As the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) prepares for the transition to a non-peacekeeping presence, beginning in October 2019, challenges, including the recent protest against planned fuel price hikes, continue to impede progress made, exposing the fragility of that country’s security and socioeconomic situation and demonstrating the need for strong rule of law legislation, a senior official told the Security Council today.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Mission (document S/2018/795), Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, highlighted 11 benchmarks and 46 distinct indicators of progress on implementation of the transition to a non-peacekeeping United Nations presence there within the targeted timeframe.
Noting that the rate of police officers per 1,000 citizens has slightly dropped to 1.32 due to resignations and other reasons, she stressed that dedicated intervention is necessary to ensure that the development plan of the Haitian National Police is fully implemented. Armed gangs also continue to pose a threat, she said, adding that progress on several benchmarks hinges on the adoption and promulgation of key rule of law legislation, including the criminal code.
Citing the protests in July against the planned increase of fuel prices, she said the situation on the ground must be monitored very carefully and she called on the authorities to address the root causes of the socioeconomic situation. The Mission, the country team, the Government and other partners will need to redouble efforts to make up for the time lost because of the challenges that emerged from the 6-8 July events, given the time-bound nature of the mandate and the transition process, she said.
Haiti’s representative, however, emphasized that after the July protests in Port-au-Prince — expressions of public frustration that were perfectly understandable given the circumstances — the crisis was quickly overcome. “The nation promptly regained its composure”, and State authority and civil peace have been fully restored, demonstrating the maturity of Haiti’s national institutions, he pointed out. Furthermore, the Government is working to build its long-term stability, including through institution-building and the organization of legislative elections in October 2019.
Citing some progress, he spotlighted a clear drop in Haiti’s violent crime rate, 25 per cent fewer cases in “mob justice”, progress made towards the adoption of a new penal code, increases in the number of women in the national police force and stronger anti-corruption activities. “Social stability is on the right track,” he declared.
Nonetheless, Leona Romeo-Marlin, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, speaking on behalf of the Netherlands, said that the recent outbreak of violence is a reminder that the country is still fragile. While calling on the Haitian National Police to improve its capacity to address conflicts and to build the people’s trust in it, she also commended the growing number of women being recruited and the establishment of a specialized office for sexual violence crimes.
Bolivia’s delegate also highlighted how July’s events revealed the links between a lack of economic development and a lack of stability, as well as the failure of the “structural adjustment recipes” put in place in Haiti by the international community. Fully respecting the country’s sovereignty and its creation of a new and inclusive Government, the international community and donors must provide support to consolidate Haiti’s humanitarian response plan, including the Secretary-General’s plan to combat cholera there, she said.
The representative of the United States — which holds the Security Council Presidency for September — spoke in his national capacity, underlining the importance of strengthening Haiti’s justice system. “No one can be above the law”, he stressed, adding that it is critical corrupt officials — or any others — be held accountable for their actions. The Haitian National Police must remain apolitical, and the authorities — along with the international community — must all protect human rights, he emphasized.
Also speaking today were representatives of France, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Peru, Côte d’Ivoire, United Kingdom, China, Poland, Sweden, Kuwait, Russian Federation and Ethiopia.
The meeting started at 9:50 a.m. and ended at 11:30 a.m.
BINTOU KEITA, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, presented the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2018/795), which reviews the work of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) with the Government, the United Nations country team and external partners as the country prepares for the transition to a non-peacekeeping United Nations presence, beginning no sooner than 15 October 2019. The report presented 11 benchmarks to the Council, with 46 distinct indicators of progress on implementation of necessary measures to be taken. Several challenges remain and dedicated intervention to spur progress is required for all targets to be achieved by October 2019. Constant efforts must be undertaken to ensure that the development plan of the Haitian National Police is fully implemented. The rate of police officers per 1,000 citizens has slightly dropped to 1.32 for several reasons, including resignations.
