The Need for a UN General Assembly Mandated Peace-Building Mission to Haiti
General Assembly Resolution
The United Nations should adopt a General Assembly resolution to establish a UN mission that works to build durable peace in Haiti. The current situation in Haiti demands a proactive mission that recognizes that previous political solutions did not sufficiently address Haiti's systemic poverty and emphasize the full spectrum of human rights (economic, social, cultural, civil and political) as integral to building a durable peace. In cooperation with the Haitian government, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, other multilateral institutions and regional organizations, bilateral donors, non-governmental organizations and the remaining donor community, the UN shall deploy a police, political, and human rights presence to develop and implement a plan that measurably builds the Haitian government's capacity to respond to its citizens' rights, including, but not limited to the right to health, water, education, life, security of person, liberty, and due process. The overall goal of this mission should be to engage in building a human rights culture and democracy in Haiti which will lead to sustainable peace. The mission will also work to reestablish rule of law and focus on constitutionality.
Examining past UN missions to Haiti, the future mission to Haiti must include a clear exit strategy that enumerates benchmarks to measure the completion of specific mission programmatic objectives.
Mandate of the UN Mission
To contribute towards international efforts to protect and promote human rights in Haiti, with particular attention to the extreme poverty and weakness of government institutions, the following programs will be implemented: The Right to Health, The Right to Water and Sanitation, The Right to Education, The Right to Security of Person and The Right to Liberty and Due Process programs. All programs in Haiti should include a component which enables Haitians to articulate their human rights. The UN mission and its partners will work to build the capacity of the ministries responsible for responding to those rights and a complaint mechanism will be established to ensure that those rights are being realized.
The Right to Health
Noting that the Haitian Constitution guarantees the right to health and also recognizing the dire health indicators in Haiti, including the highest HIV prevalence rate in the hemisphere and the highest mortality rate for children in the hemisphere, the UN mission must work to build the capacity of the Ministry of Health to realize their citizens' right to health. The Right to Health Program will be charged with increasing the number of Haitians who have access to medical care and decreasing infant mortality rates.
The Right to Water and Sanitation
Deriving the right to water and sanitation from the right to health and noting that Haiti ranks 147th out of 147 countries in the Water Poverty Index and noting the high prevalence of deaths associated with water borne diseases, the U.N. mission must provide adequate resources and support to build the Ministry of Public Works' capacity to respond to its citizens right to water and sanitation. Goals for the Right to Water program should include increasing the Haitians' access to potable water and in turn decreasing the number of deaths associated with water borne diseases.
The Right to Education
As guaranteed by the Haitian Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Haiti is a party, Haitians have a fundamental right to education. Recognizing the extremely low literacy rate in Haiti and the percentage of children enrolled in school, the UN mission would be charged with providing support and resources to build the Ministry of Education's capacity to respond to its citizens' right to education. The Right to Education program would work to increase the number of Haitian children enrolled in school, set clear standards to measure the quality of education, and increase Haiti's literacy rate.
The Right to Security of Person
The Haitians' right to security of person is provided for in the Haitian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which the Haitian government is a state party. The current climate of violence in Haiti, including recent attacks on police stations throughout Haiti, highlights that the police force is under- staffed and under-equipped to protect its citizens. (Note that 5000 police officers are charged with protecting the rights of eight million Haitians, whereas New York City which has a similar population has a force of 36,000 police officers).
The U.N. should deploy an international civilian police force to establish order, implement a disarmament and demobilization of all irregular forces, and build the capacity of the Haitian police force. The Right to Security of Person program will provide adequate resources and support, including an international civilian police presence, to bring and end to the current violence by disarming civilian combatants. Capacity building efforts will include recruiting and training a sufficient number of policemen to insure the long term security of the Haitian population.
The Right to Liberty and Due Process
The rights to liberty and due process are protected by the Haitian Constitution and the ICCPR. The history of the judicial system in Haiti developed under almost 200 years of dictatorship and grossly lacks the personnel and professionalism to combat impunity and fulfill its due process obligations as evidenced by the doubling of the number of inmates detained since 1995 (80% of which are awaiting disposition of their cases). The UN mission will work with the Ministry of Justice to build its capacity to reach and give access to its citizens' human rights.
Overall Goals for Each Program
Each program should include a human rights education component which enables citizens to articulate their human rights, understand which Ministry is responsible for providing those rights and gain working knowledge of how to file complaints at the local and national level if those rights are violated. In accordance, each program must create a complaint mechanism within the relevant ministry or state institution (police prosecution, judiciary) which will not only receive complaints but have the capacity to investigate and reach resolutions to those complaints. Finally, to facilitate transparency within the government, each program will create and implement a mechanism, accessible by Haitian citizens, to monitor the influx of funds and output of services for those funds.
In order to monitor the efficacy of the mission, benchmarks for each program will need to be met as part of an exit strategy. The benchmarks for each program should include, improving the independent indicators that denote progress towards achieving the Haitians' rights. For example, the Right to Health program should establish a base line percentage to determine an increase in access to medical care and a decrease in infant mortality, as set forth at the onset of the program. The program could determine a forty percent increment measure for both indicators as the goal. Each program would go through a similar process of establishing and meeting benchmark indicators.
As part of an exit strategy, each program would have to demonstrate that the complaint mechanism was functioning and that citizens were utilizing the complaint structure and receiving an adequate resolution to their complaint.
The UN mission will be deployed to address the present political violence and violence engendered by poverty, both of which are taking innocent lives on a daily basis. Building the respect for the full spectrum of human rights will create the environment for free and fair elections in Haiti and lead to a human rights culture that will sustain a durable peace and democracy in Haiti.