Top Envoy in Haiti Tells Security Council Opportunity Lost in Recent Months Due to Political ‘Impasse’, Crucial to Hold Credible Elections in 2013

20 March 2013
SC/10946

Top Envoy in Haiti Tells Security Council Opportunity Lost in Recent Months Due to Political ‘Impasse’, Crucial to Hold Credible Elections in 2013

20 March 2013
Security Council
SC/10946
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6936th Meeting (AM)

Top Envoy in Haiti Tells Security Council Opportunity Lost in Recent Months Due

to Political ‘Impasse’, Crucial to Hold Credible Elections in 2013

 

Says Secretary-General’s Report Outlines Consolidation Plan for UN

Mission 2013-2016, Aimed at Police, Elections, Rule of Law, Governance

The stabilization process in Haiti had hit a number of difficulties — including a missed opportunity to hold elections last year — but the Caribbean nation could still surmount entrenched political divisions and launch institutional reforms vital for meeting the urgent security and economic needs of its citizens, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.

Nigel Fisher, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Interim Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission and addressed the fresh concerns of Council members that, just six months ago, had voiced cautious optimism about Haiti’s direction.  Foremost on their minds was the ongoing political impasse, a failure to hold elections — now 16 months overdue — and the need for a strong police and judiciary to handle the growing loss of patience among the Haitian electorate.

“Holding credible elections in 2013 is fundamental to reinforce Haiti’s democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law and respond to the urgent needs of Haiti’s citizens, such as employment and social protection,” Mr. Fisher said.

At the same time, while progress on elections had become a “barometer” to gauge political inclusion, Haiti also faced many other challenges, he continued.  Annual economic growth had fallen below forecasts and high unemployment had been compounded by two tropical storms and regional droughts that, in turn, had aggravated food insecurity.  To meet those challenges, the Mission had devised a consolidation plan, which provided key objectives over the next three years to strengthen security, the rule of law, elections administration and institutional modernization.

Specifically, the plan set out four core tasks, he said, citing development of the Haitian National Police; creation and enhancement of a permanent electoral commission; strengthened rule of law and respect for human rights; and support for national and local governance reforms.  It also foresaw the reduction of the Mission’s uniformed strength, within a progressively smaller and less-costly footprint in Haiti.

More broadly, he said consolidating peace in Haiti required transcending the political impasse.  For its part, the Mission was ready to support Haiti in taking more responsibility for its national security, to contribute to consensus-building in democratic processes and institutional reforms, and to create a propitious environment for the well-being of Haitians.

In the debate that followed, delegates welcomed the consolidated plan, saying that the “relatively stable” security situation would allow the Mission to implement a drawdown without undermining stability.  Some said the goals and indicators in the plan were ambitious and required the Council’s discussion.  Others had concerns about the operational and institutional shortcomings of the Haitian National Police, urging that the strengthening of those forces be among the Mission’s highest priorities.  Still others said appointments to the temporary Electoral Council must be finalized and a decision reached on the draft electoral law.

On that point, Uruguay’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, said rule-of-law institutions, a political culture of consensus-building and improved socioeconomic conditions were vital to achieving lasting stability in Haiti.  Free and fair partial legislative, municipal and local elections must be held and an Electoral Council created.  Also, ongoing efforts to eliminate the cholera epidemic were a reminder of the need to sustain cooperation with Haitian authorities.

The representative of the United States recalled that the Secretary-General’s “conditions-based” plan was a “living document” that would evolve with developments on the ground.  Her Government looked forward to working with other Council members on the plan in the coming months.

Addressing some of those concerns, Haiti’s representative reminded the Council that “without a doubt” his country had made “significant” progress, especially in reducing the number of displaced persons living in camps by 77 per cent, having helped 1.2 million people find new homes.  Despite the re-appearance of cholera, the results of cross-cutting efforts had helped to reduce the number of deaths.

Moreover, Haiti had set up a high council for the judiciary and filled Supreme Court vacancies, he said, acknowledging there had been delays in following the electoral calendar.  On the security front, the situation had improved.  In 2012, there had been eight homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants — a lower rate than other countries in the region.  Overall, many challenges remained, but the Government had the political will to achieve success.  He requested support for Haiti to achieve its national goals.

Also speaking in the debate today was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala.

The representatives of Pakistan, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Morocco, China, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Togo, Russian Federation, Brazil, Chile, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Peru also spoke, as did a representative of the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and adjourned at 1:01 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met today to discuss Haiti and had before it the Secretary-General’s most recent report updating the Council on the situation during the past six months (S/2013/139).

Briefing by Acting Special Representative

NIGEL FISHER, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Interim Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, said the annex of the Secretary-General’s report outlined the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) consolidation plan, as agreed with the Haitian Government.  The Plan provided key objectives for the next three years to strengthen security, the rule of law, elections administration and institutional modernization.

“The period under review has been a challenging one for Haiti,” he said, noting that annual economic growth had fallen below forecasts and that high unemployment had been compounded by two severe tropical storms and regional droughts that had aggravated food insecurity.  The Government had responded promptly and a modest emergency appeal, launched with United Nations support, had seen an “encouraging” response.

