Thursday morning, the Fifth United Nations Commission responsible for Administrative and Budgetary Questions has considered, the budget proposals of 13 Peace-keeping operations for the period from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016, particularly the reduction of budget of the Minustah in Haiti, which has raised concerns in several member countries.
This was expressed delegations about the UN mission in Haiti for which the Secretary-General proposes a budget of $ 386 million, a decrease of 22% compared to the 2014/2015 financial year. The Haitian representative reiterated the request of its President, to maintain the substantial assistance of the United Nations to consolidate the climate of security during the whole electoral cycle expected this year “by a visible and robust presence of military and police components of the Mission.”
Xavier Lasso Mendoza (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed its solidarity with the people and Government of Haiti and said that CELAC is opposed to any arbitrary reduction of the budget of the Minustah that is not technically justified. He recalled that the budgets of the Peace-keeping operations must be based on technical criteria, taking into account the situation on the ground and the terms of reference as approved by the Security Council. “We reiterate the need to provide resources to the Minustah […] in particular in order to provide technical, logistical and security during the electoral process” He expressed concern that the draft budget proposes to limit military personnel to 2,370, against 13,000 at its highest level and police force to 2,600. “Our delegations remain convinced that, to gradually reduce UN staff in Haiti, we must continue to consider the situation on the ground and the capacity of the Haitian state to ensure the security of its people.”
Denis Régis (Haiti) recalled that his country had reached a turning point in the democratic consolidation process and the rule of law, being on the eve of general elections “long overdue”. He assured that the Haitian Government had taken all necessary measures to ensure the holding of free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections, the election timetable has been set for August and October 2015. The climate of confidence restored allows us to predict the success of the electoral process which will culminate with the inauguration of a new president in 2016. The representative stressed the essential role of the Minustah to support the Haitian authorities to establish a safe environment and stable, by supporting institutions guaranteeing the rule of law and those responsible for enforcing the law.
Noting that the Minustah must continue to reconfigure its size and composition to become a smaller, more targeted assistance mission, he said, hoped that the mission could focus on supporting the National Police of Haiti (PNH ) to allow the State to achieve the goal of 15,000 police officers in December 2016 and to ensure their geographic deployment throughout the country. He reiterated the position of his government on the reconfiguration of the Mission, which should reflect “the situation on the ground”, which joined the proposal of the Secretary-General expressed in his report to the Security Council in August 2014. This is why he considered that the strength of the Mission, both military and civilian, must be maintained at levels sufficient to avoid any security vacuum that would result from a premature withdrawal.
Omar Castañeda Solares (Guatemala) has called for caution, arguing that it was necessary to take account of changes in the security environment in recent months which have also resulted in the death of a Chilean peacekeeper. He also mentioned the increase in urban violence. The Representative also recalled that three elections were scheduled during the year 2015, to be held over a period of six months. Despite the progress made by the Haitian National Police, he said that it had not yet sufficient resources to support the security completely, especially during elections.
He also expressed concern at the planned reduction of military contingents, explaining that the latter would not be able provide the necessary support in terms of logistics and security. At the same time, he stressed that the security requirements have improved enough to consider a further reduction of the Mission’s contingents, what will be discussed in October 2015. He asked to consider the requests of the President of Haiti in this regard.
Sérgio Rodrigues Dos Santos (Brazil) said that a viable withdrawal of the UN in Haiti depends on a smooth transfer of responsibilities between United Nations peacekeeping staff and national authorities. Faced with the gradual withdrawal of the UN, the representative wanted to warn against the persistence of difficult problems that may negatively influence the security situation and threaten the gains made since 2010. The workforce reduction process must match realities, including the economic and social situation. The representative requested that the level of resources of the Minustah takes into account the need to support the upcoming elections, strengthening the police and the rule of law and improving the prison system.
He was particularly concerned about the expected 53% decrease in resources of the military component, considering it essential that the peacekeeping forces have the means to deal with any eventuality. After stressing the importance of programs of community violence reduction and quick-impact projects, the representative objected strongly to any financial adjustment based on arbitrary principles, including the alleged need to support other missions.