Haiti Making Progress towards Critical 2015 Elections, Special Representative Tells Security Council

SC/11822
18 March 2015
7408th Meeting (AM)

Haiti Making Progress towards Critical 2015 Elections, Special Representative Tells Security Council

Delegates Debate Merit of Downsizing Peacekeeping Force in Country

After months of political deadlock, Haiti’s holding of free, transparent and inclusive elections this year in “an atmosphere of calm” was an essential condition for achieving stability, democratic governance and development, the top United Nations official there told the Security Council today, as delegates debated plans to reduce the United Nations peacekeeping presence in the Caribbean nation.

In her semi-annual briefing, Sandra Honoré, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), pointing to “measurable gains”, said that, despite the absence of a functioning Parliament since 12 January, the consensus reached on 11 January between the President and a number of political parties had opened a path for holding long-overdue elections.

Following the creation of a new Government and Provisional Electoral Council, she said, the President, on 2 March, promulgated an electoral law, and having received an electoral calendar from the Council, issued an order to convene a first round of legislative elections on 9 August.  A second round of legislative — as well as the first round of presidential and local elections — would be held on 25 October.  If required, a presidential run-off would be held on 27 December.

“It is time for Haitian authorities, including the Electoral Council, to demonstrate their capacity and assume even greater ownership of the electoral process,” she said, calling international support “indispensable” for filling the funding gap.  As well, the Government must provide resources for implementing an “ambitious” calendar that would see the fiftieth legislature installed on 11 January 2016 and power transferred to a new President on 7 February the same year.

On the security front, she said the last six months had been “relatively stable”, despite increased gang-related violence in Cité de Soleil and near the capital, Port-au-Prince.  Protestors continued to call for the President’s resignation, capitalizing on grievances over fuel prices and teacher salaries.  Violent protests had been mainly handled by the Haitian National Police, with the Mission providing technical advice for crowd control.  While the national police had improved recruitment, training, crime investigation, public order management and overall professionalization, sustained international commitment was critical.

Calling developments in the rule of law “reassuring”, she likewise cited gains in the humanitarian situation, including a “drastic” reduction in the number of reported cholera cases to 27,752 in 2014, from a peak of more than 350,000 in 2011.  Haiti also had made progress in relocating persons displaced by the 2010 earthquake, with 79,397 people remaining in camps at the end of last year.

As for the Mission’s consolidation, she said the military component planned to reduce its personnel from the authorized 5,021 troops to 2,370 troops.  With that in mind, the Mission’s police forces must be fully staffed to support the Haitian National Police in all departments during the electoral process.  She encouraged Haiti’s partners to help the Mission reach its 2,601 authorized police level.  A transition plan to underpin the “gradual” reconfiguration of the United Nations presence beyond 2016 was also being developed, which would draw on the consolidation benchmarks and revised integrated strategic framework.

In the ensuing debate, Haiti’s representative said the Secretary-General’s report contained a “fair and lucid” analysis of the crisis that had rocked Haiti over the past year, and which had now been vanquished.  Everyone recognized the centrality of the electoral process to durable peace and stability.  The appointment of a new Prime Minister and a new consensus Government reflected a commitment to hold elections.

He said MINUSTAH’s presence had been central to Haiti’s security and stability.  The Mission would have to adapt to a context different from the one surrounding its establishment.  He urged the Council to exhibit flexibility and to reconsider the timetable in keeping with ground realities, including for guaranteeing security during the elections and critical tasks beyond.  There should be no premature disengagement that risked creating a vacuum.

Several speakers echoed that call, citing a 9 March letter from the Haitian President requesting a “pause” in the drawdown of the Mission’s military component, with Spain’s representative signalling his Government’s readiness to respond positively.  Similarly, the representative of Belize urged delegates to consider whether a reduced military presence would provide sufficient support for the Haitian National Police to maintain public order, especially during the elections.  She proposed freezing troop withdrawals until after the polls.

