‘Adjusted’ Mandate for United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti Proposed as Special Representative Presents Latest Report to Security Council
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7147th Meeting (AM)
‘Adjusted’ Mandate for United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti Proposed
as Special Representative Presents Latest Report to Security Council
Consideration of a more tailored mandate for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) 10 years since its launch and a lighter United Nations footprint overall were among the central themes discussed in the Security Council today.
Before the Council was the Secretary-General’s latest report on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which outlines recent progress and proposes a full-scale, United Nations-wide strategic assessment to provide an updated, in-depth look at conditions on the ground in relation to five possible options for reconfiguring the Mission.
Presenting the report, Sandra Honoré, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSTAH, said that on the basis of an initial review, the Secretary-General had identified several broad options, including the establishment of a special political mission alongside a smaller, more focused peacekeeping operation and no military presence; the possible increase in the United Nations police presence countrywide; and an adjustment of the Mission’s current mandate in order to align it with progress towards completing the National Consolidation Plan.
Declaring that Haiti was at a turning point, she noted that MINUSTAH was on target to reduce its uniformed strength by 15 per cent and reach its mandated strength of 5,021 troops by the end of June. The Secretary-General intended to explore the best way for the Organization to contribute greater stability and development in Haiti beyond 2016.
Concerning development of the Haitian National Police — a key component of any future strategy — she said that MINUSTAH, together with international partners, continued to offer support with the aim of graduating 15,000 active police officers by 2016, up from the current strength of 11,228. Professionalizing the national police was vital to enduring stability, she said, emphasizing the importance of complementing that by improving the rule of law, notably in the justice and corrections sectors.
She said the recent signing of a new agreement between the executive and legislative branches of government and a new inter-Haitian dialogue were important steps towards the successful holding of elections later this year. National political leaders should adhere to the newly-signed agreement and consolidate democratic stabilization so as to create the conditions necessary for durable socioeconomic development.
There was broad agreement during the ensuing debate that the Mission should not “remain there forever”. Argentina’s representative noted that it was in place to help stabilize Haiti, with the goal of a gradual, though not premature, withdrawal “when the time is right”.
Reviewing current aspects of the situation, speakers noted the continuing food insecurity and increased child malnutrition in Haiti, exacerbated by drought in the north. Of great concern were long-overdue local, municipal and partial senatorial elections, many of them said.
While speakers noted the considerable progress made towards stabilizing Haiti since the Mission’s full deployment in 2004 and agreed that it was time to consider an adjusted mandate, many cautioned that a “careful calibration” was needed to address the situation on the ground. Haiti remained fragile in many areas, they agreed, emphasizing that the gains made must be preserved.
Brazil’s representative focused on the complexity of challenges, citing insecurity, the cholera epidemic and social and economic sluggishness. Warning against any “abrupt interruption” of support provided by the peacekeeping presence, he said that his country, a long-time contributor to MINUSTAH, favoured maintaining a military capability to support the national police, including under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. It would also be important to preserve the Mission’s Latin American and Caribbean profile during any reconfiguration.
Haiti’s representative said everyone recognized MINUSTAH’s “incontestable” success in priority areas, but stressed the importance of bearing in mind the scope of the remaining work and the size of the challenges to which the country must still respond. The time had come to take stock of the past decade and, as MINUSTAH neared the end of its mandate, to “consider or reconsider” its future, he said. Any reconfiguration must take “the imperatives of the hour” into account and reflect Haiti’s specific needs at the current stage of its development. Now that it had moved past its democratic transition, new priorities that would sustain democracy, the rule of law and security, as well as economic and social development, must be identified.
Also delivering statements today were representatives of the United States, Chad, China, Russian Federation, France, United Kingdom, Jordan, Lithuania, Australia, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Chile, Nigeria, Luxembourg, Jamaica, Spain, Guatemala, European Union Delegation, Colombia, Uruguay (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti), Mexico, Canada, Peru and Japan.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 1:25 p.m.
Meeting this morning to consider the question concerning Haiti, members had before them the latest report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations mission in that country (document S/2014/162).
