|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6303rd Meeting (AM)
Haiti Can Return to ‘Path of Stability’ in Two Years, Given Necessary Support
in Weathering Risks of Next 18 Months, Security Council Told
As Special Representative Urges States to Honour
Pledges, Speakers Stress Importance of Country Making Its Own Way Forward
Given the enormous efforts undertaken by the international community since the tragic 12 January earthquake, Haiti could return to the path of stability in two years if it received assistance in weathering the critical risks of the next 18 months, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the country told the Security Council today.
“What Haiti needs now is a supporting arm of a companion, on which it can lean as it gets back on its feet,” said Edmond Mulet, Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), during a briefing in which he was joined by Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. “That is the role which we, the international community, can play,” he added.
The challenge for the United Nations was to help create an environment in which the great outpouring of international goodwill and generosity could be translated immediately into much-needed practical support, he continued. “With a little more of the support we are already providing, Haiti will be able to make its own way forward.”
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission (see Background), Mr. Mulet described the many ways in which the United Nations had responded to the tragedy, noting that MINUSTAH’s military and police components, despite having suffered heavy losses, had ensured security across the country and provided logistical support for the distribution of aid to a million people in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Temporary lodging for the homeless and rubble clearance remained priorities as the rainy season approached, he said. The Mission had built camps and rehabilitated roads, while helping the Haitian National Police to get back on their feet and expanding community programmes for young people vulnerable to gang activity.
He said the next 12 to 18 months would be a period of great challenge and risk, but if Haiti and its international partners could manage and mitigate those risks, the country could recover its position of 2009 ‑‑ relative stability and economic growth. “Then we could again start planning for the consolidation and drawdown of MINUSTAH,” he said. The need to manage that critical period was why he and the Secretary-General were recommending a surge of effort in the areas of security, political assistance, humanitarian aid and capacity-building, as described in the report.
Prime Minister Bellerive thanked Council members and others in the international community for their solidarity and encouraged Member States to deploy more engineers, given the major challenges of setting up camps and reconstruction. The deployment of additional formed police units, which was under discussion, would also be welcome, he said.
Confirming that the coming 18 months would indeed present his Government with new risks while it recovered, he said the presence of MINUSTAH would remain necessary and the Mission would be even more helpful if it were augmented. In addition, consolidating the democratic process was necessary for the success of the reconstruction process and in order to attract investment. The Mission’s support was also crucial for the free and fair elections that President René Préval was committed to holding before the end of his mandate. The solidarity of the international community in assisting Haiti in those areas gave the people hope that a brighter future was indeed possible, he added.
Following those presentations, delegates praised MINUSTAH’s work in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and generally expressed support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations for the coming period.
As the Council considered those recommendations, the representative of the United States said her country was prepared to support an increase in MINUSTAH’s police capacity on the understanding that a police-to-task analysis show how the proposed increase in personnel was calculated. The United States would also appreciate more information on how long police reinforcements would be needed.
Mexico’s representative, noting that MINUSTAH had the capacity to deal with emergency humanitarian needs, said its mandate was balanced between peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development elements. In that light, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations, stressing, however, that any initiative begun in the next few months should provide the impetus for long-term development.
Uruguay’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, said the Group shared the Secretary-General’s assessment of the earthquake’s impact on economic and political stabilization, pointing out, however, that the devastation provided opportunities for Haiti’s transformation through decentralization, strengthened institutions and regional development.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Brazil, France, China, Lebanon, Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Austria, Turkey, Uganda, Japan, Dominican Republic, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Argentina, Spain and Norway.
Others delivering statements were the Assistant Secretary-General of the Organization of American States and the Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 1:16 p.m.
As the Security Council considered the situation in Haiti, members had before them the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (document S/2010/200), which covers the major developments since his report of 1 September 2009 (document S/2009/439), with a focus on the period since the devastating earthquake struck on 12 January, and provides recommendations on the Mission’s future role. “Of all the reports I have provided to the Security Council, the present is perhaps the most painful to convey,” the Secretary-General writes. “We will remember the fallen. Our best tribute to them is to continue their work, to transform Haiti and build anew out of tragedy.”
Citing estimates by the Government of Haiti, the report says that the 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed 222,750 people, injured or permanently disabled many thousands and left 1.5 million people homeless. A total of 101 United Nations staff lost their lives, including Hédi Annabi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and Luiz Carlos da Costa, Deputy Special Representative. The capacity of the Haitian State was seriously affected as high-level officials were killed and many Government buildings destroyed or badly damaged. The Haitian National Police was especially hard hit, with 77 officers killed and hundreds injured or unaccounted for.
The report states that within hours of the earthquake, the United Nations and a number of Member States launched emergency relief operations, but the scale of the destruction created tremendous difficulties for initial relief efforts. Humanitarian responders have since worked tirelessly to meet critical needs, paying particular attention to those of the most vulnerable. General food distribution is now winding down, with the focus shifting to longer-term food security and investment in human capital.
Providing emergency shelter is now the top priority, the report states, emphasizing the crucial importance of supporting the relocation of internally displaced persons away from flood-prone areas. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on 6 April that approximately 90 per cent of those in need have received emergency materials. The Government has assigned 7,450 hectare of land for temporary relocations north of Port-au-Prince and identified other sites to be developed for settlements. Emergency relocations from at-risk sites began on 10 April and will continue until the end of the month. Water, sanitation and hygiene remain serious concerns, the report notes, adding that the challenge in the coming months will be to continue delivering humanitarian relief in key sectors while also helping to restore national coping mechanisms.
