New Mission in Haiti Preparing Transition from Peacekeeping to Development Role, Under-Secretary-General Tells Security Council Ahead of Mandate Renewal

SC/13274
3 April 2018
8220th Meeting (AM)

New Mission in Haiti Preparing Transition from Peacekeeping to Development Role, Under-Secretary-General Tells Security Council Ahead of Mandate Renewal

With the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) fully operational, preparations have already begun for that follow-up peacekeeping operation to make way for a new United Nations presence by the end of 2019 that would focus on the Caribbean nation’s long-term sustainable development, the Organization’s top peacekeeping official told the Security Council today.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, introduced the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission ahead of its decision on renewing its current mandate, which expires on 15 April.  Included in that document was a list of 11 benchmarks for an exit strategy for MINUJUSTH, which the Council established through resolution 2350 (2017) as a successor to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Briefing the Council, he reviewed the progress the Mission had made so far in fulfilling its mandate to assist the Government of Haiti to strengthen rule of law institutions, to support and develop the Haitian National Police, and to carry out human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis.

“While achieving results should remain our common priority, we have already started to prepare for a transition to a non-peacekeeping presence, based on lessons learned in Haiti and in other contexts,” he said, explaining that a transition strategy was being drawn up — in consultation with the Government — that would build on existing United Nations-wide instruments, such as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.

He said he was strongly encouraged by the willingness of and efforts by Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and his Government to create a climate for change.  In that regard, he welcomed the President’s priorities on State reform and the maintenance of political and social stability, adding that the United Nations stood ready to support the Government in devising a clear road map for reforms, taking into account the Mission’s capacities on the ground.

“We have many reasons to be optimistic that this path to progress is irreversible, while we need to jointly — Haiti, the United Nations, international and regional partners — continue investing in the success of the country and United Nations engagement in it,” he said.

In the ensuing discussion, Haiti’s representative said his was a country of peace, with democracy being consolidated, institutions established under the Constitution functioning in a regular manner and human rights being respected and upheld.  He reported progress in such areas as security, good governance and respect for the rule of law, and underscored a significant drop in violent crime.  That said, he acknowledged that the Government was fully aware of progress yet to be made, having inherited the consequences of decades of neglect, structural handicaps and bottlenecks that would have to be tackled over the long term.

He said his Government had taken note of the Secretary-General’s withdrawal strategy for the Mission, but emphasized that nothing would be possible without scrupulous adherence to reciprocal obligations and a genuine spirit of solidarity, mutual respect and trust.  He added that Haiti welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative on cholera, although the $7.7 million raised so far for the United Nations Haiti Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund was woefully insufficient, and called for goodwill and predictable funding to ensure just compensation to cholera victims, their loved ones and others.

Canada’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, said structural reforms must address such challenges as prolonged pretrial detention and prison overcrowding, sexual and gender-based violence, greater women’s participation in decision-making, reforming and strengthening of the justice sector and enhancing social services.  The Group welcomed steps taken by the Haitian Government towards greater security, stability and prosperity, and recommended that the Council extend the Mission’s mandate for another year with no changes to its level of resources.

The representative of the United States said Haitians themselves were taking the lead when it came to security and law enforcement.  When peacekeeping worked well, countries could develop their own capacities to protect their citizens and put in place their own political processes.  Welcoming the benchmarked exit strategy for MINUJUSTH, she said the United States was a long-standing friend and partner of Haiti — one that would continue to support its security priorities as well as its political and democratic development.

Chile’s representative was among several non-Council members from Latin America to take the floor, saying the international community should not lose sight of what had been achieved.  The Mission could only consolidate progress made by closely cooperating with all national actors and through the active involvement of the international community, she said.  Welcoming a significant reduction in cholera transmissions and fatalities, she applauded consultations with civil society, local leaders and cholera victims with a view towards addressing the scourge.

