The Report of the Secretary-General, dated 19 August 2013 (S/2013/493), offers the semi-annual account of major developments and Mission activities since the last SG Report of 8 March 2013 (S/2013/139). Pursuant to SCR 2070 of 12 October 2013, this report highlights considerable progress made in the overall security situation, in resettling the displaced, and in the decree establishing the interministerial human rights commission. Yet progress is fragile, and may be offset by continuing delays in holding elections and the protracted negotiations between Parliament and the executive branch more broadly. Other significant and persistent challenges include the ongoing cholera epidemic, protection of those still displaced, food insecurity, and sexual and gender-based violence, with a lack of respondent due diligence and resulting impunity.
References to women, peace and security issues are encouragingly visible within the SG report (including a section on ‘gender,’ paras. 40-41), and effectively balance an emphasis upon women’s participation with a corresponding focus upon protection concerns. Greater women’s inclusion is addressed and advocated in relation to public life, political participation, electoral processes, and the constitutional minimum 30 percent female participation quota in the electoral law (paras. 18, 23, 41, 46). To a lesser extent, women are also represented in police recruitment, including as senior officers (para. 29).
Sexual and gender-based violence (including amongst children) are highlighted as lingering problems, especially with the lack of due diligence on behalf of police and judicial authorities treating such cases, resulting in a high degree of impunity (paras. 32, 40, 42, 45). Yet in response, the report notes that MINUSTAH has maintained its presence in camps for the internally displaced, as well as in fragile urban communities prone to violence such as SGBV (para. 32). In addition, the Mission is providing support to survivors of GBV (para. 40), and advocating Parliament for the adoption of laws on human trafficking and adoption of children (para 42). Finally, the report cites a series of training programs to address and prevent sexual and gender-based misconduct: for trainers and national staff on the prevention of and response to allegations of SGBV (para. 40), for trainers on child rights and child protection (para. 42), and for MINUSTAH personnel on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse (para. 45).
Despite measures taken to enhance or maintain protection of vulnerable groups going forward, the report offers little evidence of progress made towards holding current perpetrators accountable for sexual and gender-based crimes. Impunity reigns, with the report pointing to support for survivors and training of staff without an accompanying comment on punitive measures.
Although fairly strong in its overall gender approach, the SG report takes little heed of the particular recommendations put forth in the August 2013 MAP.
The current report is fairly consistent with the previous SG report dated 8 March 2013 (S/2013/139). Both reports highlight the need for protection measures against sexual and gender-based violence, although the prior report offers more evidence of providing recourse to victims, including through the design of safe spaces, through the facilitation of medical, psychosocial and legal assistance, and through raising awareness of available services and the importance of submitting complaints to the justice system. On the other hand, the report S/2013/139 (8 March 2013) gives greater attention to women’s participation in public life, highlighting the importance of women’s inclusion in political and electoral processes.
Security Council debate on the question concerning Haiti S/PV.7024 (28 August 2013):
Ms. Sandra Honoré – Special Representative for the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), opened the Security Council debate on the question concerning Haiti. Following on the heels of the semi-annual report on MINUSTAH (S/2013/493), the debate acknowledged progress in the security situation and in strengthening the national police, but also expressed concern over the recent electoral stalemate; humanitarian challenges with food insecurity, displacement, and the continuing cholera epidemic; and a persistently weak justice system that allows for a climate of impunity.
Women, peace and security concerns were referenced in many of the Member and participating statements, primarily in regards to the promotion of human rights and the protection of vulnerable groups (women and children) against sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, and vulnerability within contexts of displacement and resettlement. There were also references to female representation, training and recruitment within police and international security forces, and fewer mentions of women’s participation and empowerment in political and economic life. Finally, and encouragingly, there were two comments (USA, Australia) recognizing the Haitian Government and MINUSTAH for their calls for tolerance and rejection of violence and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.
Despite it being Ms. Honoré’s first briefing to the Council as SRSG and Head of MINUSTAH, she made no mention of women, peace and security concerns (except in her follow-up remarks, after many of the Member and participating states had called for greater protection of women and children). Further, there was great emphasis from the Member and participating states on the protection of human rights and in particular the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, but many missed the opportunity to highlight the importance of women’s full and effective participation in political, economic and social life.
The debate included comments, generally, on gender and sexual-based violence, protection concerns in situations of displacement, and violence against LGBT communities, but did not address the more specific recommendations with the August 2013 MAP. It also included few references to women’s participation and inclusion, except in regards to representation within national and international security forces.
The previous debate on Haiti (S/PV.6936) followed along similar lines, with many Member and participating states stressing the persistent problem of sexual and gender-based violence. Also analogous were the relatively few comments on women as participating actors, instead painting them almost exclusively as victims or as vulnerable. Like the new SRSG, the former Acting SRSG and Interim Head of MINUSTAH, Mr. Nigel Fisher, briefed the Council in a gender-neutral manner, and only commented upon gender-based violence in his follow-up remarks after each of the country statements. However, unlike Ms. Honoré, he did stress in his briefing the Mission’s commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.