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London 18:57, 02 Jan 2013
New York 13:57, 02 Jan 2013

"Building the capacity of the Haitian National Police should be MINUSTAH’s highest priority"

03 October 2012

Statement by UK Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Philip Parham at the Security Council Debate on Haiti
Deputy Permanent Representative Philip Parham

Thank you Mr President, and it’s an honour to have you presiding over us today.

Many congratulations to you and Guatemala for assuming the Presidency of the Council for the first time.  Many thanks to the German delegation for everything they did in the Presidency of the Council last month, and many thanks to SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] Fernandez for his briefing, and for everything that he and everyone in MINUSTAH does to implement the mandate which we have given them in support of Haiti.

Mr President,

Seven months ago when the Council debated MINUSTAH following our visit to Haiti, inertia in the political system was blighting decision-making on all the issues central to the nation’s development. Seven months on, several political milestones have been achieved, including the ratification of the Prime Minister and the installation of the Superior Council of the Judiciary. Haiti has the opportunity to build on this progress.

Following our visit, we called for the mission to begin planning so that when conditions on the ground allowed, it could begin draw-down. Now we see signs that those conditions are improving. For example:

  • MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police have brought to a peaceful conclusion a potentially inflammatory demonstration by former members of the Haitian army;
  • There has been a hand-over of security from MINUSTAH to the Haitian National Police in camps for internally displaced persons;
  • And in four of ten regions, responsibility for security now rests with MINUSTAH’s police units rather than with its troops.

It is important that we note these successes. 

Mr President,

We support the Secretary-General’s proposals to reduce the number of uniformed personnel deployed with the mission. But it is in no one’s interest that MINUSTAH leaves before the security which it has established can be sustained by the Haitian authorities. Now, more than ever, it is critical that the mission undertakes the planning needed for it to draw down without jeopardising its hard-won security gains.

MINUSTAH’s activities must be carefully prioritised.

Building the capacity of the Haitian National Police, both operational and institutional, should be MINUSTAH’s highest priority. I underline, we believe this should be “the top”, not “a top”, but “the top” priority for MINUSTAH. The Haitian National Police must meet appropriate human rights standards if it is to win the confidence of the Haitian people. Effective oversight, transparency and zero tolerance for corruption will all be important. Officers should expect the support of all political parties and a reasonable salary, which is paid on time.

Capacity building in the justice sector, regionally and at the institutional level, is also important to complement this activity.

Neither of these tasks is solely for MINUSTAH. Clarity is needed amongst all the actors involved as to what capacity the Haitian National Police and the justice system more broadly needs to build, and what the benchmarks and timetable will be for achieving this.

Mr President,

For as long as political uncertainty remains the most likely trigger of instability, activity to support political stability must continue to be a priority. MINUSTAH should support the elections planned for the end of the year. The appointment of a Permanent Electoral Council is a crucial step and needs to be achieved quickly if the partial Senate and local elections are to be held on schedule. It’s vital that the Council is able to act independently and that it is given the funding to do so.

However, this necessary prioritisation inevitably means cutting back on some activities. The report of the ECOSOC Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti focuses on the importance now of strong and coherent development support and mobilising of Haitian stakeholders, as well as the phased transfer of tasks from MINUSTAH to other actors.

We agree. MINUSTAH should be handing over tasks where other actors, including the UN Country Team, have a comparative advantage in conducting them. Where possible, tasks should be handed to national actors. Where this is not yet possible, all elements of the UN system need to work together to build national capacity.

MINUSTAH should be adopting the most efficient configuration. It should be drawing on lessons from other missions. And decisions should take into account the differences between geographic areas and varying progress between sectors.

Mr President,

The United Kingdom believes it is essential that peacekeepers conform to the highest standards of conduct at all times. We firmly support the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, and urge a rigorous and transparent approach to all such allegations.

To conclude, Mr President,

MINUSTAH has achieved some encouraging results over the past 12 months. Looking forward, efforts now need to focus on utilising the more favourable environment in which it is operating to deliver its core tasks. It must engage other actors to share the burden where appropriate. And MINUSTAH should be stopping activity which others are better able to conduct.

Thank you, Mr President.

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