The United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti has elaborated a political strategy towards building momentum and strengthening political buy-in from Haitian stakeholders, she continued. It presents a concrete course of action within a clear timeline while also supporting efforts by the Haitian authorities to achieve key targets under the benchmarks and working in close cooperation with other international partners. Progress on several benchmarks hinges on the adoption and promulgation of key rule of law legislation.
However, she went on to say, armed gangs continue to post a threat to security and are looking to expand their control through pressure to influence elections. The 2017-2022 Plan enables the transfer of responsibility to national police, but some gaps must be closed, such as a lack of financial resources for the implementation of the plan. Given recent protests against the planned increase of prices in fuel products, the situation on the ground must be monitored very carefully. The authorities must address the root causes of the socioeconomic situation.
Time is of the essence to make concrete progress on MINUJUSTH’s mandate implementation through the 11 benchmarks acknowledged by the Council, she stressed. The Mission, the country team, the Government and other partners will need to redouble efforts to make up for the time lost because of the challenges that emerged from the 6-8 July events, given the time-bound nature of the mandate and the transition process. These must be addressed by a fully-functioning Government, the forthcoming installation of which presents an invaluable opportunity to reset the dynamics among national actors, reinvigorate the national sector-based dialogue, and catalyse the devising and adoption of a new governance and stability pact. She voiced her hope that the Security Council and the Friends of Haiti will continue to provide strong support.
LEONA ROMEO-MARLIN, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, speaking on behalf of the Netherlands, highlighted the strong ties between her nation and Haiti, with thousands of Haitians living on her island country. As well, both countries are subject to the effects of natural hazards and climate change, including the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma one year ago. Turning to the two-year exit strategy of United Nations non-peacekeeping presence in Haiti, she stressed that the rule of law must be at the core of all efforts. Haiti has made significant progress in the recent past, but more remains to be done. She called on the Government to continue institutional reform and improve respect for human rights.
“That means an increased engagement of the Government with MINUJUSTH” and an enhanced focus on judicial reform, she continued. The Haiti Parliament needs to swiftly adopt both the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. The recent outbreak of violence is a reminder that the country is still fragile. While calling on the Haitian National Police to improve its capacity to address conflicts and to build the people’s trust in it, she also commended the growing number of women being recruited and the establishment of a specialized office for sexual violence crimes. As Haiti moves towards peace, justice and development, she emphasized it should take full advantage of MINUJUSTH and the United Nations country team until the full transition is completed.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France), noting that MINUJUSTH has been carrying out remarkable work in a still-fragile nation, underlined the importance of building the capacity of the Haitian National Police as part of the Mission’s ultimate exit strategy. That police force continues to face volatile criminal gangs in several parts of the country, she said, stressing that to ensure their long-term resilience the Haitian authorities must avoid any politicization of the National Police, ensure its neutrality and carry out recruitment based solely on merit. A State based on the rule of law, where all actors can prosper equally, must be built. Also calling for efforts to prosecute all those who commit crimes in Haiti and to hold them to full account, she added the ensuring respect for human rights is a sine qua non for the establishment of a stable and resilient State. She urged that the Haitian authorities appoint a high-level official responsible for human rights matters and to set up a transitional justice mechanism, among other priority issues.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) expressed concern over the deadly street protests in July, which resulted from increasing fuel prices in Haiti, and called on the country’s authorities to consider the abolition of subsidies for fuel products. Hailing the recent work of Haiti’s legislature, including the creation of a fund for persons with disabilities and the establishment of a national council for legal assistance, he said those actions represent an attempt to build a more inclusive society. He also praised efforts by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners to reduce the number of cholera cases in the country, as well as efforts by MINUJUSTH, the Haitian National Police and civil society leaders, who are all working in tandem to help uphold the law, promote human rights and strengthen State institutions.
KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan), commending MINUJUSTH’s launching of several important initiatives to support the rule of law, strengthen the Haitian National Police and protect human rights, said some key issues are yet to be addressed in a number of priority areas. Those include the fight against cholera, the severe overcrowding of prisons and embarking on anti-corruption measures. Other areas in need of attention include improving Haiti’s socioeconomic situation. The events that took place in July underscore the importance of building broad-based political support to implement key economic reforms, he said, noting that, against that backdrop, joint efforts of the international community will be essential to consolidating stability gains and establishing long-term stability. He also encouraged stronger cooperation between such regional organizations as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as with the United Nations system.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) highlighted the importance of the benchmarks and indicators, noting that more is needed for the transition of security responsibilities to national authorities to be effective. However, the July protests demonstrated how volatile the security situation was as the events led to the resignation of the Prime Minister. Haiti must fast-track the implementation of rule of law measures, including the enactment of a criminal code. He also expressed concern about increased gang violence, as well as human rights violations by law enforcement officers. Voicing hope that Haiti ratifies the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, he underscored that “Haiti needs to redouble efforts to achieve benchmarks.”
Mr. IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) condemned the clashes between protesters and security forces that resulted in several civilian deaths. Emphasizing his concern regarding the political situation, he expressed hope that the appointment of a new Prime Minister, yet to be approved, will lead to Haiti’s stability. Combating corruption and overcoming political differences is essential, prior to the legislative elections in October 2019. In addition, to improve the economic situation, Haiti must take necessary steps to create trust for investors. The success of the Mission’s exit strategy requires cooperation among all stakeholders. The Haitian authorities must increase national police capacity and improve accountability for human rights abuses.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia) said that July’s events revealed the links between a lack of economic development and a lack of stability, as well as the failure of the “structural adjustment recipes” put in place in Haiti by the international community. Noting some positive progress, she called for full respect for the country’s sovereignty and its creation of a new and inclusive Government. The international community and donors must provide support to consolidate Haiti’s humanitarian response plan, she underscored, adding her support for the Secretary-General’s plan to combat cholera in the country. Member States must now help implement that plan while also supporting the establishment of a strong national health system. Commending MINUJUSTH’s community-building activities — which has proven useful in reducing crime and complements the work of the Haitian National Police — as well as its efforts to confront sexual exploitation and abuse, she encouraged the Mission to continue such work in strict compliance with the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy/
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom), welcoming the circulation of a list of specific benchmarks for MINUJUSTH’s work, hailed the Mission’s joint planning with the country team and other partners. Echoing many of the points raised by other speakers regarding the Mission’s progress, he nevertheless said the events in July showed how fragile the situation in Haiti remains. Encouraging MINUJUSTH to continue to monitor in the coming months such issues as gang violence, he also asked, in conjunction with the Haitian Government, that it work towards the signing of a stability pact. The continued uneven progress on some critical benchmarks is concerning, he said, pointing out that there are fewer than 12 months remaining until MINUJUSTH’s planned withdrawal. Government authorities and Mission leaders, along with the United Nations country team, must be clear about their respective responsibilities in the lead up to the transition.
ZHANG DIANBIN (China) agreed that recent events reveal the need to address Haiti’s fragilities and continue to improve its economy in order to create more favourable conditions for its people. He also expressed hope that MINUJUSTH will enhance its efforts to support the Haitian National Police and other national institutions to build lasting security and stability.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), noting that the violent events in early July reflect the ongoing volatility in Haiti, said it was extremely important to build broad political support to implement key economic reforms. Such reforms are basic prerequisites for the long-term stability of the country. Noting the appointment of the new Prime Minister, she said she looked forward to the formation of a Government that will continue to lead Haiti towards the consolidation of peace and stability. Stressing that Haitian institutions still need the support of the international community, she also welcomed the benchmarked exit strategy and stressed that the Mission was a crucial actor in that process.
