Security Council Session on the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH)
20 February 2020
Mr. President, distinguished members of the Council,
1. Thank you for the opportunity to once more address you and provide an update on the situation in Haiti. Since July 2018, the political impasse has paralyzed the functioning of Haitian institutions, grieved the country’s economy, and fueled continued insecurity.
2. Over the course of the past months, I have worked alongside the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States and the Apostolic Nuncio in Haiti to create an environment conducive to a negotiated resolution to the crisis, one that would catalyze a reform effort aimed at restoring the population’s confidence in the State, ensuring that the most vulnerable receive much-needed basic services, and laying the groundwork for the timely holding of elections.
3. During two rounds of negotiations held at the Representation of the Holy See in Haiti in mid-December 2019 and late January 2020, a consensus emerged on the contours of a political agreement articulated around four elements: the criteria for the formation of a government; the contents of a reform agenda; the sequencing of a constitutional reform process; and the definition of an electoral calendar. Despite progress regarding the nature of the reforms to be undertaken, including that of the Constitution, political actors have yet to settle on a formula that would lead to the designation by President Moïse of a consensual Prime Minister and the formation of a new government.
4. The lack of agreement on this matter, as well as on the remaining length of President Moïse’s term, threatens to needlessly prolong a situation that has already lasted too long. Haiti is about to enter in its second year with a caretaker government, its economy is forecast to sink deeper into recession, and 4.6 million of its citizens are now estimated to require humanitarian assistance. The effects of the strained economy and the prolonged political polarization risk further affecting the integrity and effectiveness of key institutions, such as the Haitian National Police. To avoid a greater deterioration, Haitian leaders need to rise to the occasion and commit to a way out of this impasse that will best serve the interests of their people.
5. A political agreement notwithstanding, the road towards improved governance through systemic reform will be arduous. Indeed, at the root of the recurring political and socio-economic crises which Haiti has experienced in its modern history lie such entrenched factors as consistently high levels of poverty, pervasive gender inequalities, limited access to basic social services, severe natural resource depletion, and the scourge of gangs, corruption and impunity.
6. Since the adoption by this Council of resolution 2476 in June of last year, the peace and security and development pillars of the United Nations have worked tirelessly to develop a joint vision and holistic approach to our interventions in Haiti. The results of these efforts are reflected in the 13 February report of the Secretary-General before you (S/2020/123), and are encapsulated in an Integrated Strategic Framework planning document which articulates a focused strategy to assist Haitian institutions in addressing the root causes of instability in the country.
7. The deployment of BINUH on 16 October 2019 opened a new chapter in the relation between Haiti and the United Nations, one premised on a deeper and more targeted collaboration. Our collective success will be measured by the progress made in achieving the six benchmarks in annex to the report of the Secretary-General, which focus on facilitating a political consensus; addressing gang violence; strengthening the police, justice and corrections sectors; promoting human rights; helping address unemployment and socio-economic grievances; and encouraging the presence of the State in communities through the provision of basic services and efforts to enhance resilience.
8. In that respect, the recently published joint BINUH-OHCHR public report on allegations of human rights violations and abuses perpetrated in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bel-Air between 4 and 6 November 2019 provides an example of the cross-cutting nature of the work currently undertaken by the United Nations in Haiti. Not only does the document analyze an example of the expansion of lawlessness in certain neighborhoods of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, but it also makes recommendations to State authorities on how to improve access to justice for victims, enhance accountability, and interdict the action of criminal gangs.
9. Only through a combination of strong national will and steadfast international support can Haiti surmount the multifaceted crisis with which it is contending. I remain confident that the United Nations, in its new configuration, is uniquely placed to help State institutions address the factors that catalyze cyclical periods of instability in the country and ensure that Haiti is once again on the path to stability and sustainable development.