10 February 2006
Security Council Presidential Statement Congratulates Haiti on Elections, Says Country Has Taken "Fundamental Step" towards Restoration of Democracy
Calls on All Parties to Respect Outcome, Renounce Violence; Stresses Long-Term Engagement Required to Tackle Challenges in Rule of Law, Development
NEW YORK, 9 February (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this afternoon congratulated the Haitian people on the holding of the first round of national elections on 7 February, calling it a fundamental step towards the restoration of democracy and stability in that country.
In a statement read out by Council President John Bolton (United States), the Council called on all parties to respect the outcome of the elections, remain engaged in the political process and renounce all forms of violence. It thanked the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Organization of the American States and others in the international community for providing crucial assistance to the Transitional Government and the Conseil Electoral Provisoire during this period.
Underlining that the electoral process should lead to the inauguration of a representative Government, the Council also reiterated the importance of national, municipal and local elections and emphasized the need to promote national reconciliation and political dialogues in Haiti once the new Government takes office. While recognizing the importance of elections for democratic institutions and procedures, however, it stressed that they do not constitute the sole means to address the country's longer-term problems and that significant challenges remain, in particular in the fields of the rule of law, security and development. Long-term engagement of the international community would be required to tackle those challenges.
The meeting was called to order at 12:15 p.m. and was adjourned at 12:18 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2006/7 reads as follows:
"The Security Council commends the Haitian people on the holding of the first round of national elections on 7 February 2006 with high voter turnout, and congratulates them on taking this fundamental step towards the restoration of democracy and stability in their country. The Council calls on all parties to respect the outcome of the elections, remain engaged in the political process, and renounce all forms of violence. The Council wishes to thank the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Organization of American States, and others in the international community for providing crucial assistance to the Transitional Government and the Conseil Electoral Provisoire during this period.
"The Security Council underlines that the electoral process should lead to the inauguration of a representative Government. The Council reiterates the importance of national, municipal and local elections as pillars of democratic governance in Haiti. The Council emphasizes that, once the new Government takes office, Haitians should continue to promote national reconciliation and political dialogue in order to strengthen their democracy, and to ensure social, economic and political stability.
"The Security Council, while recognizing the importance of the elections for democratic institutions and procedures, stresses that they do not constitute the sole means to address Haiti's longer-term problems and that significant challenges remain, in particular, in the fields of rule of law, security and development. Tackling these challenges will require a long-term engagement of the international community."
Members of the Council had before them the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) (document S/2006/6), which covers major developments since the last report (document S/2005/631 of 6 October 2005) and provides an outline of some additional tasks that the Mission might assume in the post-electoral period. The Secretary-General proposes a six-month extension of the present mandate in order to allow for further assessment of the situation once a new Haitian administration has taken office.
According to the electoral calendar, with the first round of national elections having been held on 7 February, the second round would be held on 19 March, the new President would be sworn in on 29 March, and municipal and local elections would be held on 30 April. While the current Government would formally resign on 7 February, the constitutional date for the assumption of office by a new President, it will carry out ongoing business until a new Government took office. During the reporting period, the main focus of the Haitian authorities and MINUSTAH was on ensuring the organization of credible and timely elections.
The report states that the completion of the elections will only represent a first step in the political transition process. The newly elected officials will inherit weak state and local institutions that suffer from a lack of trained personnel and insufficient administrative infrastructure. The continued availability of capacity-building and material support from MINUSTAH and the international community will be essential. The task of rebuilding lay in the hands of the Haitian authorities and people. An inclusive approach after the elections will be essential. Further progress on the national dialogue would enable Haitian society to reach a common position on outstanding issues resulting from past political divisions and violence.
The overall security environment continued to be relatively stable in most of the country, according to the report. However, there was a significant decline in security in some parts of the capital such as Cité Soleil, as well as a sharp increase in the number of kidnapping victims reported during the final months of 2005. The MINUSTAH continued to play a pivotal role in providing security and stability in the country, drawing on its strengthened capacity as authorized in Security Council resolution 1608 (2005). Efforts to stabilize the situation, however, have carried a grave cost to MINUSTAH peacekeepers. The Mission's military and police have been targeted in a series of attacks in the vicinity of Cité Soleil, suffering five fatalities and a number of injuries.
As for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the report notes that despite earlier progress made in setting up the institutional framework for that purpose, the conditions for comprehensive disarmament remain elusive, with inadequate national commitment to reconciliation, limited progress on security sector reform, lack of clarity on the future status of former military and limited job creation, as well as large numbers of weapons in circulation. The MINUSTAH, in conjunction with the National Commission on Disarmament, has helped to establish community violence reduction and development committees in some volatile districts and has followed up with disarmament and reinsertion efforts where opportunities exist.
The Secretary-General states in his observations that MINUSTAH will make further, concentrated efforts to curb criminality and violence within the country at a time when perceptions of insecurity could have a disproportionate impact on public confidence. Stability during the elections period could be further enhanced by one or more Member States undertaking to provide backup support, if required, during the electoral process. In the longer term, Haiti's security will require reform and strengthening of the Haitian National Police, and the sustained involvement by the international community in that regard for a number of years. Technical assistance aimed at the strengthening of rule-of-law institutions could be more effective if it is supplemented by inclusion within MINUSTAH of a capacity to provide policy-level advice to related ministries.
Police reform should be complemented and reinforced by addressing shortcomings in the judicial system. A swift solution has to be found to the high level of prolonged pre-trial detentions, which is unacceptable from a human rights point of view. The strengthening of Haiti's judicial system requires the adoption of legal reforms and a systematic, internationally-supported programme of professional capacity-building, which could include the incorporation of appropriately qualified experts within MINUSTAH. They would serve as a professional resource for judicial actors in the offices of the prosecutor, investigating magistrates and trial judges.
The Secretary-General observes further that, if the new administration is to be successful, continued international institution- and capacity-building would be required at all levels, in the longer term. Just as enhanced security can facilitate economic and social development, some immediate improvement in social and economic conditions can make a crucial contribution to stability. He hopes that the fruits of the Interim Cooperation Framework process will be come clearly visible in the coming months and that this can be supplemented by targeted assistance to the new authorities in meeting basic needs in such areas as health, education, agriculture and job creation.
The Secretary-General recommends that, under these circumstances, the Mission be continued in its present configuration for a period of six months, to permit time for further consultation and assessment regarding its role in a post-electoral environment. Recommendations in that regard will be presented to the Security Council in a further report, to be issued well in advance of the end of the next mandate, which begins on 15 February.
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