Close Collaboration with Government Key to Successful Transition, Top Official Says, as Security Council Considers Situation in Haiti

SC/13616
12 December 2018
8419th Meeting (PM)

Close Collaboration with Government Key to Successful Transition, Top Official Says, as Security Council Considers Situation in Haiti

Permanent Representative Expresses Regret Over Falling Official Development Assistance, while Citing ‘Clear Success Stories’

Close collaboration with the Government of Haiti and its partners will be essential to the successful transition to a non-peacekeeping United Nations presence in that country, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) told the Security Council today.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission’s work (document S/2018/1059), Helen Meagher La Lime noted that despite the slow progress, “the dashboard before you shows the incremental, yet positive, impact the Mission has had on reinforcing rule-of-law institutions, increasing the capacity of the national police and promoting human rights.”

Noting the recent political crisis, the violent demonstrations in July and the country’s preparations for constitutionally mandated parliamentary and municipal elections, she said the Mission is working to increase the capacity of human rights actors.  The Government’s establishment of a dedicated ministerial focal point for human rights indicated Haiti’s readiness to engage with international human rights bodies, she added.

She went on to emphasize that a “more assiduous and focused Parliament” will be required to pass essential legislation.  At the same time MINUJUSTH will be reducing the footprint of its Formed Police Units from seven to five this month, she said, adding that whereas the totality of benchmarks will not be achieved by October 2019, options for reconfiguring the United Nations presence in Haiti are still feasible.

Haiti’s representative declared:  “The entire world agrees that my nation has recently been sorely tested.”  But despite the recent upheaval, there were also “clear success stories” in the fields of justice, security, correction and prison services, and protection of human rights.  He expressed regret at the decline in official development assistance, calling the Council’s attention to the economic difficulties faced by the vast majority of Haiti’s people.  While acknowledging delays in meeting the essential indicators for consolidating the rule of law, he said the Government is determined to redouble its efforts.  The all-out war on corruption is bearing fruit, he emphasized, also citing efforts to reverse the persistent gaps pertaining to disruptions in the functioning of the justice system, and to address allegations of human rights abuses within State institutions.

Ethiopia’s delegate called for constructive dialogue, highlighting the importance of consensual solutions within the framework of the existing constitutional dispensation.  The swift adoption of the electoral law will pave the way for credible, timely and inclusive elections, she added.

Other Council members also stressed the importance of elections, with the representative of the United States urging the Government to adhere to the electoral timetable.  Spotlighting his country’s investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in Haiti, he noted the progress in the security sector while stressing that more must be done to consolidate the rule of law and judicial capacity in order to facilitate the necessary drawdown of the peacekeeping presence by October 2019.

Peru’s representative called for adequate electoral assistance, while expressing concern over the recent violent protests, the growth in the number of armed gangs and the unacceptable conditions in prisons.  The transition must take the full range of factors affecting Haiti’s stability into account, he stressed, calling for coordination with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Also speaking today were representatives of Bolivia, Kuwait, France, Sweden, China, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Poland, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Côte d’Ivoire.

A representative of the European Union delegation also delivered a statement.

The meeting began at 3:06 p.m. and ended at 4:58 p.m.

Briefing

HELEN MEAGHER LA LIME, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), presented the latest report of the Secretary-General (document S/2018/1059).  She said the political crisis triggered by July’s violent demonstrations has been exacerbated by numerous allegations of Government mismanagement of public funds.  It is against this backdrop that the Mission strives to implement its mandate, she said.  Even though progress has been slow, “the dashboard before you shows the incremental, yet positive, impact the Mission has had on reinforcing rule-of-law institutions, increasing the capacity of the national police, and promoting human rights”.

Spotlighting the promulgation of a law on the functioning of the National Council on Legal Aid, she said its implementation will contribute greatly to alleviating overcrowding in prisons.  Furthermore, MINUJUSTH’s efforts to increase the capacity of human rights actors is yielding results, she noted, citing the Government’s new dedicated ministerial human rights focal point.  That indicates Haiti’s readiness to engage with international human rights bodies and to prepare a national election plan, she said.  Moreover, the Office of the National Ombudsperson is increasing its presence outside Port-au-Prince and the space for human rights organizations to operate in a more conducive environment is expanding.

However, much remains to be done, she cautioned, pointing out the need to make judiciary inspection mechanisms more robust in order to increase the rate at which cases are adjudicated.  The issue of gang violence, endemic to a number of neighbourhoods in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, must be addressed in a systematic manner, she emphasized.  “A more assiduous and focused Parliament” will be required to pass such essential legislation as the Haitian National Police Organic Law, a new Criminal Code, and a new Code of Criminal Procedure.  MINUJUSTH will focus on fulfilling those objectives in the coming months as Haiti prepares for constitutionally mandated parliamentary and municipal elections, she said.