According to the report, the Government developed an Action Plan for the Reconstruction and the Development of Haiti which estimates the country’s needs at $3.9 billion for the next 18 months, with long-term reconstruction requiring some $11.5 billion. At the 31 March Donors’ Conference in New York, pledges of more than $9 billion were made, of which $5 billion was for the period 2010-2011. The chairs and co-chairs of the Conference agreed to meet at least twice a year with the relevant international financial institutions and the United Nations to monitor implementation.
The earthquake interrupted a period of relatively smooth progress towards municipal, legislative and presidential elections, the report states. Legislative elections, originally scheduled for February, have been postponed, triggering concern about the constitutional status of the Government after 10 May. President René Préval had made a commitment to hold elections at all levels in time for the constitutional transfer of power on 7 February 2011. Also in question is the future of constitutional reforms initiated in September 2009.
Haiti’s security environment remained generally calm, the report says, noting that there were some indications of increased crime, including sexual and gender-based violence in camps for the internally displaced. However, new threats have arisen, including those posed by former gang leaders who escaped from prison. Another challenge is ensuring security in large settlements for internally displaced persons, including the prevention of gender-based violence. Higher levels of unemployment, loss of property and savings and trauma arising from the earthquake have contributed to an environment of heightened vulnerability.
Regarding the future of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the report says the next 12 to 18 months will be a period of high risk in which political, security, protection and recovery objectives must be pursued simultaneously to enable the country to keep to a critical path that preserves the political legitimacy of the State and creates an enabling environment for recovery and development. The role of the United Nations and its Member States during that period should be to support the Government and institutions in delivering on their responsibilities while respecting their authority and prerogatives.
The report urges an integrated United Nations approach in five key areas: fostering political stability; coordinating and enabling post-earthquake relief efforts; maintaining a secure and stable environment; supporting the Government in the implementation of its vision for strengthened State capacity and decentralization; and helping to build human capital by promoting a balanced social agenda. A surge effort on MINUSTAH’s part is needed to help the Government preserve the gains of stabilization to date and enable a smooth transition to long-term reconstruction.
Given that Haiti’s path to stability depends above all on adherence to a political and electoral timetable that will allow a smooth handover of power in February 2011, the Secretary-General recommends that MINUSTAH assume the lead role in coordinating international electoral assistance in order to ensure its efficiency and avoid a duplication of efforts. In order to meet humanitarian needs, the Special Representative will continue to oversee the activities of the entire United Nations system and ensure the full support of the Mission’s military, police and logistics components to humanitarian and recovery efforts. To respond to debris-clearance and reconstruction needs, MINUSTAH will reconfigure its military component within the existing troop ceiling to provide additional military engineers on a surge basis.
The Secretary-General also recommends that the Council authorize an expansion of MINUSTAH’s police component with 680 police personnel, representing 200 United Nations police and three self-sustaining formed police units, to help the Haitian National Police fulfil two overriding priorities: establishing a sustainable and visible police presence to maintain a conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections; and maintaining capable units to detain dangerous escapees and tackle the risk of renewed gang violence.
With regard to the development of the rule of law, the Secretary-General proposes that MINUSTAH pursue a two-track approach to surge support for the Haitian National Police, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, and major judicial and correctional institutions: the provision of limited direct logistical support to enable those institutions to continue operations; and increased provision of technical expertise to support capacity for service delivery by police, courts and prisons, and to improve governance and oversight capacities. United Nations experts will continue to assist the Government in vetting, training and mentoring police personnel. MINUSTAH will also step up efforts to address cross-border drug trafficking and dedicate additional resources to counter-narcotics efforts.
According to the report, the Mission will need additional means to undertake limited support for the Government in addressing pressing needs in the rule-of-law area. As for State capacity and transformation, the Secretary-General recommends an expansion of MINUSTAH’s mandate to include: limited direct logistical support to enable Government officials to discharge their basic functions; and additional technical expertise through advisers embedded in MINSUTAH, to be offered to the 10 departmental delegations. The United Nations country team should take the lead in supporting the Government in promoting equitable development and opportunities, with the Mission playing an enabling role.
The report concludes with the Secretary-General observing that remedies must be sought to help Haiti address historic social and economic problems, the deficit in education; the absence of the rule of law and respect for human rights; and housing deficits. “It will also be critical to ensure that the coming influx of international aid mitigates, and does not exacerbate, the unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity that has long fuelled instability in Haiti.”
EDMOND MULET, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), summed up the tragedy of the January earthquake, recalling the successive announcements of terrible losses in those darkest of days. Slightly more than 100 days after the disaster, there was cause for more optimism because there had been considerable progress in aiding the most vulnerable, even if the humanitarian crisis was far from over.
He said the Secretary-General’s report (see Background) described the many ways in which the United Nations had responded to the tragedy and the manner in which MINUSTAH, itself heavily hit by losses, had continued to function in the hours after the earthquake, saving lives and facilitating humanitarian aid. Its soldiers and police had continued to ensure security across the country and to provide logistical support for the distribution of aid to a million people. In the past months, the Mission’s engineering units had constructed two camps for displaced persons on sites identified by the Government, helping with security and the transportation of those relocated, he said.
