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#1667: U.N. mission to Haiti faces transition to building nation... (fwd)


Published Sunday, January 2, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
U.N. mission to Haiti faces transition to building nation, aiding


 The latest United Nations mission to Haiti will find itself negotiating
not only the complexities of the country but the intricacies of the U.N.
bureaucracy as its emphasis shifts from peacekeeping to nation-building
and its mandate from the Security Council to the General Assembly.
 Approved by the U.N. General Assembly Dec. 17, the International
Civilian Support Mission in Haiti -- MICAH by its French initials -- has
yet to exist, but already is confronted with a dual March deadline: the
March 15 expiration of the current mission and Haiti's scheduled
 March 19 first-round parliamentary and local elections. Four to five
weeks have been lost, the result of negotiations over funding and delays
due to the holiday season, according to Ambassador Michel Duval,
Canada's deputy permanent U.N. representative, who essentially functions
as the point man on Haiti for the ''Friends of Haiti.'' The ''Friends''
include Canada, the United States, France, Venezuela, Argentina and
Chile, the countries most directly involved with the Haitian situation.
 ''So nothing is going to get done before mid-January,'' Duval said. At
that time, he will be part of a U.N. delegation from New York scheduled
to visit Haiti to confer with U.N. officials there to assess staffing
and other elements of the mission. ''I hope things will move faster now
that we have the legislative authority [of the General Assembly], but
there are still some problems to be solved,'' Duval said. Among them are
reconciling the objectives of the new mission -- which will operate
under the UN's Department of Political Affairs -- with the current
Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) -- which operates under its
Peacekeeping Department. ''Natural hurdles do exist,'' Duval
acknowledged. ''You have an existing mission and you want to build a new
one. . . . You will have two competing objectives . . . to complete the
task of MIPONUH . . . but for us the construction of the new
 mission is the new objective. . . . We need to find the right
personnel. It is never easy. . . . The recruitment will start


 Duval said he believes the new mission will be able to begin operations
in March but admitted the schedule is so tight there is little room for
new problems. He also doubts that its mandate will be extended after its
scheduled expiration on Feb. 6, 2001. In fact, the new mission will
combine two existing missions -- the civilian police advisory group,
which numbers about 280, including 145 Argentine gendarmes, and a joint
UN/Organization of American States human rights monitoring mission
 of about 60. The new mission's focus will be on police, human rights
and justice. Many of the 100-plus mission members are expected to be
drawn from the two existing missions. The mission's immediate challenge,
Duval said, ''will be the elections and if they take place and if we see
a new government, a constitutional one, in place.'' That, he said, would
energize the new mission. Haiti observers say the first-round elections
may be delayed by a few weeks beyond the scheduled date of March 19. The
international community apparently considers it essential, however, that
they be held in time for a new Parliament to convene by early June.
 There has been no Parliament since January 1999, when President Rene
Preval effectively dissolved it by declaring an end of its term. There
has been no constitutionally functioning government since June 1997,
when Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned in protest over disputed
parliamentary elections.


 Candidate registration for the upcoming elections ended in December,
with a multitude of contenders signing up for all offices in a
last-minute rush after restrictions were lifted. The next big test
starts Jan. 10 when registration of an estimated 4.5 million eligible
voters begins. Duval calls the elections essential, not only for Haitian
democracy but for the country's development. More than $500 million in
development assistance has been held up by the lack of a Parliament or a
constitutional government. ''Without a government, you cannot have
[economic] development,'' Duval said. ''The new mission will not be able
to achieve it's objectives. You need a government, you need ministers
that are going to decide laws to be adopted and then implemented by the
Parliament. I think the Haitians realize this as well. The other element
is what kind of commitment we will get from the Haitians . . . 

 ''It all has to come together. It is not something foreigners can
impose . . . There are basic constitutional needs that they have to
meet. It has to come in the year 2000, otherwise we might find ourselves
not only without ministers . . . [but] without a Parliament, without a
Senate. . . . We could find ourselves without a president.''