Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Special Representative Honoré, for your briefing, which, together with the Secretary General’s report, illuminates the impressive strides Haiti has made as well as the challenges it continues to face.
Today I’d like to focus on three areas that are essential for the Council, MINUSTAH and the international community to consider as we work with Haitians to build for the future: deepening security and the rule of law, ensuring consistent political progress, and finding the right scope and size for the UN’s presence in the country.
First, on security, the United States welcomes the ongoing expansion and development of the Haitian National Police and in particular their growing and demonstrated capacity to take on responsibility for Haiti’s security. The relatively stable security situation reported by the Secretary-General – including in areas of the country MINUSTAH’s military component has already vacated – indicates strong progress on this front.
While a larger professional police force remains necessary for sustained stability and the rule of law to take root throughout Haiti, the government of Haiti and its partners, including MINUSTAH, also must prioritize the development of the judiciary, the corrections system, and oversight mechanisms. Further minimizing the number of prisoners held in pre-trial detention, for example, would be a key indicator of the government’s commitment to strengthening due process in the legal and corrections systems.
Like strong institutions, a democratic, functioning political process featuring regular elections is critical to Haiti’s long-term stability. The gains made since the Council last met on Haiti in August of last year – culminating in this month’s signing of the “El Rancho Agreement” – are encouraging, and we commend Haiti’s political leaders for making the difficult but necessary compromises to move the process forward so that the Haitian people can freely exercise their right to choose their government representatives. The United States urges those same leaders to act without delay to amend the electoral law as needed and stand up the Provisional Electoral Council, so that Haiti’s election administrators have sufficient time to organize – with the strong support of Haiti’s partners, including MINUSTAH – elections in 2014 that are free, fair, credible, and inclusive. The United States also encourages Special Representative Honoré to continue to facilitate dialogue among political leaders and with civil society, to ensure that disagreements about the electoral process, or other areas of civic life, are resolved swiftly so they do not threaten Haiti’s hard-won gains.
In light of Haiti’s progress, the United States welcomes the Secretary-General's presentation of possible alternate designs for a UN presence in Haiti beyond 2016, and we agree with the Secretary-General that an accelerated transition to a new UN configuration in Haiti could be considered if conditions on the ground permit. The United States urges the Secretary-General to conduct, as soon as possible, a strategic assessment that evaluates whether conditions, including expected election support requirements, warrant accelerating the transition to a new mission structure – or continuing the conditions-based drawdown underway. We urge the Secretary-General to report his findings in his next report on Haiti to the Security Council.
The Security Council must continue to ensure that MINUSTAH’s mandate, structure, and size remain appropriate to Haiti’s evolving circumstances, and in this regard we hope the UN can provide more detailed reporting on the declining role of MINUSTAH forces in ensuring security in Haiti. For example, specific information over time on the number and type of incidents in which the HNP requested and received operational support, also organized by location and the type and number of MINUSTAH forces that responded, would be useful to determining where the HNP stands in progressing toward being able to assume full responsibility for Haiti’s security.
More information about the frequency of and need for independent MINUSTAH patrols, particularly by military elements, also would be useful to the Council’s deliberations; we expect that such patrols would already be in steady decline, given the expansion of the HNP and the fact that they need to test their capacity while robust MINUSTAH operational support and advice remain available. At a minimum, these patrols should be conducted with the HNP, not independent of them.
Finally, Madam President, the United States expresses its deep gratitude to two Brazilians. First, we thank Lieutenant General Pujol for his dedicated service as Force Commander. And second, we congratulate Lieutenant General Jaborandy on his appointment. The dedicated men and women of MINUSTAH have the utmost admiration and support of the United States as they work together with the Haitian people to build a more peaceful and prosperous future in Haiti.
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