A continued military presence was needed to address security risks, said the representative of Antigua and Barbuda, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), especially during elections, along with Canada’s delegate, who stressed it was best to avoid reduction scenarios that could jeopardize results achieved to date.  Decisions should be guided by facts on the ground, others said, with New Zealand’s representative adding that the military component presently provided backup if the national police force was unable to address security concerns.  Argentina’s delegate called instead for increased operational capacities and resources for the Haitian National Police.

Others recalled that the Council last October had decided, in resolution 2180 (2014), to drawdown MINUSTAH’s forces and police components.  Making that point clear, the representative of France said he had heard no argument that would justify the maintenance of the current arrangement, nor downsizing according to a different calendar.  The time had come to do that which the Council had decided in October.

Similarly, Japan’s representative welcomed the resolution allowing for those drawdowns, stressing that, when firm progress was made, it was imperative to reduce the size of missions, as the United Nations’ peacekeeping resources were limited.

The representative of the United States suggested that MINUSTAH catalogue the functions of the United Nations’ funds and programmes during the last elections, and work across the system to ensure those functions were effectively carried out in 2015.  Security in the six departments where MINUSTAH military no longer resided was relatively stable.  She supported an additional 300 police forces to be dispatched to Haiti, as authorized, as well as medium-lift helicopters.

Also speaking in the debate were the representatives of Angola, Jordan, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Nigeria, Lithuania, China, Chad, Venezuela, Russian Federation, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti), as well as a representative of the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:33 a.m. and ended at 2:15 p.m.

Statements

SAMANTHA POWER (United States), while commending the President’s efforts to promote an inclusive political process, said the health of Haiti’s democracy depended on a functioning legislature.  All political parties should participate in the elections and ensure an “atmosphere of peace”.  Urgent attention to preparations was essential to ensure the polls were free, fair and credible.  The Government must ensure the Electoral Council and other bodies had adequate resources to carry out elections.  Those polls would also require international support.  The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) should catalogue the functions of the United Nations’ funds and programmes during the last elections, and work urgently across the system to ensure those functions were effectively carried out.  The Mission should work with the Electoral Council to identify the number and location of polling centres that might be vulnerable to violence or manipulation.  The Haitian National Police must grow in size and capability, she said, adding that Haiti’s homicide rate was “well below” the regional average.  Security in the six departments where MINUSTAH military no longer resided was relatively stable.  The United States supported the United Nations push to ensure the dispatch of an additional 300 police forces to Haiti, as authorized, as well as medium-lift helicopters to MINUSTAH’s aviation component.  She also supported maximum visibility for MINUSTAH forces.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) congratulated the Government and opposition for overcoming the political deadlock, and especially the Electoral Council, for the speed with which it established the dates for general elections in July and October 2015, and in January 2016, respectively.  He supported the Secretary-General’s decision to extend MINUSTAH’s mandate to 15 October, saying that it continued to play a “determinant” humanitarian role, in addition to helping the Haitian National Police manage public protests and guarantee security.  He was encouraged by MINUSTAH’s military and police components support to the Haitian National Police, especially in Port-au-Prince.  Its training and development of national bodies, including for law and order enforcement, was having a positive impact.  He noted the United Nations work to rebuild Haiti, institutionally, territorially and socioeconomically, especially in terms of private investment in the border areas.  He recognized women’s greater involvement in policing, encouraging the Government to incorporate them in its Cabinet and senior posts based on merit.  He reiterated support to the Mission in pursuit of priority goals, and in the reform of key sectors, urging dialogue among political stakeholders.

DINA KAWAR (Jordan) said the Council should examine the situation in Haiti in keeping with changes on the ground, so that the country could achieve enduring peace and stability.  During their visit to the country in January, Council members witnessed the progress Haiti had made in the aftermath of the earthquake.  However, significant challenges remained, including the lack of health services.  The international community should support the efforts of women’s groups as part of constructing an inclusive, broad-based environment for peace and stability.  She thanked the Special Representative for her efforts in promoting dialogue and cooperation among Haitian parties and reiterated the importance of fair and transparent elections.  The international community must stand ready to help Haiti, including in strengthening operational services, such as police.  Efforts at promoting rule of law and relevant institutions must be pursued, including in addressing prison crowding, inhumane treatment of detainees and long pre-trial detentions of women.

MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) welcomed the Secretary-General’s latest report on Haiti, as well as MINUSTAH’s contributions to strengthening stability there.  The failure to hold elections and the dissolution of the Parliament had created uncertainty, he said, and welcomed the recent announcement of an electoral calendar.  All actors should work to ensure the credibility and integrity of the elections and to strengthen legal institutions in the interest of peace and stability.  The Haitian National Police had built significant capacity and a leaner MINUSTAH working with local institutions and agencies would be able to ensure stability while the elections took place.  He looked forward to receiving an update in the Secretary-General’s next report on the reconfiguration of the Mission and transfer of responsibilities to other actors.

SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) expressed concern over political uncertainty in Haiti, pressing the Government to focus on grievances over the economy and unpaid salaries.  The Government’s “gradual and important” steps to ensure elections would be held, including the establishment of a transitional Government, installation of an Electoral Council and adoption of a new electoral law, showed its commitment to free, inclusive and transparent elections this year.  Political actors should work to ensure that polls would take place on time.  The humanitarian situation was precarious and she encouraged the Government to deepen respect for human rights, especially for women, and to health and education.  Such processes should be Haitian-owned and led.  Noting steps to eliminate cholera, relocate internally displaced persons and include women in electoral processes, she pressed the Government to address violent crime, noting the Haitian National Police’s ability to increasingly handle such situations on its own.  Efforts to increase their professionalism would help build public confidence.  The Mission’s reconfiguration should consider the need for maintaining rapid response capability.  MINUSTAH had made progress under the four stabilization benchmarks and she looked forward to further updates on its work.

JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain), associating with the European Union, supported the Secretary-General’s view that there were “hopeful” signs in Haiti, in terms of reducing the number of internally displaced persons and cholera incidence.  He urged all political actors to contribute to a “climate of political stability”, cautioning politicians against allowing their personal interests to trump those of Haitians.  He supported dialogue as part of broader efforts to consolidate democracy, noting that Spain was Haiti’s third-largest bilateral donor — and largest in the European Union — having allocated €50 million to reconstruction, notably water and sanitation.  Some 2 million people had benefitted from those efforts.  Spain also had offered €50 million in budget support.  The security situation had not worsened significantly, thanks to MINUSTAH’s work.  He noted a 9 March letter from the President to the Secretary-General requesting a “pause” in the drawdown of MINUSTAH’s military component.  Spain was ready to respond positively to that request, supporting a reconfigured mission that took into account progress made by the Haitian National Police.  A reconfiguration should be considered in a flexible manner, taking into account short- and medium-term security and political considerations.

KAYODE LARO (Nigeria), welcoming the announcement of the electoral calendar, urged the Haitian Government to sustain recent political developments in order to hold free and fair elections later in the year, which was critical to ensuring lasting peace and stability in that country.  It was important to strengthen the national security personnel in keeping with the established targets and to develop social and economic projects in a way that would help to promote stability.  It was a matter of satisfaction that Haiti had made progress in both areas.  The current transition plan provided a clear path ahead.  MINUSTAH would remain crucial amid the drawdown and the international community must extend full support to the country.

CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand) said that MINUSTAH’s reconfiguration should be guided by facts on the ground, and the Council should act at any time to adjust that mandate if compelled to do so by conditions in Haiti.  To ensure clarity of purpose, the Mission must be consolidated as and when the Haitian authorities were ready to assume responsibility for Haiti’s security.  In that regard, New Zealand was apprehensive about the planned — and already committed — drawdown of the Mission’s military component.  That component presently provided a backup if the national police force was unable to address security concerns.  Until the capacity of the Haitian National Police was increased, the ability of the Haitian Government, and the Mission’s ability to ensure safety and security, could be tested.  Domestic institutions should be strengthened, and it was imperative that the full complement of the Mission’s police personnel envisioned in the Mission mandate be deployed as soon as possible.

