Friday, April 14, 2017

U.N. to pull out peacekeepers from Haiti

The United Nations Security Council unanimously decided to shut down its 13-year stabilization mission in Haiti, extending the peacekeeping operation's mandate for a final six months, reports the Miami Herald

The current mission will be replaced in October with a smaller one, focused on human rights, justice and police development -- the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti or MINUJUSTH. Over the upcoming months the 2,300 troops deployed by the U.N. will gradually withdraw, leaving seven United Nations police units will remain for an initial period of six months to train Haitian police officers.

The Security Council considered the decision recognition of Haiti's “major milestone” towards stabilization -- recent elections which installed a president after more than a year of interim government. "The elections provided for the installation of all directly-elected officials at all levels of Haiti’s governance structure for the first time since 2006, including the peaceful transfer of power to the third democratically-elected President since 2004" said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sandra Honoré.

U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley raised the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers deployed in Haiti and around the world (see yesterday's briefs on an Associated Press investigation on the topic) and defended the introduction of accountability standards for troop- and police-contributing nations.

The outgoing MINUSTAH has often been a source of embarrassment to the U.N., and is best known for introducing a devastating cholera epidemic to the country in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, notes the New York Times. And an internal report from the U.N. found that Sri Lankan soldiers exploited at least nine children, reported the Associated Press this week.

While the withdrawal opens the potential for security gaps, many Haitians welcome the development, given the serious accounts of misconduct, reports Voice of America.

Lack of redress for these wrongs sets a hypocritical stage for the new mission, argues Lauren Carasik in a Miami Herald op-ed. "If the U.N. wants to advance its mission of promoting justice and human rights, it must right its wrongs. No money spent on U.N. work to advance the rule of law in Haiti will have its intended impact unless the organization models the accountability that is necessary to re-establish its credibility. Given the current global uncertainties, the U.N.’s legitimacy is more important than ever."

The international community's debt to Haiti must be recognized with material compensation, emphasized Bolivia's U.N. ambassador yesterday, according to TeleSUR. Former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced a "new approach" that outlined a $400 million strategy to eradicate cholera and give compensation to victims, but it hasn't obtained the necessary financial backing yet. (See March 20's post.)

The shutdown of the $346 million mission, recommended by U.N. chief Antonio Guterres, comes as the United States looks to cut its funding of U.N. peacekeeping, notes Reuters. The U.S. is the program's most important donor. "Peacekeepers do fantastic work but they are very expensive and they should be used only when needed," said British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft before the meeting. "We strongly support the ending of this mission turning it into something else. And I think we'll see the same thing elsewhere."

News Briefs
  • Thousands of Venezuelans braved a rainstorm in Caracas yesterday, continuing in what is now a third week of protests, reports the Associated Press. A fifth person was killed in violent clashes between protesters, pro-government armed gangs, and police in Venezuela, reports the Wall Street Journal. Opposition political leaders say four of the deaths have been caused by pro-government paramilitary groups known as "colectivos." They describe aggressive tear gas attacks that even reached a clinic where protesters were being treated, reports the Financial Times. The government has accused the opposition of carrying out violent acts and inciting "terrorism." (See yesterday's post.) Protests have persisted this week, a change from the usual calm of Holy Week and despite government efforts to calm waters with extra holiday time, reports the Miami Herald. The opposition has called for the "mother of all demonstrations" next Wednesday, the start of President Nicolás Maduro's fifth year in power.
  • Coca eradication efforts have been undermined by farmers who replant the illicit crop, reports AFP. Farmers complain the government is not holding up its end of the deal for providing alternatives for families who depend on coca.
  • Experts consider pension reform a central issue in fixing Brazil's damaged economy and taming a recession entering its third year, according to the Wall Street Journal, though critics say the budget deficit should be financed with tax increases for the rich and corporations. Nonetheless, the Brazilian government's ability to shepherd the unpopular reform through Congress has taken a possibly mortal hit from corruption investigations announced this week affecting key cabinet members and a big swathe of legislators. Fun fact: President Michel Temer himself took advantage of the system's generous terms and retired twenty years ago at age 55 -- and has been collecting a pension ever since. His proposed reform would delay retirement for working Brazilians by a decade.
  • Yesterday Temer denied plea-bargain testimony from an Odebrecht executive alleging his direct involvement in negotiating a $40 million bribe for his political party, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • A sex scandal involving a popular Brazilian soap opera star who harassed a television channel employee ended with his suspension and an abject public apology. It's a win for Brazil's burgeoning feminist movement which in recent years has pushed back against a machista society that normalizes harassment, reports the New York Times. (See Wednesday's briefs on Carol Pires' take on the case.)
  • Devastating mudslides have displaced 158,000 people and damaged 210,000 homes in Peru in recent months. And more than 300 people died in a mudslide in Mocoa in Colombia earlier month. In Vox, Princeton professor Alisha Holland looks at how land titling efforts, recognizing residents' rights to informal housing, expose populations to life in risky areas inadequate for housing construction. Governments have effectively relied on "amnesties" for informal housing rather than focusing on providing adequate legal housing options, which would shield residents from dangerous housing areas.
  • Peru's Supreme Court postponed a judgement in a criminal case against Goldman Enviornmental Prize winner Máxima Acuña for aggravated usurpation of lands, brought by the Yanacocha mining company, reports TeleSUR.
  • A specialize mechanism and investigation unit for Mexican authorities to investigate crimes against foreign migrants has had important, but limited results in the year since their implementation, according to a new WOLA analysis. "...the Unit and the Mechanism are fundamental to investigate and provide justice for crimes against migrants in Mexico. The Mexican government has made commitments before international and regional bodies to respect migrants’ rights. By ensuring that the Unit and Mechanism operate effectively, the government can turn its commitments into concrete actions and results."
  • Two former Bolivian presidents and several members of the political opposition accused President Evo Morales of subverting the judiciary and turning it into a tool for political persecution, reports EFE.
  • French Guiana has found itself in an usual international spotlight after protests efforts led to a shutdown in late March and two weeks of social unrest, with demonstrators demanding a $2.7 billion emergency aid package from the French government to assist in the territory’s social and economical crisis. Health care is of particular concern, "but there’s one critical health care-related issue that almost no one is talking about: racism. In a diverse territory comprised of people of European, African, Asian and indigenous descent and a growing immigrant population, limited access to health care is exacerbated by everyday discrimination based on ethnicity and national origin," writes Estelle Carde in the Conversation.

No comments:

Post a Comment