United Nations peace operations in Haiti date back to September 1993, when the Security Council set up the first UN peacekeeping operation in the country – the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). Since then, Haiti has been somewhat of a ‘playground’ for the evolution of UN peacekeeping. Early missions (UNSMIH/UNTMIH) were characterised by narrow remits addressing essentially the creation and professionalisation of a police force. MINUSTAH is the latest, but most long-lasting, in a series of six UN peace operations in Haiti. It has a much broader mandate than earlier missions.
This report examines the transition from UNMIH to MINUSTAH. Analysis of the evolution of UN missions is limited, and tends to be descriptive rather than drawing out any key findings or lessons learned about the transitions from one mission to another. Likewise, while MINUSTAH and its early deployment has been the subject of analysis, the actual transition between the US-led Multinational Interim Force (MIF) in early 2004 and the formal takeover by MINUSTAH a few months later has not been examined in any depth.
Key issues of concern about the deployment of MINUSTAH in 2004 and how the mission was managed in the 2004-2007 period include:
- slow pace of deployment
- relatively new peacekeeping countries with a lack of experience
- language difficulties and lack of cultural training
- dilemma of providing operational support to the Haitian National Police (PNH), while retaining local support
- differences of opinion in the Security Council and mission itself, leading to an ambivalent mandate and uncertainties about MINUSTAH’s security functions;
- problems operationalizing the ‘integrated’ mission
- imbalance between the long-term calendar of operations vs. the short-term (6-month) troop mandates
- failure to adapt and respond quickly enough to Haiti’s rapidly changing political economy
- on-going concerns about MINUSTAH’s credibility as protectors of human rights vis-à-vis cases of excessive military force, violence, sexual misconduct and abuse by peacekeepers.