IN many ways, the next chapter in the effort to restore democracy to Haiti belongs to the United Nations.
When the climate is stable enough, a UN force of about 6,000 will replace US troops on the island. The UN force is to keep order, oversee the restructuring of the Army and police, and help restore public works.
The UN Security Council will decide when and how fully to lift trade, fuel, and arms sanctions.
The new accord reached in Port-au-Prince last weekend called for lifting the sanctions ``without delay,'' a point echoed in a US Senate resolution this week. However, US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright says the US wants to tie the lifting of the embargo to the actual return to Haiti of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. She says humanitarian aid, which always was exempt from the embargo, will be expanded, and should be more effectively delivered now that US troops are on the ground.
The timing of the UN peacekeeping phase depends in part on the assessment of a 60-member UN military and civilian observer team. Sixteen members are already in Haiti and the rest are to arrive next week. They will report back to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who will then make his recommendation to the Security Council.
The tab for the first phase, estimated by the Pentagon to cost $500 million, will be picked up by the United States. The UN estimates the cost for the first six months of its 6,000 troops at $215 million.
While the Security Council is expected to go along with the US recommendation on sanctions, there is growing concern among some member states that the US and other major powers are simply using the UN as a cover for what they want to do.
It was the US which led the way to the July 31st Council passage of Resolution 940 that authorizes a multilateral force to use ``all necessary means'' to oust Haiti's illegal military leaders and return Mr. Aristide to power. That resolution is cited by the White House as the legal basis for US intervention.
One sign of concern that the US is using the UN is apparent in the Sept. 19 resignation letter to the Secretary-General from his Special Envoy on Haiti, Dante Caputo. Mr. Caputo is the former foreign minister of Argentina who brokered the July 1993 Governor's Island transfer-of-power agreement between Aristide and Haiti's Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras. General Cedras later reneged.
Caputo said the total absence of any US consultation with him or sharing of information convinced him that the UN role had changed and that the US had decided to act unilaterally on the Haiti question. ``He was not a party to the bilateral negotiations, and he was very uncomfortable about that,'' confirms UN spokesman Joe Sills.
Asked about the US using the UN, Ambassador Albright says support for Security Council Resolution 940 was virtually unanimous. (Brazil and China abstained). She says Council diplomats were ``appalled'' at the frequent defiant actions of Haiti's de facto leaders. They were particularly incensed, she says, by the expulsion in July of UN human-rights monitors. ``There was a real sense that something had to be done.''
Still, doubts about the real strength of Council unanimity persist. Thomas Carothers, a legal expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, says the US over the last year has moved from working with the UN on Haiti to treating the Haitian situation as its own problem.
``Is the Security Council really extending the frontiers of international law and the concept of threats to international peace and security, or is it simply becoming a lap dog for different great powers who can get it to do what they want?'' he asks.