DAINIUS BAUBLYS (Lithuania), aligning himself with the European Union, noted Haiti’s consolidation of gains in stability and democracy, and hoped that the launch of the Haiti Transitional appeal for 2015-2016 would lead to further normalization.   While appreciating the President’s commitment to credible, independent, transparent and inclusive elections, he said it was essential to stick to the proposed electoral calendar.  The preeminent challenge remaining was to bolster the rule of law.  Judicial independence needed strengthening and such issues as pre-trial detention, overcrowded corrections institutions and protection of human rights, should be addressed.   He also encouraged Haiti to address gender-based violence through review of the penal code.  As Haiti’s national police had become less dependent on MINUSTAH, he looked forward to their deployment beyond the Port-au-Prince area.  Singling out MINUSTAH’s role in dismantling criminal gangs, he said that offering economic alternatives was essential to preventing gang recruitment, also calling for the United Nations and the Government to focus on the proliferation of small arms, and countering drug-trafficking and arms-smuggling.   The international community should focus on social, economic and development issues, with States in the region playing a more vocal role.

WANG MIN (China) said that, while the security environment in Haiti was stable, the political situation was fragile, as issues related to internally displaced persons and cholera were persistent challenges.  The electoral process should be advanced, as its prompt conclusion was critical for Haiti’s development.  He pressed political actors to seize the opportunity to “move in the same direction”.  The international community and regional organizations should, based on respect for sovereignty, play monitoring and coordinating roles.  Also, development efforts should be accelerated.  Post-earthquake reconstruction work had laid the foundation in that regard.  The Government should outline a development strategy, and strengthen both infrastructure and its capacity for disease prevention, while the international community should honour its commitments.  MINUSTAH had played an important role in maintaining social order, he said, expressing hope it would gradually downsize, keeping in mind ground requirements.  It should boost its communication with the Government and continue to train the Haitian National Police.

BANTE MANGARAL (Chad) said the political situation was swiftly changing after a long period of tension and an institutional vacuum.  The 25 December 2014 election of a new Prime Minister and signing of an agreement with three branches of power, the establishment of an Electoral Council, and a timeframe for polling were “remarkable” gains.  He welcomed the Government’s efforts to carry out elections, urging scaled-up international efforts to provide technical, logistical and financial support.  He also urged humanitarian agencies to relocate and reintegrate vulnerable people.  MINUSTAH should continue to support the rebuilding of detention centres.  He noted public protests against increased petrol prices and gang violence, welcoming the improved response and capacity of Haitian National Police.  MINUSTAH and national authorities should continue to train 15,000 agents.  He supported the Secretary-General’s two-phased drawdown plan for the Mission, as outlined in resolution 2180 (2014).

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said the Council mission to Haiti in January had enabled members to learn about the important role of MINUSTAH in support of policies being pursued by the Haitian Government to achieve peace and development.  Urging the Government to focus on its sustainable development agenda, he pledged Venezuela’s continuing support.  Despite the progress made, significant challenges persisted, including the fight against cholera, addressing structural legacies of colonialism and rebuilding state institutions.  Venezuela welcomed the establishment of the electoral calendar and stressed the need to continue building trust to ensure free and fair elections.  MINUSTAH had contributed to enhancing stability in Haiti, he said, adding that legal and legislative reforms were critical to lasting stability there.  Any decision on MINUSTAH should be made based on realities on the ground.

