The Miami Herald
September 13, 1999

U.N. seeks extended presence and new role in Haiti

 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, which is
 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 parliamentary
 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 permanent
 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 280-member civilian
 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 the 145-member
 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
 strictly humanitarian.

 There has been no formal U.S. announcement of a withdrawal date, but National
 Security Advisor Sandy Berger has advised government agencies that the Support
 Group will be out by Jan. 31, 2000.

 `Peace-building' mission

 Canada's Duval sees the expected new U.N. mission as going beyond the
 parliamentary elections and into the December 2000 presidential election; a
 mission with a continued civilian police component as well as a human
 rights-building component.

 ``What I'm talking about is a transition from a Security Council mandate to
 something new, this new type of mission,'' Duval said.

 ``It will represent the end of Security Council involvement. It's the difference
 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 from an
 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.