At the same time, MINUSTAH was working to rehabilitate the principal roads used for humanitarian aid, he said. Besides providing a constant police presence, in cooperation with the Haitian National Police, the Mission had augmented its programme for employing young people vulnerable to recruitment by armed gangs, which was in turn strengthened by the “cash for work” programme established by the United Nations and other partners. The next 12 to 18 months would be a time of great challenge and risk, but if Haiti and its international partners could manage and mitigate them, the country could recover its 2009 the position ‑‑ relative stability and economic growth. “Then we could again start planning for the consolidation and drawdown of MINUSTAH,” he added.
He said the need to manage that critical period was the reason why the Secretary-General recommended a surge of effort, which would include intensified “good offices” work to ensure that elections could be held on time, and meeting humanitarian needs, not only in Port-au-Prince, but also in other communities so as to avoid a large-scale return to the capital while reducing future vulnerability to disasters. In addition, there was a need to increase assistance to help the Haitian National Police replace its losses and build up to its target personnel level of 14,000, so it could meet increased security challenges.
He explained that the Secretary-General had requested a surge in MINUSTAH police to help bridge the gap in the meantime, to ensure a visible presence in the streets and camps, and to allow police trainers to leave their emergency postings and resume training. Additional advisers were also needed to help provide, in close cooperation with the United Nations country team, critical, short-term assistance to police stations, courts and other institutions in the earthquake-effected areas, as well as to local governments assisting displaced persons, he said.
Despite two centuries of political and social turmoil, and despite the January tragedy, Haiti had a clear, simple and broadly shared vision for renewal, as articulated in the Government’s Action Plan, he noted. For that reason, 2010 could mark the start of a new era of stability. “What Haiti needs now is a supporting arm of a companion, on which it can lean as it gets back on its feet,” he said. “That is the role which we, the international community, can play.” Since the earthquake, offers of assistance had come from all continents, he pointed out, adding that the challenge for the United Nations was to help create an environment in which that goodwill and generosity could be translated immediately into much-needed practical support. “With a little more of the support we are already providing, Haiti will be able to make its own way forward,” he said.
JEAN-MAX BELLERIVE, Prime Minister of Haiti, thanked Council members for the solidarity they had shown in the weeks after the earthquake, as well as Japan and the Republic of Korea for their deployment of engineer corps in February. He encouraged other Member States to deploy more engineers, given the major challenges posed by the need to set up camps for internally displaced persons and reconstruction of the infrastructure. The deployment of additional formed police units, now under discussion, would also be welcome, he said.
The earthquake had profoundly changed the context in which MINUSTAH was working, he said, noting that the coming 18 months would present his Government with new risks in the framework of reconstruction and post-disaster management. MINUSTAH’s presence would remain necessary in that context. Its current mandate was adequate, but temporary adjustments would be desirable so that the Mission would be able to help the Government deal with post-disaster management, he said, endorsing the Secretary-General’s approach on the question of assistance for rule-of-law institutions and decentralization.
Because the Haitian National Police had suffered great losses, strengthening the Mission’s police presence would be helpful, he continued, emphasizing the Government priorities of restoring the operational capacities of law-enforcement agencies and guaranteeing access to justice. Increased logistical and technical support for local authorities would enable the Government to advance its decentralization policies.
Consolidating the democratic process was necessary for the success of the reconstruction process and to attract investments, he emphasized, adding that the President was committed to holding general elections before the end of his mandate. Because of the current conditions in Haiti, MINUSTAH’s support would be necessary to support free and fair elections and play a role in coordinating international electoral assistance. Challenges, already great before the earthquake, were even greater today, but the solidarity of the international community provided the people and Government of Haiti with the hope that a brighter future was possible, he said.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said that, while the earthquake had struck at Haiti’s political, economic and cultural heart, thereby posing immense challenges, it had also created opportunities, beginning with the successful conclusion of the 31 March Donors’ Conference held in New York, where billions of dollars had been pledged to help Haitians build back better. The international community’s greatest challenge now was to translate that solidarity into reality, she said, welcoming the recent adoption by the Haitian Parliament of legislation establishing the Interim Reconstruction Commission.
Urging the donor community to disburse their pledges quickly, she stressed the paramount importance of political stability for reconstruction, and called on all actors in Haiti to work together in promoting its long-term national interests. In that regard, Brazil supported the Government’s plan to hold elections as soon as possible this year, so as to enable the transfer of power to a new President by February 2011. Brazil also supported MINUSTAH’s coordinating role in organizing future elections, in cooperation with other stakeholders such as the Organization of American States (OAS).
Describing the Mission’s role as central to international efforts and strategies for Haiti’s reconstruction, she said its support for stability, security and the rule of law was unique, as was the environment in which it now operated. MINUSTAH’s role in the months ahead would be particularly important in the areas or security, humanitarian assistance, political stability and elections, as well as State capacity and transformation. Singling out State-building as the one overarching priority among the many that must be addressed, she stressed that for far too long the international community had tried to help Haitians without involving their Government and State institutions.