Against that backdrop, he said progress was being made in finding solutions for displaced Haitians in camps.  The numbers of displaced persons were declining, although conditions for the residual camp population had worsened amid shrinking resources.  Moreover, the cholera epidemic continued.  While fatality and infection rates had fallen from their peaks, a recent spike in outbreaks gave cause for concern.  In response, Haiti had launched a national eradication plan, supported by the Secretary-General’s initiative, but significant financing was required.

The Government was also working to attract investors, in order to stimulate economic growth and job creation, he said, citing a new initiative to significantly reduce the time required to register new businesses.  In terms of security, he said the situation remained “relatively stable”.  But, difficult socioeconomic conditions had prompted public protests.  The number of kidnappings had dropped, but homicide rates had increased, driven in particular by inter-gang violence in Port-au-Prince.

The review period also had been one of “impasse” in the political domain, he said, as seen in the lack of progress in creating the electoral commission to oversee partial legislative and local elections, which were now 16 months overdue.  Despite a 24 December agreement and intense debate, “Significant” differences remained between the executive and legislative branches, and the high judicial council.  Recalling why elections were crucial, he said that, in the absence of elections that were to have been held in November 2011, recent years had seen the replacement of 130 elected municipal governments with presidential appointees.  At the legislative level, the mandate of one third of Haiti’s senators expired last May, impairing that body’s functioning.

“Progress on the elections has become the barometer for measuring progress towards a more inclusive political culture”, he stressed, and for addressing institutional and development challenges.  But Haiti faced many other challenges as well.  The consolidation plan set out four core tasks to be achieved with the Government, and in collaboration with other national and international partners:  accelerated development of the Haitian National Police; strengthening of a permanent electoral commission, once created; strengthening of the rule of law and respect for human rights, with a priority of reinforcing basic accountability and oversight mechanisms; and supporting national and local governance reforms.

For each of those areas, the plan outlined benchmarks to be attained by 2016, he explained, noting that it also was subject to a number of conditions, including a graduated transfer to Haitian authorities of responsibility for maintaining security, as well as increased independence of the judiciary.  Early passage of anti-corruption, procurement and tendering procedure laws before parliament would also strengthen due process and encourage investment.  The plan also foresaw the reduction of the Mission’s uniformed strength, within a progressively smaller and less-costly mission footprint in Haiti.

“We in the United Nations family are committed to continued support for the national plan,” he stressed, and with partners, to redoubled efforts to mobilize the significant additional resources to fight cholera, improve water and sanitation and strengthen the national health care network.  “Haitians expect no less.”  MINUSTAH was also committed to ensuring that the United Nations policy of “zero tolerance” towards sexual abuse by its personnel was respected.

Moving beyond the political impasse was crucial to consolidating peace in Haiti, he said.  MINUSTAH was ready to support Haiti in taking growing responsibility for its national security and the security of its citizens, to contribute to consensus-building in democratic processes and institutional reforms, and to create a propitious environment for the well-being of Haitians.

Statements

SUSAN RICE ( United States) said that in October 2012, the Council had heard with relative optimism a briefing that had detailed the great strides by the Haitian people in the development of their country.  Today, however, Special Representative Fisher’s briefing revealed that Haiti had missed an opportunity to consolidate progress over the past six months, reminding all of the hard work that remained to be done.  As the Council had noted, holding free and fair elections by the end of 2013 was critical.  The absence of such elections impeded social and economic development in Haiti.  While there had been recent steps forward on the political front, the United States looked forward to the scheduling of those long-overdue elections.  That would send a signal to the international community that Haiti was committed to ensuring peace and development in the country.

Once the crucial elections were held, Haiti could then turn its attention to critical and pressing humanitarian issues, which included food security and preparations to weather the next natural disaster.  The United States was encouraged by the reconstruction effort and noted that the number of people still living in camps following the 2010 earthquake had dropped to some 357,000.  She said the United States expected MINUSTAH to continue working with the Government and international partners to further reduce those numbers.  She went on to welcome the Secretary-General’s conditions-based plan, which was a “living document” that would evolve in line with developments on the ground.  The United States looked forward to working with other Council members on the plan in the coming month.

She said that MINUSTAH carried a heavy responsibility and the United States was grateful for its tireless work.  Nevertheless, any instance of sexual exploitation or abuse was unacceptable and the United States expected sustained action by the Mission’s leadership to deal with that serious issue.  Finally, she said that, despite setbacks, the international community must not lose sight of the most important objective, which was the achievement of a stable, self-sustaining Haiti. 

MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan) said that his delegation appreciated the joint efforts to move Haiti towards stability and lasting development.  The determined and stalwart work of the Haitian people had contributed to the effort, even in the face of the devastating 2010 earthquake, which had eroded previous gains.  It was clear that challenges persisted, but the resolve of the Haitian people for collective action to rebuild their country was strong.  He went on to note difficulties with political appointments and other development on that front over the past year, but stressed that improvement in relations between the Executive Branch and the Parliament would stabilize the political situation in the country.  In addition, holding credible elections in 2013 would help further stabilize the political environment.