Also speaking this morning were representatives of Bolivia, Netherlands, Equatorial Guinea, Poland, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Kuwait, China, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, as well as the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 12:25 p.m.

Briefing

JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, presenting the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) (document S/2018/241), noted that he visited Haiti on 14 and 15 March.  The Mission was fully operational and actively implementing its mandate, with a light and non-intrusive footprint, while creating a channel of regular communication with the population throughout the country.  Individual police officers had been co-located with the Haitian National Police in all 10 of Haiti’s administrative departments, with corrections personnel in 9 of the country’s 18 prisons, he said.  The Mission was also working closely with the 19 United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in Haiti, as well as with the Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti.  It was assisting the Haitian National Police to implement its 2017-2021 Strategic Development Plan and ensuring the application of caseload management procedures to help curb prolonged pretrial detention and prison overcrowding.  Priority was also being assigned to strengthening national human rights institutions, he said.

He said he was strongly encouraged by the willingness and continuing efforts by the President of Haiti and his Government to create a climate for change.  In that regard, he welcomed the President’s priorities on State reform and the maintenance of political and social stability.  The 11 benchmarks set out in the Secretary-General’s report echoed that vision, providing a unique opportunity for the Government, MINUJUSTH, the country team and the international community to jointly implement common priorities indicated by Security Council resolution 2350 (2017) and Haiti’s 2030 Vision, in line with the Agenda for Sustainable Development.  He added that the United Nations stood ready to support the Government in devising a clear road map for achieving its State reform agenda, taking into account the Mission’s capacities on the ground.

“While achieving results should remain our common priority, we have already started to prepare for a transition to a non-peacekeeping presence, based on lessons learned in Haiti and in other contexts,” he said, with a transition strategy being drawn up that would build on existing United Nations-wide instruments, such as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.  That strategy would also seek to anticipate and mitigate any gaps that might arise from the withdrawal of peacekeeping operations within the Council-stipulated timeframe.  In that regard, the United Nations looked forward to close collaboration with the Government and others to ensure a successful transition.

Benchmarks for an exit strategy weaved together an ambitious but flexible framework based on conditions under which the current United Nations configuration in Haiti could confidently transform into a non-peacekeeping presence, he said.  In the coming months, the Council would be provided with qualitative and quantitative assessments that would enable it to take well-informed decision on the Mission’s drawdown and withdrawal.  A broadly consulted and owned, benchmarked-based exit was the right approach to preserve the stabilization and peacebuilding gains made over a decade in Haiti, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations was determined to ensure that the Mission would be the last peacekeeping operation deployed in that country.  He added:  “We have many reasons to be optimistic that this path to progress is irreversible, while we need to jointly — Haiti, the United Nations, international and regional partners — continue investing in the success of the country and United Nations engagement in it.”