GUILLERMO PUENTE ( Mexico) said the disaster had provided an opportunity for the United Nations to review its strategy in Haiti, not only for providing reconstruction aid but also for helping the country overcome development and institutional challenges. Any initiative begun in the next few months should provide the impetus for long-term development, he stressed, noting that MINUSTAH’s mandate was balanced among its peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development elements, and that it had the experience and capacity to deal with emergency, humanitarian and public order needs.
He said that, even before the disaster, his country had signalled the need to review MINUSTAH’s mandate and, as such, welcomed the review recommended by the Secretary-General. Mexico recognized the need to help Haiti maintain the political and social stability necessary to make reconstruction possible and guarantee a democratic transition of power. Mexico supported the holding of elections once the Haitian Government announced a timetable, as well as the Secretary-General’s recommendation to reinforce the Mission’s ability to coordinate international electoral assistance.
With the approach of the rainy season, emergency assistance remained a priority in terms of providing shelter, food and basic services for the more than 1 million displaced persons, he stressed. Mexico supported MINUSTAH’s role in facilitating humanitarian assistance, in close cooperation with the Haitian Government. It also supported the proposed reinforcement of the Mission with additional police personnel, and the recommendation to strengthen its advisory function with the Haitian National Police, and with the legal, judicial and corrections institutions, if necessary. There was also a need to tackle unemployment and other structural stumbling blocks to sustainable development.
SUSAN RICE ( United States) recalled that First Lady Michelle Obama had visited Haiti three months after the earthquake, carrying a clear message from President Barack Obama that their country would stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Haiti. She had visited the United Nations compound, where she had praised Mission personnel for their heroism and underscored the importance of a “truly international effort”. Expressing her country’s deep gratitude to those countries that had contributed police and financial assistance, she said the United States had pledged $1.15 billion at the March Donors’ Conference.
She said her delegation shared the Secretary-General’s assessment that the next 12 to 18 months was a high-risk period in which it was important to pursue political, security, economic and protection objectives. The role of the United Nations should be to help the Haitian Government deliver on its responsibilities while respecting its sovereignty. The United States supported the proposal to give MINUSTAH the lead role in providing technical assistance during the electoral process, and agreed that the Special Representative should oversee the activities of the entire United Nations system.
Emphasizing that internally displaced persons must be relocated to less flood-prone areas, she said MINUSTAH should work with the Government to reach a permanent solution to that issue, through a community-based approach. The United States was prepared to support an increase in the Mission’s police capacity on the understanding that a police-to-task analysis showed how such a figure was reached. It would also appreciate more information on how long police reinforcements would be needed. While appreciating that the United Nations had rejected a business-as-usual approach in Haiti, the United States understood that the Special Representative would face certain frustrations without the necessary logistical and material support, she said.
She suggested that it might be more cost-effective and sustainable to provide materials purchased with voluntary funds directly to the Government, rather than have the Mission administer them. The United States also saw the value of embedding advisers where requested, and would welcome hearing the rationale for doing so through MINUSTAH rather than United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), international financial institutions or other multilateral or bilateral actors. She concluded by stating that her country remained open to considering adjustments to MINUSTAH’s mandated strength and approach.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said the earthquake trauma was an opportunity to devise a new political and social framework for Haiti based on the policy of decentralization, for which MINUSTAH could help create a favourable environment. France supported the Secretary-General’s pragmatic approach to maintaining order, respecting human rights, and giving priority to backing the Haitian State. The priority now was consolidating rule-of-law institutions while respecting the sovereignty of Haiti. Although reconstruction was important and necessary, the urgent need to help the displaced people should not be forgotten, he emphasized.
Elections were also essential, he said, welcoming the Government’s determination to hold them within the established timeline. In order to have credible elections, the active engagement of the Special Representative in reforming the Election Council would be required. France was committed to MINUSTAH and was one of the biggest contributors to the Mission’s police component, he said, adding that his country would also support the deployment of French-speaking African police and provide other assistance.
LI BAODONG ( China) recalled that the security situation had remained calm after the earthquake, allowing the provision of humanitarian assistance to proceed. Hopefully the people of Haiti would soon be able to create a future of peace and sustainable development. Noting that Haiti’s reconstruction was at the centre of international attention, he called for continuous United Nations support. While post-disaster recovery would be challenging, all parties must respect Haiti’s sovereignty, he said, adding that the Organization should play a coordinating role in post-disaster reconstruction.
All United Nations agencies should perform their respective duties within their respective mandates and enhance coordination to avoid duplication, he said. While China favoured strengthening MINUSTAH’s capacity, its core function was to safeguard stabilization and security. The Mission might provide support for elections and rule of law, but it should refrain from taking resources away from its central core tasks. The Council and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should take a prudent approach to the issue of strengthening MINUSTAH’s police capacity and assess the situation first. The security of United Nations staff should be ensured.
IBRAHIM ASSAF ( Lebanon) reiterated his country’s solidarity with the people of Haiti and its support for the Government’s Action Plan. Welcoming the positive outcome of the Donors’ Conference, he expressed hope that it would translate into tangible assistance on the ground. He welcomed the international response to the proposed strengthening of the Mission’s forces, emphasizing, however, that the Haitian people and Government must be allowed to play a primary role in determining their own future.