He said that Pakistan had participated in MINUSTAH since 1993 and was well aware that all components of that mission were implementing a difficult mandate under challenging circumstances.  Despite this, circumstances in some parts of Haiti made it clear that MINUSTAH must remain agile and capable of dealing with any new or emerging situation.  He said that Pakistan appreciated the Secretary-General’s consolidation plan, which narrowed the focus of MINUSTAH to security, governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.  Pakistan agreed with the setting of stabilization benchmarks to gauge progress, including for the training of the Haitian National Police.  That particular goal was vital for the eventual draw down of MINUSTAH.  He also said that today’s discussion on Haiti was an opportunity to draw attention to the serious humanitarian concerns, including food insecurity, the ongoing cholera epidemic and the country’s extreme vulnerability to natural disasters.  Against such a worrying setting, the international community must continue to assist the Haitian Government in tackling such serious challenges.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina), aligning with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, reaffirmed her country’s commitment to Haiti’s constitutional reconstruction.  Argentina had a long tradition of supporting democratic governments in Haiti.  Between 2005 and 2012, Argentina had been involved more than 172 projects to promote social cohesion, improve food security, and improve basic services such as education, water and sanitation.  Cooperation was decisive to promote Haiti’s long-term development.

She underlined Haiti’s work to deal with the unprecedented earthquake, whose human, economic and environmental consequences had affected more than one third of the population.  Despite such conditions, “Haiti is on the path moving forward,” she said, noting that 80 per cent of the 10 million cubic metres of garbage had been removed, and 20 per cent of that recycled.  Jobs had been created, 40 per cent for women, with women also playing a key role in reforestation projects.  At the same time, democracy and good governance were “pending issues”.  Stabilization efforts must be strengthened; socioeconomic development must be promoted and investment attracted.  Moreover, the holding of fair and credible elections in 2013 was vital to building Haiti’s capacity and rebuilding the rule of law.

She went on to say that Haiti’s police were vital to the country’s security situation, and the United Nations must continue to provide funding and technical assistance to promote stability.  Food insecurity affected 2.1 million Haitians, who now were at severe nutritional risk if measures were not taken.  In addition, the time had come to consolidate progress in the area of settlements, and she urged renewing support for Haiti to guarantee dignified lives for people still living in camps.  Finally, citing a human rights report, she said partisan politics and a weak judiciary were problems.  Prison conditions had not improved and cruel treatment continued, alongside police brutality.  She was concerned that financing for the police remained insufficient. “This is a key institution for progress and stabilization,” she said.

AGSHIN MEHDIYEV (Azerbaijan) said the Security Council had recognized Haiti’s considerable strides made since the 2010 earthquake, including a number of political milestones.  The security situation was “relatively stable” and police performance continued to improve.  Haiti also had made significant strides in finding solutions for displaced persons after the earthquake, and in signing a strategic framework with the United Nations for the 2013-2016 period, which outlined long-term development priorities.  At same time, there were several challenges.  More must be done in the broad interest of Haitians.  Political stability was a key priority and the tension between the executive branch and Parliament was among the obstacles to prosperity.  All political actors must redouble efforts to preserve gains made in the last year.

He went on to say that such dialogue was important for launching the overdue electoral process and the holding of free, fair and credible elections as soon as possible.  The United Nations should support those elections and strengthen Haiti’s capacity to assume national responsibilities.  Efforts also were needed to strengthen legal institutions, reform the security sector and advance the democratic agenda.  Protection for women, children and internally displaced persons should remain a priority.  Continued international efforts were crucial to ensuring all humanitarian needs were met.  International assistance was also critical to support the police force.  Finally, he said the consolidation plan would enable ministries to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.

OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE (Rwanda) said that his delegation fully supported the Haitian people in their efforts to stabilize their country.  However, rebuilding the country required a stable political situation.  Indeed, only a sound and inclusive Government could engender trust in the population, build credible institutions and create conditions for outside investment.  He said that while the security situations had remained “relatively stable”, Rwanda was concerned by a recent increase in homicide rates and other criminal activity.  The international community must continue its capacity-building efforts, especially measures to bolster the Haitian police.

Today’s debate was an essential opportunity to consider the explicit links between security and development, he said, also expressing concern about the worrying humanitarian situation in Haiti as well as the island nation’s vulnerability to natural disasters.  Overall, he said that while the country had made progress, the strong commitment of the Government and long-term international assistance were needed to cement such progress.

KIM SOOK (Republic of Korea) said that more than three years after a devastating earthquake, Haiti still faced serious challenges.  Indeed, hard-won political gains had eroded, dire humanitarian conditions persisted and social and economic grievances often sparked civil unrest.  The myriad challenges in Haiti drew attention to the need for a comprehensive and holistic approach.  As for the stalemate between the various branches of Government, the Republic of Korea encouraged all political stakeholders to step up their efforts to fill all open positions on electoral bodies and to schedule long-overdue elections as quickly as possible.

He went on to say that his delegation was concerned about incidents of sexual violence and other violence against women and children and called on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to strengthen its relevant programmes in conjunction with the Haitian Government.  The Mission was also encouraged to strengthen its broader human rights initiatives.  The national authorities, for their part, were urged to launch awareness-raising campaigns to combat impunity for such violence and to encourage people to speak out.  He went on to note that sexual violence and the lack of response to it, as well as other security challenges, made it clear that the Haitian National Police were not yet ready to take over full responsibility for the country.  As that was the case, international efforts to strengthen the capacity of those forces must be continued.  Finally, he said that the Republic of Korea would continue to stand by the Haitian people.  