PETR ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) welcomed the key steps political leaders in Haiti had taken recently to resolving that country’s political ambiguity.  With the active support of MINUSTAH, Haitian leaders had achieved success in a variety of social and economic areas, as well.  Establishing national dialogue was the lynchpin of stability, broadening the democratic State and enhancing accountability.  There was a pressing need in the pre-electoral period to resolve key national issues, which required respectful support from the international community.  Ultimately, the Haitian Government bore the primary responsibility for its affairs and for making sound use of international support.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) urged all parties to ensure that elections were successfully held, noting that the political crisis had diverted attention from MINUSTAH’s consolidation.  The Mission must provide logistical support to the polls and contribute to a stable environment, while the Government must assess those challenges in a “complex” political context.  While the Haitian National Police had made gains, the elections could bring about a long period of uncertainty, marked by run-off elections.  Haitians had stressed the importance of a “gradual” military drawdown, requesting a “robust” presence of the Mission, as outlined in the President’s request to the Secretary-General.  As of 18 February, the Mission maintained 4,615 troops.  The challenge would start on 1 July, when an extended elections period would be under way, during which MINUSTAH would only have only half of that troop number.  He supported a gradual reduction of the military component that took into account the electoral calendar, as well as international financial support in the context of persistent cholera and internally displaced person challenges.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), associating with the European Union, said the Council had taken note of the President’s request to the Council.  He urged carrying out what had been decided in October, saying it was matter of credibility for the Council, which had voted on the Mission’s reconfiguration.  It also had to do with its confidence in Haitian democracy.  The reconfiguration of the Mission’s posture would take into account the ground situation, he said, noting that the police contingent would play a leading role in the context of elections.  He welcomed MINUSTAH’s decision to increase its police component and draw on the troop ceiling authorized by the Council.  He welcomed the framework set for long-delayed elections and State institutions, urging collective work to allow for fair, transparent and inclusive polls.  Rule of law bodies must improve transparency and accessibility.  The Government would be responsible for turning its desire to prosecute human rights violations into action.  He welcomed the United Nations efforts to eradicate cholera and encouraged engaging the Peacebuilding Commission on the future United Nations presence in the country.

DENIS REGIS (Haiti) said the Secretary-General’s report contained a fair and lucid analysis of the crisis that had rocked Haiti over the past year, and which had now been vanquished.  The report also painted a balanced picture of the situation prevailing today, he said, adding that everyone recognized the centrality of the electoral process to durable peace and stability.  The appointment of a new Prime Minister and a new consensus Government and other political decisions taken recently reflected that Government’s commitment to hold elections, for which a realistic timetable had been established.  Things were on the right track, he said, expressing Haiti’s gratitude to the United Nations for its constructive engagement.  MINUSTAH’s presence had been central to the security and stability of Haiti.  The Mission would have to adapt to a context different from the one surrounding its establishment.  He urged the Council to exhibit flexibility in carrying out the reconfiguration of the Mission and to reconsider the timetable in keeping with realities on the ground, including the imperative of guaranteeing security and order for the conduct of elections and the critical tasks beyond.  There should be no premature disengagement that risked creating a vacuum.

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) said there were reasons to be optimistic about Haiti’s future, not the least of which was the resilience of its people.  It was encouraging to see improvements in macroeconomic indicators, as well as those relating to the Millennium Development Goals.  The current stability threats required less and less of MINUSTAH’s military components.  However, should new circumstances emerge there would be a need to review the situation.  A lighter presence by MINUSTAH should be complemented by a stronger presence of local authorities and organizations.  The challenge was to provide sustainability to recent gains as the country moved towards enduring peace and development.  Welcoming recent political developments, Brazil hoped the continuing positive attitude of political leaders there would lead to successful elections.