While the totality of benchmarks will not be achieved by October 2019, options for reconfiguring the United Nations presence in Haiti are still feasible, she noted.  Close collaboration with the Government and its partners will be essential to the successful transition to a non-peacekeeping United Nations presence, she added, pointing out that the Mission will be reducing the footprint of its Formed Police Units this month, from seven to five.  Recalling that she reached out to the President, Prime Minister as well as leaders and key players from across the political spectrum and the private sector, she said that she advocated for the de-escalation of current tensions.  “I am encouraged by the initial signals sent out by the Moise/Ceant administration to start a genuine dialogue with the political opposition and civil society,” she said.

JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States), reaffirming his country’s solidarity with the people of Haiti and offering consolation for the recent loss of life, condemned the violence breaking out during protests.  While expressing respect for the efforts of the Haitian National Police during the crisis, he called for investigation of all allegations of human rights abuses, calling also upon authorities to adhere to the electoral timetable.  Noting that his country has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build police capacity, he said there has been progress in the security sector, but more must be done to consolidate rule-of-law and judicial capacity.  Those are the most critical areas to address in order to allow the necessary drawdown of the peacekeeping presence by October 2019, he emphasized, adding that work on other benchmarks can be performed after the transition.  However, meeting that deadline will require fine-tuned coordination of all actors, attention to the elections and intensified efforts to develop a safer and more prosperous country for all Haitians, he said.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), conveying condolences for the loss of life in the recent earthquakes, called for continued support to the Government and people of Haiti as they recover.  To consolidate stability in Haiti, it is necessary to ensure economic development and accountability for the use of resources, with all assistance being delivered in full consultation and cooperation with the Government as well as full respect for Haiti’s sovereignty and national ownership of all efforts, he emphasized.  Urging the authorities to avoid delays in filling gaps in judicial positions and to ensure the alignment of national goals and with external assistance, he welcomed continued efforts to combat cholera and called upon the international community to fulfil all its commitments to that end.  He emphasized that efforts towards MINUJUSTH’s benchmarks must be done in full consideration of its mandate.  Haiti is no longer a threat to international peace and security, he said, stressing that it no longer needs to be on the Security Council’s agenda.

TAREQ M. A. M. ALBANAI (Kuwait), expressing alarm at the violence that resulted from the recent protests, welcomed the restraint exercised by police, as well as Government attempts to address the causes of the crisis.  Noting that national institutions are not yet adequate to deal with all problems, he said that establishing a structure for dealing with crises is an important step forward.  Conveying his delegation’s condolences for the lives lost in the recent earthquake, he also expressed hope for the success of efforts to overcome the cholera epidemic.  He went on to welcome efforts to improve the criminal justice system, noting the many persistent challenges in the security sector.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France) said the violent protests demonstrate that threats to stability remain.  Encouraging steps are being taken to bolster the criminal justice system, but more must be done.  Condemning all violence, she emphasized that change must occur democratically.  It is also essential to improve conditions of daily life, to combat corruption, and to end impunity, she stressed.  Commending the commitment to hold elections in 2019, she emphasized that respect for timetables will strengthen stability, adding that, in order to have a fluid handover, all challenges to democracy and the rule of law must be met.

CARL ORRENIUS SKAU (Sweden), noting that the Haitian National Police has made good progress, said that other Haitian institutions, including the judiciary and corrections, must make similar progress, with the support of MINUJUSTH.  It is critical to ensure that the entire justice chain is adequately integrated, he said, welcoming the appointment of a Minister Delegate for Human Rights.  MINUJUSTH will play an important role as it continues to fully integrate gender throughout its mandate, notably by implementing measures to increase security for political processes at all levels.  He went on to underline the importance of efforts to strengthen protection from sexual exploitation and abuse in the Mission.  Welcoming the Government’s commitment to ensuring elections are held on schedule, he encouraged Haitian authorities to swiftly adopt the electoral law and take all other necessary steps, emphasizing that credible and inclusive elections will be a decisive factor for the country’s long-term stability.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), recalling the popular protests of October and November, said that direct, constructive and peaceful talks are essential.  He emphasized the importance of the right to peaceful assembly, while applauding the national police for their professionalism during the protests.  Expressing surprise that the report refers to the views of undisclosed international stakeholders, he noted that in the section on human rights, the Mission reports 15 violations allegedly perpetrated by police.  Describing that wording as “far too vague” for a report on such a critical aspect as human rights, he also expressed alarm over the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation, saying it is compounded by the persistent cholera epidemic.  Under these exceedingly difficult conditions, the Government is undertaking robust efforts in pursuit of progress on the Secretary-General’s proposed benchmarks, he said.