FERNANDO CARRERA-CASTOR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that his Government had had a “mixed reaction” to the report before the Council.  On one hand, it noted gradual progress in certain areas and contained an annex detailing an encouraging plan for 2013-2016, while on the other, there was reason for concern about the persistent uncertainty around the pending elections — 16 months overdue — lack of political consensus on a national dialogue, and the failure of rule of law initiatives to produce significant change on the ground.  For example, he said that it was quite clear that the Haitian National Police were currently in no position to assume full responsibility for internal security throughout the country.

Against such a setting, the fundamental immediate priority, he said, was holding local, municipal and legislative elections, as continuing to put off those polls could jeopardize rule of law in the country.  Guatemala echoed the calls of the international community that fair and transparent elections were needed in Haiti as soon as possible.  Guatemala was also prepared to share its experiences in building political consensus and identifying shared priorities to bolster national-level decision-making.  As for other concerns, he said that the situation of the more than 300,000 internally displaced persons should be urgently addressed, and that rule of law initiatives must be shored up in order to address the sharp increase in violent crimes and other activity in Haiti.

He went on to note that, while his Government appreciated the consolidation plan, the overall strategy must remain flexible and the conditions for the eventual withdrawal of MINUSTAH must be based on conditions on the ground.  He also expressed concern about the fact that peacekeeping budgets were generally approved in May, yet the Council had reviewed MINUSTAH’s mandate in October.  “The logical approach would be that the mandate determines the budget, not the other way around,” he said, emphasizing that while the consolidation plan was still evolving and while uncertainties surrounded the national political situation, there should be no further cuts to the Mission’s uniformed personnel.

SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said that three years after the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haitians had begun the difficult task of rebuilding their country and progress had been made.  The number of displaced persons living in camps had dropped by 77 per cent, while MINUSTAH and the police were sharing information, which had helped to stabilize the security situation.  But, over the last six months, the stabilization process had run into difficulties, with the country shaken by Hurricane Sandy.  Three fourths of the population lived in poverty and the human rights situation “left much to be desired”.  Violence, including sexual violence, was being perpetrated against children.

In terms of the rule of law, she said Haiti was responsible for ensuring no impunity for human rights violations.  The deadlock between parliamentary and opposition members was among the root causes of problems.  The holding of elections, originally set for 2012, was “absolutely necessary” and she called urgently for Haiti to spare no effort in creating the conditions for holding free, fair and credible elections.  It also was crucial to finalize the creation of a transitional electoral council.  For its part, Luxembourg was committed to helping Haiti overcome humanitarian challenges.  The cholera situation required decisive action.  The Secretary-General’s 11 December 2012 initiative to eradicate cholera was part of the international community’s “moral responsibility” to help those affected.  The goals of the consolidation plan could be met only with a more robust commitment from Haiti and long-term partnership with the international community.

LOTFI BOUCHAARA (Morocco) said Haiti was on “shaky footing” as it worked to counter the devastating impacts of the 2010 earthquake and more recent tropical storms.  International support was falling, despite the fact that the stabilization process had not yet finished, and today’s debate offered an opportunity to call attention to ongoing plans, which were not always funded adequately by the international community.  In that context, he applauded measures taken to bolster the rule of law, noting that complications with the transitional Electoral Council persisted.  Also, the security situation was relatively stable, despite increasing civil society protests.

He went on to stress the need to enhance police services, applauding the national police, which continued to build its capacity with help from MINUSTAH.  On the humanitarian front, despite the fact that the number of people living in camps had fallen, he noted with concern a degrading humanitarian situation, amid the withdrawal of half of the non-governmental organizations that were present in the country in 2010.  To optimize MINUSTAH’s presence in Haiti, he urged the implementation of the consolidation plan, with an eye to the mission’s withdrawal.  One determining factor was the ability of the Haitian National Police to guarantee security across the country.  He was encouraged by the various police operations aimed at combating organized crime, calling on MINUSTAH to continue its support so that the police could attain the goals outlined in the plan.

WANG MIN (China) said that the security situation in Haiti had been stable and the development and reconstruction process had moved forward.  At the same time, the country faced serious political, economic and humanitarian difficulties.  Haiti needed the support of the international community, and China hoped the political parties in the county would make progress on the path of reconciliation, so that elections could be held without delay.  If the polls were held, many of the challenges Haiti faced could be comprehensively addressed.  China supported the Secretary-General’s initiative for eradicating cholera in Haiti.  It also noted the consolidated plan for Haiti and hoped MINUSTAH would continue to carry out its mandate, including bolstering the rule of law and assisting in strengthening security forces.

PHILIP PARHAM (United Kingdom) said that during the Council’s last meeting on Haiti, while he had been cautiously optimistic about the situation in the country, he had tempered that optimism because it had been clear that political inertia was blighting the chances for real development.  Notwithstanding some progress over the past six months, he said urgent steps were required to address the political stalemate.  Indeed, political fragility was the most likely source of instability in Haiti and the international community must continue to monitor that situation.  Political appointments, including for the permanent electoral council, must be completed quickly.

Turning to security matters, he said the United Kingdom was concerned by the operational and institutional shortcomings of the Haitian National Police.  As such, support for strengthening those forces must be MINUSTAH’s highest priority.  A related worry was the fact that recruitment levels for the police force were far below the required target.  The United Kingdom wondered if that was because of inadequate training structures, or because MINUSTAH was not devoting enough attention to the issue.  He underscored that the Haitian police must also meet appropriate human rights standards if they were to meet the needs of society.  Further, capacity-building in the justice sector, including ensuring transparency of the judiciary and rehabilitating detention centres, was also necessary to complement the strengthening of the police force.

