The leader of the United Nations Security Council fact-finding mission just back from Haiti expressed cautious optimism today, saying security was gradually improving, but that the international community must remain engaged if the strife-torn nation is to make any headway against urban violence and grinding poverty.
Briefing the full Council on last week’s mission, Brazilian Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg said the 15-member delegation had condemned all violence in Haiti and called for a comprehensive national disarmament program, while providing for the social needs of former members of the Haitian Armed Forces.
The Council’s mission from 13 to 16 April, its first ever in a Latin American or Caribbean country, aimed to support the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which is assisting the Transitional Government in disarming all illegal armed groups in preparation for a national dialogue, free, fair and open democratic elections and the accession to power of an elected government in February next year, he said.
He noted that many of the nation’s long-term structural problems would persist, but that the new political climate and national dialogue, along with respect for human rights standards, would help to resolve them.
Mr. Sardenberg said the delegation had met with Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, representatives of civil society, and the Commissioner of Civil Police in collecting information on safety and security, the upcoming elections, human rights, and social and economic development.
He added that representatives of the country’s main political parties stressed that all actors – both violent and non-violent – in the current crisis should be included in national dialogues and the upcoming political process.
But the visit coincided with the shooting death of a Filipino peacekeeper and a deadly gunfight between alleged gang members and Haitian police in a slum in the capital Port-au-Prince.
Mr. Sardenberg said the delegation had recognized dramatic poverty as the prime cause of Haiti’s instability, and underscored the need for a long-term strategy to fight the scourge.
The mission also underscored the need to ensure an end to impunity in the country, while promoting due process and the rule of law.
The delegation also stressed the need for continuing international support for the Haitian police, to update the country’s codes and legislation – which date back to the nineteenth century – expedite former cases, and ensure due process for all citizens.
The mission encouraged the country’s Transitional Government in its firm commitment to hold free, fair and transparent elections next February.
It also urged the Haitian people to mobilize and participate fully in the elections, which should be monitored by international observers, Mr. Sardenberg said.