Statements

AMY NOEL TACHCO (United States) said that Haitians themselves were taking the lead in providing their own security and law enforcement, stressing that, when peacekeeping worked well, countries were able to develop their own capacities to protect their citizens and put in place their own political processes.  Long-term security and stability in Haiti were critical priorities, and in that regard, she was encouraged by the progress made in establishing the Haitian National Police.  Formed police units, individual police officers, corrections officers and civilian experts contributed significantly to rule of law priorities that had been identified by the international community and Haitian authorities.  The Haitian security, political and development agenda could only be shaped by Haitians themselves.  Every effort must be made to consolidate the stability achieved over the last few years, and in that context, it was critical that Haiti strengthen its institutions, including by adopting a draft penal code and establishing an electoral council.  At the end of the day, Haiti bore the primary responsibility for making that happen.  Her delegation welcomed the benchmarked exit strategy for MINUJUSTH and stressed the critical importance of filling the Mission’s remaining vacant positions.  The United States was a long-standing friend and partner of Haiti and would continue to support the country’s security priorities, as well as its political and democratic development.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said his delegation was encouraged by the progress made by MINUJUSTH and its partners, including in consolidating ties with the Government to ensure a convergence of views and priorities, as well as developing a road map for working together.  He highlighted the progress made in implementing Haiti’s reform agenda to promote sustainable development and combat corruption.  It was vital to ensure the rule of law and to lay the foundation for better political and social cohesion, while also tackling the country’s remaining socioeconomic challenges.  He noted the decrease of crime and violence in Haiti and encouraged further progress in those areas.  He supported and the work of the Mission in the areas of rule of law and human rights and encouraged it to continue in close cooperation with the Government.  He applauded efforts aimed at combatting cholera through the Secretary-General’s renewed focus and called upon the international community to work together to fulfil its commitment and provide cooperation and assistance to Haiti to establish the necessary health-care system.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), associating herself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said Haiti, with United Nations support, had made considerable progress in recent year.  However, it could not surmount outstanding challenges alone.  Only through close cooperation could the Mission and the Haitian State build and strengthen national public institutions.  A detailed strategy — including benchmarks – was essential to pave the way for a gradual peacekeeping withdrawal.  The Netherlands encouraged Haiti to seize the opportunity and draw all benefits from its partnership with the Mission, she said, expressing the hope that elections in 18 months would mark the start of a new era in Haiti.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) expressed congratulations to the Government of Haiti for its political determination and leadership which should in time lead to the United Nations country team fully assuming its development support role.  The 10 benchmarks for an exit strategy were ambitious but attainable if the international community supported the Government, with due consideration given to limiting factors, including the cholera situation.  Concluding, he expressed support for the Mission and invited all State institutions in Haiti to support the President’s reform agenda.

PAWEL RADOMSKI (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, said that, despite formidable obstacles, the progress made by Haitians was impressive.  The caravan of change had a daily impact on the lives of Haitians in a number of areas.  The Government had made measurable progress in establishing a criminal code to fight corruption in the civil service and to strengthen the justice sector.  Those efforts should lead to political stabilization and further strengthen the rule of law, which was critical for sustainable development.  Nevertheless, the Haitian institutions still needed the international community’s support, he said, underscoring that the vacancy rate within the Mission should be lowered and calling on the Secretariat to make efforts to fill any remaining vacant positions.  Further efforts to increase the response capacity in the investigation of and response to sexual and gender-based harassment in Haiti were necessary, while prison overcrowding continued to raise human rights concerns.  Haiti had the undeniable right to create and maintain its national forces, although given the budgetary limitations and lack of capabilities, the Government must take thoughtful steps forward in that regard.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) welcomed the development of an exit strategy for MINUJUSTH, noting that it outlined clear benchmarks based on results achieved and the situation on the ground.  The establishment of the Mission was important for consolidating peace through the strengthening of institutions for justice and the rule of law, she underlined, noting the challenges in the justice and corrections sectors and MINUJUSTH’s efforts to address those issues.  Welcoming the continuous progress made by Haiti in consolidating democracy and stability, she noted the progress made in the overall security situation.  Haiti continued to face enormous challenges and vulnerabilities, which highlighted the need for social and political cohesion and the reinforcement of State institutions to consolidate the gains made in recent years.  The international community should seek ways to support sustainable development in Haiti in a way that respected the country’s sovereignty.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Cote d’Ivoire) said the presence of Mission was a genuine opportunity to support Government efforts to achieve stability and development with a view to the withdrawal of the peacekeeping operations.  His delegation supported the decision to set up a monitoring mechanism for progress achieved in the exit strategy.  Despite progress in professionalizing the Haitian National Police, the overall security situation remained vulnerable, he said, citing the need to address corruption, promote women’s rights and strengthen pretrial detention conditions.  He expressed alarm over vulnerable living conditions, including limited access to safe drinking water, and commended progress in combating cholera, as well as the Secretary-General’s strategy to eradicate that epidemic.

BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) welcomed a marked improvement in security in Haiti, with crime rates trending downward, and called on the national authorities to maximize the benefit of United Nations experience in that regard.  He expressed concern about reports of violations of human rights and hoped that the national authorities would prosecute the perpetrators, thus ensuring accountability and justice.  He went on to welcome the United Nations approach to combating cholera, with transmission rates down by more than 99 per cent.  Concluding, he said Kuwait a renewal of the Mission’s mandate with benchmarks paving the way to a non‑peacekeeping United Nations presence.

WU HAITAO (China) said that, currently, stability prevailed in Haiti and the security situation was steadily improving in the country.  China was keen to see the international community continue to help improve the situation in Haiti through the provision of humanitarian and development assistance.  China commended MINUJUSTH for its efforts for the smooth deployment and functioning of the Mission.  Much had been achieved with regard to the United Nations efforts to combat cholera, he said, calling on the international community to positively respond to the Organization’s newest initiative for cholera response, with a view towards wiping out the epidemic once and for all.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) welcomed the continued progress in Haiti and was particularly interested in the Government’s development of a national police force and efforts to strengthen the rule of law.  She applauded the new approach to combating cholera and said that her delegation was very interested in the way in which the Government was seeking to establish long-term political stability and development in Haiti.  The Government must take ownership of the delivery of critical reforms that would have a lasting impact on security and development in Haiti.  She looked to the United Nations to be a well-integrated organization in ensuring an effective transition through the implementation of the work plan, bolstered by strong collaboration with the Government.  The exit strategy needed to demonstrate clear progress against the benchmarks that the Secretary-General had set out, particularly given the complex nature of the transition.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), associating himself with the statements to be made by the European Union and the Group of Friends of Haiti, emphasized the importance of the Mission having the means to carry out its mandate.  Going forward, France would focus on steps taken to adopt a criminal code and code of criminal procedure.  He encouraged the Government to strengthen measures to combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law.  France also called for attentive follow-up on human rights, always ensuring Haitian ownership of that issue.  He went on to call for the renewal of the Mission’s mandate, adding that his country and the United Nations would continue to stand by the Haitian people, whose courage deserved great attention.

CARL SKAU (Sweden) associating himself with the European Union, commended Haiti’s progress in consolidating democracy, stability and peace.  Progress was still needed to achieve Government priorities, including the rule of law, respect for human rights, improved socioeconomic development, infrastructures, resilience and security.  MINUJUSTH’s mandate was aligned with these priorities.  Donors must step up to ensure that United Nations agencies in the country had adequate resources and capacity to support peacebuilding in Haiti.  The Mission had to increase women’s security and participation and ensure protection against sexual and gender-based violence.  Sweden continued to contribute both police and correction personnel to the Mission.  He welcomed the efforts to strengthen protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.  All alleged cases of such abuse must be reported and investigated, and perpetrators must be held accountable.  Sweden co-sponsored the General Assembly resolution in support of the Secretary-General’s new approach to eradicate cholera and build resilience in Haiti the year before.  Sweden also supported the United Nations Haiti Cholera Response Multi‑Partner Trust Fund and encouraged others to contribute to it.

