Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative To the United Nations, at a Security Council Meeting on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
April 28, 2010


Thank you, Mr. President. Let me start by warmly welcoming Prime Minister Bellerive.  We appreciate your excellent statement and are particularly grateful for your government’s views on the appropriate role of MINUSTAH going forward.  I’d also like to thank Special Representative Edmond Mulet for his comprehensive briefing—but above all for your extraordinary service in leading UN efforts in Haiti since the January 12 tragic earthquake.  We want to thank you, and all of MINUSTAH personnel, for your dedication and your selfless sacrifice. 

Mr. President, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Haiti a few weeks ago, marking three months since the earthquake.  There she reiterated the United States’ deepest condolences to the Haitian people for the immense losses they have suffered.  She carried a clear message from President Obama:  that the United States will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Haiti. The First Lady also had the opportunity to visit the UN compound during her trip—to thank Mr. Mulet and the entire UN family for their unwavering support to the people of Haiti, to praise their heroism in the face of the greatest single loss of life the UN has ever suffered, and to underscore the importance of a truly international effort to help Haiti recover and rebuild.  America’s gratitude for the contributions of troops, police, and financial assistance made by the many countries present here today is deep and abiding. We are proud to be working together as a unified international community in support of the government and people of Haiti. 

At the Donors’ Conference on March 31, the international community came together to pledge almost $10 billion in support for Haiti, of which $5 billion was pledged for 2010-11.  For our part, the United States will contribute $1.15 billion to Haiti’s long-term recovery and reconstruction. This money will support the Government of Haiti’s plans to strengthen agriculture, energy, health, security, and governance. 

Today, the Security Council meets to forge a consensus on the future of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti—which, of course, faces a very different situation in the aftermath of the earthquake’s devastation. We share the Secretary-General’s assessment that the next 12 to 18 months will be a period of high risk in which we will need to pursue simultaneously political, security, protection and recovery objectives. We also agree that, during this period, the role of the UN and its member states should be to support Haiti’s government and institutions in delivering on their responsibilities while respecting their authority, sovereignty and prerogatives.

Mr. President, we are largely in agreement with the future role for MINUSTAH that the Secretary-General proposes in his latest report.  I would like to highlight our perspective on six recommendations in particular. 

First, we support MINUSTAH taking a lead role specifically for technical assistance during the electoral process in order to ensure efficiency and avoid duplication. We also encourage electoral support from key regional organizations, such as the Organization of American States, operating within the coordination framework of MINUSTAH.

Second, we fully agree that the Special Representative must continue to oversee the activities of the whole UN system in Haiti and that MINUSTAH’s military, police, and logistics components should provide, within their means and capabilities, full support to humanitarian and recovery efforts.

Third, the internally displaced persons continue to require assistance, particularly regarding their relocation to safer, less flood-prone areas.  Although extraordinary work has been done to protect IDPs and to maintain a safe environment for them, MINUSTAH must now work with the Government of Haiti and its other partners to reach a more permanent solution and move toward a more community-based approach.

Fourth, we agree with the Secretary-General on the need to enhance MINUSTAH’s support for the Haitian National Police—especially to ensure a more sustainable and visible police presence throughout areas affected by the earthquake, including protecting citizens in IDP camps.  My government is prepared to support a further increase of 680 police for MINUSTAH, on the understanding that the Secretariat will provide us with a detailed police-to-task analysis of how this figure was reached.  We would also appreciate additional information on the revised concept of operations for MINUSTAH’s police component, including the underlying assumptions about how long the increased police capacity will be needed. We want to ensure that MINUSTAH has enough police to take on critical tasks in its mandate, but we also hope to ensure that all authorized police personnel are being used as effectively as possible. Of course, the Secretariat depends on member states to provide the additional police authorized by this Council, including well-trained and well-equipped Formed Police Units.  We commend the countries that have already deployed such Formed Police Units, and we encourage others that can contribute them to MINUSTAH to do so as soon as possible.

Fifth, we applaud the UN’s instinct to reject a “business-as-usual” approach in these dire circumstances.  We understand that it can put a strain on MINUSTAH staff and put staff in an awkward situation when they have functioning offices, computers, and vehicles that their local Haitian counterparts may lack.  So we entirely understand the mission leadership’s desire to provide direct logistical support to the Haitian institutions they’re mandated to assist—and we understand that Special Representatives in many other missions have had similar impulses and faced similar frustrations when not allowed to do so.  That said, we must ask, how will the Secretariat propose handling maintenance costs and legal liability in cases when UN equipment and vehicles are loaned to Haitian officials? We wonder whether it might be more cost-effective and sustainable for other actors in the development community to purchase the equipment and vehicles through voluntary contributions and donate them directly?  Since these proposals are presumably stop-gap measures, pending longer-term assistance coming on-line, how would the mission’s functionality be affected if it depleted its logistical capacity for this purpose, even in the short term?  We hope the Secretariat and MINUSTAH will address such issues before proceeding down this proposed path. 
We fully share the Secretary-General’s assessment of the need to invest in building state capacity and human capital.  In that context, we see the value of embedding MINUSTAH advisers in Haitian institutions and offices, where requested by the Government of Haiti.  Such a step certainly makes sense where MINUSTAH is already providing considerable advice and assistance consistent with its existing mandate, such as in the rule-of-law sector.  At the same time, as MINUSTAH considers branching into other areas of governance support where they have not been working to date, we would welcome a better appreciation of the rationale for doing so, via MINUSTAH, rather than turning to UNDP, relevant international financial institutions, or other bilateral and multilateral actors.

Finally, Mr. President, the Secretary-General has provided us with a series of proposals to enable MINUSTAH to provide the best possible support to the Government of Haiti in this ongoing time of dire need.  We will continue to support the people and Government of Haiti and work together with other partners in this crucial cause. Accordingly, the United States remains open to considering appropriate adjustments to MINUSTAH’s mandated strength and approach.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2010/074