Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Nationally Owned Transitions

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
July 18, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President.

The success of transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding is crucial to maintaining lasting stability and security around the world. I would like to thank the Secretary-General’s leadership on peacebuilding initiatives and for his valuable perspectives he presented earlier today. I would also like to thank Minister Trujillo, Franck Bousquet, and Yero Baldeh for their important contributions for this important debate today. We also welcome the ministers from Haiti and Timor Leste as well.

The United Nations has fourteen active peacekeeping missions and eleven active special political missions. The goal for each of these missions is to draw down and conclude as we have recently achieved in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, and previously in Timor Leste. As experience has shown us, managing the transition process efficiently and effectively can be a significant challenge. I will discuss three points today – key ingredients to successfully nationally owned transitions, the importance of the role of women in these transitions, and the case of Haiti.

A transition owned by the host country, with the full support and partnership of member states, regional organizations, and the UN itself, is most likely to result in lasting peace and security. Planning and communication, along with distinct and achievable benchmarks, are also key elements of the process.

Successful transitions require significant advance planning and communication between all stakeholders, including the host government, the Security Council, regional actors, the Secretariat, and civil society. For this reason, the United States maintains as one of our peacekeeping principles that every mission must have a clear exit strategy. Ongoing engagement on the exit strategy during the lifecycle of a mission ensures that transition planning is considered, discussed, and negotiated as early as possible.

Benchmarks during transitions serve as a critical metric to ensure all stakeholders, including the host-country, are meeting obligations that will help ensure lasting peace and security. Distinct and achievable benchmarks provide the transparency and accountability necessary to ensure the host nation is fully capable of standing on its own without the support of the United Nations.

Women must also play a more meaningful role in transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. Supporting women, peace, and security experts is a good place to start.

In 2018, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UN Women, piloted gender conflict analysis work in missions to inform transitions and drawdowns in Liberia, Haiti, and Darfur. This helped the host nations and the UN better understand the needs of women as missions shift from peacekeeping to peacebuilding.

Benchmarks for UN transitions and exits should ensure that they incorporate standalone measures on women, peace, and security and gender equality, in line with the Mission’s mandate. The United States will continue to advocate for mandates that prioritize strategic assessments that include experts evaluating the needs of women.

Mr. President, in October 2019, the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti will replace the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti. The conclusion of the UN peacekeeping presence in Haiti after more than 15 years, and the transition to a Special Political Mission, is an important milestone for Haiti. Once complete, we will be able to hold Haiti up as an example of a successful, nationally owned transition.

As the Security Council has repeatedly stated, it is the primary responsibility of the Government of Haiti to address the underlying drivers of instability in the country. A successful transition will depend, in large part, on progress from the Haitian government on a range of issues, including holding free and fair elections, the continued professionalization of the Haitian National Police, and the reduction of community and gang violence, the protection of human rights, and justice sector reform.

The United States remains committed to Haiti’s future, and it is essential for the Government of Haiti to seize the opportunity that BINUH represents. In addition to engaging all Haitian stakeholders, including the full and effective participation of women, the government of Haiti must continue to work closely with the UN and international partners. By doing so, Haiti can lay the groundwork for a prosperous and successful future.

Transitions are, by nature, a time of flux and instability. However, through careful planning and communication, clear benchmarks, and the meaningful participation of women, we can advance the cause of peace, security, and stability.

Thank you, Mr. President.