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UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow morning (10 April), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) for another year. MINUJUSTH was established on 16 October as a smaller successor mission to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Its core mandate consists of assisting the government in strengthening rule of law institutions, reinforcing national police capacities, and engaging in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis.

The US, the penholder on Haiti, circulated the draft resolution to the wider membership in late March, and the Council held one round of expert level negotiations on the draft a day later. After a request from one delegation for additional time, the draft was put under silence procedure last Monday (2 April), but Russia broke silence. The draft was finally put in blue last Thursday (5 April), although it seems that there were still differences.

In what appears to be a break from the usual practice, the Group of Friends of Haiti—which comprises Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Peru, the US and Uruguay—did not hold negotiations on the draft before it was circulated to Council members. Previously, outcomes on Haiti were usually negotiated among the members of the Group of Friends before circulation to the wider membership. This time, it seems that the penholder did not hold negotiations on the text within the Group of Friends but rather submitted the draft for comments only.

Overall, there seems to have been wide support among Council members for the extension of the mission’s mandate for one year as recommended by the Secretary-General in his latest report. However, there appears to have been substantial divergences among permanent members about certain aspects of the draft, which led to the adoption being postponed from 4 to 10 April.

The draft in blue indicates that the Council will be acting under Chapter VII in mandating MINUJUSTH. It seems that Russia wanted to maintain the same language used in resolution 2350 of April 2017—which authorised the establishment of MINUJUSTH—as that resolution restricted the applicability of Chapter VII to specific elements of the mandate. Negotiations over that resolution had also been difficult as Russia originally had questioned the need for a Chapter VII mandate for MINUJUSTH. This appears to be one of the main issues which compelled Russia to break silence. Russia has also been uncomfortable with the fact that the mission includes a human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis component under Chapter VII. However, it seems that no compromise was reached given that the draft in blue is under Chapter VII and calls on the mission to “engage in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis”.

The draft resolution seeks to extend the mandate of MINUJUSTH for another year in its current configuration, which comprises seven formed police units (FPU) and 295 individual police officers. However, the draft calls for a gradual drawdown to five FPU between 15 October 2018 and 15 April 2019, contingent on the security situation on the ground. This is also consistent with resolution 2350, which provided for a downward adjustment of FPU consistent with the growth of the capacity of the Haitian National Police to carry out its tasks.

The draft resolution outlines comprehensive reporting requirements regarding the implementation of the resolution. It calls on the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months, beginning with a 1 June report. For this report, the Secretary-General is requested to develop, in partnership with the government and the UN Country Team (UNCT), specific dates and indicators for achieving benchmarks with the aim of transitioning responsibilities to the government, in coordination with the UNCT. The draft requests that the Secretary-General’s reports to the Council include progress against the delivery of the indicators, milestones, and targets for reaching the benchmarks. It further calls on the Secretary-General to conduct a strategic assessment mission to Haiti by February 2019 and to present recommendations to the Council on the future UN presence in Haiti in his last report due by 1 March 2019.

The initial draft apparently contained more reporting requirements for the Secretariat, such as the submission of a draft transition plan for the drawdown of MINUJUSTH, as well as a final transition plan for the mission’s drawdown. However, some delegations seemed to have been concerned that burdensome reporting requirements might impede the ability of the mission to carry out its mandate, and these requests were removed from the final draft.

Debate on Haiti

Ahead of the adoption tomorrow morning, the Council held a debate on Haiti on 3 April, with a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix. He presented to the Council the main findings from the report (S/2018/241) on the latest strategic assessment of MINUJUSTH, which also included the 11 benchmarks for the exit strategy and a transition to a non-peacekeeping UN presence in Haiti. The benchmarks describe a preferred end state for the situation in Haiti in the last quarter of 2019, which would enable a smooth transition to the UNCT.

Lacroix recognised that the benchmarks for an exit strategy represent an ambitious but also flexible framework “based on the criteria under which the current UN configuration can confidently be transformed into a non-peacekeeping presence in the country”. To this end, he told the Council that the UN, in consultation with the government, has already started developing a strategy for a transition to a non-peacekeeping presence.

In their statements, most Council members recognised the progress made over the past several years. However, there was also an emphasis on the importance of reforming the justice sector, strengthening the rule of law, and improving human rights.

Tomorrow Russia in particular might use its explanation of vote to raise its concerns regarding certain aspects of the mandate, as it did during the adoption of resolution 2350 last April.

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