Merci, Monsieur Le Président.
Special Representative La Lime, thank you for your briefing and for being with us today. We appreciate the update on MINUJUSTH’s efforts and its preparation for a successful drawdown of operations by October 2019. And we also always appreciate the excellent handouts which give us a very good graphic representation of the progress that’s being made in the mission.
Mr. President, let me start with expressing our support to the people of Haiti, who have faced a volatile security situation over the last several weeks. We extend our condolences to the families and friends of the victims, including the Haitian National Police and Customs officers who perished in the line of duty. We support individuals’ right to freely express themselves and peacefully protest, but we condemn acts of violence.
The United States encourages meaningful dialogue to address points of disagreement and find lasting solutions without violence, and we urge all parties and leaders to work together to move the political dialogue forward in ways that advance the interests and aspirations of the Haitian people.
Mr. President, the United States will continue to support the goal of a safer, prosperous future for all Haitians. However, change must come from the ballot box. We note that Haiti is preparing for legislative and local elections next year. Elections can only take place in a climate of peace, tranquility, transparency, and in accordance with Haitian law. Haiti must adhere to the electoral timetable or risk further instability.
We also commend the professionalism demonstrated by the Haitian National Police in maintaining security and preserving public order during demonstrations on November 18 and November 23 and in the days before and after. For the sake of transparency and accountability, however, we call on the HNP Inspector General to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses. This will further strengthen the HNP’s ability to carry out its vital mission.
The future of Haiti’s security depends on well-trained and adequately resourced police. As such, the United States has, since 2010, invested more than $250 million to increase the size and professionalism of the HNP through training, equipment, and infrastructure. As a direct result of U.S. support, the HNP has grown from a force of 6,000 in 2010 to more than 15,000 in 2018.
Mr. President, twelve months into the projected two-year lifespan of MINUJUSTH, the mission, together with international partners including the United States, has helped build Haiti’s security and justice sector capacities. Furthermore, the Haitian government has advanced key justice sector legislation, reinforced Haitian National Police crowd control capabilities, and made progress towards addressing international human rights concerns.
However, progress is not even across all benchmarks, and more needs to be done, particularly on strengthening rule of law and anti-corruption institutions. Other challenges include renewing judicial mandates, filling vacant Supreme Court seats, strengthening judicial oversight to combat impunity, and establishing a permanent electoral council.
We expect MINUJUSTH to continue its work with Haiti to achieve the necessary progress that will permit it to transition to a non-peacekeeping UN presence by October 2019. We are optimistic that benchmarks to complete a peacekeeping mission can be achieved by the end of MINUJUSTH’s projected lifespan. Work on other benchmarks may be continued after its drawdown.
Mr. President, this is the time to start planning the transition. We look forward to the strategic assessment report due by March 1, 2019. For MINUJUSTH’s drawdown to succeed, it will require a fine-tuned coordination, the full transition of responsibility to Haitian authorities, and the planning of the legislative elections.
The UN will continue to play a role in Haiti, but a peacekeeping operation under Chapter VII of the UN Charter will not be necessary after October 2019. Until then, continued efforts from MINUJUSTH and the Government of Haiti are essential to achieve the mission’s benchmarks and the common goal of a safer, more secure, and prosperous country for all Haitians.
I thank you.