The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was first established in 2004 by UN Security Council Resolution 1542. This peacekeeping mission operates under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which gives peacekeepers the authority to use force if necessary to protect civilians. On October 12, 2012, the Security Council extended MINUSTAH’s mandate through October 15, 2013. Resolution 2012 also provides for the reduction of the military strength, a balanced withdrawal of infantry and engineering personnel, and a reduction in police strength by June 2013.
The Mission's mandate includes:
• Securing and stabilizing the environment; • Creating jobs and delivering basic social services; • Increasing security by reforming and training the Haitian National Police Force (HNP); • Disarming and reintegrating former combatants; • Protecting civilians and UN staff; • Maintaining public safety and order; • Contributing to recovery and reconstruction efforts; • Promoting, protecting, and monitoring human rights; • Assisting the government in implementing free, transparent, and fair elections.
In 1990 the United Nations Security Council established an observer group to support national elections in Haiti. Through these elections, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president. In 1991, President Aristide was overthrown in a military coup. During the unrest that followed, thousands of Haitians died and many more fled to countries in the region, including the U.S. In 1994, the Security Council authorized a 20,000-strong multinational force - led by the US - to restore Haiti's constitutionally elected government and help maintain security.
While Haiti’s elected government was restored in 1995, electoral fraud and the ongoing political crisis prevented serious democratic reforms from taking hold. In addition, a rise in illegal armed gangs and drug trafficking threatened the country's stability. After years of growing instability, violence erupted again in 2004. At the request of the Haitian government, the UN authorized a multi-national interim force, led by the United States, to stabilize Haiti. Subsequently, Security Council Resolution 1542 replaced the interim force with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
This mission was tasked with helping to create a secure and stable environment which could support a peaceful and lasting political state. On January 19, 2010, the Security Council reinforced the earthquake recovery and rescue operations by increasing troop and police capacity by 3,500. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the United States sent in 122,000 troops to support the UN in providing humanitarian assistance, to protect displaced populations, and continue training the Haitian National Police Force in light of the 300,000 deaths and a damaged nation. American troops have since withdrawn but the U.S. and UN continue to provide support for Haitian reconstruction efforts.
How This Affects American Interests
Reforms the justice system. To promote effective governance and the rule of law, a key part of MINUSTAH’s mandate is to help reform and strengthen the country’s criminal justice system. MINUSTAH’s Justice Section organized refresher workshops for 60 prosecutors, 280 clerks and 411 judiciary police officers. Since February 2011 MINUSTAH helped equip and build 20 courts in seven provinces across the country. In order to help create sustainable and capable government institutions, MINUSTAH also built a temporary headquarters for the Department of Prison Administration (DAP) following the earthquake and continued to aid in the construction of Haitian prison facilities. In addition, MINUSTAH has provided training to 515 prison officers in fields as diverse as gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, and human rights. In order to increase access to legal aid MINUSTAH in 2011 supported the construction of an additional 5 legal aid offices with another 5 expected to open by February 2012. As a testament to their success since 2008, 14,797 free consultations have been granted resulting in the release of 6,141 innocent prisoners
Improves public safety. MINUSTAH is transitioning out operational policing and concentrating its efforts on national police development. Thus, by June 2013 there will be reduction in police and authorized troops to 8,000 personnel. MINUSTAH uniformed personnel have also worked with the Haitian National Police (HNP) to help dismantle violent Haitian drug gangs. Moreover, MINUSTAH and the HNP established a five-year Haitian National Police Development Plan, which includes. MINUSTAH providing professional training to 5,000 to 6,000 officials to the Haitian police force to provide logistics, accountability, recruitment training, organized crime reduction, and border control.
Increases counternarcotics activity. Haiti has been a major transfer point for the shipment of drugs like cocaine and heroin bound for the U.S. and Europe. With a severe shortage of Haitian Government-sponsored drug abuse awareness or treatment programs combined with the extreme poverty of the population, the movement and sale of drugs is widespread. MINUSTAH continues to work with the HNP to improve mid-and advanced level training to combat drug trafficking. The HNP counter-narcotics team unit has increase the canine unit to 11 dogs to aid the officers as well.