GÉRARD ARAUD (France) shared the concerns expressed by the representative of the United Kingdom vis-à-vis the elections and the police.  At the last Council meeting on Haiti in October, he had noted that the country had made political and institutional progress.  However, the Secretary-General’s current report said that those hopes had not yet materialized and he recalled the Council’s 28 January press statement in that context.  Local and partial legislative elections had been too long delayed.  Free, fair and credible elections must take place this year and the members of a transitional electoral college must be appointed.  He voiced concern about reports of disputed nominations, statements regarding press freedoms and shortcomings in upholding human rights.

MINUSTAH had offered Haiti 10 years of relative calm, he said, due to its deterrent presence.  But MINUSTAH’s presence had not led to substantive progress in allowing the Haitian National Police to take control of the country’s security.   France supported the goal of moving from 10,000 to 15,000 police officers, and at the same time, wondered if that was a realistic goal.  MINUSTAH should remain committed in such efforts.  France also supported the United Nations efforts to eradicate cholera, a goal that could be reached in the short-term by ongoing targeted measures, working together with the Haitian Government.

He supported the conditions-based approach taken by MINUSTAH.  Yet, in that context, while a hasty departure of the Mission should be prevented, he recognized that maintaining a peacekeeping operation of its size also was not an option.  “We must define and create conditions for success,” he stressed, urging the Council to reflect on “an end date and an end state.”  He welcomed the consolidation plan in that context, which provided a realistic timeframe, as well as its core objectives and measurement criteria.

PHILIPPA JANE KING (Australia) said that to address the challenges ahead, Haiti must build, with global support, an effective, functioning governmental system.  She shared the Secretary-General’s concern over the ongoing political stalemate, including over creation of the Provisional Electoral Council.  Credible, free and fair elections in 2013 were critical for Haiti’s recovery, reconstruction and development.  She urged progress in appointing members of the Provisional Electoral Council so that partial legislative, municipal and local elections could be organized, followed by the Council’s creation.  Holding elections was crucial for attracting much-needed private investment.  She welcomed Prime Minister Lamothe’s statement that “Haiti is open for business”.  Political stability would strengthen that prospect.  She lauded the overall stable security situation, but expressed concern over the jump in major crimes in the second half of 2012.  Efforts to support the protection of vulnerable groups in Haiti remained an important part of MINUSTAH’s work.  It was important to build the capacity of the Haitian National Police and the judicial system to investigate and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence. 

She supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to develop a national justice development plan to strengthen the rule of law and build Haiti’s judiciary.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Australia had committed $500,000 to the Caribbean Community for drinking water, sanitation and hand-washing stations for Haitians at risk for cholera.  She strongly supported the Secretary-General’s initiative to eliminate cholera and the leadership of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser.  Also, she recognized the joint efforts of the global community and MINUSTAH to help the Haitian National Police meet the major benchmarks of its five-year development plan.  She encouraged MINUSTAH to continue working with Haitian authorities to help the Government implement electoral laws and strengthen national institutions and administrative functions.

KODJO MENAN (Togo) said that, on the security front, success was shared by MINUSTAH and the Haitian Government alike, as the situation remained “relatively stable”.  He encouraged Haiti to continue combating armed groups, the main source of insecurity, and modernizing the security, judiciary and penitentiary sectors.  He voiced concern at continued sexual violence, especially against children.  On the political front, he was pleased by efforts to stabilize the rule of law, urging the Haitian political class to continue such work.  Parliamentary approval of Laurent Lamothe as Prime Minister helped to bring an end to a political crisis that lasted months.  Such events, taken together, would help overcome partisan divisions and develop collective commitment to holding elections.  That dynamic had been slowed by difficulties in designating a body to oversee the polls.

He went on to express Togo’s pleasure with work by the President and National Assembly to organize partial municipal and local elections, urging all political actors to work in a manner “based on logic”, so the elections were inclusive and transparent.  Authorities should continue reforms to the legal framework.  On other matters, he said conditions in camps for displaced persons were deteriorating, amid a significant drop in the provision of basic services due to shrinking funds.  International provision of potable water and infrastructure to stem the cholera epidemic was needed.  In the absence of a clear legal responsibility, the United Nations should continue to assume a “moral responsibility” to eradicate that disease, the source of which was known.  The consolidation plan should lead to the disengagement of MINUSTAH and a refocus on the priority interests in the country.

VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said Haiti’s political process was “shaky”, with rising political rhetoric that had not eliminated differences between the executive power and Parliament.  Partial parliamentary and municipal elections should be held this year, with the United Nations supporting that process, and all political forces showing restraint and resolving disputes only through legal mechanisms.  He was disturbed by the persistence of criminal activity, emphasizing that Haiti’s stabilization would be impossible without bringing an end to violence and corruption.  MINUSTAH played a lead role in such areas.

He went on to stress that Haiti must be supported in efforts to bolster the rule of law and security enforcement.  Noting that the social, economic and humanitarian situations were “lamentable”, he stressed that United Nations funds and programmes must be involved.  It was worrisome that cholera had not been eradicated and he welcomed the Secretary-General’s results-based initiatives to combat that illness.