ALEXANDER A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that, since the Mission started working, heartening changes had taken place, including efforts to establish stability and an effective system of governance.  Cohesive, concerted joint efforts by the legislative, judicial and executive branches of Government would be important for sustained economic development.  He noted Haiti’s efforts to be more involved with international and regional structures.  At each juncture, it was important to take into account the views of the host State and to support the ideals of national ownership.  Calibrated assistance was of great importance to the Government, which needed to focus on security, political stability, development and peacebuilding.  He expressed grave concern about the persistent, dire humanitarian situation in the country, including following Hurricane Matthew, underscoring that 1 million people were still in need of humanitarian assistance.  He hoped that further progress would strengthen the Haitian National Police, although he was gravely concerned about reports of crimes of a sexual nature committed by those working on behalf of foreign non-governmental organizations.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said that, while recognizing the progress made in Haiti, some key issues were yet to be addressed, including the establishment of an electoral council, prison overcrowding, prolonged pretrial detention and continued humanitarian challenges.  Political engagement was especially important in light of the upcoming elections.  Ensuring the independence of the judiciary was of great importance, as was ensuring that the Haitian National Police development plan was implemented efficiently and in a timely way, with the international community’s support.  The benchmarked exit strategy must be implemented in a coordinated manner through an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders, particularly the Haitian Government.  Haiti’s current chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) presented an important opportunity to mobilize international partnerships to address the country’s most urgent problems.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), Council President for April, speaking in his national capacity and associating himself with Canada’s statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, emphasized the need to continue supporting efforts to build institutions that could safeguard human rights and guarantee access to justice in Haiti.  That was a key element of the Mission’s mandate, he said, underscoring also the need to strengthen the United Nations system presence in Haiti as the country strived to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  He stressed the importance of greater participation of Haitian women and children, as well as the need for more international support regarding cholera, and expressed his country’s support for a renewal of the Mission’s mandate for another year.

DENIS RÉGIS (Haiti) said Haiti today was a country of peace, with democracy being consolidated, institutions established under the Constitution functioning in a regular manner and human rights being respected and upheld.  Progress was being made in such areas as security, good governance and respect for the rule of law.  Violent crime was down 50 per cent, while measures were being taken to combat corruption.  Structural reform efforts included the creation of a Sectorial Estates General to promote political dialogue, as well as the Caravan of Change strategy.  Nevertheless, the Government was fully aware of progress yet to be made and it intended to persevere along the path of reform.  Haiti’s problems were the consequences of decades of neglect, structural handicaps and bottlenecks that would require diligent and methodical action over the long term, he said.

He said his Government had taken note of the Secretary-General’s withdrawal strategy for the Mission, which in line with resolution 2350 (2017) essentially played a technical assistance role and national institutions shouldering primary responsibility for development and governance-related issues.  Nothing would be possible without scrupulous respect for reciprocal obligations and a genuine spirit of solidarity, mutual respect and trust.  Emphasizing that sustaining peace and sustainable development went hand in hand, he said his country welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative on cholera, adding, however, that the $7.7 million raised so far for the United Nations Haiti Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund was woefully insufficient.  Haiti called for goodwill and predictable funding to ensure that cholera victims, their loved ones and others received just compensation and for sanitary and drinking water infrastructure to be rebuilt.

JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Head of Delegation of the European Union, said that as a long‑standing supporter of the Haitian people, the European Union welcomed the emergence of normal constitutional operations in the country, despite the considerably difficulties encountered.  However, that progress was not enough to guarantee democratic stability and sustainable development.  To restore the Haitian people’s trust in democracy and political stability, access to impartial, fair and effective justice must be guaranteed.  The efforts of all stakeholders to provide security and stability for all citizens would be necessary for building democracy.  The European Union remained a steadfast and faithful partner for Haiti and would continue to support the country at the current difficult and sensitive stage, including by engaging in the necessary reforms.  The European Union believed that the structural causes of insecurity in Haiti had yet to be fully addressed and the security situation there remained tenuous, which meant that there must be continued efforts to strengthen and professionalize the national police.

MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, said structural reforms were needed to address multiple challenges in Haiti, such as prolonged pretrial detention and prison overcrowding, sexual and gender-based violence, the need for greater participation of women in decision‑making processes, reforming and strengthening of the justice sector and enhancing social services.  The Group welcomed the important and necessary steps already taken by the Haitian Government towards greater security, stability and prosperity.  He stressed the importance of the fight against corruption, putting an end to impunity and ensuring accountability in Haiti.  The Group welcomed the United Nations commitment to support consolidation of previous gains and peacebuilding goals, which was creating space for promoting greater stability and sustainable development.  The Group noted MINUJUSTH’s work in assisting helping the Government of Haiti to further develop the Haitian National Police, strengthening of rule of law institutions and engaging in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis.  To succeed, that work must continue in close coordination with the Government.