Improves protection of internally displaced persons. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has decreased to 390,000 in June 2012 which is a 76% reduction compared to the figures from July 2010 which amounted to 1.6 million IDPs. The UN police and HNP have increased protection of displaced persons by conducting joint foot patrols and sweeping operations, as well as installing solar-powered lights in some of the 575 temporary sites. The UN continues to provide access to food, water, education, and health services in these camps.
Slow disbursement of reconstruction funding. On March 31, 2010, the UN and U.S. co-chaired an International Donors Conference comprised of 140 member states in support of Haiti’s recovery plan. The international community pledged $5.5 billion for the next two years and $9.9 billion over 10 years. However, disbursement of funding has been slow due to fears of corruption and misuse. The UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti reports that only 53 percent of money pledged from top donors has been paid. As of March 2012, only half of the $5.5 billion pledged by the international community in 2010 has been spent.
Cholera epidemic. More than 7,500 people have died from cholera in Haiti and over 600, 000 have been infected since October 2010. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects up to 112,000 new cases of cholera for 2012. MINUSTAH is focusing on four main areas to help ameliorate this crisis. Since the outbreak, MINUSTAH has distributed over 4,800 water filtration units which can provide safe drinking water to 500 individuals each day per unit. In addition, 870 gallons of chlorine were provided to targeted populations. There was also the installation of 4 large water filtration systems serving 5,000 individuals per day. UN agencies and their partners have secured $127 million to be used by the Cholera Inter-Sector Response Strategy for Haiti to bring additional doctors, medicines, and water purification equipment. With the help of PAHO, WHO, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health vaccinations have been administered to vulnerable populations. The United Nations and partners have supported the establishment, upgrading, and maintenance of 1,172 oral rehydration points and 120 cholera treatment units, along with the developing guidance on surveillance, case management, containment, and case referral procedures. In December 2012, the UN announced a new initiative to support the “Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in Hispaniola” campaign which was established by the Presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In addition, the UN committed $23.5 million towards the effort, building on the $118 million the UN system has spent on the cholera response to date.
Crime. A widening economic gap in post-earthquake Haiti has led to social fragility and continued violence, especially in IDP camps and against women. Crime remains extremely commonplace in large urban communities such as Port-au-Prince. MINUSTAH strongly condemns the grave violations against children affected by gang violence and widespread sexual violence and promotes the protection of the rights of women and children as outlined by multiple Security Council resolutions. A five-year Haitian National Police Development Plan has been drafted jointly by the national police and the MINUSTAH’s police component on March 1, 2012. One of the main objectives of this plan is to achieve a minimum of 15,000 serving police officers by 2016. MINUSTAH also conducted a stabilization initiative in fragile urban communities to tackle the ramifications of the political and socioeconomic challenges in communities. Large scale labor-intensive projects, professional skills training, income-generating activities, and psychosocial and awareness-raising initiatives, primarily targeting at-risk young people in urban areas were conducted. The Mission completed 64 projects in 2010-2011 and initiated 57 more projects so far in 2011-2012.
Hurricane Sandy. From October 23 to October 26, 2012 Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean. Severe rains and winds affected Haiti’s infrastructure, homes, livestock, and agricultural fields. MINUSTAH coordinated with NGOs to support the Direction of Civil Protection and local authorities to perform joint rapid evacuations in high-risk zones and IDP camps. Over 17,000 people were evacuated with 350,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of four days of relentless heavy rains. The storm caused at least 51 deaths, and between 15,000 and 20,000 people has seen their houses completely destroyed, damaged, or flooded as a result of the storm. MINUSTAH also deployed additional platoon and civil police units to reinforce peacekeeping troops to especially aid in food assistance. Since nearly 90 died from cholera in the month following Hurricane Isaac, a spike in infection rates is expected. The UN is planning an appeal for emergency aid for Haiti, especially in light of severe food shortages.