FERNANDO CARRERA CASTRO (Guatemala) regretted that elections had not yet been held, which had resulted in the dissolution of Parliament in January.  The proper functioning of democratic institutions depended on elections, whose delay had impacted the system of checks and balances.  Resolving problems in Haiti was the primary responsibility of Haitians themselves.  He noted the importance of national reconciliation strategies and avoiding “winner-takes-all” situations.  For its part, MINUSTAH must continue its consolidation, he said, noting the Government’s concern in that regard.  While the security situation was generally stable, violence had increased, requiring the Haitian National Police — which was not yet in a position to respond to such instability alone — to increase capacity.  MINUSTAH must fulfil roles in security sector reform, border control and security.  An inclusive approach was needed, especially vis-à-vis troop- and police-contributing countries.  A gradual drawdown should be carried out in consultation with the Government.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES (Colombia) said the Electoral Council had proposed an electoral calendar, which was welcomed by the President, who outlined three electoral rounds.  There were various challenges involved in such work for the Government, MINUSTAH and international community.  The polls must be held in a free, inclusive and peaceful manner, giving priority to legitimizing Haitian institutions.  Those bodies must have resources to carry out their work.  The goal was to ensure the credibility of the electoral process; any differences among political actors should be addressed through the appropriate institutional needs.  Joint work must be clearly defined and support provided to requests by national authorities.   While the security situation was stable, and the Haitian National Police had made gains, spikes in violence must be considered in terms of risks to the electoral process.  MINUSTAH must be vigilant in that regard.  The Secretariat must take timely action to use authorized police levels.  He urged consolidation of the rule of law, saying the Mission’s reconfiguration must allow for a smooth transfer of duties to Haitian authorities and the country team.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, representative of the European Union Delegation, said that, despite the progress made, Haiti continued to face formidable economic and social challenges.  Ongoing serious social and economic inequalities were a threat to the security and stability of the country.  The Union, as a loyal ongoing partner of Haiti, would continue its support, including humanitarian assistance.  By building strong State institutions, Haiti would be able to build enduring peace and security, which was a priority area for the Union in that country.  Haiti must ensure that progress was irreversible, and towards that end, work to ensure credible, free and transparent elections.  Amid the increase in demonstrations and violence in a complex election year, the Union believed MINUSTAH’s contributions continued to be vital, including the continued presence of the military component of the Mission during the electoral period.

Mr. SANDOVAL (Mexico) said that, while Haiti had made significant progress in key areas, the political vacuum was a source of concern.  He urged political parties to put the national interest uppermost and work towards ensuring free and fair elections.  There was an intrinsic link between security, development and the promotion of human rights in Haiti, he said, and called for the international community to harness the multidimensional nature of MINUSTAH.  The withdrawal of the Mission must be based on prudence and developments on the grounds, as an abrupt drawdown could risk undermining the gains achieved.

YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) expressed pride over Haiti’s progress towards stabilization and recovery, especially as Japan had contributed 2,200 self-defence forces personnel to the country.  He expressed hope that the elections would be carried out in a transparent manner.  Japan had signed a document with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide some $4.5 million to help the elections run smoothly.   The project should also contribute to nation-building, democracy, respect for the rule of law and a stable peace.  He welcomed last October’s Council resolution allowing for a drawdown of MINUSTAH’s forces and police component levels.  When firm progress was made, it was imperative to reduce the size of missions as United Nations resources for peacekeeping operations were limited.

AUGUSTO THORNBERRY (Peru), noting that his country had participated in MINUSTAH since 2004, associated with the Group of Friends of Haiti.  The elections would mark a milestone in Haiti’s democratic process and he urged cooperation with national authorities in their conduct.  He hoped to receive timely information on the implementation of the electoral calendar.  Amid protests and a worsening economic situation, a reduced military component could impact MINISTAH’s provision of security, as well as technical and logistical assistance.  Decisions about Haiti’s future should be made with full knowledge of ground conditions, in line with plans to reduce the Mission.  The Haitian National Police did not have the capacity to maintain public order throughout the territory, making MINUSTAH’s operational and strategic cooperation essential.  Building peace must be an inherently national process.  The Council should consider Haiti’s position when making decisions about timelines for the Mission’s transition and future presence.  He urged comprehensive international support for Haiti.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said Haiti must participate in decisions on the United Nations future presence, recalling that the Government had been concerned about the lack of troops in 6 of the country’s 10 regions amid the Council’s decision to drawdown MINUSTAH’s military component.  Authorities had requested MINUSTAH’s ongoing support.  The President had requested a “pause” in the military drawdown and reinforcement of its police presence.  The security situation had not improved so much that MINUSTAH could reduce its military component abruptly.  Argentina had urged maintaining MINUSTAH’s mandate and configuration.  Voicing concern about stability during the electoral process, she called for increasing both the operational capacities of and resources for the Haitian National Police.  She expressed concern about an “abrupt and accelerated” drawdown of the military component, which would not allow for the necessary logistical and security work during elections.  A 53 per cent reduction meant that the force would not have adequate personnel to conduct prevention, patrol and other work.  Also, MINUSTAH’s police component had not yet reached the strength authorized by the Council.

