Peacekeeping mission is finished in Haiti, but UN’s commitment to the country remains strong
By Jean-Pierre Lacroix, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations.
An important chapter of the United Nations’ peacekeeping history has come to a close in Haiti.
Our deployment in Haiti spanned more than 15 years, the time marked by many joint achievements for the UN and the Haitian people. But it also was marked by the tragedy of a devastating earthquake in 2010 and a series of lessons learned as to what we did well and what we could have done better.
Today, as we collectively reflect on all of these aspects, we see not an ending but the beginning of the next chapter of the UN’s partnership with Haiti. The peacekeeping operation’s closing in Haiti does not mean that the UN’s support of the country will cease. Indeed, it will adapt and continue in another form as the Bureau Intégré des Nations Unies en Haiti (BINUH), starts its operations alongside the entire UN country team.
Right now, the country faces a political crisis, civil unrest and very real socioeconomic challenges. These, in turn, affect the security environment, which further feeds political instability — a cycle that the country has seen, tragically, many times before.
When we look back, however, we also can see how far we’ve traveled. In 2004 ,when our peacekeeping mission — known as MINUSTAH — deployed, the country was on the brink of collapse, with political instability, a dysfunctional police force and almost non-existent state authority. Vicious narcogangs controlled entire neighborhoods of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Fifteen years on, homicide rates have dropped by almost 50 percent, a result in large part of concerted efforts to vet, recruit and train Haitian National Police (HNP) personnel. Since 2004, the number of Haitian police recruited have jumped from 2,500 to more than 15,000 today, doubling the police-to-population ratio. Of the total number of police deployed, more than 10 percent are women.