The United-Nations’ Epic Failure in Haiti
By Frandley Denis Julien
On June 1st, 2004, The United Nations’ Security Council adopted UN Resolution 1542, instituting the United-Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Minustah. The resolution itemized the mission’s main objectives as follows: “maintain stability, build capacity to maintain the operations of state institutions, coordinate aid to ensure that it does not exacerbate the unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities that have long fueled instability in the country, promote and protect human rights”, and its expected accomplishment was to “facilitate an all-inclusive dialogue and national reconciliation”.
An objective assessment of the mission’s performance can only be performed by measuring its accomplishments, or lack thereof, against the yardstick of the aforementioned stipulations of its mandate. Seven (7) years after the mission’s deployment, Haiti is as unstable as before, the institutions as weak as ever; the mission spends its budget mostly on its staff, and the political scene is so polarized that more than three months after president Martelly’s election, he had been unable to have his picks for Prime Minister ratified by parliament. A budget of $793.517.100 was approved to cover the Minustah’s operations from July 1st, 2011, to June 30th, 2012.
On the human rights question, not only has the mission failed to fulfill its mandate, but to add insult to injury, its members have come to be known as the most vigilant human rights violators in the country. Throughout Haiti, a plethora of acts of physical and sexual abuse perpetrated against both men and women, young and old, has dotted the mission’s already far from pristine reputation. In August 2010, the lifeless body of Gerald Gilles, a 16-year old civilian employee of the Minustah was found hanging from a tree inside the mission’s base in Cap-Haitien. Members of the Nepalese contingent that occupy that base later claimed that the youngster had hung himself, but ear witnesses from the neighboring Hotel Christophe testified having heard him yell “they are strangling me”. Justice is yet to be served and the investigation has been short-circuited. The same year, these same Nepalese soldiers dumped their contaminated waste waters in the country’s rivers, triggering an outbreak of cholera—certified by several independent scientific teams to be from Nepalese origin—that resulted in the death of several thousand people, and the contamination of even more. Most recently, during the month of August 2011, four Uruguayan troops collectively raped a Haitian minor by the name of Johnny Joseph, capturing their hideous act all along on camera, prompting Uruguay’s president to extend his apologies to his Haitian counterpart.
Moreover, it is obvious that because the Minustah has become such a lucrative venture for both its members on the ground and UN officials, they have no interest in a stable, sovereign and prosperous Haiti. After the January 12th, 2010 earthquake, the UN decided to increase both the Minustah’s budget and size. However, scores of the newly deployed members reside in the neighboring Dominican Republic in order, as the United-Nations organization shamelessly puts it on its own website (in the body of the 2010-20111 budget document), to “reduce the exposure of UN personnel and property to potential disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as criminality and riots”. In other words, the Minustah cannot stand the heat, while some of his functionaries perceive tax-free salaries of up to $166.475.00, with hazard pay of up to $17.000.00. and generous cost of living allowances.
At this juncture of Haiti’s History, it is important that Haitians assume their civic duty, and reclaim the country’s national sovereignty from the UN mission that is nothing else than a costly distraction; indeed, its presence on the ground contributes to the deterioration of the security, human rights and political situations, and delays the time where Haitians will feel summoned to get together and come up with a national solution to said situations.
It’s time for a gradual withdrawal of the UN’s failed mission in Haiti. Haitians are ready to answer the call of duty.
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