WU HAITAO (China) also recalled the recent instability, noting that the security situation remains fragile.  Meanwhile, there is an urgent need to improve the economic situation, which is exacerbated by the cholera epidemic, he said.  Calling upon the Government of Haiti to engage in political dialogue with all parties and to resolve differences through consultations, he said the international community must focus more on the political, economic and humanitarian situation and help the country implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), associating herself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union, said Haiti is now at a crossroads and it is now essential to build on the progress achieved so far.  Many Haitians have taken to the streets to protest the lack of accountability, she noted, calling upon the Government to take their grievances seriously.  However, the country has seen major developments in the rule of law, she said, applauding the national police for their able handling of the protests, and welcoming the growing number of female officers as well as the appointment of the Minister for Human Rights.  Whatever the transition looks like at the end of the day, the Government and the Mission must maintain their close cooperation, she stressed.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), recalling the popular protests of October and November, said that direct, constructive and peaceful talks are essential.  He emphasized the importance of the right to peaceful assembly, while applauding the national police for their professionalism during the protests.  Expressing surprise that the report refers to the views of undisclosed international stakeholders, he noted that in the section on human rights, the Mission reports 15 violations allegedly perpetrated by police.  Describing that wording as “far too vague” for a report on such a critical aspect as human rights, he also expressed alarm over the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation, saying it is compounded by the persistent cholera epidemic.  Under these exceedingly difficult conditions, the Government is undertaking robust efforts in pursuit of progress on the Secretary-General’s proposed benchmarks, he said.

WU HAITAO (China) also recalled the recent instability, noting that the security situation remains fragile.  Meanwhile, there is an urgent need to improve the economic situation, which is exacerbated by the cholera epidemic, he said.  Calling upon the Government of Haiti to engage in political dialogue with all parties and to resolve differences through consultations, he said the international community must focus more on the political, economic and humanitarian situation and help the country implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), associating herself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union, said Haiti is now at a crossroads and it is now essential to build on the progress achieved so far.  Many Haitians have taken to the streets to protest the lack of accountability, she noted, calling upon the Government to take their grievances seriously.  However, the country has seen major developments in the rule of law, she said, applauding the national police for their able handling of the protests, and welcoming the growing number of female officers as well as the appointment of the Minister for Human Rights.  Whatever the transition looks like at the end of the day, the Government and the Mission must maintain their close cooperation, she stressed.

STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) emphasized the need to complete the electoral framework in order to sustain the progress already made.  New laws must be turned into reality through budgets and implementation plans.  Structural issues of access to services and economic opportunity must also be firmly addressed and peacebuilding priorities must be clarified through inclusive dialogue, he said.  For those purposes, it is critical to meet all benchmarks for MINUJUSTH’s exit, he stressed, adding that he looks forward to engaging closely with all stakeholders to make the transition a success.  Responsibility for the tasks involved should be divided effectively among United Nations entities and other actors, he said.

PAWEŁ RADOMSKI (Poland) underlined his concern about the ongoing fragility of the situation in Port-au-Prince and other cities, saying it reflects the ongoing volatility faced by the Haitian people.  He called upon all parties to refrain from the use of violence to achieve political goals, to respect the rule of law and to pursue consensual solutions.  Poland encourages the Government to continue taking concrete actions to address the people’s demands, including through constructive dialogue with civil society and the opposition because dialogue should result in long-term stability.  He expressed support for the Government’s request for electoral assistance from the United Nations, and for help in strengthening good governance and building up public confidence.  He concluded by underscoring his country’s continued support for Haiti and its efforts towards a non-peacekeeping presence.  Democratic transitions can be difficult but with constructive engagement, Haiti will enjoy a stable future, he said.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), noting the socioeconomic difficulties that Haiti continues to face, expressed support for the pursuit of a consensual solution within the framework of the existing constitutional dispensation.  She welcomed the Government’s commitment to holding the 2019 elections on schedule, emphasizing that they will be a crucial milestone for the Haiti’s stability.  Swift adoption of the electoral law will pave the way for credible, timely and inclusive elections, she stated, encouraging all political actors to engage in constructive dialogue.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) welcomed efforts to consolidate the rule of law and facilitate a sustainable conclusion to MINUJUSTH’s mandate.  Extending condolences over the loss of life in the recent earthquake, he called upon the international community to continue providing assistance for recovery.  He went on to express concern over the violence that occurred during the recent protests, emphasizing the need to address the growth in the number of armed gangs and for measures to implement community-level programmes that include young people.  Reiterating concerns about unacceptable conditions in prisons and extended pre-trial detention, he called for more judges.  He also called for adequate electoral assistance, saying the transition must take into account the full range of factors affecting stability.  It should be accomplished in coordination with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in order to forge sustainable peace, he said.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), expressing concern over the recent violent protests, said a better socioeconomic policy was needed to improve the situation.  He welcomed recent efforts to meet the people’s demands as well as the creation of a legal aid framework to relieve pressures on the criminal justice system.  Urging the increase of women officials in a variety of areas, he called for holding the elections according to the agreed timelines, with assistance from the United Nations.  While welcoming the support provided after the earthquake as well as stepped-up efforts to combat cholera, he emphasized, however, that a great deal remains to be done to meet the benchmarks for MINUJUSTH’s exit.  For that reason, all actors must spare no effort to work together towards those goals, he stressed.