SANDRA HONORÉ, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), said that since her last briefing, in August 2013, the overall security situation had remained relatively stable, with decreases in major crimes, including homicides and kidnappings, by 21 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively. The first half of the reporting period had seen a 57 per cent increase in demonstrations, particularly in urban areas, most of which had been peaceful and triggered largely by socioeconomic grievances. The Haitian National Police had been “put to a severe test”, and had received operational support from MINUSTAH, she said, describing effective performance by the national police as a critical stabilization benchmark.
Regarding the political situation, she commended national leaders for having chosen the path of dialogue and reached agreement to hold elections in 2014. The accord had been the result of an unprecedented step in national political history, an inter-Haitian dialogue that had resulted in the formal signing on 14 March of an agreement between the executive and legislative branches of government and political parties. The accord stipulated that local, municipal and senatorial would be held in 2014, she said. Also pursuant to the agreement were key provisions to be implemented within a 10-day period, including amendment of the electoral law; replacement of up to one member of the Electoral Council by each of the three State powers; and a Cabinet reshuffle. Several signatories to the accord had reservations about certain terms, which signalled the likelihood of further negotiations to facilitate implementation. The long-awaited adoption and promulgation of electoral laws in December 2013, alongside the 14 March accord, had prepared the path for inclusive and transparent elections — necessary for the continuous functioning of Parliament. Implementation was now of critical importance.
There was reason for cautious optimism and renewed hope given the 2013 economic growth rate of 4 per cent, she said, adding that it provided a building block for more sustainable and equitable development. Post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation continued, and people living in temporary camps now numbered 146,573. That notwithstanding, it was a “humanitarian imperative” that the Government follow through on its commitment to ensure the orderly closure of the camps and find solutions for those living in adverse conditions or facing eviction. It was also a matter of concern that 600,000 Haitians still faced severe food insecurity, and that the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children had risen from 5.1 per cent in 2012 to 6.5 per cent in 2013.
While the number of suspected cholera cases had been significantly reduced, from 352,033 cases in 2011 to 58,608 cases in 2013, more must be done since Haiti had the world’s highest number of cholera cases, she said. Delivering and sustaining better health required an urgent, scaled-up effort. United Nations entities in the country had developed a two-year, $68-million initiative to support the Government’s 10-year national plan to eliminate cholera, she noted, adding that the Organization and the Government were finalizing a high-level committee to oversee coordination of the anti-cholera response.
In accordance with Security Council resolution 2119 (2013), MINUSTAH was on target to reduce its uniformed strength by 15 per cent and reach a mandated strength of 5,021 troops by the end of June 2014, she said. The report identified five broad options based on an initial review: designating a special envoy to deliver political good offices; establishing a special political mission and a smaller, more focused peacekeeping mission without a military presence; the possible increase of the United Nations police presence countrywide; establishing a smaller, more focused peacekeeping mission with United Nations police and a small military presence; and adjusting MINUSTAH’s current mandate to reflect the reduced scope of activities achieved through completion of the Consolidation Plan.
In parallel with that process, a revision of the 2013-2016 United Nations Integrated Strategic Framework for Haiti was envisaged, she continued. In coordination with the Government and the donor community, it would identify priority areas for the United Nations country team’s strategic engagement as the Mission consolidated. It was important, meanwhile, that the Government and MINUSTAH continue to work on multiple fronts to attain the stabilization benchmarks. Concerning the development of the national police, she said the Mission and international partners continued to support the Government and police, with the aim of ensuring there were at least 15,000 active police officers by 2016, compared to the current strength of 11,228. Further development of the police was vital to enduring stability, she said, emphasizing that its progress should be complemented by improvements in the rule of law, notably in the justice and corrections sectors. With Haiti at a turning point, it was in the interest of Haiti’s political leaders to consolidate democratic stabilization, thereby creating the conditions necessary for durable socioeconomic development, she said in conclusion.
SAMANTHA POWER (United States) welcomed the expansion of the Haitian National Police, noting its growing capacity to take responsibility for security. Haiti and its partners must also prioritize development of judiciary and oversight mechanisms. Noting the gains made since August, which had culminated in the signing of the El Rancho agreement, she urged leaders to amend the electoral law and establish an electoral council so that free, fair and inclusive elections could be organized in 2014. Concurring that an accelerated transition to a newly configured United Nations mission could be considered, she called for a strategic assessment, including of election requirements, to determine its structure, stressing that the Council must ensure that MINUSTAH’s size and structure reflected Haiti’s evolving circumstances. Its patrols should be conducted with the national police, not independent of them, she added.
MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) said stabilization was only possible with Haitians involvement. There had been progress in the national dialogue launched in January and consensus on the holding of free, transparent elections, for which technical support had been provided. MINUSTAH had completed its mandate to strengthen the capacity of the Haitian National Police, he said, welcoming the inclusion of more women in the force. On the humanitarian front, he said regional dialogue was needed to address migration issues, and urged the international community to provide humanitarian assistance so as to help stabilize Haiti.
LIU JIEYI (China), citing the new electoral law and the ongoing national dialogue as signs of progress in Haiti’s political and security stabilization, noted that the national police force had improved and the situation in the five departments vacated by MINUSTAH remained stable. Yet tensions between the executive and legislative branches persisted. Improvement in the overall situation required measures by all stakeholders, he emphasized. The international community should provide assistance and actively facilitate electoral processes, he said, expressing hope that the parties would resolve their differences through dialogue. The international community should also take steps to honour its pledges and participate in Haiti’s reconstruction. Noting that the country had the world’s highest incidence of cholera, he welcomed the appointment of the Senior Coordinator for Cholera Response, for which international support would be required. Going forward, MINUSTAH should promote strengthening of the rule of law and development of institutional capacity, he said.
VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said there had been progress in Haiti’s stabilization, despite tensions in 2013 between the executive and legislative branches. Compromises had been reached to normalize the political process and such gains could help move Haiti towards a resolution of the most acute issue: elections, which hopefully would take place in October, thereby helping to stabilize Government institutions and create conditions favourable to socioeconomic development. The security situation remained “rather calm”, amid a drop in crime and positive trends in the humanitarian sphere. MINUSTAH had helped to train the national police, and it should continue to develop law enforcement and strengthen law and order so as to ensure that the country could be stabilized by its own forces. The Russian Federation supported a holistic vision for MINUSTAH after 2016, he said, stressing that options should be discussed carefully, guided by in-depth analysis, the degree to which current trends continued, and the evolving need to retain its military component. The Government was responsible for determining how international assistance would be used, he said.
GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said that events since 2013 pointed to the normalization of the situation in Haiti. There had been a drop in crime and an increase in the number of police graduating each year. Progress had also been made in the humanitarian sphere, and included the return of refugees and lower numbers of people affected by food insecurity. Yet, rule-of-law institutions must improve their performance and become more accountable. Further, the political dialogue should lead to an inclusive agreement, he said, welcoming the 19 March protocol agreement and calling on all parties to implement the road map. Commending MINUSTAH’s efforts to eradicate cholera, he urged United Nations support for Government efforts. A future mission should maintain a significant police component, he said.
MICHAEL TATHAM (United Kingdom) said Haiti’s notable recent gains could be threatened by the lack of political progress towards convening elections. “These must be held,” he stressed, adding that dialogue among the executive, the legislature and all political parties was essential. There was need to create a path leading to a clear destination — the elections. The national police were more visible and proactive, he said, applauding advances in recruitment, training and operational responsibility. Nevertheless, accountability institutions remained weak and open to influence, and they must be strengthened, in tandem with judicial and prison reforms, he said. The future United Nations presence should have a more tailored mandate and a lighter footprint, he added.
MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan) said priorities in Haiti included improving the overall political climate and addressing continued delays in holding local, municipal and senatorial elections. The Government must also deal seriously with social and economic grievances as well as the weakness of basic institutions, which aggravated popular frustrations in a way that threatened the entire political process. Acknowledging the strategic assessment by the United Nations system, he expressed hope that the Secretary-General’s next report would include more detailed options and an in-depth assessment of the situation in the field. Any change in the United Nations presence in Haiti must occur only after full implementation of current mandates and verification of key achievements, he stressed.
RITA KAZRAGIENĖ (Lithuania) welcomed the progress made in implementing the MINUSTAH consolidation plan, which had shown tangible results in meeting police professionalization targets as national authorities assumed greater responsibility for establishing the rule of law. Lithuania wished to see local authorities assume more ownership of security and safety, and greater progress was needed to improve pre-trial detention conditions and resolve cases of illegal detention. She welcomed Haiti’s efforts to enhance gender equality, but pointed out that the prevalence of gender-based violence remained deeply troubling. The cholera situation was also concerning and additional efforts should be made to help the Government eliminate the disease. As progress continued, there would be a need to re-evaluate and shift the role of MINUSTAH from peacekeeping to supporting a Haitian-led political process.
