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#478: U.N. seeks extended presence and new role in Haiti (fwd)


Published Monday, September 13, 1999, in the Miami Herald THE AMERICAS

 U.N. seeks extended presence and new role in Haiti

 By DON BOHNING and STEWART STOGEL Herald Staff Writers 

 The United Nations will seek an extension of its role in Haiti beyond
the Nov. 30 expiration of its current mandate, transferring authority
from the U.N. Security Council to the General Assembly, according to
U.S. and foreign diplomats. Assuming Haitian President Rene Preval
requests the new mission, which is likely, it is expected to be
formalized by the General Assembly sometime after its annual session
opens Sept. 20. There's a certain sense of urgency for U.N. action, with
first-round parliamentary and local elections scheduled for Dec. 19,
though they are likely to be delayed. To make sure there is no
interruption in the U.N. presence if elections do take place, there is
talk of temporarily extending the current Security Council mandate
 beyond November, while approving the new mission and transfering
authority to the General Assembly. ``The purpose of the [present]
mandate was to provide security for the elections,'' said Michael Duval,
Canada's deputy permanent U.N. representative. ``It was one
 of the reasons for the mandate to begin with.'' To extend it would
require the approval of Russia and China, both permanent Security
Council members with veto power, who have been unenthusiastic about
 previous extensions, although there is otherwise broad agreement that
the U.N. must continue to be present in Haiti for the foreseeable

 `A degree of Haiti fatigue' 

 Duval says the Chinese have told several council members that they
would most likely abstain if a request for an extension were to come
before the council. The Russians have not indicated what they would do.
 ``There is a degree of Haiti fatigue in the Security Council as well as
the perception that continued Security Council attention to Haiti caters
narrowly to U.S. interests, even though Canada and France are both
council members also,'' says David Malone, Canada's deputy permanent
U.N. representative from 1992 to 1994 and author of the book
Decision-Making in the U.N. Security Council: The Case of Haiti. ``The
promotion of peace and security in Haiti is seen as serving
 principally the United States by preemptively addressing the refugee
situation.'' As for Russia and China, says Malone, who now heads the New
York-based International Peace Academy, ``both view Haiti as very much
an American priority and are still bruised from their differences with
the United States on Iraq and Kosovo.'' The Chinese also are miffed by
Haiti's continued ties to and support for Taiwan.

 Fewer people to be involved 

 Unlike the current U.N. mission in Haiti, which covers only a
280-member civilian police monitoring mission, the new mandate under the
General Assembly is expected to focus on economic and political
development, and institution-building as well as security training -- a
shift from peacekeeping to peace-building, as one diplomat puts it.
 The mission also is likely to involve fewer people, eliminating the
145-member Argentine police squad that is in Haiti to provide security
for the civilian police trainers. The new mission is expected to
encompass the current 60-member U.N.-Organization of American States
human rights monitoring mission, known by its French initials, MICIVIH,
the mandate for which expires Dec. 31. Any U.N. decision will have no
effect on the more than 400 U.S. troops who are part of the bilateral
U.S. Military Support Group in Haiti, which operates under the
 Pentagon's Miami-based U.S. Southern Command and whose activities are
 strictly humanitarian. There has been no formal U.S. announcement of a
withdrawal date, but National Security Advisor Sandy Berger has advised
government agencies that the Support Group will be out by Jan. 31, 2000.

 `Peace-building' mission 

 Canada's Duval sees the expected new U.N. mission as going beyond the
 parliamentary elections and into the December 2000 presidential
election; a mission with a continued civilian police component as well
as a human rights-building component. ``What I'm talking about is a
transition from a Security Council mandate to something new, this new
type of mission,'' Duval said. ``It will represent the end of Security
Council involvement. It's the difference between peacekeeping . . . and
a mission which will have a lot of peace-building elements . . . ``There
will be a pressing need for the Haitian authorities to get involved
because they have to define the needs,'' he added. ``They are a partner.
They need to become a player.'' The proposed new U.N. mission is based
on recommendations resulting from an early summer mission to Haiti by
five ambassadors from the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council. At the
time, a transfer of authority for the Haiti mission from the
 Security Council to the Economic and Social Council was under
consideration. It was subsequently decided to transfer authority to the
General Assembly. The most significant issue yet to be resolved is
funding for the new mission.