The Group recommended the Security Council support extension of the Mission’s mandate for another year with the same level of resources, notably for its police component and with the intention of reviewing, as necessary, whether the mandate should be extended further, he said.  Noting the request in Council resolution 2350 (2017) for further refining the Mission’s benchmarked exit strategy, the Group wanted to hear more about the progress achieved in meeting the related benchmarks.  Continued and close coordination and consultation with the national Government was important, as was the careful review of conditions on the ground to adjust the Mission’s presence accordingly.  While the reduced number of cases of cholera transmission and cholera-related fatalities in Haiti was promising, all Member States should continue to support the United Nations efforts to combat cholera in Haiti.

ALEJANDRO GUILLERMO VERDIER (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Haiti, welcomed the establishment of a benchmarked exit strategy and stressed the need to avoid a premature exit that could jeopardize the international community’s efforts over the last 14 years.  The Mission should undertake the transition process with the close cooperation of Haiti, respecting the need for national ownership.  Underscoring the efforts by the Haitian authorities to build lasting stability and a better future for the country, he called attention to the progress made in addressing the cholera epidemic.  His delegation would continue to provide trained police personnel for the Mission and took interest in the development of a national police force in the country.

MARÍA DEL CARMEN DOMÍNGUEZ ÁLVAREZ (Chile), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Haiti, said MINUJUSTH played a fundamental role in promoting socioeconomic development, strengthening institutions and reaffirming human rights in the country.  The international community should not lose sight of what had been achieved on the path towards security and development, bearing in mind the importance of the conditions of the ground and the priorities of the Haitian Government.  The Mission could only consolidate the achievements made by closely cooperating with all national actors and through the active involvement of the international community.  Her delegation welcomed the significant reduction of the transmission of and fatalities from cholera.  In particular, she applauded the consultations with civil society, local leaders and victims of cholera with a view towards addressing the scourge.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with Canada’s statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, noted with satisfaction that the transition between the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and MINUJUSTH had been carried out without a negative impact on the security situation.  “MINUSTAH demonstrated the potential of innovative approaches that could serve as a model for future peacekeeping operations,” he said, citing coordination between civilian and military personnel on the ground, community outreach strategies to build confidence and the important role of women in the stabilization process.  Brazil had led MINUSTAH for 13 years and contributed more than 30,000 troops.  Despite a decrease in homicides in the last few years, the homicide rate in the previous three months had increased, a reminder that the security situation still must be viewed with caution.  The quick impact and community-violence-reduction projects implemented by MINUSTAH had contributed to stability and should continue under MINUJUSTH’s mandate.  The consultations with the Government of Haiti should continue during the implementation and review of the exit strategy.  MINUJUSTH and the Government of Haiti should carry out ambitious reforms in the field of rule of law.  The Mission’s mandate should be extended for another year and its budgetary and police components should be maintained.  The references to Chapter VII in the mandate should be circumscribed to operational activities of MINUJUSTH’s police component.  The Council should continuously assess the situation on the ground and revise its plans if necessary.

FRANCISCO GONZÁLEZ (Colombia), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Haiti, said there could be no true stability or sustainable development without a strengthening of democratic institutions.  MINUJUSTH’s fundamental objective was to strengthen the rule of law, the judiciary, Haitian National Police and human rights, all of which would contribute to sustainable development.  Colombia agreed with the Secretary-General that the entire judicial system, including the penal system, needed deep-seated reforms.  He underscored the importance of incorporating gender components in a cross-cutting manner, as seen by the appointment of women court clerks and police officers, adding that a renewal of the Mission’s mandate for another year would set a clear path for further progress.

For information media. Not an official record.