UN Security Council debate: MINUSTAH
Delivered by Ms Carolyn Schwalger, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 17 March 2016.
I thank the Special Representative for her commitment to Haiti’s stabilisation and acknowledge the important work of MINUSTAH and its contributing countries.
New Zealand is concerned about the recent political turmoil in Haiti and continued delays in its electoral process.
We had hoped this would be the year Haiti would transition from dependence on external partners towards greater self-reliance. We had hoped that today we might have been considering a plan for this transition that was the joint product of MINUSTAH and a new Government.
Sadly, the political manoeuvring of the past three months has seriously undermined progress towards this goal.
It is time for all parties, especially the interim government, to commit themselves to providing the leadership Haitians deserve.
To this end we welcome reports that agreement has finally been reached to enable elections in the coming months. We also welcome the appointment of the Provisional Electoral Council. The consequences of Haiti’s continued political uncertainty are not trivial. As the Special Representative reinforced, Haiti’s economic growth is being directly affected. The humanitarian situation has worsened with severe drought, food insecurity for millions of Haitians, and the continuing cholera epidemic.
The timeline for consideration of next steps for MINUSTAH and for the UN’s operations in Haiti has also been impacted by the political situation. New Zealand agrees with the Special Representative that it makes more sense to undertake the strategic assessment of the UN’s presence in Haiti following the elections and with a new Government in place.
Even so, MINUSTAH will not remain in Haiti indefinitely. We need to make best use of the time remaining to ensure Haiti is as well-equipped as possible to manage its own security once the Mission is gone.
We are reassured that MINUSTAH and the UN Country Team are working on a Joint Transition Plan. In addition to setting out clearly goals and responsibilities, the Plan should consider what tasks MINUSTAH can complete or discontinue before its mandate ends. Ensuring close coordination with national or international partners, including on what residual functions may need to be transferred, will be key.
For a transition to be sustainable, the plan must have genuine national ownership. Ensuring core institutions – particularly the police – have the capacity to operate effectively without international support will be a priority. We urge MINUSTAH to engage the new Government on the Joint Transition Plan as soon as possible after the elections.
The UN must also continue to combat the ongoing cholera epidemic. We acknowledge the efforts of the UN and its partners, particular those that have contributed towards the Support Plan and the National Plan for the Elimination of Cholera. The UN will need to continue to support those affected in Haiti to help close this chapter and to ensure that the new Government is not left alone to address the ongoing consequences - and political legacy - of the outbreak.
Given Haiti’s cycle of instability and the lessons the UN has learned from other fragile states, we must get MINUSTAH’s transition right. Effective transition planning and capacity building, as well as longer term international support, will be keys to a successful transition.
But none of this will produce long term benefit unless political actors in Haiti are willing to act responsibly and peacefully, without violent protest and inflammatory language. We call on the players concerned to set aside personal interests and rivalries and put the interests of their country first.
Haitians have a right to expect this and we hope this Council will remain united in supporting Haiti through this critical period.