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icon Overview Updated January 4, 2010

Section Contents:   Introduction  


After nearly two decades of instability, political leaders in Haiti and many members of the international community are hopeful that the country is moving toward consolidating its institutions and development over the course of the next few years. The current government, elected by a large majority of the population in 2006, is benefiting from what its international partners see as an undeniable legitimacy. As a result, it is enjoying strong support from funders within the international community. However, 2010 will be a pivotal year for the country. It has, depending on events, the potential to be one of either continuity or total change. Constitutional reform and elections are on the agenda. Several polls will take place, including a parliamentary election in February and a presidential vote at the end of the year. The stakes are high since the winner of the February general election will be in a position to either endorse or overturn the Constitution Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament by the Government in 2009 and, as a result, to determine the future shape of the country's institutions. The winner of the general election will also be in a good position for the upcoming presidential election. The current very fragile state of Haitian institutions is likely to complicate future progress.

In 2009, which was the second year of the implementation of the National Growth and Poverty-reduction strategy, the Haitian Government focused on tackling problems that had arisen in previous years.  Special attention was given to the 2008 economic and international financial crisis and the resulting food and oil product price increases in Haiti as well as several hurricanes that severely damaged the country. These events led to social unrest and eventually to the resignation of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis from the Préval Government. Following four months of dithering, Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis was appointed as the new Prime Minister. In 2009, the Pierre-Louis-Préval government sought to present a new image of Haiti to the World as a safe destination for foreign investors and capital. Prime Minister Pierre-Louis was criticized for his poor management of emergency funds. He was dismissed by Parliament and replaced by Plan Minister, Jean Max Bellerive in November 2009. The United Nations appointed well-known former US president Bill Clinton as its special envoy to promote investment.Criticism comes from all sides on the slow progress surrounding consolidating the democratic state law institutions and the increase in the population's standard of living. The daunting internal and external challenges including the lack of institutional capacity, drug trafficking and organized crime, environmental threats, and a global economic crisis will not be easily resolved even if country leaders feel an increasing urgency to provide adequate responses to the increasing demands of the population.

An international stabilization mission has been in operation in Haiti since August 2004. A series of Security Council resolutions have led to nine mandate renewals in six yearsThe UN's peace operations department defines these operations as being undertaken within a larger effort to help countries transition from a conflict situation to one of sustainable peace. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the eighth UN mission to intervene in Haiti since 1991, is the centerpiece of international efforts to assist Haiti in state-building. The duration of the UN presence is supposed to be long enough to acquire ample evidence and lessons learned. MINUSTAH has strong regional engagement from North America (Canada and the United States) and Latin America. The most significant characteristic is the strong Latin American presence in the mission.

MINUSTAH is also seen as a multidimensional, complex operation. The classical peace operations mission creates a safe and secure environment, which is conducive to get the political process and dialogue up and running quickly. A multidimensional operation, however, must support reinforcing the State, on a long term basis, with its security situation, governance, rule of law - in addition to its social and economic situation (infrastructure, employment, etc). As such, it means taking on a greater role. The mission is now engaged in a series of activities and actions such as overseeing sea and boarder areas, containing drug trafficking, etc.

As well, all of the international players have come to a long term agreement. Nonetheless, political realities in contributing countries demand visible results and a clear exit strategy. This appears to be a critical time to consider the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Whether it is a cause or consequence of the State's lack of capacity, national appropriation and the Haitian government are being somewhat delayed in their fruition - even if an increasing involvement is being felt and even though we are hearing more positive rhetoric from Haitian authorities.

While the Peace Operations Monitor website is focused on the mandates, structures and performance of peace operations, it is also meant to reflect the complexity of integrated missions and take into account that these peace operations are just one element in a broader process that seeks to bring stability to the State. Therefore, this section on Haiti and MINUSTAH is not limited to an analysis of the mission's work; it also examines important challenges such as the country's economic development (see page on development) and a gendered perspective on human development and empowerment is provided (see page on gender issues).

Lastly, this website also provides an illustrated overview of Canada's contribution. Indeed, with decades of experience in Haiti and strong political commitment, Canada is well placed to play an important role in international efforts to re-establish security and stability in Haiti and to assist in longer-term reform and reconstruction efforts (see page on Canadian Contribution).
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