DIDAR TEMENOV (Kazakhstan) urged the Haitian Government to ensure that its strategic development plan for the national police is implemented efficiently and in a timely manner in order to enhance professional training and experience.  On consolidating security and stability, he said MINUJUSTH must continue to focus on building the capacity of the national police.  Building broad-based political support is important to implementation of economic reforms, rebuilding trust in Government institutions and creating the necessary conditions for attracting investments, he emphasized.  He called for redoubling efforts to strengthen the rule of law, fight impunity and address corruption.  He stressed the need to implement the Mission’s exit strategy in a coordinated manner.  “It is necessary to break down silos so as to achieve optimal results for sustainable development in Haiti,” he said, underlining the importance of anticipating, addressing and mitigating all challenges that may emerge during the transition towards a non-peacekeeping United Nations presence.

KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, expressing alarm over the recent violent protests.  He reaffirmed the need to address the root causes of persistent crises, attenuate the people’s daily difficulties, fight corruption and shed light on the mismanagement allegations concerning the Petrocaribe fund.  He also welcomed the nomination of a Minister for Human Rights.  Urging the authorities to intensify efforts to consolidate stability, he called for inclusive national dialogue to allay political tensions and ensure accountability, and emphasized the importance of continued support to Haiti in all these areas.  He also called for the continuation of initiatives to strengthen the Haitian National Police and other rule-of-law institutions, and for expediting the related legislative reforms.  Hailing MINUJUSTH’s efforts on justice, human rights and security, he expressed concern, however, about challenges to meeting the benchmarks for the Mission’s exit strategy and urged all stakeholders to work together to overcome them.

DENIS REGIS (Haiti) noted that the report details the recent upheaval in his country and reflects the Government’s progress in achieving the goals and deadlines jointly established in MINUJUSTH’s mandate.  Highlighting “clear success stories”, he cited accomplishments in the fields of justice, security, correction and prison services, and protection of human rights.  Other grounds of optimism include the professionalism of the Haitian National Police, he said, recalling that their ability is reflected in their actions during the protests and in the drop in homicide rates.  Nonetheless, in light of the delays in meeting the essential indicators for consolidating the rule of law, it is vital to redouble efforts, he emphasized.

“The Government is fully aware of that,” he continued, stressing its determination to reverse the persistent gaps noted in the report, pertaining in particular to disruptions in the functioning of the justice system and allegations of human rights abuses within State institutions.  “The entire world agrees that my nation has recently been sorely tested,” he said, pointing to the economic difficulties faced by the vast majority of Haitians.  The crisis is being contained through dialogue with key stakeholders, and at no time has the country’s political stability or democratic achievements been called into question, he stressed.  Furthermore, the Government’s all-out war on corruption is bearing fruit, he said, while expressing regret over the decline in official development assistance (ODA) and humanitarian aid provided to Haiti.

SERGE LEON A. CHRISTIANE, European Union delegation, said the bloc is troubled by the overall situation in Haiti, which amounts to an economic, financial, social, security and governance crisis.  In that context, holding legislative elections for the lower chamber and the Senate, as per the schedule outlined in the constitution, is paramount, he added.  While acknowledging that profound, consensus-based reform of the electoral system is key to preventing crises and regaining the people’s trust, the adoption of draft laws prepared by the executive branch seems complicated, he said.  Urging the authorities to spare no effort in organizing the elections in October 2019, he said the European Union expects that they will champion the necessary political dialogue to alleviate tensions.

He went on to state that the European Union shares the concerns outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, with the security situation still tenuous and progress continuing to fall short of several benchmarks.  The fact that MINUJUSTH’s exit and the elections are scheduled for the same month makes it all the more important to hold the vote as planned, he emphasized.  The structural causes of instability have not been surmounted and the political and security situation remains fragile, he noted.  Guaranteeing that the actions of the security forces respect human rights, and that all will have access to impartial justice, will be of paramount importance, he stressed.  The organization of MINUJUSTH’s transition is therefore key to ensuring that the police and judicial systems are adequately prepared to assume all responsibilities currently shouldered by the Mission, he said.

For information media. Not an official record.