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Haiti: Final Debate on MINUSTAH

Tomorrow (12 October), the Council will hold its final debate on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), as its mandate ends on 15 October, and it will be replaced the following day by a smaller successor mission, the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH). MINUJUSTH is mandated to assist the government of Haiti in strengthening rule of law institutions, reinforcing national police capacities, and engaging in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis. Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSTAH, Sandra Honoré, will brief the Council.

Special Representative Honoré will focus her briefing on the Secretary-General’s 5 October report on MINUSTAH, discussing the drawdown and replacement of that mission. According to the Secretary-General’s report, MINUSTAH has continued the implementation of its comprehensive withdrawal and of the joint MINUSTAH-UN Country Team transition plan to ensure a smooth transition of both assets and tasks to MINUJUSTH, the Haitian authorities, the Country Team and other partners, ahead of the mission’s 15 October closure. By tomorrow’s briefing, all of MINUSTAH’s military troops will have beene withdrawn. MINUSTAH has also reduced its police component with the withdrawal of four formed police units (FPUs), to reach MINUJUSTH’s authorised strength of seven FPUs with 980 police officers. The Secretary-General reported that the core mandated areas--including good offices, the rule of law, justice reforms, police development, and human rights--will be transitioned to MINUJUSTH, while UN support in the areas of governance will be handled by the Country Team.

Council members may be interested in hearing from Honoré how stakeholders have reacted to the transition plan and any concerns they may have raised in the course of these consultations. Honoré and others in MINUSTAH’s leadership team have consulted with the heads of State and Government on the transition process. They have further informed local authorities, political parties and civil society on how the UN’s presence in Haiti has been modified.

Council members are generally content with the progress Haiti has achieved recently. Several members will mostly likely express their ongoing support for the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in Haiti. However, while resolution 2350 authorising the closure of MINUSTAH and the establishment of MINUJUSTH was adopted unanimously, some members had concerns about the mandate of the new mission. China and Russia objected to the inclusion of a human rights mandate for MINUJUSTH and its establishment under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Bolivia also expressed reservations regarding invoking Chapter VII in the resolution, noting that this is not necessitated by the reality in the country. Russia has further maintained that some of the aspects of the MINUJUSTH mandate are not clear and would be difficult to implement.

There will most likely be some reflection on the legacy of MINUSTAH during the debate. On the one hand, the Secretary-General’s report notes that concrete progress has been made since MINUSTAH was established in 2004, when the country was in a profound state of instability and there was widespread political violence. Today, according to the Secretary-General, Haitians “enjoy a considerable degree of security and greater stability”, with a reduction in political violence and threats from armed gangs, a strengthened Haitian National Police, and progress in restoring and maintaining the rule of law. The Secretary-General further states that the mission’s support to elections has contributed to three peaceful presidential handovers, including from one democratically-elected President to another from the opposition in 2011, and to President Moïse in February of this year.

On the other hand, there will most likely be acknowledgement of the failings of MINUSTAH during the debate--including instances of sexual violence and the outbreak of cholera--and the importance of addressing these issues. On the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, there may be references to the appointment of a victims’ rights advocate by MINUSTAH; this advocate function will be transferred to MINUJUSTH. With regard to cholera, which has claimed over 9,600 lives since 2010 and was originally traced to UN peacekeepers, there will most likely be discussion during the debate of the UN’s New Approach to cholera in Haiti. In a 13 July resolution on the New Approach, the General Assembly welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to invite member states to voluntarily direct their share of the unencumbered balance and other income of MINUSTAH to the UN Haiti Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund. Council members may be interested in an update on the funding shortfall for the New Approach.

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