He said priority should be assigned to education and information, with “equal access to all”, backed by “equal development” and respect for human rights, which the Secretary-General’s report referred to as investment in human capital. He expressed satisfaction with the level of security and political stability that the country had been able to maintain, saying that his country would back MINUSTAH’s technical assistance role during elections. Lebanon also supported adjusting the Mission mandate in response to changes in the environment, while respecting the Haitian Government’s authority.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) praised the Special Representative’s efforts and those of United Nations personnel in assisting Haitians during a difficult time. He also agreed with the Secretary-General’s assessments, and concurred that the international community should work through the Haitian Government in delivering assistance. The role of the United Nations should be coordinating and bolstering efforts by the local authorities.
Expressing his support for giving the Mission the lead role in coordinating international electoral assistance, he noted that the security situation was under control, thanks to the timely decision to bolster MINUSTAH’s forces. Now the Mission faced the challenge of preventing a return to violence. It must uphold public order and protect the human rights of women and children, especially in camps for displaced persons. MINUSTAH could achieve many of its new tasks within its existing mandate, he said, adding that the proposal to increase the ceiling for police by year’s end required additional consideration, as did the suggestion that the Mission get involved in “social issues”.
Since a peacekeeping mission’s main purpose was to uphold security and the rule of law, it might not have the necessary expertise to carry out social-related tasks, he said. Nevertheless, it was important to provide international assistance, with the United Nations at the helm. The Russian Federation had been active from the beginning, providing emergency search-and-rescue assistance, conducting clean-up and clearing, and contributing psychological help units. It had contributed $8 million through various channels, mainly through the United Nations.
IVAN BARBALIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said it was important that the Haitian Government and all political actors and stakeholders find a way to bridge the legislative gap between May and the elections. Considering the importance of international assistance in preparation for the polls, Bosnia and Herzegovina supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that MINUSTAH play the lead role in coordinating electoral assistance, and hoped its efforts would facilitate timely, free and inclusive elections, with full participation by women.
He emphasized that rebuilding and strengthening the security sector, as well as judicial and penal systems, was of fundamental importance to Haiti’s recovery and development. In the aftermath of a disaster of such magnitude, the main precondition for rebuilding and vigorous economic recovery was restoring the social fabric, above all, that of local communities in affected areas. Thus, international stakeholders and the Government should bear in mind that only programmes and projects corresponding to the needs of local communities, and enjoying their support, would be beneficial and sustainable. In addition to long-term recovery efforts, it was vital that humanitarian aid continue to be delivered, he said, urging the Government to address the difficult conditions in camps for internally displaced persons.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI ( Gabon) said the disaster of 12 January had annihilated all development efforts. He welcomed the National Action Plan for the reconstruction and development of Haiti elaborated by the Government with the assistance of, among others, the World Bank and the European Union. Noting that Haiti’s President had postponed the scheduled February elections, he said conditions must be established to provide for free, fair and transparent elections. Noting that the security situation had remained stable generally, he said the report referred to an increase in crimes from armed gangs that had escaped from prison. The increase of military and troop levels through the adoption of resolution 1908 (2010) had met those concerns.
He said MINUSTAH had to provide security support for humanitarian operations and backing for State institutions, promoting human rights, protection of women and children and incorporating the HIV/AIDS dimension. The mandate of MINUSTAH might have to be redefined. The international community must back the Government and its institutions in assuming their responsibilities regarding security and reconstruction. Efforts must be aimed at strengthening stabilization and support for rule of law, as well as reconstruction activities. MINUSTAH must lend greater technical and logistical assistance to the Government and work on the preparations of the elections, which would determine the future political stability of Haiti and the process of reconstruction.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said MINUSTAH was making an invaluable contribution to the post-disaster efforts and had worked tirelessly to rebuild the lives and hopes of the Haitian people. Noting the contribution international donors continued to make, he stressed the importance of donor coordination. Before the earthquake the Council had discussed the need for a strategy for engagement of the international community. It was now more important than ever to pursue that strategy, including ensuring that donors and the relevant United Nations agencies were engaged.
He said that, in the current mandate of MINUSTAH, the primary focus should be the provision and maintenance of a secure environment. New security challenges called for protection of internally displaced persons, combating drug trafficking and capturing escaped gang members. MINUSTAH should also continue to aid the rehabilitation of local police capabilities. While he was committed to the United Nations long-term commitment to Haiti, he said it should be ensured that reconstruction efforts were performed by those best qualified in the wider United Nations family and beyond.
RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) remarked on the progress made in identifying water, food, health, sanitation and shelter needs, but noted that a lot remained to be done in helping to rebuild lives and institutions. MINUSTAH had played an exemplary role in providing specialized assistance to alleviate immediate needs, and continued to provide technical support and advice to State institutions. The Government’s Action Plan contained ideas for stimulating the economy and ensuring better living standards for all, and Nigeria would continue to give its full support to the people and Government of Haiti in that regard.
Nigeria had already pledged $1.5 million in the initial stages of the emergency, and would provide an additional $5 million for reconstruction. At the present stage, the international community should help Haiti take full ownership of the process, he said. He agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a review of MINUSTAH’s role and the possibility of adjusting its mandate. The Mission’s role in the electoral process was crucial, he said, voicing support for the idea of increasing its police component to enhance security during the upcoming presidential, legislative and municipal elections.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said he shared the Secretary-General’s assessment that the next few months would be a high-risk period for Haiti. The United Nations should continue to play a key role in coordinating humanitarian assistance, in close cooperation with the Haitian authorities. Areas requiring special attention during that critical phase were the rule of law, good governance and protection of the internally displaced. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s proposals on moving towards an integrated approach in the five key areas outlined in his report, he said his country also supported his recommendation that MINUSTAH lead international efforts to provide electoral assistance and endorsed the Special Representative’s role in coordinating and supervising the activities of the United Nations system.
