8502nd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Haiti

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03-Apr-2019 02:40:33
Ahead of support operation’s closure in Haiti, speakers in Security Council discuss best path to create stability, address urgent humanitarian needs at 8502nd meeting.

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As a United Nations justice support operation in Haiti prepares to end its mandate, the Security Council today discussed the best path forward over the next six months to foster stability and craft a new political mission amid political uncertainty and urgent humanitarian needs.

Reporting progress in some areas and volatility or stagnation in others, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, presented the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) (document S/2019/198), which contained a range of recommendations on how to best help Haiti. Outlining recent developments ahead of the planned closure of the mission in October and a possible transition to a special political mission, he said the security situation is fragile on the heels of violent demonstrations and the economy has gotten a boost from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan package. Yet, humanitarian needs remain concerning.

Going forward, the focus must be on reaching established benchmarks in the Mission mandate, including strengthening national institutions, particularly the police force, given concerns about reports of human rights violations. Looking ahead, he said a small strategic advisory office, as recommended in the Secretary-General’s report, would be sufficient to meet the country’s needs. Preparations will ready the Mission for its drawdown, he said, calling on the Council and countries in the region to boost cooperation with Haiti, including through bilateral support to address a variety of issues, such as stemming the spread of cholera and ensuring food security.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, provided a snapshot of the current situation, emphasizing that strengthening the bedrock of rule of law is a means to preventing further violations and enabling sustainable peace. Noting the critical role of civil society in the protection of human rights, she expressed concern that these organizations continue to be targeted by acts of intimidation.

“This must stop,” she said, calling on all stakeholders to work together to strengthen the human rights protection system in Haiti as the country stands at a crossroads. “We must continue building on [the progress], or risk losing it.” Pointing to the appointment of a human rights minister and the fight against extreme poverty, she urged Haitian authorities to seize the opportunity to ensure that needed leadership be provided to the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights.

Highlighting the urgent needs of women, Loune Viaud, Executive Director of Zanmi Lasante, one of Haiti’s largest non-governmental health‑care providers, said the Council could do more to ensure their full and meaningful participation in all aspects of parliamentary elections, including as candidates and voters, to change the current situation in which women are veritably absent in the halls of power. Indeed, much needs to change, from breaking the silence on gender-based violence to toppling barriers to achieving basic access to services, education and health care.

To help affect some of these changes, she said the Council should call on MINUJUSTH to build the capacity of local organizations to help provide high‑quality gender‑sensitive services for survivors of sexual violence. The Council should also ensure continued funding and Mission support to address the urgent humanitarian needs of women and girls, including in the wake of natural disasters.

During the discussion, delegates commended progress, called for greater efforts for national reconciliation and echoed concerns about gang violence, corruption, human rights violations and women’s limited role in the political arena.

Council members largely supported a smooth transition toward establishment of a special political mission, as proposed by the Secretary-General, with some offering suggestions on ways to proceed. Belgium’s representative said a Chapter VI mandate for the new mission is appropriate, underlining the importance of providing strategic advice.

The United Kingdom’s delegate welcomed the creation of a special political mission with human rights and women’s empowerment at the centre of its work. “If Haiti is to accelerate on its path to stability […] then human rights needs to come front and centre,” he said.

The representative of the Dominican Republic, explaining his country’s close relationship with Haiti, said “all doors should be left open” with regard to United Nations assistance. He favoured a political mission that provides support for the exploration of all mechanisms available, including how Haiti can access the Peacebuilding Fund, and underlined the importance of moving forward slowly given the current political climate.

Delegates from the wider United Nations membership agreed, with the Head of Delegation of the European Union sharing concerns about the Haitian National Police’s capacity to take full responsibility for security following the Mission’s departure, which is occurring at the same time as planned elections.

Meanwhile, Canada’s representative said reducing the United Nations presence must be gradual and carefully sequenced to minimize any negative impact and preserve hard-won gains since 2004. Aims that have not been achieved by MINUJUSTH should serve as a starting point for the special political mission.

Haiti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs reported on recent achievements, including the Government’s quota promoting the participation of women in public and political life, reducing community violence, improving security, justice and the rule of law, and preparing for the upcoming elections. Regarding the drawdown of MINUJUSTH, he noted that the progress made is allowing for a new presence in Haiti, one that is a not a peacekeeping mission. The new role of the United Nations must remain in line with the changing context of the country.

Also delivering statements were representatives of the United States, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Kuwait, South Africa, Indonesia, France, Poland, Russian Federation, Equatorial Guinea, China, Germany and Argentina.

The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 12:53 p.m.

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