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#1054: New U.N. Haiti mission will focus on police, rights, justice (fwd)
Published Monday, November 22, 1999, in the Miami Herald
New U.N. Haiti mission will focus on police, rights, justice
BY DON BOHNING
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- With a request from President Rene Preval in hand,
diplomats in New York are shaping a new, scaled-down United Nations
mission to Haiti, likely to be the last direct residue of the U.S.-led
1994 military intervention that restored democratically elected
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to office. The new mission is expected
to number about 100 non-uniformed and unarmed technical consultants in
the areas of police, human rights and justice, and to be in place by
early March, with a one-year mandate, according to diplomatic
sources. The mission will combine and replace two existing missions: a
U.N. civilian police advisory group -- known by its French initials
MIPONUH -- and a joint U.N. and Organization of American States human
rights and justice monitoring unit known as MICIVIH. The two missions
together now have about 350 personnel. The new mission will also
encompass United Nations Development Program operations in Haiti, with
the resident representative of that program serving as deputy to U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan's special representative in Haiti.
The consolidated mission will operate under a mandate from the U.N.
General Assembly, as opposed to the current police advisory mission,
which comes under the U.N. Security Council and expires Nov. 30.
Michael Duval, Canada's deputy permanent U.N. representative, who has
been actively involved in the negotiations for the new mission, says a
General Assembly resolution authorizing it is scheduled to be presented
Wednesday. In order to allow for an uninterrupted transition from the
current mission to the new one, the Security Council will be asked to
extend the current mission by three months. Duval, who intends to
introduce the Security Council resolution immediately after the
Thanksgiving holidays, says he expects no opposition. The shape of the
new mission and the U.N. mandate under which it would operate have been
topics of negotiation and discussion in recent months. Russia and China
both indicated they would not vote for a renewal of the mission
under a Security Council mandate, although they are said to have agreed
to the three-month extension of the current mission to provide for the
transition. Time was lost, according to some diplomats, because of
Washington's initial push for the new mission to come under the U.N.
Economic and Social Council, which would have made it difficult to
continue assistance to the police and the judiciary.
The current mission numbers about 135 police advisors and 145 armed
Argentine gendarmes whose only role is to provide protection for the
police advisors. Last year, Haiti's Parliament approved a provision that
calls for the government to ''obtain the departure of all foreign armed
forces and . . . take all means necessary so that there will be no other
armed forces on national territory parallel to the Haitian National
Police.'' The Argentine gendarmes and the U.S. military's 500-member
Support Group for Haiti, in the country under a bilateral arrangement,
were already in existence at the time and their presence was not
challenged. But with the Nov. 30 expiration of the current police
advisory mandate and the Support Group withdrawing by the end of
January, the Haitian government apparently hoped to see the legislation
complied with. An agreement is said to have been worked out, however,
with Preval agreeing to the resolution creating the new mission and to
the existing mission remaining intact through the transition period.
A question of funding has also apparently been resolved.
''These are the sort of hang-ups that come up,'' said David Malone,
Canada's former deputy permanent U.N. representative and author of the
book Decision-Making in the U.N. Security Council: The Case of Haiti.
''U.N. missions never turn into pumpkins overnight,'' said Malone, who
now heads the New York-based International Peace Academy.
Herald special correspondent Stewart Stogel at the United Nations
contributed to this report.