Noting the Secretary-General’s request to raise the ceiling for MINUSTAH police personnel in order to provide a visible police presence in camps for internally displaced persons, he said the Mission’s police component was of key importance in protecting civilians and human rights initiatives. He drew special attention to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable, including through preventative measures against sexual violence. In view of the fight against impunity, Austria supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to assign experts to help the Government with its police and prison programmes. For its part, the Austrian Government had provided $8 million to Haiti so far, and the Austrian people had contributed $45 million.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said an earthquake of such magnitude would have caused serious problems for any nation, but given Haiti’s struggles, it had had an even bigger impact there. However, the Haitian people had proved to be much stronger and braver than anybody had thought. The security situation had remained relatively calm, although many people had lost everything. The international community had responded effectively and should continue to help in the reconstruction phase. Pledges should be made readily available, particularly in view of the upcoming hurricane season, he said, adding that generous contributions must be translated into concrete projects that could help return Haitians to normality.
The holding of the postponed February elections as soon as possible was of vital importance, he said, expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation for an integrated approach in which MINUSTAH would play a crucial role. The Mission should continue to implement its mandate to ensure a secure environment, coordinate humanitarian assistance and provide support to State institutions. While expressing support for the Secretary-General’s proposed surge in MINUSTAH’s activities, he said the Government’s National Action Plan was a valuable tool for long-term reconstruction, underlining that the Haitian Government and people must be “in the driving seat”.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said that, although the international community had provided great support, it was critical that the pledges made be honoured. He welcomed the National Action Plan for reconstruction and development, emphasizing the importance of effective coordination among international actors. Since the Government’s role would remain central, it was important that the United Nations and other international actors cooperate closely with it, he added.
The most pressing need was provisional shelter and housing for more than 1 million people, he said, emphasizing also the importance of planning for more durable solutions. The security situation had been generally calm, although new threats had arisen, including from escaped gang leaders. There was, therefore, a need to support the strengthening of the capacities of the Haitian security forces. He welcomed the improvements in security and protection of the camps for the internally displaced, as well as efforts to promote awareness of child trafficking and the Secretary-General’s recommendation to increase MINUSTAH’s police component.
Council President YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan), speaking in his national capacity, applauded the Special Representative and MINUSTAH for their courage in the face of unprecedented challenges. The international community’s focus must now move from emergency relief to reconstruction, he said, adding that jobs such as removing debris, improving drainage and preparing new campsites should be completed in an expeditious manner. Securing a safe and stable environment for reconstruction was important, and to help the Mission strengthen its engineering capacity, Japan had dispatched an engineering squadron to help build camp facilities, repair roads on the Dominican border and remove debris from the streets.
It was clear that reconstruction work could not happen in the absence of safety and security, he said, commending MINUSTAH for maintaining calm and thanking police-contributing countries and financial donors. Japan was concerned about the rise in sexual and gender-based violence in camps for the internally displaced, as well as the danger posed by escaped prisoners. It supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to strengthen the Mission’s police component, believing in the need to scale up its activities, including its support for the electoral process. The international community’s long-term engagement was essential to Haiti’s reconstruction, particularly in the areas of education, human resources, health and medical care, rural development and others, he said.
GUSTAVO ALVAREZ (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, recognized the role played by MINUSTAH in establishing the necessary conditions to offer humanitarian assistance and the needed infrastructure to facilitate national reconstruction. The Group of Friends shared the Secretary-General’s assessment of the earthquake’s impact on economic and political stabilization, he said, pointing out, however, that the devastation provided opportunities for Haiti’s transformation through decentralization, strengthened institutions and regional development. The Group of Friends welcomed the Secretary-General’s report and reiterated its commitment to Haiti’s recovery and sustainable development.
ALBERT RAMDIM, Assistant Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, stressed the role of the OAS in the electoral processes in Haiti, complementary to the role of the United Nations. His organization’s role took place in three areas: governance; strengthening institutions; and capacity-building. It supported the electoral processes, including the civil registry project to establish a credible voter list.
He said that, during a recent mission to Haiti he had heard from a broad spectrum of society and had concluded that, while there was no debate about the holding of elections, there was a need for more dialogue regarding the process, so that after elections no challenges would occur that could threaten stability. The OAS would continue monitoring the debate surrounding the elections and constitutional reform.
The OAS would give priority to establishing a more or less accurate voter list and support re-issuance of identification cards to those who had lost them. There was also a need to clean up the list, as many people had died or had left their community. The OAS would, therefore, redouble its efforts to support the Office of National Identity. It would also support the Provisional Electoral Council in training and establishing the Tabulation Centre for the day of the elections. Those were concrete activities to be taken over six months. Some political decisions had to be taken, however, such as amending the current Electoral Law. A clear leadership on the part of Haitian authorities was necessary, in that regard. He emphasized that the OAS worked in partnership with the international community and Haitian authorities and did not try to replicate what others might do better.
PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union, welcomed the integrated approach outlined in the Secretary-General’s report vis-à-vis the five proposed areas: political stability and elections; support for humanitarian efforts and reconstruction; security, human rights and rule of law; State capacity and decentralization; and human development. MINUSTAH had an essential role to play in that approach alongside United Nations agencies, and resources should be provided so that it could effectively carry out its mandate to respond to immediate needs, notably those relating to security.
Noting that the Action Plan presented by Haiti to the Donors’ Conference covered a 10-year period, he said the task now was to reconcile the immediate priorities, outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, and those for the medium and long term, detailed in the Action Plan. As the Government’s capacities developed, the Council should re-examine MINUSTAH’s duties in order to guarantee a gradual transfer of responsibilities, he said. He recalled that, the day after the earthquake, the European Union had responded immediately to calls for the reinforcement of MINUSTAH by supplying helicopters, among other things. In that regard, he paid tribute to four Spanish servicemen killed in a recent helicopter accident in Haiti.
He said the European Unionhad also contributed to the Post-disaster Needs Assessment, which had helped in the formulation of the Action Plan, and had announced one of the most important contributions ‑‑ some €1.2 billion. The regional bloc was ready to work with the United Nations and other main actors to translate pledges into reality. “The Haitian people need us, and we must be there by their sides,” he said, adding that they were aware that they alone would drive a true national project. The global community’s role was to help them build their future, he added.
FEDERICO ALBERTO CUELLO CAMILO ( Dominican Republic) said it was difficult to move from peacekeeping to peacebuilding without a functioning Government and political system, an educated population working and living in peace, and a civil society that complemented the Government rather than competing with it. The Dominican Republic had provided its neighbour with logistical support for emergency relief out of duty, but in future, the international community should establish a logistical support platform to provide assistance in the event of the natural disasters that would undoubtedly affect the Caribbean region.
He said 200 MINUSTAH officials were in Santo Domingo providing services that did not require their presence and exceeding Haiti’s peacekeeping needs. Given that their tasks required a legal basis, the United Nations should finalize the details of a Memorandum of Understanding to make their presence official. The Dominican Republic had worked closely with the Haitian authorities in the area of economic development, he said, recalling that on 17 March, the Government had held a technical preparatory meeting in Santo Domingo, with the assistance of the United Nations, to discuss needs.
Highlighting socio-economic issues that his country deemed important, he called for an end to slash-and-burn farming methods, and for efforts to improve soil fertility and resolve land-ownership issues through cooperatives. Greenhouses should be installed to speed up and guarantee agricultural production. The Dominican Republic welcomed the priority given to building human capital, he said, noting that about 90 per cent of Haiti’s universities had collapsed in the earthquake, and a new one would soon be built. The Dominican Republic would host a world summit on Haiti’s future on 2 June, he said.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said Haiti had been a top foreign and security policy priority for his country even before the quake. It was the second-largest donor of development assistance and the largest per capita donor. Its response to the earthquake was its largest ever humanitarian response to a natural disaster. Recognizing that the disaster took a heavy toll on MINUSTAH, Canada commended its efforts and encouraged it to continue, believing it would play a crucial role as the international community worked collectively to put Haiti back on the path to long-term prosperity. With the completion of a post-disaster needs assessment, the 31 March Donors’ Conference and the Secretary-General’s report, Canada welcomed the opportunity to examine how to best help the Mission.
He noted the Secretary-General’s recommendation to expand surge efforts aimed at supporting ongoing relief efforts, preventing the deterioration of public order and reinforcing the Haitian Government’s authority. The integrated approach proposed by the Secretary-General was considered by Canada to be appropriate, and the Government recognized the need for interim support to Haitian institutions. Canada supported enhanced programmes of co-location and decentralization. As social and political stability became restored, Haitian institutions would gradually reassert their ability to carry out their mandates, and the onus was on MINUSTAH and others to engage constructively and preserve the authority of the host Government. “We must work to keep our activities aligned with Haitian priorities,” he added, saying Canada supported the request for more resources, including additional police, to strengthen the Mission’s work.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said she supported the recommendations of the Secretary-General regarding support to the electoral process, reconfiguring the military component of MINUSTAH, seeking more engineers, increasing its police component and conducting actions to strengthen border security. She agreed with the emphasis placed on the lead role the Mission should play in coordinating international electoral assistance. The proposal to increase the police personnel of MINUSTAH could help the Haitian National Police in providing security and organizing their work according to the needs of the local communities, in particular displaced communities.
She said the challenges posed by transnational organized crime were of particular relevance. Strengthening border control required particular attention, in the context of the elevated vulnerability to illicit drug trafficking resulting from the earthquake. A study by the Colombian National Police of the institutional architecture of the Haitian National Police had proposed actions, such as providing transportation resources to the Police, among other things. She said that her Government had decided to provide $4 million to be used throughout 2010 in order to support recovery. Contributing to overcome the consequences of the tragedy was also a contribution to fostering favourable conditions for the work of MINUSTAH and the achievement of lasting stability of Haiti.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said that, although the selection of priority areas was an important starting point, those five priority areas were not new. Rather, they were “recurring and unique to the Haitian context”. As the priorities would require an alignment of resources, it was of imperative importance that the Donor Conference pledges be fulfilled.