MICHAEL BONSER (Canada) said a tumultuous few months had passed since the last time the Council met to discuss MINUSTAH.  There were significant challenges ahead for Haiti, and Canada offered its renewed friendship and assistance.  Since 2006, Canada had provided more than $1.4 billion in development and humanitarian aid, and had worked to make improvements in a number of areas such as economic growth, food security, governance and child and infant health.  Canada also welcomed the recent electoral decree and calendar, and strongly urged all political stakeholders to encourage fair, democratic and inclusive elections — an effort Canada planned to bolster with $8.7 million in support.  Canada welcomed the recent review process for the Mission regarding its renewal, and stressed that the footprint of the United Nations in Haiti must continue to reflect the situation on the ground.  While the Mission was not a permanent solution for security, it was best to avoid reduction scenarios that could jeopardize the results achieved to date, and take into account the role the Mission should play in contributing to stability and ensuring security throughout significant national events such as elections.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize), noting the importance of the recent Council mission to Haiti, suggested that, given the schedule of electoral rounds, another such visit should be arranged for July of this year.  She expressed concern at the decision to cut MINUSTAH’s military component, proposing a re-examination of the issue that would take into consideration whether a reduced military presence would provide sufficient support for the Haitian National Police to maintain public order and security, especially during the elections.  She suggested that it might be better to leave intact the numbers of “blue berets” in Haiti and to freeze troop withdrawals until after the elections.  “After all the efforts already made, it would be a shame for the international community to drop the ball at this stage,” she said.

WALTON WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that active engagement and concern for Haiti was not just a demonstration of solidarity towards a sister nation, but also a powerful message of the willingness and capacity of the Caribbean to live up to international responsibilities.  Haiti’s stability and economic development  was linked to the wider development agenda.  While investment should play a critical role in spurring social and economic development in Haiti, international aid must be aligned with Haiti’s endorsed national priorities to ensure there was appropriate national ownership.  This was the third consecutive year of downsizing MINUSTAH, and a continued military presence was needed to address security risks.  It was encouraging that the Haitian National Police continued to improve since it assumed increasing responsibility for internal security.  Levels of cholera had dropped in recent years, but efforts to address deficits in water and health infrastructure must continue.  CARICOM remained gravely concerned about declining international aid to sustain rehabilitation work in Haiti, which continued to experience a political, social and economic crisis.  The discussions should, therefore, not be whether MINUSTAH should conclude its operations, but rather should focus on addressing changes in Haiti and ensure that a phased withdrawal was linked to stronger institutions underpinned by progress towards lasting stability and conditions-based security.

CRISTINA CARRION (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, expressed concern with the political situation in that country and  stressed the utmost need to adhere strictly to the electoral calendar.  MINUSTAH should fully support the Haitian authorities in the conduct of the elections and all stakeholders should engage constructively and peacefully to maintain confidence in the process.  In light of Haiti’s ongoing security challenges, the Secretary-General should monitor closely the situation on the ground and recommend to the Council any changes to MINUSTAH’s mandate and force levels he deemed necessary.  There could be no genuine stability or sustainable development in Haiti without stronger democratic institutions and credible democratic processes.   She reaffirmed the responsibility of MINUSTAH for supporting the Haitian State by promoting improved governance structures, extension of State authority and the promotion and protection of human rights.

For information media. Not an official record.