Letter to the Editor: UN mission in Haiti is not 'all about scandal'

Mariano Fernández Amunátegui, special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Haiti, defends the work of the UN mission (MINUSTAH) there.

In light of the recent article entitled “Will the United Nations’ legacy in Haiti be all about scandal?” I wish to clarify some facts and assessments on the role of MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti):

MINUSTAH, since its deployment in 2004, steadily contributed in moving the country from a state of political violence and unrest to a state of peace and democratic stability, allowing the holding of three democratic elections and a democratic transfer of power.

Maintaining security and dissuading criminality is an ongoing task that MINUSTAH Blue Helmets are dedicated to fulfill daily, in support of the Haitian National Police, along with the development of the Haitian Police in numbers and professionalism.

Consolidating peace, democratic stability, and the rule of law is another fundamental part of the mission’s mandate. Serious advances are tangible, and Haiti is on the path toward a true stabilization process, with a new government in place, while MINUSTAH’s leadership continues to work closely with the public powers of the country to strengthen national and local institutional capacity. The publication of the constitutional amendments that will lead to the organization of senate and local elections by the end of this year is a very clear indication that the country is moving forward.

It is worth recalling here that as the threats facing Haiti evolved, and as the country developed its own security capacity, the Security Council envisaged in summer 2009 a progressive reconfiguration of the role of the MINUSTAH police and military components.

Unfortunately, this progressive reconfiguration plan was put on hold following the January 2010 earthquake, and the subsequent need for a surge in troops and police levels.

However, following the recommendations of the UN Secretary General, in his report S/2011/540, the Security Council, in its last resolution on Haiti dated 14 October 2011 “Recognizing that Haiti has made considerable strides since the tragic earthquake of 12 January 2010….Recognizing also, as has the Haitian Government, that the overall security situation, while fragile, has improved since the adoption of its resolutions 1908, 1927 and 1944 (2010)…” allowed a partial drawdown of MINUSTAH’s military and police capabilities as the first step to ending the temporary surge capacities decided by the Security Council after the earthquake.

I will not evade the cases of sexual exploitation and abuse, against which the United Nations are committed to enforce its zero tolerance policy. They are outrageous and totally unacceptable, and they are severely punished. Impunity does not prevail.

As for the cholera outbreak, many studies were published about the case; other new findings were recently released, some contradicting others. A claim was filed by a group of lawyers on behalf of the victims, and this claim is being reviewed by the appropriate bodies in the UN Secretariat. Therefore no further comment can be made at this stage.

The United Nations’ legacy in Haiti is not “all about scandal,” and far from “impeding the path to a sustainable state,” MINUSTAH has achieved a lot in the consolidation of peace and in putting Haiti on the path to a sustainable and democratic state.

Sincerely,

Mariano Fernández Amunátegui

Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Haiti

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