He said that, without losing sight of the main objectives of MINUSTAH, more tasks could be assumed during the reconstruction phase, keeping in mind the primary role and responsibilities of the State. For that reason, political stability was a critical element. Haiti should, therefore, resume the national dialogue that was taking place before the earthquake to achieve confidence-building and political consensus, including the preparation for successful elections.
While recognizing that the restoration of the rule of law was a basic requirement to ensure the people full enjoyment of their human rights, he warned against the temptation to create new mechanisms. “Rather, we should build on our experience of what works, and strengthen our capacities to ensure a more predictable, coherent and effective approach,” he said. He was encouraged that the earthquake had not destroyed gains towards stabilization, although it had created new obstacles, especially the situation of the internally displaced persons. “However, it is undeniable that the presence of the United Nations in Haiti has once again marked a crucial difference for the country,” he said.
ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ ( Peru) said the need for the continued presence of MINUSTAH was evident, as was the need to increase the Mission’s strength. Peru would send additional troops. Taking note of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, he said the actions of the international community must support the actions of the Haitian Government, whose institutions should be strengthened. The State-building process that had been taking place before the earthquake should be restored and the lack of resources addressed speedily.
He said there was a need to address three areas in recovery and reconstruction, namely governance, security and development, with a fair balance between the three. No effort should be spared to encourage close cooperation between the private and public sector. With the joined efforts of all actors, the Government and people of Haiti would be able to overcome adversity and decisively meet the challenges, in order to guarantee sustained development.
DIEGO LIMERES (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Haiti, said MINUSTAH’s presence had helped avert more tragedy after the earthquake, and it should remain in place to help consolidate the Haitian Government’s institutional capacity. But, in doing so, it should be mindful that the Government and the Haitian people should be free to decide their own destiny. In the meantime, the United Nations had a central role in coordinating international assistance.
He said that, although Argentina was still analysing its details, it welcomed the Secretary-General’s report in general, especially its recommendation that MINUSTAH adopt a more integrated approach. He shared the Secretary-General’s vision of a reconfigured military component, where more engineers could contribute to reconstruction. Regarding its police component, he reminded States that, before the quake, Argentina had been active in encouraging regional cooperation to develop police capacity. Cooperation along those lines should now continue under MINUSTAH.
Members of the region also supported the development of human capital, cooperation in education and recovery of cultural assets, as well as strengthened South-South and triangular arrangements to produce food. One example of a regional effort was a grass-roots social network involving 80,000 participants working with agricultural engineers. He hoped that participation would reach 1 million within five years. He looked forward to the day when the Mission would end and a United Nations presence in Haiti would no longer be needed.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO ( Spain) said Haiti had made a great step forward on 31 March when it presented its national action plan to the international community. Spain was the third largest bilateral donor, and looked forward to the next summit in June. It had studied the Secretary-General’s report closely and supported its main recommendations, especially that of adopting a comprehensive approach in the five key areas. MINUSTAH’s core purpose was to coordinate those efforts with the country team and other international actors present in Haiti. The comprehensive approach might mean that its current mandate did not need to be amended, since it was flexible enough to face those new challenges. However, MINUSAH’s activities could be readjusted, as recommended, with an increase in its police personnel in the short and medium term.
He said Spain contributed to reinforcing MINUSTAH just before the quake by sending police personnel and an amphibious vessel with military personnel on board to provide humanitarian assistance, health care and engineering expertise. Spain would continue to support MINUSTAH in its new phase, and hoped that the Mission would receive support from the Council. Reinforcing MINUSTAH in priority areas, such as security, human rights and rule of law, was important, even as it conducted its main work of maintaining national stability. Short-term stability was key, especially given this year’s demanding election timetable. For that reason, he had been pleased to hear that a technical team would work with Haitian authorities to prepare for the elections, with necessary international assistance provided under the aegis of the United Nations.
MONA JUUL (Norway), emphasizing the importance of coordinating international efforts for Haiti’s reconstruction, as led by the Government, said her country had provided $35 million in emergency relief immediately following the earthquake. Norway had pledged a further $100 million at the Donors’ Conference, for disaster preparedness, sustainable rural development, political dialogue and confidence-building, and protection of women and children. The Haitian National Police had suffered great losses and it was encouraging to see how well they, MINUSTAH and other actors on the ground were cooperating in tackling protection issues.
But the remaining challenges were massive, she cautioned, noting that 2 million internally displaced persons were scattered over 1,300 sites and almost 80 per cent of them were living in camps without proper management. Rape and other forms of sexual abuse of women and children had been reported, and large numbers of dangerous criminals remained at large after the massive prison escape that had followed the earthquake. The rule of law would have to be strengthened, she said, calling for all possible measures to strengthen, in particular, the ability to protect women and children vulnerable to sexual exploitation and violence, as well as trafficking.
Expressing her country’s support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations on strengthening MINUSTAH’s police component, she said Norway would provide substantial financial support to the MINUSTAH-Haitian National Police programme to strengthen gender crimes units. As soon as positions and personnel could be matched, the Government intended to nominate Norwegian police officers with expertise in sexual and gender-based violence, as well as trafficking issues. A dialogue with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would be initiated immediately, she said, adding that all international efforts should have a capacity-building element in mind.
* *** *