MARIA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) welcomed the political will demonstrated by the holding of municipal and local elections in 2014, and the creation of the Ombudsperson last December, which was encouraging. However, persistent sexual and gender violence, as well as the response to it by the judicial police, was a matter of concern, she said, expressing hope that the international community would continue to help Haiti build the skills to investigate all cases. “This is not a new situation,” she said, underlining the shared need to train those within, or who would become part of, the police, justice and penitentiary systems. All public bodies required gender equality and a human rights focus, she said. In weighing options for MINUSTAH, she cautioned against jeopardizing the gains made through hasty decisions based on budgetary considerations, emphasizing the importance of strengthening Haiti’s institutional progress in the political and security context.
PHILIPPA JANE KING (Australia) welcomed the gains made in strengthening the Haitian National Police, urging the recruitment of more female cadets and commending the establishment of teams to tackle sexual and gender-based violence. Yet, progress was lagging in the rule-of-law sector, which could jeopardize progress in other areas. While Haiti had ratified key international human rights instruments, other challenges included food insecurity and increased child malnutrition, which had been exacerbated by drought in the north. It was also a matter of great concern that local, municipal and senatorial elections had not been held. Welcoming the new Electoral Act and the Political Parties Act, she said all political leaders must work towards consensus on holding elections in 2014. Australia was open to an accelerated transition of MINUSTAH to a new entity, carefully calibrated to the ground situation, and looked forward to the strategic assessment.
PAIK JI-AH (Republic of Korea) said he was encouraged by the recent agreement among political stakeholders to convene long-delayed elections this year. At the same time, it was crucial to address the growing impatience of Haitians. The Government must allay social and economic grievances and establish national institutions underpinned by strong political will, or risk its legitimacy, he said, emphasizing that political consensus was an indispensable ingredient for the success of the upcoming elections. He welcomed the continued professionalization of the national police, expressing hope that success would spread to other important initiatives. More effective coordination should be sought between MINUSTAH and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners, he said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s forward-looking approach to reconfiguring the Mission beyond 2016. The report provided a sound basis for review.
OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE (Rwanda) congratulated the parties on the adoption and promulgation of the Electoral Law, which had helped to de-escalate significant political tensions. The launch of the inter-Haitian dialogue was also welcome, and Rwanda encouraged all political actors to build on that historic achievement in the run-up to the elections. Owing to a strengthened police force, crime had declined, although worrying cases of rape continued to increase. The Government should put strategies in place to protect women and girls, he said, adding that the vast majority of rapes were never properly prosecuted owing to judicial weaknesses. Meanwhile, 90 per cent of the people displaced by the 2010 earthquake had left the camps and, with the support of international partners, all survivors would soon be settled, he noted.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), associating himself with the Friends of Haiti, said that more than 11,000 of his countrymen and countrywomen had contributed to peacekeeping and other tasks in Haiti, Chile having twice led MINISTAH. The Mission’s multidimensional nature had contributed positively to a relatively stable and safe environment, and it had responded to major challenges, such as the 2010 earthquake and Haiti’s constant exposure to natural catastrophes. The priority now was to improve the political context, paying special attention to the electoral process. He called upon all political actors to participate in the dialogue with an open spirit and mind, and upon the authorities to strengthen the rule of law, the justice sector and human rights protection.
