By Sarah Lafen
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, North America
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — After 13 years, the United Nations is considering removing the military component of stabilization mission in Haiti. The mission, known as MINUSTAH, will soon undergo a “reconfiguration” according to Herve Ladsous, U.N. deputy secretary-general, due to progress made on the island over the past few years. MINUSTAH costs an estimated $346 million per year.
Ladsous cites the recent success of political elections, the inauguration of the new president, and the development of the police force as signs of progress. The country has made such significant improvements that the “security throughout the country cannot be compared with that of 10 years ago.”
Newly-sworn in Haitian President Joyenel Moise met with Ladsous last week, and will be the first Haitian president since 2004 to govern without the U.N.’s prominent military presence. Ladsous believes that the work left to be done in Haiti is to be done primarily by the Haitians, however the U.N. will be “perfectly ready to mobilize” if needed. During Ladsous’ visit to Haiti, no one objected to the proposed removal of the peacekeepers.
While praising the progress Haiti has made in stabilizing itself, Ladsous issues a warning to those who are tempted to “take advantage of this temporary period to return to illegality, commit crimes, violations of human rights.” He assures that Haiti “will not accept that.” Ladsous also notes that there is still a significant amount of work left to do improving the police force, the law, human rights, and the status of women. Specifically, the Haitian National Police is expected to reach its full strength of 15,000 members
Brian Concannon, head of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, criticizes MINUSTAH for their “slow, expensive and limited progress in its primary mission.” In support of his criticisms, Concannon cites the introduction of cholera and sexual misconduct by peacekeepers in Haiti as areas of concern.
MINUSTAH was last renewed in October 2016 for a six month period, as opposed to its usual year renewal. The UN Secretary-General is expected to make recommendations to the UN Security Council regarding the removal of military component on March 15.
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