Haiti

United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2020/123)

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I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2476 (2019), by which the Council established the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) beginning on 16 October 2019 for an initial period of 12 months, and requested me to report on the implementation of the resolution, including any instances of mandate implementation failures and measures taken in response to them, every 120 days from 16 October. The document covers significant developments since the issuance of my previous report on Haiti (S/2019/805), provides an update on the operationalization of BINUH and describes progress in integrating the activities of BINUH and the United Nations country team.

2. The establishment of BINUH marked the end of 15 consecutive years of peacekeeping in Haiti and opened a new chapter in the collaboration between the United Nations and Haiti, based on the full integration of the activities of BINUH and United Nations agencies, funds and programmes. This new configuration draws on the comparative advantage of BINUH conducting strategic advisory, advocacy and good offices efforts in support of inclusive political and governance processes and of the United Nations country team delivering programmatic and technical support.

II. Political and good governance (benchmark 1)

3. The political crisis in Haiti continued unabated during the reporting period, notwithstanding efforts to forge consensus to overcome the impasse, epitomized by the wave of civil unrest that gripped the country between September and November 2019 – the longest period of continued protests since the President, Jovenel Moïse, assumed office. The country remained without a Government confirmed by Parliament owing to the ongoing discord between the executive and legislative branches. The situation was compounded by the emergence of a constitutional crisis on 13 January 2020, when the mandates of all members of the Lower Chamber of Parliament, at least one third of Senators and all elected municipal officials expired. Since then, the President has relied on the authority granted under the Constitution to ensure the regular functioning of institutions and the continuity of the State.

4. In the final quarter of 2019, forces across the political spectrum sought to firm up internal consensus on their proposals to overcome the crisis. Those proposals highlighted convergence on the formation of a consensus Government, the need for a constitutional review and the launch of a national dialogue on structural reforms, but reflected important differences regarding the role of President Moïse during a potential transition period. The “Entente politique de transition” (“Marriott Accord”), signed by key opposition groups on 10 November, included proposals for the appointment of a supreme court judge as provisional President to facilitate a national conference on structural reforms and elections. On 5 December, the ruling coalition, led by the Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale, announced its own proposal, the “Consensus pour une transformation pacifique de la nation haïtienne” (“Kinam Accord”), which foresees a transition led by a consensus Prime Minister appointed by presidential order after consultations with political and civil society stakeholders. The proposal also contains plans for parliamentary elections to be held before the end of 2020 and presidential elections in 2021.

5. Those internal consultations were held within the context of intensified regional and international efforts to encourage the parties to engage in direct talks to devise a solution to the crisis. On 14 October, the Caribbean Community issued a press release in which it offered its good offices. On 8 November, the European Union issued a declaration in which it called for an open and inclusive political dialogue. Several senior diplomats from the United States of America also travelled to Port-au-Prince, including the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, on 20 November, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale, on 6 December and the United States Agency for International Development Administrator, Mark Green, from 12 to 14 December. Each senior diplomat met President Moïse and key Haitian politicians to urge them to engage in an inclusive dialogue. The Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, also expressed his organization’s commitment to dialogue during a visit on 7 January 2020. Nationally, the Haitian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a Christmas message on 30 November in which it urged the President and opposition figures to agree to “costly concessions” for the collective good of the nation.

6. Since the establishment of BINUH on 16 October, my Special Representative for Haiti and Head of BINUH and her team have used her good offices and the United Nations convening power to encourage a genuine and inclusive dialogue and coordinate a coherent engagement by international actors, notably the Core Group on Haiti, to help to resolve the crisis. In the context of deepening political polarization, she and her team also engaged key sectors of Haitian society, including political forces, civil society, economic actors and faith-based organizations, to de-escalate tensions and create an environment conducive to building consensus on the need for a political agreement to overcome the paralysis. In addition, BINUH convened two exploratory meetings with representatives from the presidency, the ruling coalition, non-aligned actors and the opposition to achieve convergence on views on the objectives and parameters of a political dialogue. Those initiatives were followed by the holding of informal talks between representatives of the President and key political and social constituencies on 17 and 18 December at the representation of the Holy See in Haiti, which were facilitated by the United Nations in collaboration with the Apostolic Nuncio and the Special Representative of the OAS Secretary-General. While those talks constituted important preliminary steps to create political space and build momentum for further dialogue, some representatives of the opposition, most of whom were represented in earlier meetings, did not attend, while others attended only the first day of proceedings.

