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UN can't leave Haiti until rule of law is established

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The logical time for the peacekeeping mission in its current form to end is the transfer of the presidential sash in 2016 by President Michel Martelly to his successor, following a free and fair election. That day is still a long way off, and much has to take place to get there.

The UN Security Council should gradually reduce the size of its military-dominated mission to one with a larger contingent of more robust and competent police. That force still would ideally be led by Brazil and the same Latin American countries that comprise a majority of MINUSTAH military troop forces now.

The new mandate also should underscore MINUSTAH’s recognition of the need to help Haiti respond to the ongoing cholera threat with vaccinations in remote areas and a major commitment to water and sanitation infrastructure. The UN also should do more to ensure better vetting, orienting, and training of future peacekeeping contingents. And it must work to ensure that those who violate the norms are held fully accountable.

Perhaps as important for the peacekeeping mission as more police is continued political leadership at the top. The political engagement of the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) in Haiti, former Chilean Foreign Minister Mariano Fernández, has been crucial during the past year in helping to partner with the new Haitian government on critical decisions. However, his term has already been extended once to December, and he either needs to be convinced to stay on or an equally engaged successor needs to be quickly found.

Instead of two steps forward and one step back, Haitian politicians have been prone to move one step forward and two steps back. After finally putting a government in place, they now are embroiled in a battle to obtain the full nine members of a permanent electoral council and create an electoral calendar. Haiti is already months overdue in filling empty Senate seats, one-third of which remain vacant, and all of its city and town councils.

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