U.N. seeks extended presence and new role in Haiti
By DON BOHNING and STEWART STOGEL
Herald Staff Writers
The United Nations will seek an extension of its role in Haiti
beyond the Nov. 30
expiration of its current mandate, transferring authority from the U.N. Security
Council to the General Assembly, according to U.S. and foreign diplomats.
Assuming Haitian President Rene Preval requests the new mission,
likely, it is expected to be formalized by the General Assembly sometime after its
annual session opens Sept. 20.
There's a certain sense of urgency for U.N. action, with first-round
and local elections scheduled for Dec. 19, though they are likely to be delayed.
To make sure there is no interruption in the U.N. presence if
elections do take
place, there is talk of temporarily extending the current Security Council mandate
beyond November, while approving the new mission and transfering authority to
the General Assembly.
``The purpose of the [present] mandate was to provide security
for the elections,''
said Michael Duval, Canada's deputy permanent U.N. representative. ``It was one
of the reasons for the mandate to begin with.''
To extend it would require the approval of Russia and China, both
Security Council members with veto power, who have been unenthusiastic about
previous extensions, although there is otherwise broad agreement that the U.N.
must continue to be present in Haiti for the foreseeable future.
`A degree of Haiti fatigue'
Duval says the Chinese have told several council members that
they would most
likely abstain if a request for an extension were to come before the council. The
Russians have not indicated what they would do.
``There is a degree of Haiti fatigue in the Security Council as
well as the
perception that continued Security Council attention to Haiti caters narrowly to
U.S. interests, even though Canada and France are both council members also,''
says David Malone, Canada's deputy permanent U.N. representative from 1992 to
1994 and author of the book Decision-Making in the U.N. Security Council: The
Case of Haiti. ``The promotion of peace and security in Haiti is seen as serving
principally the United States by preemptively addressing the refugee situation.''
As for Russia and China, says Malone, who now heads the New York-based
International Peace Academy, ``both view Haiti as very much an American priority
and are still bruised from their differences with the United States on Iraq and
Kosovo.'' The Chinese also are miffed by Haiti's continued ties to and support for
Fewer people to be involved
Unlike the current U.N. mission in Haiti, which covers only a
police monitoring mission, the new mandate under the General Assembly is
expected to focus on economic and political development, and institution-building
as well as security training -- a shift from peacekeeping to peace-building, as one
diplomat puts it.
The mission also is likely to involve fewer people, eliminating
Argentine police squad that is in Haiti to provide security for the civilian police
The new mission is expected to encompass the current 60-member
U.N.-Organization of American States human rights monitoring mission, known
by its French initials, MICIVIH, the mandate for which expires Dec. 31.
Any U.N. decision will have no effect on the more than 400 U.S.
troops who are
part of the bilateral U.S. Military Support Group in Haiti, which operates under the
Pentagon's Miami-based U.S. Southern Command and whose activities are
There has been no formal U.S. announcement of a withdrawal date,
Security Advisor Sandy Berger has advised government agencies that the Support
Group will be out by Jan. 31, 2000.
Canada's Duval sees the expected new U.N. mission as going beyond
parliamentary elections and into the December 2000 presidential election; a
mission with a continued civilian police component as well as a human
``What I'm talking about is a transition from a Security Council
something new, this new type of mission,'' Duval said.
``It will represent the end of Security Council involvement. It's
between peacekeeping . . . and a mission which will have a lot of peace-building
elements . . .
``There will be a pressing need for the Haitian authorities to
get involved because
they have to define the needs,'' he added. ``They are a partner. They need to
become a player.''
The proposed new U.N. mission is based on recommendations resulting
early summer mission to Haiti by five ambassadors from the U.N.'s Economic and
Social Council. At the time, a transfer of authority for the Haiti mission from the
Security Council to the Economic and Social Council was under consideration. It
was subsequently decided to transfer authority to the General Assembly.
The most significant issue yet to be resolved is funding for the new mission.