
In that light, he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the Mission’s mandate and consider a drawdown in certain areas, while deploring recent sexual abuse allegations against certain staff members. He appealed to the United Nations to complete its investigation into the allegations as quickly as possible and to ensure the perpetrators did not enjoy impunity. The European Union remained firmly committed to Haiti’s long-term development and reconstruction, as demonstrated by the substantial contributions it had committed, and had been revising priorities in consideration of changing needs. It was critical to transfer responsibility for recovery to the Haitian Government and to strengthening national capacity, he affirmed.
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