USMAN SARKI (Nigeria) welcomed the promulgation of the electoral law and the launch of the national dialogue, urging the executive and legislative branches to now strengthen cooperation. Noting MINUSTAH’s support for the registration of new voters and the distribution of voter identity cards, he said the security situation was also relatively stable amid a drop in crime and improved performance by the national police force. On the humanitarian front, he noted that 90 per cent of the people displaced by the 2010 earthquake had left the camps. Concerning the five options for reconfiguring MINUSTAH, he said Nigeria looked forward to the United Nations-wide assessment. “MINUSTAH has done a splendid job in Haiti,” he said, adding that it had enabled the country to be where it was today following great misfortune.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), Council President, speaking in her national capacity, recalled that the intense protests of 2013 had testified to the discontent that Haitians had felt in the face of economic and social problems and persistent institutional obstacles. It was essential that elections, postponed for more than two years, take place, she emphasized, welcoming the promulgation of the Electoral Law. The 14 March agreement on the inter-Haitian dialogue had been an important step towards national dialogue. At the same time, Luxembourg was concerned about the situation of 146,000 displaced persons who had lived in camps since the 2010 earthquake. Particularly worrying was the plight of 100,000 children under the age of five years who continued to suffer malnutrition, she said, reiterating that Luxembourg would help Haiti surmount its difficult economic and social problems. On the human rights front, she welcomed the Appeals Court’s intention to investigate former President Jean-Claude Duvalier for crimes against humanity. She also welcomed the five options proposed by the Secretary-General for a post-2016 United Nations presence in Haiti, and expressed support for Haiti’s progressive ownership of MINUSTAH’s activities, notably concerning the national police.
DENIS RÉGIS (Haiti) said his Government had carefully considered the Secretary-General’s report, its objective description of the situation and the various options being considered for reconfiguring MINUSTAH. The report cited “grey areas” and raised concerns, especially in relation to the slow political process and the tensions between the executive and legislative branches which had delayed elections. The Secretary-General’s appeal that the polls be held in 2014 had been heard, and resonated deeply among political players in particular and Haitian society in general.
Indeed, there had been a major change on the political front with the signing of the key accord on 14 March, he said, adding that the horizon had cleared and the political obstacles previously hampering elections had disappeared. The accord expressly provided for the establishment of an open Government, flowing from free, fair and transparent elections. Other provisions covered governance, separation of powers, legal and institutional guarantees and settlement of all disputes hindering the elections. The polls would renew two thirds of the Senate, the entire Lower House and all municipal and other local bodies. The State had made a solemn commitment to take full responsibility for the elections and associated national institutions, he said, adding that MINUSTAH should use all available means to support that endeavour.
Noting that the report highlighted elements of “relative stability”, the speaker pointed in particular to the significant drop in the crime rate, particularly homicides. Undoubtedly, MINUSTAH’s operational support for the national police had contributed to that result. Haiti had also signed key international instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Arms Trade Treaty. Despite multiple constraints, Haiti’s economy had begun to rebound after decades of stagnation, he said. Major efforts had also been made on the social front, including programmes to reduce poverty, violence against women, marginalization and exclusion. The Mission’s support had helped to improve living conditions, and the Government was encouraged by the efforts of the United Nations to help implement the national 10-year plan to reduce cholera.
He said that 10 years after MINUSTAH’s establishment, everyone recognized its “incontestable” success in priority areas, although it was important not to lose sight of the scope of the remaining work, nor the size of the challenges to which Haiti must still respond. The time had come to take stock of the Mission’s actions over the past decade and, as the end of its mandate approached, to “consider or reconsider” its future. Any reconfiguration must take “the imperatives of the hour” into account and reflect Haiti’s specific needs at the current stage of its development. Now that the country had moved past its democratic transition, it was necessary to define new priorities that would sustain democracy, the rule of law and security, as well as economic and social development.
E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica) expressed concern over the increase of reported rape cases despite a downward trend in major crimes, including kidnapping. “For Jamaica, the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse within the Mission was of paramount importance” because such cases marred MINUSTAH’s image and caused a blemish on countless field personnel. Since the Mission’s deployment, the Haitian National Police had grown from 5,000 to 11,228, but there was a need for strong recruitment campaigns and unrelenting efforts to reach a strength of 15,000 by 2016, he said, calling for special emphasis on recruiting women and skilled personnel. The national economic growth of 4.3 per cent spoke to the resilience and determination of the Haitian people to overcome the many obstacles to social and economic development, he said, stressing, however, that Jamaica was mindful of existing constraints hindering growth, such as poor infrastructure and unstable electricity supply.
JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain) expressed hope that the elections would take place this year, and welcomed the efforts of the Madrid Club to promote dialogue on political reform. As for security, he welcomed the gains made in 2013 and emphasized that more support was needed to foster reform of the judiciary and penitentiary systems. He also welcomed the options on MINUSTAH’s future, saying that progressively reducing personnel would allow it to focus on civilians in emergency situations. That must take place alongside enhancement of the national police in order to allow Haiti to take ownership of responsibility for security. On the humanitarian front, Spain welcomed the reduction in the number of internally displaced persons and reaffirmed its commitment to support Haiti in the areas of clean water, rural development and the fight against malnutrition.
ANA CRISTINA RODRÍGUEZ PINEDA (Guatemala) said overcoming major challenges in Haiti would depend on the conduct of the municipal and local elections. Describing police reform as a yardstick of MINUSTAH’s performance, she said progress was needed in the legal and penal areas in order to consolidate the rule of law. The socioeconomic dimensions also required attention because instability would not be solved exclusively by military solutions, she said, stressing that the root causes of poverty, unemployment and other problems must be tackled. Urging the United Nations to maintain an adequate presence in Haiti through MINUSTAH and the country team, she stressed that current personnel levels must be maintained and measures that could jeopardize the elections avoided. It would be premature to discuss the suitability of the reconfiguration options presented, she said, adding that Guatemala would prefer to consider reconfiguration once the consolidation phase ended.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union Delegation, said his delegation had expressed its support for the inter-Haitian dialogue during the President of Haiti’s recent visit to Brussels. On other fronts, he welcomed the reduced numbers of displaced persons, but pointed out that many of them lacked access to basic services. The European Union was also concerned about forced evictions, he said, stressing that the authorities must ensure that people’s rights were respected. Appalled by the number of children suffering from malnutrition, he declared: “This is a national tragedy that should mobilize all the political forces in Haiti.” He said that he supported the Haitian Government’s gradual assumption of MINUSTAH’s competencies, while noting the limited progress made in judiciary and penitentiary reform.
MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Haiti, said the promulgation of the Electoral Law and inter-Haitian dialogue among the various political parties were very encouraging signs, but they required the firm support of the international community, particularly MINUSTAH. Haiti still faced many challenges, and Colombia commended the Mission for its invaluable efforts to sustain the well-being of its people. Haiti had helped Colombia achieve its own independence, and now its police were fighting the global scourge of drugs, extortion and kidnapping. Colombia had carried out training with the aim of strengthening women’s role in peacekeeping, and it had supported the efforts of Haitians in coffee production, food security, nutrition, housing construction, transportation and neighbourhood restoration. Securing Haiti’s stability and ensuring more dignified conditions for its people must be a top priority for the international community. While it was true that MINUSTAH’s mandate could not be extended indefinitely, the progress made should not be put at risk, she emphasized, saying the country favoured a progressive drawdown, given the still-significant institutional and security gaps prevailing in Haiti.
CRISTINA CARRION (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, said that strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions, establishing a political culture conducive to democratic stability and improving socioeconomic conditions were the keys to greater and more sustainable stability and prosperity in Haiti. All political actors were strongly encouraged to deepen dialogue and cooperation towards their country’s democratic consolidation. It was important to hold free and fair legislative, municipal and local elections this year as an essential and urgent step towards lasting stability, recovery and development. The El Rancho agreement marked an important milestone in a Haitian-led process and represented the will of national political stakeholders to move forward with election planning. “This momentum must not be lost,” she emphasized, urging political leaders to act promptly in fulfilling their agreement relating to the Electoral Law, the Provisional Electoral Council and the electoral calendar.
She went on to say that despite an increase in civil unrest during the first part of the reporting period, the overall security situation had remained relatively stable, allowing MINUSTAH to implement the mandated drawdown without undermining security and stability. Acknowledging the progress made on the Mission’s Consolidation Plan 2013-2016, aimed at helping the Haitian authorities assume full responsibility for their country’s security, she said the five options presented in the Secretary-General’s report were a basis for future discussions on how best to undertake the political and peacekeeping work of the United Nations. The Group of Friends welcomed the Organization’s two-year plan to support the 10-year National Plan for the Elimination of Cholera, as well as the appointment of the Secretary-General’s Senior Coordinator for the cholera response.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) said that the Secretary-General’s report opened the way for discussion of the post-2016 United Nations presence in Haiti, while serving as a reminder of the ongoing challenges, such as those relating to security, the cholera epidemic, and social and economic prospects. Haiti had come a long way on the path of stability, and had made progress in humanitarian terms, particularly in relation to displaced persons. Recent economic gains had bred confidence, and the so-called El Rancho agreement provided a vital opportunity to “break with old patterns and practices” that had impeded progress. Political dialogue should, in the short-term, lead to the swift implementation of concrete commitments and allow the normalization of democratic life with the holding of elections later in 2014, he said.
