Top Envoy in Haiti Tells Security Council Opportunity Lost in Recent Months Due to Political ‘Impasse’, Crucial to Hold Credible Elections in 2013
6936th Meeting (AM)
Says Secretary-General’s Report Outlines Consolidation Plan for UN Mission 2013-2016, Aimed at Police, Elections, Rule of Law, Governance
The stabilization process in Haiti had hit a number of difficulties — including a missed opportunity to hold elections last year — but the Caribbean nation could still surmount entrenched political divisions and launch institutional reforms vital for meeting the urgent security and economic needs of its citizens, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.
Nigel Fisher, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Interim Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission and addressed the fresh concerns of Council members that, just six months ago, had voiced cautious optimism about Haiti’s direction. Foremost on their minds was the ongoing political impasse, a failure to hold elections — now 16 months overdue — and the need for a strong police and judiciary to handle the growing loss of patience among the Haitian electorate.
“Holding credible elections in 2013 is fundamental to reinforce Haiti’s democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law and respond to the urgent needs of Haiti’s citizens, such as employment and social protection,” Mr. Fisher said.
At the same time, while progress on elections had become a “barometer” to gauge political inclusion, Haiti also faced many other challenges, he continued. Annual economic growth had fallen below forecasts and high unemployment had been compounded by two tropical storms and regional droughts that, in turn, had aggravated food insecurity. To meet those challenges, the Mission had devised a consolidation plan, which provided key objectives over the next three years to strengthen security, the rule of law, elections administration and institutional modernization.
Specifically, the plan set out four core tasks, he said, citing development of the Haitian National Police; creation and enhancement of a permanent electoral commission; strengthened rule of law and respect for human rights; and support for national and local governance reforms. It also foresaw the reduction of the Mission’s uniformed strength, within a progressively smaller and less-costly footprint in Haiti.
More broadly, he said consolidating peace in Haiti required transcending the political impasse. For its part, the Mission was ready to support Haiti in taking more responsibility for its national security, to contribute to consensus-building in democratic processes and institutional reforms, and to create a propitious environment for the well-being of Haitians.
In the debate that followed, delegates welcomed the consolidated plan, saying that the “relatively stable” security situation would allow the Mission to implement a drawdown without undermining stability. Some said the goals and indicators in the plan were ambitious and required the Council’s discussion. Others had concerns about the operational and institutional shortcomings of the Haitian National Police, urging that the strengthening of those forces be among the Mission’s highest priorities. Still others said appointments to the temporary Electoral Council must be finalized and a decision reached on the draft electoral law.
On that point, Uruguay’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti, said rule-of-law institutions, a political culture of consensus-building and improved socioeconomic conditions were vital to achieving lasting stability in Haiti. Free and fair partial legislative, municipal and local elections must be held and an Electoral Council created. Also, ongoing efforts to eliminate the cholera epidemic were a reminder of the need to sustain cooperation with Haitian authorities.
The representative of the United States recalled that the Secretary-General’s “conditions-based” plan was a “living document” that would evolve with developments on the ground. Her Government looked forward to working with other Council members on the plan in the coming months.
Addressing some of those concerns, Haiti’s representative reminded the Council that “without a doubt” his country had made “significant” progress, especially in reducing the number of displaced persons living in camps by 77 per cent, having helped 1.2 million people find new homes. Despite the re-appearance of cholera, the results of cross-cutting efforts had helped to reduce the number of deaths.
Moreover, Haiti had set up a high council for the judiciary and filled Supreme Court vacancies, he said, acknowledging there had been delays in following the electoral calendar. On the security front, the situation had improved. In 2012, there had been eight homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants — a lower rate than other countries in the region. Overall, many challenges remained, but the Government had the political will to achieve success. He requested support for Haiti to achieve its national goals.
Also speaking in the debate today was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala.
The representatives of Pakistan, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Morocco, China, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Togo, Russian Federation, Brazil, Chile, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Peru also spoke, as did a representative of the European Union.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and adjourned at 1:01 p.m.
The Security Council met today to discuss Haiti and had before it the Secretary-General’s most recent report updating the Council on the situation during the past six months (S/2013/139).