Haiti (S/2014/162)

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Report Analysis: 

Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2119 (2013), this Report of the Secretary-General covers major developments in Haiti since the last SG report, dated 20 August 2013 (S/2013/493), and outlines activities undertaken by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in line with its respective mandates.  The Report touches upon tensions between the executive branch and Parliament; the electoral law which was a prerequisite to the holding of long-delayed elections; the national dialogue process; a relatively stable security assessment; continuing vulnerabilities in the areas of displacement and cholera, despite progress; MINUSTAH activities in support to state institutions, in support to the political process and forthcoming elections, work with the military and police, protection of vulnerable groups, community violence reduction, justice, corrections, human rights, gender, child protection, HIV/AIDS, quick-impact projects, conduct and discipline, and public information and outreach; coordination work and UN efforts to combat the cholera epidemic. The report, finally, provided update on the reconfiguration and drawdown of MINUSTAH, with five potential options presented for possible future configurations.

This Report of the Secretary-General includes many references to women, peace and security concerns, most frequently to the particular protection needs of women.  There was a slight increase in reported rape cases during the period under review (para. 11), and MINUSTAH received reports of rape and other forms of violence, prostitution and trafficking of children (para. 43); MINUSTAH facilitated visits for parliamentarians to the national penitentiary and the women’s prison in Petion-Ville to raise awareness on the issue of prolonged pretrial detention (para. 23); MINUSTAH provided technical expertise to the newly-established Technical Border Commission, which has a mandate to, among other things, curb the smuggling of trafficking in persons, particularly women and children (para. 24); community-oriented policing strategies focused on crime prevention, with a particular focus on at-risk youth and women (para. 30); MINUSTAH military and police components maintained their presence in camps for internally displaced persons and in fragile, crime-prone urban communities where women and children are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence (para. 32); MINUSTAH released a study on the response of the police and judiciary to cases of rape, which identified weaknesses in the courts, prosecution offices and police stations in their handling of cases of rape, and showed that the vast majority of reported rapes are never properly adjudicated (para. 41); MINUSTAH and UNDP supported trainings for magistrates, judicial police and police officers on fighting and preventing sexual and gender-based violence (para. 41); five new offices for the management and investigation of sexual violence cases were opened within police stations (para. 41); the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH provided support to victims of sexual violence, including transportation to medical centres, relocation services, locating support for psychological assistance and judicial follow-up (para. 41); a joint national office of the Ministry for the Status of Women and Women’s Rights and the Haitian National Police was inaugurated by the President (para. 41); MINUSTAH and other UN agencies continued supporting the national AIDS program (para. 44); and training-of-trainers sessions on the prevention of misconduct, in particular sexual exploitation and abuse, were delivered to MINUSTAH military and police commanders and focal points (para. 46).

In addition to several instances of sex-disaggregated data (paras. 29, 41), the Report also emphasizes gender equality and women’s empowerment beyond the protection sphere.  MINUSTAH worked with UN-Women and others to establish an office for gender equality in Parliament aimed at promoting the adoption of gender-sensitive legislation (para. 22); MINUSTAH conducted stabilization initiatives in fragile urban neighborhoods and supported various activities which offer socioeconomic alternatives to former gang members, at-risk youth, women and vulnerable groups (para. 33); MINUSTAH supported advocacy efforts to promote the integration into the new electoral law of the constitutional 30 percent minimum representation of women in public life, including through a Mission-funded national workshop (the electoral law includes articles on the representation of women in the electoral apparatus and in municipal and local councils, and includes financial incentives for political parties concerning the representation of women) (para. 42); MINUSTAH had several quick-impact projects focused on the promotion of gender equality (para. 45); and MINUSTAH conducted a nationwide awareness campaign targeting youth living in vulnerable areas and focused on citizen participation, non-violence and human rights, including ways to promote the participation of women and people with disabilities in public life and decision-making processes (para. 47).

This Report is strong in its emphasis upon women, peace and security within MINUSTAH activities, but still could do more.  First, the Secretary-General’s section on the drawdown and reconfiguration of MINUSTAH offers no gender content.  Admittedly, a more in-depth assessment and report will follow with the Secretary-General’s recommendations, but it is critical that gender be mainstreamed in such considerations.  Further, his concluding ‘Observations’ offer no reference to women, peace and security, thereby evidencing a lower priority given to the WPS agenda.  Further, as with the previous Report, despite measures taken to enhance or maintain protection of vulnerable groups, there is 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 accompanying punitive measures.

The Report touches upon many of the recommendations in the most recent MAP on the situation in Haiti (October 2013), including the training of justice officials (and other relevant personnel) on fighting and preventing sexual- and gender-based violence; the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH provided services to survivors of sexual violence; training-of-trainers sessions were conducted with MINUSTAH military and police components on preventing misconduct including sexual exploitation and abuse; and MINUSTAH promoted gender equality within Parliament and within public life more broadly.  However, the Report also misses many of the key elements recommended within the MAP, by not mentioning the ways that gender will be effectively mainstreamed in any future reconfiguration; by not calling for financial resources to ensure women’s full and equal engagement in Haiti’s future, including through support for women-led civil society organizations; and by not highlighting the need for protection and training regarding crimes against LGBTI persons.  Critically, as the August 2013 MINUSTAH study makes clear, the vast majority of reported cases of rape are still not properly adjudicated, and so there is little accountability, including from abuses committed by MINUSTAH personnel against the civilian population.