7. President Moïse also intensified outreach to obtain buy-in for direct talks in order to reach a political agreement to address the institutional vacuum after 13 January. Following the circulation of the proposals of the opposition and the ruling coalition to end the crisis, the President held separate meetings on 16 December 2019 with the coordinator of the “Comité de suivi de l’Accord du Marriott” and the president of the “Comité de suivi de l’Accord du Kinam” to discuss a peaceful and responsible solution to end the political stalemate. These were followed by meetings on 26 December between the President and several non-aligned opposition representatives who had participated in the talks of 17 and 18 December and a delegation of the “Comité de suivi de l’Accord du Kinam”. The discussions reportedly focused on reform priorities rather than transitional governance arrangements. However, signatories to the Marriott Accord consistently refused to engage with the President. They rejected two invitations for meetings slated for 20 and 27 December, as well as several other informal consultations held throughout January, preconditioning their participation in a dialogue on his resignation.

8. Nevertheless, following three weeks of intense preparatory work facilitated by the United Nations, OAS and the Apostolic Nuncio, a “Conférence politique pour une sortie de crise” was convened from 29 to 31 January at the representation of the Holy See in Haiti. Representatives of the presidency, signatories to both the “Marriot” and “Kinam” accords and members of non-aligned political parties, as well as personalities from civil society and the private sector, participated in constructive negotiations centred on the four central elements of an eventual agreement: defining the criteria for the formation of a new Government, developing a road map for reform, devising a process through which to revise the Constitution and determining an electoral calendar. While the views of conference delegates converged on the development of a road map for reform and a constitutional revision process, further talks will be needed with respect to the criteria for the formation of a Government and the electoral calendar. President Moïse, as well as most of the participants, indicated interest in resuming negotiations to finalize an agreement.

9. Those developments have significantly increased uncertainty over the electoral process. The parliamentary and municipal elections originally slated for 27 October 2019 have been postponed indefinitely. The draft electoral law introduced in Parliament on 14 November 2018 is pending adoption, while the members of the Provisional Electoral Council appointed on 29 March 2016 remain in office in the absence of consensus on the nomination of the members of the Permanent Electoral Council. Progress towards a new voter registry is also generating concern as registrations for the new biometric national identity cards, which will be used to build the voter registry for future elections, proceeded at a slow pace, owing in part to the political situation. As at 16 December, of a projected 7 million eligible voters, only 1 million had registered with the Office for National Identification and 500,000 cards had been distributed. In this context, the Provisional Electoral Council focused on strengthening institutional and staff capacity. With support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the Provisional Electoral Council is implementing an eight-module training entitled “Building resources in democracy, governance and elections”. Since September, 69 electoral staff have been trained in strategic and financial planning, political financing, and gender and accessibility in electoral processes. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and UNDP also continued support to the National Federation of Women Mayors and Local Elected Officials in increasing women’s political participation. While the Constitution of Haiti mandates a minimum quota of 30 per cent of women in Government, the ratio of women parliamentarians in the former Legislature (1 woman senator and 3 deputies among 149 representatives) ranked among the lowest in the world.

10. Political polarization also continued to affect governance. On 18 October, the Office of Monetization of Development Aid Programmes ordered private electricity provider Sogener to reimburse $223 million to the Haitian State, including $194 million allegedly embezzled from the PetroCaribe funding scheme between June 2012 and March 2019. On 23 October, the Council of Ministers issued two resolutions by which it suspended payments on State contracts with three private electricity providers, namely, Sogener, E-Power and Haytrac, and eliminated all relevant customs exemptions. The Government subsequently filed a complaint against Sogener for criminal acts supporting private enrichment at the expense of the State, corruption and fraud. It also seized the company’s power generating facility in Cité Soleil (West Department) and froze the bank accounts of several of its directors. Those developments prompted widespread criticism by segments of the opposition and the Association des industries d’Haïti, the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie and the Chambre franco-haïtienne de commerce et d’industrie, which denounced the “instrumentalization of the judiciary for political purposes”.