posted on Thu 22 Jun 2017 10:39 AM
Council to Begin Visiting Mission to Haiti

The Security Council departed this morning for a three-day visiting mission (22-24 June) to Haiti, where the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is currently drawing down. In October it will be replaced by a smaller successor mission, the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), which is intended to draw down in turn in two years, ending a peacekeeping presence in Haiti that began in 2004.

According to the terms of reference, the objectives of the visit, which is being led by Bolivia, are threefold. First, the Council seeks to reaffirm its support for the government and people of Haiti to strengthen their country and institutions in order to contribute to Haiti’s stability and development. Second, the visiting mission will conduct a review of the implementation of resolution 2350 of 13 April, focusing on the successful closure of MINUSTAH and the smooth transition between MINUSTAH and MINUJUSTH, including the orderly and progressive withdrawal of the military component and drawdown of the police component. Third, the mission seeks to identify the necessary requirements for the successful implementation of MINUJUSTH’s mandate.

Throughout the visiting mission, Council members will hold meetings with key stakeholders. Early in the visit, Council members will meet with the senior leadership of MINUSTAH, during which Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSTAH Sandra Honoré will brief on the political situation and give an update on the overall planning for the transition to MINUJUSTH. It is anticipated that Deputy Special Representative for the Rule of Law Susan Page and MINUSTAH Police Commissioner Georges-Pierre Monchotte will address the Council on rule of law issues and on policing challenges in Haiti. Drawdown planning is expected to be a key topic of the discussion with MINUSTAH leadership.

President Jovenel Moïse, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant, and various members of cabinet are among the Haitian government officials with whom the Council are expected to meet. The Council is also scheduled to hold a separate meeting with various members of parliament, including the President of National Assembly and Senate and the President of the Chamber of Deputies. Council members are expecting a presentation on legislative initiatives and challenges on justice, public security, and human rights issues. A presentation on constitutional issues by commission heads of both chambers of parliament is anticipated. The Council is also expected to receive a briefing on legislative initiatives and challenges in the field of women rights and gender equity. This is an area of serious concern to some Council members, as there is a very low representation of women in public decision-making despite a constitutional requirement of 30 percent minimum representation of women in public office. Haiti’s only female senator, Dieudonne Luma Etienne, will be among the parliamentarians meeting the Council.

A meeting with the UN Country Team in Haiti is on the agenda. Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative El-Mostafa Benlamlih will provide an overview of the socio-economic situation. Development and humanitarian agencies will engage with Council members. The World Food Programme (WFP) is expected to give an overview on food security and nutrition; UNDP will most likely brief on the rule of law and the environment; and UN Women is expected to address the empowerment of women and youth. Representatives of various other UN agencies will also be present and be available to engage in discussion with Council members.

The UN Children’s Fund is expected to brief on cholera, water, sanitation and hygiene, and basic services. The issue of cholera is likely to be a recurring theme during the visit. In 2010, a deadly strain of cholera was brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers and spread as a result of inappropriate waste management. Over 9,000 Haitians have died from the disease, while 800,000 more have been sickened by it. On 25 November 2016, then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon submitted a report to the General Assembly that provided more details on the UN’s new approach to cholera in Haiti. The new approach entails the UN working along two tracks. The first one involves intensifying the UN’s support for efforts aimed at reducing and ultimately ending the transmission of cholera, improving access to care and treatment, and addressing the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems in Haiti. The second one involves developing a package of material assistance and support to Haitians most directly affected by cholera, drawing on contributions from member states. It has been estimated that the implementation of the two tracks over a two-year period would cost $400 million; by late April only $17.7 million had been mobilised. Council members may be interested in hearing about developments on the implementation of the plan. On 20 June, Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Josette Sheeran, a former Executive Director of the WFP, as his Special Envoy for Haiti. She will be tasked with implementing the UN’s efforts to lessen the effects of cholera in the country and assisting Haiti’s efforts to carry out its 2030 sustainable growth and implementation plan.

The Council plans to visit the National Police School. The Director General of the Haitian National Police (HNP) is expected to give a presentation on public security in Haiti, as well as on the prospects of developing the HNP in the context of a gradual withdrawal of MINUSTAH and within the framework of MINUJUSTH. MINUSTAH Police Commissioner Monchotte is expected to describe efforts to implement priorities set out in the HNP Strategic Development Plan for 2017-2021. This plan identifies long-term HNP institution-building objectives in order to build an effective response capacity to address security threats in Haiti; it is expected to be adopted by the Superior Council of the National Police in the coming weeks.

A meeting with various members of civil society is scheduled. According to the terms of reference, representatives from 18 different civil society organisations will be present. The Council president may highlight human rights, women’s rights and empowerment, and justice issues as potential topics for discussion. However, the floor will be open for civil society representatives to raise other matters of concern. The UN’s handling of the cholera epidemic will probably be raised. Rights advocates have criticised the UN for not sufficiently consulting with the victims while devising its new approach, and civil society organisations may take the opportunity to confront Council members for the failure to adequately fund the response plan. Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of Haitian women and children at the hands of peacekeepers and demands for recourse may be raised as well.

Council members are scheduled to visit the MINUSTAH base, Jaborandy Camp, to meet with a Formed Police Unit (FPU) and receive presentations by Police Commissioner Monchotte and a FPU commander. This will be followed by a meeting with commanders of troop- and police-contributing countries. This meeting will provide an opportunity for the Council to hear from commanders about concerns and opportunities regarding the withdrawal of MINUSTAH’s military component and the downsizing of the police component ahead of the establishment of MINUJUSTH.

Other meetings are scheduled during the visit with members of the diplomatic corps in Haiti; private sector representatives; the Superior Council of the Judiciary (an independent organ in charge of administrating, overseeing and managing the Judiciary); and officials from national accountability institutions (i.e., the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes, the Ombudsperson and Office for the Protection of Citizens, and the Central Financial Intelligence Unit).