On 14 October 2011, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2012, extending for one year the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and authorizing the reduction of its military and police workforce to 10,600 elements – 7,340 military and 3,241 police – as recommended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon in his 25 August report. The Council stressed that “[I]n the future, all adjustments to the Force’s configuration should be based on the overall security situation on the ground, taking into account the ongoing strenghtening of the public authorities’ capacities, notably through the reinforcement of the Haitian National Police”.
This resolution is in line with the Council’s previous decisions relative to the situation in Haiti. As early as 2008, its members had endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to reconfigure the Mission over a three-year period, to review MINUSTAH’s composition, and to realign its activities according to the evolution of the situation and of the priorities on the ground.
But the 12 January 2010 earthquake de facto suspended the implementation of this consolidation plan. With the adoption of Resolution 1908 on 19 January, and Resolution 1927 on 4 June 2010, the Security Council authorized a temporary increase of the Mission’s civilian, military and police elements, and an adjustment of its mandate to respond to the post-earthquake crisis. It also added a new pillar to its mandate: the support to humanitarian efforts, recovery and post-earthquake reconstruction.
The year 2010 was largely devoted to these three main activities.
Called upon to play a key role in coordinating the humanitarian assistance and recovery efforts, MINUSTAH invested all its logistic, civilian and military resources to respond to the country’s considerable needs. Temporarily settled in prefabricated structures following the total destruction of its Headquarters at the Christopher hotel, its activities were based on a reviewed organisational chart; the document was posted on a makeshift easel, bearing witness to both the exceptional situation and to the swiftness with which operations were planned and decisions implemented.
Following a review of the Mission’s priorities, recovery was to be the priority for 2011. However, the results of the first round of the presidential and legislative elections, held on 28 November 2010, spurred violent street demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and several other towns across the country, in protest against an electoral process described as fraudulent.
On 14 May 2011, the electoral process was successfully concluded, with a peaceful handover of power between the previous and the new president, both democratically elected. However, this important event was followed by a five-month political crisis around the appointment of a prime minister, a crisis that left Parliament fragmented, including over national priorities.
During the same period, a devastating cholera epidemic and the impact of two major hurricanes called for the reallocation of national and international resources to support the recovery and reconstruction process.
We can now hope that efforts deployed in 2012 will definitely put Haiti on a path of sustainable recovery. For this purpose, the international community should prioritise a more systemic approach in supporting the Haitians’ efforts to strengthen the rule of law and promote social and economic progress.
In order to respond most efficiently to this ambitious plan, with “the institutions’ stability and functionality” as core elements, the Government and Parliament, guided by the President of the Republic, should agree to provide the country with such institutions, capable of protecting citizens’ rights, and allowing them to fulfill their obligations. In other words, they should come together on a governability pact or governance agreement, stemming from a national consensus, the cornerstone of any rule of law reform strategy.
Under the Haitian government’s leadership, this pact would link international partners with national reform actors, and would rely on the strong popular will to revive this culture.
As progress towards the stabilisation of Haiti is strengthened, the Member States of the General Assembly will be in a better position to reconfigure the Mission. A progressive reduction in the number of civilian and military personnel to pre-earthquake levels would be a precursor to the withdrawal of those staff from the country’s regions in which security conditions will allow State institutions to exercise their responsabilities, without MINUSTAH’s operational assistance. After practically two decades of foreign intervention, Haiti will be able to progressively take control of its destiny.