The women, peace and security content is consistent from the prior Report on MINUSTAH, S/2013/493, as both Reports highlight women’s protection concerns and promote women’s equality, and both place a bit more emphasis upon the protection elements.

Debate of the Security Council on the question concerning Haiti, S/PV.7147 (24 March 2014) 


This debate on the question concerning Haiti began with a briefing by SRSG and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) Ms. Sandra Honoré, followed by remarks from Security Council Member States, Haiti and other participating representatives.  SRSG Honoré introduced the recent Report of the Secretary-General on MINUSTAH, S/2014/162, and then concentrated her remarks on a relatively stable security situation; performance improvements from the Haitian National Police; the inter-Haitian dialogue on issues of democratic governance, elections and amending the Constitution; the formal signing of the El Rancho accord on elections, ending the electoral impasse; modest economic growth; continuing post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation, with only 10 percent of those originally housed in camps remaining (although this is still almost 150,000 people); food insecurity, malnutrition and still the highest number of cholera cases in the world; security sector reform and the professionalization of the Haitian National Police; the need for such reforms to be complemented by similar improvements in justice and corrections, including in its criminal code, lengthy pretrial detentions and deplorable prison conditions; and the Mission’s progress in its 15 percent reduction in uniformed strength, with the recent Report of the Secretary-General outlining five broad options for the United Nations to continue contributing to greater stability and development in Haiti beyond 2016.

There were many references to women, peace and security concerns in this debate, although the majority were instances of sex-disaggregated data on women’s participation in the Haitian National Police or MINUSTAH (SRSG, Chad, France, Australia, Chile, Luxembourg, Jamaica, Colombia, Peru).  Taking it a bit further were Chad and Australia, who noted women’s participation in the police force and the creation of a sexual- and gender-based violence specialized team by the UN Police as helping to enable progress in tackling crime, trafficking and the investigation of sexual- and gender-based violence.

Beyond references to women’s participation in the police force, the greatest attention to women, peace and security, especially in regards to women’s protection, came from Lithuania, Argentina, Rwanda, Jamaica and Uruguay (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti).  Each noted the continuing problems presented by sexual violence, violence against women and gender-based violence in Haiti, including the increase in cases of rape over the reporting period.  Attention was directed at the need to build the capacity of the Haitian police, judiciary and corrections systems to effectively prevent such cases as well as to investigate cases, assist survivors and bring accountability to perpetrators.  In addition, Lithuania referenced SCRs 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008), and the need to incorporate gender perspectives into all UN peace and security efforts; Argentina highlighted the importance of prioritizing the economic, social, cultural and political independence of women and youth, an institutional cultural change necessary to eradicate all forms of violence in Haiti; Jamaica stressed the need for a zero-tolerance approach to sexual exploitation and abuse, as such cases unacceptably mar the image of MINUSTAH and the UN more broadly; and Uruguay (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti) expressed its concern for the living conditions of those remaining in displaced persons camps, especially women and children, and also underscored the need to ensure the economic and political empowerment of women.

There were several other references to women, peace and security concerns, with Haiti’s acknowledgment of its government’s efforts to combat violence against women; Canada’s noting its long-term support of Haiti’s development, including in the areas of maternal, newborn and child health; and Nigeria’s call for the SRSG to compare notes with lessons learned from Africa on a number of initiatives, including developing quick-impact projects towards women’s empowerment.  Finally, Nigeria also recognized the work of SRSG Honoré as well as several other women in key positions of UN leadership, demonstrating the importance of appointing women to such positions.

This debate on the question concerning Haiti included a fair amount of attention to women, peace and security concerns.  Yet most of that attention, including the only WPS reference from the SRSG, focused upon the inclusion/recruitment of women in the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH.  France was the only member of the P5 to touch upon WPS, and its comment was also confined to women joining the police force.  Therefore, despite a relatively strong Report of the Secretary-General on WPS, S/2014/162, the SRSG and participating Member States missed many opportunities to highlight the continuing scourge of sexual- and gender-based violence in Haiti; to emphasize the need for gender-responsive improvements in the security and justice sectors to effectively prevent, respond to and assist survivors in cases of gender-based violence and violence against women; and to call for greater women’s participation beyond the police force in political, social, cultural and economic life (although there were several strong references in these areas from Lithuania, Argentina, Jamaica, Rwanda, Australia, Chad and Uruguay on behalf of the Group of Friends of Haiti).

The SRSG and most participating Member States neglected to respond to the recommendations from the most recent MAP on the question concerning Haiti (October 2013).  Beyond a few select references, most of the debate overlooked the importance of women’s full and effective engagement in Haiti’s future (beyond the many references to women’s inclusion in the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH); as well as the need to support the protection of women and girls, access to services for survivors of violence, training for justice officials on investigating and prosecuting gender-based crimes (including those against LGBTI persons); and the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

The previous debate on the question concerning Haiti, S/PV.7024, included a several level of attention to WPS concerns, but the majority of that attention was directed at women’s protection, especially cases of sexual- and gender-based violence and the needs of displaced persons.  The current debate, however, spends much less time on women’s protection and instead focuses its WPS lens on female inclusion in the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH.  Neither debate placed much emphasis on women’s participation in public life outside of the police forces.

PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
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