UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
20 March 2013
UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
Statement by HE Ms Philippa King
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you for convening this debate and thank you to Acting SRSG Fisher for his briefing on the situation in Haiti.
I would like to convey Australia’s deep gratitude to all MINUSTAH staff for their hard work in consolidating stability in Haiti.
We acknowledge the efforts made towards recovery and stabilisation in Haiti over recent years - in the face of a range of complex challenges and the impact of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Isaac.
In order to address the difficult challenges ahead, it is vital that Haiti builds – with the continued support of the international community – a system of government which functions effectively, can build the capacities of the country and which serves the Haitian people. In this context, we share the concern expressed by the Secretary-General about the ongoing political stalemate in Haiti, including in the establishment of the Provisional Electoral Council. The stalemate corrodes confidence in the political system, could undermine the prospects of making further development gains and also undermine the valuable progress achieved so far.
Credible free and fair elections in 2013 are critical for Haiti’s recovery, reconstruction and development. We urge progress in appointing members to the Provisional Electoral Council so that partial legislative, municipal and local elections may be organised, and then a Permanent Electoral Council established.
Acknowledging the close link between political stability and economic development, we welcome Prime Minister Lamothe’s statement that “Haiti is open for business” and note that political stability will strengthen that prospect.
The support which MINUSTAH is providing to prepare for elections must continue, including the technical assistance provided to electoral council staff. However, responsibility for overcoming the political impasse rests with Haiti’s leaders themselves, and will require new patterns of political consensus-building across key issues.
While we welcome the overall stable security situation, the marked increase in major crimes in the second half of 2012 is a concern. Efforts to support the protection of vulnerable groups in Haiti therefore remain an important part of the work of MINUSTAH’s work. In particular, sexual and gender-based violence continues to have a devastating impact on vulnerable groups, particularly women and children in impoverished districts, displaced persons camps and remote areas. It is important that the capacity of both the Haitian National Police and the judicial system is built to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence.
More broadly, a functional legal system is vital to ensuring accountability, upholding human rights and delivering access to justice – and to building confidence among citizens in the institutions of state. We support the Secretary-General’s proposal to develop a national justice development plan to strengthen the rule of law and build judicial capacity.
Although there has been a drop in cholera infection rates, Australia remains concerned about the epidemic and increasing cholera mortality. Following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, we were pleased to contribute to a CARICOM program for the provision of drinking water, sanitation and hand washing stations for Haitians at risk from cholera. And we strongly support the Secretary-General’s Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti and the leadership of Dr Farmer as the SG’s Special Adviser.
Australia welcomes the work which has been done to develop a plan for MINUSTAH’s reconfiguration and conditions-based consolidation – and the inclusion of the Consolidation Plan in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report. The definition of core tasks for the Mission will enable it to take forward its work in partnership with Haitian authorities in areas in which it can have the most positive impact. We consider the four areas of focus to be appropriate for the consolidation of MINUSTAH’s efforts. An important aspect in taking forward the Consolidation Plan will be identifying and reviewing appropriate measures for assessing progress against key benchmarks, especially as we continue to review MINUSTAH’s mandate and force levels.
Policing is particularly important, as is often the case with stabilisation missions. In this case, building the capacity of the National Police to gradually assume full responsibility for security throughout the country. We recognise the joint efforts of the international community and MINUSTAH in assisting the Haitian National Police to meet major benchmarks set out in their five year development plan.
The implementation of electoral laws and the strengthening of national institutions and administrative functions will also remain vital to building state capacity and we encourage MINUSTAH to continue its work with Haitian authorities to enhance governance in this respect.
Creating durable and transformative change such as that being undertaken by Haiti takes time. Strengthening institutions and establishing good governance to the stage of providing security, justice and jobs and breaking cycles of poverty and violence is a long term effort.
The international community therefore needs to sustain its collaboration with Haiti. The recent finalisation of the Integrated Strategic Framework 2013-2016 between the UN system and the Haitian Government is a very welcome step forward in this continuing partnership. We welcome the alignment of this Framework with Haiti’s Strategic Development Plan and we encourage the continued close collaboration between MINUSTAH, the UN system, the Haitian Government, and Haiti’s other international partners to ensure a congruence of focus and effort.