That complex picture should inform discussions on the best strategy vis-à-vis MINUSTAH’s contribution, he continued. The Mission must continue to pursue its comprehensive approach to stability, he said, noting that departments vacated by MINUSTAH’s troops remained stable. Clearly, the well-calibrated, responsible, progressive and situational approach was best suited to consolidating gains, he said, warning that the Council should not sacrifice hard-earned security and stability at the risk of paying a higher price in the medium term. Neither should it pursue new missions at the expense, and to the detriment, of active ones. “No abrupt interruption of the support provided by a peacekeeping presence is advisable,” he said, adding that Brazil favoured options that would maintain a military capability to support the Haitian National Police under Chapter VII. It would also be important to preserve fully the Mission’s Latin American and Caribbean profile during the transfiguration process.
JORGE MONTAÑO (Mexico) said it was clear that a strategy focused on security, development and human rights had been a determining factor in re-establishing security. A peaceful passage of power, as a result of elections, would be a significant step towards strengthening democratic national life. Mexico had offered technical assistance and would launch an electoral project with the Haitian authorities in the coming months. Expressing concern at the high incidence of cholera, which had already taken 8,500 lives, he said efforts to combat the disease must be incorporated into broader efforts to address poverty and development challenges. The Haitian authorities should take on greater responsibility for professionalizing the national police, he said, adding that Mexico also supported a gradual, planned focus on reconfiguring MINUSTAH, since an abrupt withdrawal could lead to renewed crisis and greater political instability.
GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI (Canada) said that his country had shared a unique partnership with Haiti for decades, including providing more than $1.4 billion in development and humanitarian assistance. Canada welcomed Haiti’s focus on economic development, including trade and investment, as well as the Government’s emphasis on modernizing the business environment to facilitate foreign investment. Canada encouraged efforts to promote transparent governance, economic development and sustainable job creation. For Haiti to succeed on the path towards development, institutional accountability and political stability were necessary. Canada noted with concern that the long overdue senatorial, municipal and local elections still had not taken place. It was also important to improve human rights protections in Haiti. Of particular concern were the prolonged pre-trial detentions and deplorable conditions experienced by many prisoners held in Haitian jails.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said his country was committed to strengthening the security, stability and institutional capacity in Haiti, citing a military contingent of 372 troops, including women, and military officials who were part of MINUSTAH staff. While recognizing progress in carrying out elections, he voiced concern that another postponement could cause further instability and he reiterated the call to all Haitian political forces to reach the agreements necessary to hold polls in a timely fashion. The security situation was stable, but he had taken note of the increase in demonstrations linked to political tensions and the lack of basic services. He welcomed the application of the Haitian National Police’s five-year plan, saying the time had come to initiate a gradual transition for MINUSTAH. But any reduction of personnel or change in the Mission’s nature should take place after the ground situation had been analyzed, and he welcomed the Secretary-General’s plan to carry out a strategic assessment.
JUN YAMAZAKI (Japan) noted that about 2,200 Japanese self-defense personnel served as part of an engineering unit until December 2012. Their activities had contributed to clearing away rubble and debris, constructing facilities, and transporting supplies in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. At the time of their withdrawal, they had donated engineering equipment to the Government of Haiti and prefabricated houses to the Mission. Japan disbursed more than $150 million since 2010 for the reconstruction of Haiti, focusing on assistance to restoring and establishing basic services in health, hygiene and education. In addition, on 7 March, Japan agreed to provide about $6.8 million for a water supply facilities reconstruction project in Leogane, as well as about $7 million for a hospital reconstruction project in Jacmel. On 11 March, Japan had signed a document with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide about $2.5 million for a cholera-prevention project. It had also decided to contribute about $3 million to support underprivileged farmers. This year had been designated as the Japan-CARICOM Friendship Year, and Japan would never forget the solidarity shown by Haiti in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
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