As for consolidation, he said mandate adjustments were linked with police readiness.  He supported the consolidation plan, which could be attained in four or five years.  At the same time, its goals and indicators were ambitious and required the Council’s discussion.  Of utmost importance were the internal political mechanisms, without which stability and security could not be achieved.  A host of challenges remained, including agreement on the humanitarian and economic fronts.  The Government was responsible for coordinating international assistance.

FRITZNER GASPARD ( Haiti) said today’s debate, held five months after the adoption of resolution 2070 (2012), allowed the Council to take stock of progress and challenges facing Haiti.  The goal was to place the country on the path of development.  “Today, without a doubt, Haiti has made significant progress,” he said.  On the humanitarian front, 1.2 million people had been re-housed — a 77 per cent reduction in the number of displaced persons, largely attributed to return programmes launched by the Government and the United Nations.  Despite the re-appearance of cholera, the results of cross-cutting efforts were encouraging.  Mortality had dropped from 43 deaths for every 1,000 cases to six deaths for every 1,000 at the end of 2012.  The appointment of Paul Farmer as the United Nations Special Adviser for Haiti Cholera Efforts was an “encouraging” step.

Other measures were also bearing fruit, he said, noting that on the education front, Haiti had enrolled more 1 million children in school, while efforts had been made to attract foreign investment and combat unemployment.  Citing one example, he said the Caracol Industrial Park — one of the largest in the Caribbean — was recently inaugurated, which could create 20,000 direct jobs and up to 60,000 indirect jobs.   Haiti also was committed to building roads, airports and housing.

In terms of the rule of law, he said Haiti had set up a high council for the judiciary and filled Supreme Court vacancies.  It was training judiciary staff and had increased both the number of penitentiaries and peace tribunals.  In the area of public administration, Haiti had launched a programme last year that sought to modernize its functioning.  As for corruption, more than 200 State officials had been arrested and prosecuted on embezzlement charges.  On the political front, he acknowledged delays in following the electoral calendar.  He urged all actors to uphold democratic norms, while praising theappointment of three parliamentary members to the permanent Electoral Council.

On the security front, the situation had improved, thanks in large part to efforts by the Haitian National Police, he said, noting that in 2012, there had been eight homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants — a lower rate than other countries in the region.  Calling the security situation “satisfactory”, he said such facts showed that there was a difference between perception and reality in Haiti.  On the social front, the Government, in partnership with the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), were creating a social safety net to alleviate abject poverty.

Despite such gains, many challenges remained, he said, including structural issues, such as funding for reconstruction projects, a “core problem”.  Resource mobilization was vital to combating food insecurity and he reiterated the call for States to contribute to Haiti’s long-term reconstruction, especially given the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters, a fact that must be taken into account in such efforts.  In closing, he emphasized that his Government had the necessary political will to achieve success, mindful of the fact that Haitians must be the engine of long-term growth.  With that, he urged international support for achieving national goals, stressing that Haiti would work hand-in-hand to achieve them.

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) agreed with the Special Representative that the tasks performed by MINUSTAH should be progressively transferred to the Haitian authorities, as the development of national capacities allowed.  Her delegation also supported the concept that troop levels should be adjusted as the Mission prepared to gradually disengage.  But, such a decision must not be based on financial considerations.  Rather, the situation on the ground and the assessment of the Haitian Government’s ability to assume responsibilities should be the decisive factors in determining the level and nature of the future United Nations presence in Haiti.  “If we allow financial needs to dictate the pace of transition, we will deviate from the responsible and controlled exit strategy to which the Security Council is committed,” she said.  In that regard, she stressed that the Mission’s consolidation plan must be owned by Haitians as a platform for the development of critical capacities and must entail a true partnership among various stakeholders.

She welcomed the Haitian commitment to the strengthening of its National Police and adjusting its recruitment process to the objective of having 15,000 police officers by 2016.  Also, the appropriate holding of the upcoming elections was a fundamental step in that country’s efforts to fully exert its institutional and political responsibilities.  To that end, sustained international support was needed.  Economic growth with job creation and social inclusion was an absolutely essential dimension of stability in Haiti.  She noted that although Haiti had made important strides in recovering from one of the worst natural catastrophes of the present time, a lot remained to be done.  “It is troubling that, due to financial constraints, important international partners are pulling out their assistance to the country, even in the face of worrying humanitarian needs,” she said.  That trend was not in line with MINUSTAH’s consolidation plan laid out in the Secretary-General’s report.  In fact, it contradicts one of its fundamental assumptions.

JOSE LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, said that strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions, establishing a political culture of consensus building and improving socio-economic conditions were key elements in achieving greater and sustainable stability and prosperity in Haiti.  In that regard, he stressed the importance of the timely realization of free and fair partial legislative, municipal and local elections, which constituted an essential and urgent step to lasting stability, recovery and development in that country.  The effective establishment of the Electoral Council would be a major milestone in that process, he said, calling for the prompt appointment of members of the Transitional College of the Permanent Electoral Council.

