Expressing concern about the disarmament and security situations in Haiti, the United Nations Security Council today said it was planning a mission to the troubled Caribbean country in the next several months.
The Council expressed its intention to organize a mission to Haiti before 1 June, possibly in conjunction with a mission of the UN Economic and Social Council's (ECOSOC) Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, in a consensus statement read by Argentine Foreign Minister Rafael Antonio Biélsa at the end of an open session featuring a briefing by the most senior UN representative in Haiti and interventions by delegates from several countries of the region.
The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was playing an important role in ensuring a secure environment, but the Council "notes, however, that further urgent action is needed to continue to improve the security situation," Mr. Biélsa said. "The Council again calls on all parties in Haiti to respect human rights and to renounce the use of violence to advance their goals."
Echoing a request from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) to Haiti, Juan Gabriel Valdés, the Council renewed its appeal to donor countries and international financial institutions to pay the pledges made in July 2004 and send all the peacekeeping troops and police promised.
"The Council reiterates the need to assist the Transitional Government in establishing a long-term development strategy for Haiti, in accordance with the priorities set forth in the Interim Cooperation Framework," said the Foreign Minister of Argentina, which holds the Council's rotating presidency for January.
It also urged the Transitional Government to review the cases of people being held without formal charges or trial. "In this regard, the Council calls on MINUSTAH to continue its support for the provision of human rights training to Haitian judicial, police and correctional authorities to ensure adherence to international norms and standards."
The statement responded in large part to the briefing given earlier by Mr. Valdés, who said MINUSTAH had reached nearly its full authorized strength since his November briefing of the Council.
"Because of this, the most recent efforts of MINUSTAH have been to give top priority to firm and sustained initiatives in the area of security," he said.
MINUSTAH's concept of security combined the legitimate use of force, when necessary, with assistance in solving the urgent problems of the most vulnerable groups in Haiti.
"Groups of former military men who had ventured to challenge the authority and capacity of the mission saw themselves rapidly forced to drop their pretences, while other illegal armed groups, among them some who still professed loyalty to ex-President (Jean-Bertrand) Aristide, have been losing ground," he said.
Prime Minister Gerard Latortue soon would announce the establishment of a Disarmament Commission as the country kicked off its programme of disarmament, demobilization and re-integration (DDR). This would include paying salaries and pensions to the former members of the Haitian army whose perquisites were withheld when the army was disbanded.
While the provisional release of some leaders from Mr. Aristide's party, Fanmi Lavalas, gave hope that country was taking the right path to a national dialogue, Mr. Valdés said, he regretted that the trials of certain political figures were so unjustifiably slow. He noted, in particular, that former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune already had served nearly a year in prison without any sign of legal action.
Nonetheless, with funds from Canada and the European Union, the technical work of preparing for the elections could begin and those who had been left out of the democratic process but who had rejected violence could now be included, Mr. Valdés said.
The Organization of American States (OAS), which groups the countries of the Americas, would begin registering voters in March, he said.
The 15 Council members were joined in the debate by representatives from several nations, including the Foreign Ministers from OAS countries Haiti, Barbados, Brazil, Chile and the Dominican Republic.