CARL ORRENIUS SKAU (Sweden), commending Haiti for the progress made in its consolidation of democracy and stability, said that the priorities set out by President Jovenel Moise are well-aligned with the mandate of the Mission. Further, the Mission was one of the first to transition from traditional peacekeeping in the era of sustaining peace. A continuously successful transition was important not only to Haiti but also to the wider United Nations system in demonstrating its capacity to help stabilize a country emerging from internal strife. He also stressed the importance of paying attention to gender aspects in policies and strategic development, expressing concern about the findings on the capacities of the Mission and the country team to work on gender issues were limited.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) outlined a vision to carry out political reforms, form a new Government, combat corruption and grow the economy. He welcomed the appointment of the new Prime Minister, voicing hope that new measures be implemented. However, despite an improved security situation and a decrease in documented crimes, the Haitian authorities must take required measures to increase the capacity of national police in line with the benchmarks set for the exit of the Mission. The humanitarian situation remains fragile, but could be improved by such measures as implementing the Organization’s new approach to cholera, assisting national institutions in preparing for hurricanes and increasing engagement in human rights awareness programmes.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) voiced alarm over the mass protest in July and the divergence between the legislative and executive branches of the country. Such divergence has undermined prospects for peacebuilding. Over a million people need food assistance, but only less than half received it. This situation will in no way contribute to the withdrawal of the Mission. Furthermore, the plan for a gradual transfer of security responsibilities is meeting a challenge because of the proliferation of armed gangs. He stressed the importance of smooth coordination among the country’s legislative, executive and judiciary branches. He also drew attention to acts of sexual nature committed by non-governmental organizations associated with the United Nations. Such acts should not be tolerated.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) agreed with the Secretary-General on the need to find a consensual solution to the socioeconomic difficulties that Haiti continued to face. She encouraged the Government to continue to make progress towards the adoption of the governance pact to support the implementation of agreed political, economic and social objectives to enhance the confidence of the Haitian public in its institutions. Highlighting the role of the Mission as well as the international community, she added that much remained to be done to ensure a smooth and effective transition to a non-peacekeeping presence in Haiti in the coming year.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States), Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, noting that “this past July represented a critical test for both the Haitian National Police and MINUJUSTH”. Among other things, their joint work prevented a dangerous prison break in downtown Port-au-Prince. The hard-won gains must be protected. No one can be above the law and it is critical that corrupt officials — or any others — are held accountable for their actions. The Haitian National Police must remain apolitical, and the authorities — along with the international community — must all protect human rights. He looked forward to the security transition from MINUJUSTH to the Haitian authorities by the end of 2019, and to the Mission’s planned exit at that time, he said.
DENIS REGIS (Haiti) said that after the July protests in Port-au-Prince — expressions of public frustration that were perfectly understandable given the circumstances — the crisis was quickly overcome. The nation promptly regained its composure and State authority and civil peace have been fully restored, demonstrating the maturity of Haiti’s national institutions. The Government is working to build its long-term stability, including through institution-building and the organization of legislative elections in October 2019. Voicing his support for the calls that short-term measures to meet the immediate needs of the Haitian people be adopted, he emphasized that official development assistance (ODA) must be a critical component of the country’s structural adjustment programme. Security, development and human rights are closely linked and upgrading the standard of living of the most vulnerable Haitians, therefore, is a sine qua non for national stability.
Turning to achievement and delays in meeting Haiti’s various benchmarks, he said that despite the events in July, national authorities are working hard to build institutions and meet its targets on time. Citing some progress, he spotlighted a clear drop in Haiti’s violent crime rate, 25 per cent fewer cases in “mob justice”, progress made towards the adoption of a new penal code, increases in the number of women in the national police force and stronger anti-corruption activities. “Social stability is on the right track,” he said, pledging to make further improvements in critical areas. By appointing its new Prime Minister, Haiti committed to continuing its pursuit of critical reforms and tackling the longstanding challenges it still faces. The July protests should not obscure the hard-won gains made by the Haitian authorities and people, he stated, underlining the Government’s commitment to continue to pursue economic growth, sustainable development and the further reduction of poverty.