UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
- Rule of Law
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Ms Philippa King, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
We thank SRSG Sandra Honoré for her briefing on the situation in Haiti and acknowledge the significant contribution MINUSTAH has made, alongside the Government and people of Haiti, in rebuilding the country, in particular in the face of natural disasters and an ongoing cholera epidemic. While there is still much work to be done, significant progress continues to be made and the past six months is no exception.
We see Haiti's long-term stability as depending on three key factors – ensuring security; strengthening governance institutions and the rule of law; but also improving the lives of Haiti's citizens through effective response to humanitarian crises and promotion of socio-economic development.
On the development side, the Secretary-General's most recent report records encouraging advances. We commend the Secretary-General's leadership of the UN's efforts to eliminate cholera in Haiti, and note that rates are declining. We welcome the Secretary-General's recent visit to Haiti where he launched the $2.2 billion 'Total Sanitation campaign', with Prime Minister Lamothe, which aims over ten years to scale up sanitation and hygiene interventions in rural areas. It is important the international community continues to support the UN and humanitarian partners to completely eradicate cholera in Haiti.
It is also pleasing to note that Haiti has reached – or nearly reached – several of the Millennium Development goals ahead of the 2015 deadline. Among other achievements, Haiti has seen a steady boost in enrolment rates in primary education from 47 percent in 1993 to nearly 90 percent, achieving equal participation by boys and girls in education. Haiti has also halved the number of underweight children under five years; infant mortality has decreased by 44 percent since 1990. The percentage of households with access to water has increased significantly, but still only two thirds of households have that access. This is a vital need, and weak water, sanitation and health systems are still enabling cholera, acute diarrhoea or other water borne diseases to persist. This will require sustained attention.
The holding of elections remains a crucial step towards the strengthening of governance in Haiti. Here we have not seen the progress sought. In January last year, the Council issued a press statement calling for the holding of free, fair, inclusive and credible elections by the end of 2013. At that point, elections were already long overdue. Almost two years have elapsed since that statement, and we are in the midst of our fourth Council debate on Haiti during that period. On each occasion members of the Council have called for elections to be held, yet the people of Haiti are still waiting for them to take place.
The holding of elections by January 2015 is not only essential for the continuity of Parliament, it is critical for Haiti's recovery, reconstruction, and development. Prime Minister Lamothe's refrain that "Haiti is open for business" is not as credible as it might be while the political process is stalled. Political stability is essential to the long term socio-economic development of Haiti. We strongly urge all political actors in Haiti, including President Martelly and members of the Senate, to put aside their differences and ensure the holding of elections by January 2015.
Some progress has been made on the security front. We agree with the Secretary-General's characterisation during his recent visit that the Haitian National Police (HNP) force is 'the backbone' of security in Haiti. The HNP must continue to take on increasingly greater responsibility for security in Haiti, with UNPOL focused on its mentoring role and acting as back-up only when essential as SRSG Honoré has said. The use of MINUSTAH's military component to respond to security incidents should be a last resort.
We commend MINUSTAH's ongoing efforts to train police officers to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, and its efforts to extend this training to judges and prosecutors. We urge the Haitian government to continue to work with MINUSTAH to increase efforts to support the prevention of such violence, strengthen the judicial process and ensure a respect for the rights of victims.
The increased capacity of the HNP has allowed the Secretary-General in his report to recommend a two-step drawdown of MINUSTAH, with the first step being a 53% reduction in the military component. We support the renewal of the MINUSTAH mandate for one year at this level. Any further drawdown should be conditional on further progress on the ground.
Australia agrees with the conclusions of the strategic assessment review that it would be premature to end MINUSTAH's presence before Presidential elections have taken place in 2015 and a new Government is in place. The Mission will continue to play an important role even as Haitian authorities take on more responsibility. We encourage MINUSTAH to continue to work to assist Haiti, continue to build on the security and development gains it has made.