Arrow Left Arrow Right Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Twitter Video Camera Youtube
Towards a Post-MINUSTAH Haiti: Making an Effective Transition
Towards a Post-MINUSTAH Haiti: Making an Effective Transition
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Haiti — A State of Political Dysfunction
Haiti — A State of Political Dysfunction

Towards a Post-MINUSTAH Haiti: Making an Effective Transition

The UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MIN­U­­­STAH) needs a gradual reconfiguration of its operations prior to a withdrawal, to avoid a security vacuum and give Haiti the chance for sustainable development.

  • Share
  • Save
  • Print
  • Download PDF Full Report

Executive Summary

Haiti is now marking the eighth year of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Debate about its eventual withdrawal is intensifying under the one year-old administration of President Michel Martelly. Opposition to its presence stems from the country’s nationalistic pride, anger at the cholera epidemic linked to UN peacekeepers and publicity surrounding unacceptable abuses by a small number of peacekeepers. Yet even its critics admit the country’s still limited police force cannot guarantee the security needed to protect citizens, enforce the law and underpin political stability. The real debate is not whether MINUS­TAH should leave but when, and what to change in Haiti and in the mission’s mandate, structure and behaviour to ensure that a phased withdrawal is linked to stronger institutions and progress toward lasting stability and development.

On 8 March 2012, the UN Security Council welcomed progress in Haiti and confirmed a start toward MINUS­TAH’s military drawdown, returning to the levels before the devastating quake that rocked the island in January 2010. Before the October renewal of the peacekeeping mandate, with preliminary discussions already planned for August, consensus needs to be forged between the UN, Latin American nations which provide the bulk of the troops, other international contributors, donors and the Haitian nation. That consensus has to be built on an objective analysis of MINUSTAH’s past performance and priorities for restructuring, Haiti’s continuing political instability, weak institutions and extreme poverty.

Haiti remains ensnared in a deep political, social and economic crisis. Despite the past presence of 12,000 UN military and police and the resumption of significant post-earthquake aid, progress in reconstruction, development and rule of law is disappointing. Haiti needs at least double its current numbers of police, with adequate training and vetting, deployed and capable of protecting its citizens and borders from home-grown and transnational criminal threats. A second five-year national police development plan needs to be adopted and implemented to chart that growth and the police need to be part of a comprehensive and professional justice system securely founded on the rule of law. The Martelly government should put on hold the reconstitution of the army until these goals are met.

Both the Haitian government and the UN Security Council are looking for a way out for MINUSTAH, but it would be foolhardy to rush that process given the serious gaps in consolidating security and justice. Despite the voices advocating for a more rapid exodus, it is unlikely that full departure can or should be accomplished before a third peaceful handover of democratic power takes place at the end of the Martelly presidency, five years from now, which also should correspond to the completion of the second five-year police development plan.

It is neither in Haiti’s nor in the donors’ interest to see a hasty withdrawal of the mission, but MINUSTAH needs rethinking and revamping. Based on other UN-assisted state transitions, like Sierra Leone and Liberia which faced or face comparable challenges, the UN presence in Haiti should see a reconfigured MINUSTAH, with reduced but still capable troop strength and a robust police presence. That transformation would move from a military dominated Chapter VII force to a Security Council sponsored political mission by the end of 2016, which would still be able to coordinate the full range of UN agencies under the special representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in support of an integrated peacebuilding agenda set with the Haitian government.

MINUSTAH has successfully deterred the potential threat of organised violent actors overthrowing the government by force, which was its fundamental raison d’être. It has improved security in much of the country mostly by reducing armed violence in Cité Soleil and other urban slums. The mission has also provided invaluable contributions to countrywide logistics operations, from assisting with the distribution and retrieval of material in the 2006, 2009 and 2010 elections to supporting disaster relief in the aftermath of the 2008 storms and the 2010 earthquake.

