The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was established on 1 June 2004 by Security Council resolution 1542 . The UN mission succeeded a Multinational Interim Force (MIF) authorized by the Security Council in February 2004. The mission has a mandate to restore a secure and stable environment, to promote the political process, to strengthen Haiti’s government institutions and rule-of-law-structures, as well as to promote and to protect human rights. With MINUSTAH’s mandate renewed on October 14, 2014, it is opportune to review the mission’s accomplishments during its ten-year presence in Haiti.
Electoral Efficiency Program (EEP): The EEP has sharply reduced a) the frequency of Haiti’s election cycles; b) overcrowding at election activities; and c) the total number of officials subject to populist pressures. These successes have led to a more efficient and responsive government and freed citizens up from electoral activities, allowing them more time to participate in MINUSTAH’s robust civic education program.
Election cycle reduction: Election cycles in Haiti are expensive, disruptive – even violent – and unnecessarily expose government officials to populist pressures. In the nine years before MINUSTAH deployment, Haiti had been subjected to five electoral cycles, one almost every time the Constitution required it. In the decade since MINUSTAH’s 2004 deployment, Haiti has been subjected to three election cycles only, a 40% efficiency gain. In two periods covering half of that time – June 2004 to February 2006, and March 2011 to the present – and thanks toclose cooperation between MINUSTAH and the existing governments, Haiti has remained completely election-free.
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Electoral Congestion Reduction: Haiti’s election days have traditionally been crowded and chaotic, with voters waiting in long lines, which in turn creates risk of disruption of the democratic process and violence and exposes officials to populist pressures. MINUSTAH diagnosed the principal cause of the congestion as Haiti’s unhealthy participation rates, which are typically, like Haiti’s HIV-AIDS rate, one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Following a tripartite collaboration among MINUSTAH, the Preval Administration and the US Department of State, Haiti’s participation rate was reduced to under 25% in the most recent elections, among the lowest rates ever in the hemisphere for a presidential race.
Reduction of Exposure to Populist Pressures: Haiti’s high-frequency, congested elections in the decade before MINUSTAH deployment had subjected government officials to popular pressures that reduced elections to popularity contests and restricted the independence that Haiti’s leaders needed to effectively consolidate the country’s democratic institutions. For example, just six months before MINUSTAH’s 2004 deployment, almost all of the mayors in the country obtained their offices merely by pleasing the voters. Thanks to innovative collaboration between the Martelly Administration and MINUSTAH, every single current local elected official has been chosen on the basis of merit, by the Administration. The bloated Senate has been reduced by 1/3, and in early 2015, the Senate will be reduced by another third, with a complete reduction of the House of Deputies.
Cholera Elimination Plan (CEP): Through the introduction of cholera, MINUSTAH has sustainably eliminated over 8,500 Haitians from the dangers of extreme poverty, hunger, contraction of other diseases and various other perils that life brings, while providing Haitian citizens and their government with an opportunity to develop an unprecedented structural,technical and immunological capacity to respond to infectious disease. MINUSTAH has also provided over 700,000 Haitians with invaluable lessons in resilience and perseverance and encouraged them and their families to engage in important contingency planning. The program has also generated important society-wide dialogue on the importance of water and sanitation infrastructure, accountability and the rule of law.
Genetic Diversity Program (GDP):
Through the energetic and unrestrained participation of MINUSTAH uniformed personnel – often even outside normal duty hours – MINUSTAH has increased genetic diversity amongst the Haitian population. The GDP focuses its efforts on at-risk women and girls, but manages to reach out to other vulnerable populations as well.
MINUSTAH has helped Haiti’s leaders develop a secure and stable environment through the enforcement of tolerance measures, in many cases obtaining levels of tolerance not believed possible before MINUSTAH’s deployment. Highlights of the program include tolerance for the return of President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier, the restoration of Haiti’s hated armed forces, the imprisonment of political opponents and serial public criminality by members of the President’s entourage.