Despite an increase in civil unrest and major crimes, the overall security situation in Haiti had remained relatively stable, allowing MINUSTAH to implement a drawdown without undermining the security and stability of Haiti, he noted.  Also, he welcomed the submission of a concise version of the Mission’s consolidation plan 2013-2016, which described the scope of that initiative, risks, challenges, mandated tasks and benchmarks, among others.  Going forward, the objective was to allow the Haitian authorities to gradually assume their fundamental responsibilities for their country’s future, he added.  In that regard, the strengthening, professionalizing and reforming of the Haitian National Police was essential to the full assumption of responsibility for the country’s security. 

He also welcomed the significant strides made last year in the resettlement of persons displaced by the 2010 earthquake, while expressing concerns about deteriorating living conditions in the remaining camps.  Further, there was a need to improve the response by the criminal justice sector to rape complaints and serious crimes against children.  Challenges, like the ongoing efforts to eliminate the cholera epidemic, were a reminder of the importance of sustaining cooperation between the international community and the Haitian Government.  Security, development and stability were closely interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  Therefore, he underscored the need to address unemployment and the delivery of basic social services, while stressing that there can be no genuine stability or sustainable development in Haiti without strengthening democratic institutions and credible democratic processes.

OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) said that despite solid progress in Haiti last year, there remained urgent steps that must be taken, especially towards generating positive dialogue among political stakeholders.  Indeed, such dialogue was the only way to cement past progress and to move forward with building a stable country that was able to address the needs of its people and tackle challenges ahead.  With that in mind, he called on political stakeholders to move quickly to hold long-overdue elections by the end of 2013.  As for the consolidation plan set out in the Secretary-General’s report, he said the goals set would allow MINUSTAH to support a gradual transition of responsibilities to Haitian authorities.  At the same time, while the consolidation plan was evolving, Chile believed that the mission’s programmes would remain intact.

He went on to say that Chile would continue to support the police training initiative in Haiti and would encourage the country’s other bilateral partners to do the same.  Similarly, broad cooperation with and among Haiti’s partners was necessary so the country could continue strengthening rule of law, consolidating national institutions, and addressing gender based violence, among other challenges that needed to be tackled.  Progress in those areas was absolutely necessary for attracting the outside investment necessary for the Government to address internal challenges, such as food insecurity.

JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country had supported Haiti’s reconstruction since the January 2010 earthquake.  However, he stressed, “Haitian institutional weakness has impeded the achievement of desirable levels of implementation.”  For that reason, the aid disbursed had not yet reached its full potential.  Local elections, as well as the election of a third of the Senate, were still pending as a result of the incapacity of Haitian political actors to constitute the Permanent Electoral Council provided for in the 1987 Constitution.  In addition, the compromise solution proposed by Haitian President Michel Joseph Martelly a few months ago to establish a transitory council had also not been implemented because of problems in the designation of some of the council’s members.

Spain wished to make a clear and forthright appeal to all Haitian political actors to assume their responsibilities and to work to reach a smooth and predictable operation of the country’s institutions.  As the Security Council had stated, the outstanding elections should be celebrated in 2013.  “Strong political institutions would allow [Haiti] to move forward in the reconstruction process in a much more efficient way,” he stressed, as well as to shape an image of Haiti moving forward towards its transformation into a secure, stable and socially fair country.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, said that while his delegation had hoped the political gains made in Haiti last year could have been built upon, it was regrettable that the climate of political stalemate had taken hold, imperilling the already-fragile Haitian democracy.  As that was the case, he reiterated calls to hold elections as soon as possible and noted that the European Union was ready to contribute the necessary finances to support capacity-building in the political sphere.

He aid that the European Union was concerned by “backsliding” in other areas, including the rule of law, security and justice sectors.  He urged the adoption of a more inclusive political approach and efforts to reach political consensus on a small number of social and economic objectives on which progress could be made.  The European Union welcomed the announced consolidation plan and would stand ready to provide assistance as the strategy was implemented, including through “taking up the baton” when the handover by MINUSTAH of the identified responsibilities to Haitian Government authorities began.

YANERIT MORGAN (Mexico) urged redoubling international efforts to lay the foundation for sustainable development in Haiti, saying she agreed with the four priorities outlined in the consolidated plan.  She was concerned, however, that actions that had succeeded in the past — like quick impact projects — had not been mentioned in the current report.  While Haiti could be supported by other actors, MINUSTAH should not disengage from key areas, such as education, food and agriculture, which could be sources of long-term instability.  She called on the Security Council, as well as United Nations agencies, to continue cooperating with Haitian authorities to meet socioeconomic challenges.

She went on to applaud the appointment of members to the transitional electoral council, urging that a culture for consensus-building be created to address priority development issues.  She also highlighted the decision to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on Human Rights in Haiti, noting that the Human Rights Council also had assessed Haiti’s efforts to improve the quality of life.  Such work would complement MINUSTAH’s efforts to foster good governance.  In sum, Mexico supported MINUSTAH and would continue to support institutional strengthening in Haiti.  In that context, she called for a possible reconfiguration of the mission’s mandate, which would take into account the needs of troop- and police-contributing countries.

GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) noted the progress in reconstruction and development in Haiti in the past year.  But, the continued stalemate in organizing the long overdue senatorial and municipal elections raised serious questions about the capacity of Haiti’s democratic institutions.  The elections must be held in 2013 and as soon as possible.  Canada was among the most generous donors to Haiti, providing more than $1 billion in support since 2006 for economic growth, food security, and maternal and child health care, as well as post-disaster humanitarian aid.  Since February 2012, Canada had helped more than 5,500 Haitian families displaced by the 2010 earthquake relocate from Champs de Mars camp to safer accommodations.  Canada’s development aid was helping women and children who could not afford health care gain access to health facilities and enjoy a better quality of life.  Several high-level Canadian officials had visited Haiti recently to see first-hand the country’s development and to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss challenges to and successes in the rule of law, security, governance, sustainable development, accountability and transparency. 

The International Cooperation Minister, Julian Fantino, visited in November 2012; the Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister of State of Foreign Affairs in February 2013, he said.  During their visits, the Ministers reiterated that Canada stood ready to help Haiti’s Government better coordinate non-governmental organizations, donors and partners in the country.  In the coming months, Canada would be closely involved in discussions on MINUSTAH’s conditions-based consolidation plan.  Efforts must continue to develop the capacity of the Haitian National Police as the country’s primary security force.  He urged Haiti’s Government to make the necessary efforts to implement the 2012-2016 police development plan.  Further, Haiti’s leaders must devote themselves to delivering the reforms they had promised.

JUN YAMAZAKI (Japan) outlined the challenges still facing Haiti — including the need for improved infrastructure and better access to education and medicine, high levels of unemployment and crime and challenges relating to recovery, reconstruction and development — as well as progress that had been made.  In 2010, he said, Japan pledged $100 million to Haiti’s emergency relief and reconstruction, and had already disbursed an amount exceeding that original pledge.  In recognition of Haiti’s progress, Japan’s Ground Self Defence Force’s engineering unit had withdrawn from the country in December 2012.  That contingent had made contributions to Haiti’s recovery, including through the removal of rubble, construction of orphanage facilities and distribution of water in response to the outbreak of cholera.

The Japan Ground Self Defence Force’s engineering unit was able to gain much experience in MINUSTAH, he went on.  In that context, he announced that Japan, together with the Permanent Mission of Brazil, would host a seminar on the evolving roles of military engineering units in peacekeeping missions at the Japan Society in New York today.  “Engineering units can play a critical, enabling role in multidimensional missions as early peace-builders,” he said.  Even after the withdrawal of that unit, Japan intended to continue to support Haiti’s restoration and the establishment of its basic social services, mainly in the fields of health, hygiene and education.  The country had recently decided to provide $5.7 million in food aid and $1.6 million in capacity-building assistance for the Haitian Government, he said.

AUGUSTO THORNBERRY ( Peru) said his Government had been an active participant in MINUSTAH since 2004 and was also a member of the Group of Friends for Haiti.  Peru was convinced that all processes in Haiti, especially consolidating institutions, strengthening the rule of law and capacity-building must be led by the Haitian Government.  In that context, the work of MINUSTAH was critical in ensuring that the Government had the support it needed to build the national institutions and structures to meet the needs of the Haitian people.  At the same time, Peru would call on all Haitian political forces to achieve the agreement necessary to lay the groundwork for the establishment of democratic institutions in the country.

He went on to welcome the consolidation plan for MINUSTAH and said that the strategy outlined in the Secretary-General’s report provided mechanisms to quantify implementation efforts.  Peru was keen to see progress on the broader initiative to strengthen Haiti’s security and justice sectors, especially bolstering of the National Police Force.  He said that while the plan was welcome, it should not give the impression that the United Nations involvement in, and support for, Haiti was at an end “or anywhere close to it.”  Indeed, going forward, the Organization and the wider international community must continue to assist the Haitian Government as it addressed the three core issues that were at the heart of MINUSTAH’s mandate:  governance, security and development.

In closing remarks, Mr. FISHER said the election issue had become a “touchstone” for moving forward on a number of other fronts.  “We need an electoral commission,” he said.  He looked forward to its formation as a first step in holding elections, a message he would take to his counterparts.  A number of Council speakers had focused on Haiti’s political fragility, expressing the need for redoubled efforts to promote an inclusive political dialogue, he said, which would allow Haiti’s leaders to focus on institutional reforms in the area of rule of law, and to address the challenge of increasing police numbers and professionalism.

The Council’s emphasis on development and humanitarian considerations was a reminder that, regardless of changes at the institutional level, all actors in Haiti were there to create the conditions for investment and increased well-being.  He also thanked Council speakers for raising the need to address exclusion based on gender, and the problem of gender-based violence.  As for the police, he said there was no doubt about their increased professionalism.  While recruitment had fallen below 2011 levels, a new training programme, to be launched in April, would see 1,050 cadets involved and mark a “pick up” in the recruitment process.  The medical review process was also progressing.

MINUSTAH also would examine its internal structure to ensure the right mix of personnel to train police, and further, to follow up on that training as the Haitian National Police moved out of Port-au-Prince, where 75 per cent of them were based.  “We need to see their increased presence around the country”, he said.

On the consolidation plan, he said that mandates should drive budgets.  MINUSTAH would carry out a consultative review to test the objectives of the consolidation plan with Government and contributing Member States.  Several Council speakers had noted that the plan was an ambitious one.  But it would be reviewed regularly with the Haitian Government and “brought back to you” for review.  In that context, he looked forward to the Council’s next discussion on the consolidation plan, which, ultimately, was a road map for Haiti to assume full management of its own affairs.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.