MINUSTAH needs to think beyond stabilisation and focus on consolidating its achievements by providing strategic support to strengthen rule of law institutions so reconstruction, private investment and development can flourish. It must also devise a more effective way to work with fragile state institutions whose continuing partisan composition has denied Haiti a functioning government for most of the past year. An assessment of MINUSTAH’s contribution to stability since 2004 and the current status of reconstruction and development in the country are vital to understand the opportunities for sustained reduction of conflict and violence.

This report assesses MINUSTAH’s impact and explores how its contribution might be improved. It also analyses the options available for an ordered eventual withdrawal of the mission enabling Haitian authorities and the international community to better cope with a post-MI­NUS­TAH scenario. It provides recommendations for a better targeted peacekeeping agenda for security, rule of law and governance, as well as a planned transition that eliminates the need for a UN peacekeeping mission by the end of the Martelly presidency in 2016.

Port-au-Prince/Bogotá/Brussels, 2 August 2012

Haiti — A State of Political Dysfunction

Originally published in Miami Herald

Three years after an earthquake devastated Haiti, its elites seem poised to produce their own man-made disaster of instability and polarization. Unless the nation’s leaders pursue a national governability accord to organize long-delayed elections, halt unconstitutional appointments and address basic needs, Haiti could become a permanent failed state.

The International Crisis Group report published last week: “Governing Haiti: Time for National Consensus” tracks the failure of will across a broad spectrum of Haiti’s national leaders to seek agreement on national challenges.

The most recent triumph of partisan over national interest has been the failure of President Michel Martelly, parliamentary leaders and the business community to implement the governance agreement signed on Christmas Eve with the support of an ad hoc ecumenical body, Religions for Peace.

The pact would have side-stepped the Catch-22 situation where the absence of a third of the senators stymied the legislature’s naming its three members to the nine-member Permanent Electoral Commission (CEP) which was supposed to organize the partial senate elections which should have been held in November 2011.

The agreement provided for a new consensual Transitory Electoral College (TEC). That also would have enabled the removal of the other widely-criticized CEP members who had been named by or were seen as partial to the president.

That agreement has not been implemented. Haiti still has no electoral calendar, no electoral law and no members for the agreed upon electoral body. Not only does it ham-string the Senate, short a third of its members, but the legislature as a whole. Local government also has been undermined because mayors and local assemblies also should have been elected long ago. Instead when the old terms were up, the executive branch unconstitutionally appointed individuals to those posts.

Elections, though, would only remove the first obstacle to Haiti’s returning to the much ballyhooed “path of reconstruction and transformation” called for following the 2010 earthquake. Haiti’s slow progress on police and justice reform also are at risk with questions surrounding appointments to the newly created oversight body for the judiciary (CSPJ) and rumors of attempts to shoe-horn former members of the military into the Haitian National Police.

The eight-year-old U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti has been integrated mostly by Latin American forces, and led by Brazilians. Latin America also could help the Haitian elites see the benefits of a national governance pact and ways to achieve it. Chile, Guatemala, Peru and, in recent months, Mexico have found ways to bridge ideological differences and secure fundamental progress on bolstering democratic institutions and the rule of law.

Without some clear shift in attitude and actions, the still substantial flows of donor funds could begin to shrivel. Canada already has signaled its unhappiness and frustration with lack of transparency and trends toward governance by decree.

While the people may be thinking about this week’s Carnival in Haiti, President Martelly, the political opposition, the business community and civil society need to be focused on working to resurrect the Christmas Eve agreement. They should demonstrate a determination to implement that agreement and move toward credible early elections by securing an independent TEC and an electoral law and calendar.

By showing that evidence of good will, Religions for Peace might be willing to return as facilitator to help broker a much needed consensus national pact on education, employment, environment, energy and the etat de droit (rule of law), the 5 E’s of the Martelly platform.

Progress in all of those sectors is critical for poverty reduction, stability and justice. Zero sum politics has stalled progress over recent years and recent decades and the people of Haiti have suffered. A national pact would signal an end to destructive culture and brake the slide toward permanent failure in that island nation.