On Haiti, UN's Council and Ban Focus,
Abuse and Mandate Questions Unanswered
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, March 7 -- Haiti,
so often a second thought in the UN system, is for this week its focus.
Accompanied by US
ex-President Clinton and hand-selected press, Secretary-General Ban
will travel there on March 9 and 10. Then the Security Council,
members at the highest UN level, will arrive in Haiti
on March 11, in the run-up to
considering the renewal of the ever-changing Peacekeeping mission
March 6 Inner City Press asked Costa Rican Ambassador Jorge Urbina, who
leading the Council’s trip, who or what is being fought in Haiti, and
the mission will seek answers on the UN’s own misdeeds, including a
on the 107 Sri Lanka soldiers sent home in late 2007 charged with
said that while the issue of exploitation by peacekeepers is not
the terms of reference of the mission, other Ambassadors or if not he
“may ask about this difficult issues” when they meet with the UN
Representative Hedi Annabi or the mission’s Force Commander. He
that the mission has become one of “peacebuilding,” aiming at
development, which is “not the focus” of the Security Council.
the UN set up a Peacebuilding Commission to work in post-conflict
far it has focused on Burundi
and Sierra Leone,
and now Central African Republic
This last is hardly post-conflict: last week the president and prime
were killed. In Haiti
on the other hand, the military component of the ostensible
mission has devolved to law enforcement, and not very effective at that.
Haiti has been plagued by a
of kidnappings, and sources alleged darkly that some UN peacekeepers
or even participate. (To be clear, those making these allegation are
of particular peacekeepers from relatively low-wealth countries, and
call it a
“crime of opportunity”). One wonders if this issue will come up in the
Council’s trip or, less like, Bill Clinton’s and Ban’s.
this last, Inner
City Press inquired with Ban’s Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe on March
later sent a reminder, without receiving any response. When one is
will be reported on this site.
Alain Le Roy in Haiti, UN's exclusions not shown
As Inner City
noted on March 2, that day UN Peacekeeping chief Alain “Le Roy mentioned
‘good news’ from Haiti.
That's not what a long-time Haitian journalist, standing Monday morning
snow across First Avenue
from the UN, told Inner City Press. In fact, some are alleging some UN
complicity in the very crimes in Haiti being denounced. The
Haitian journalist has urged further investigations.” The next day,
Press sent a timely request to Ms. Okabe, followed by a reminder, but
Inner City Press asked Ms. Le Roy’s colleague “Ms. Malcorra about reports of
staff unrest in the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, about
question has been pending with the UN for five days. Malcorra shook her
yes there is tension there, that she thinks can be resolved. Sources
City Press that international UN staff face a reduction in benefits.”
Spokesperson told Inner City Press that the unrest was not limited to Haiti.
Peacekeeping spokesperson tried to limit the complaints to higher-level
But the issue arose at a UN Department of Management Town Hall meeting,
emerges that compensation was in fact being cut, and is now being
100% for two years, then tapering off after that.
This Spokesperson responded back in November
2008 to questions about the deadly school collapse in Petionville,
telling Inner City Press, which asked whether the UN given its
central role in
Haiti might be trying to encourage improvements in building codes, that
"there is a government in Haiti... those codes have existed for two
hundreds years." That might be the problem. Reportedly
boiled over as thousands of Haitians looked on
in the blazing sun, with the stench of rotting bodies beginning to rise
the rubble. Rumors have circulated that the international rescuers were
slowly to inflate their wages. About 100 men rushed the unstable
Thousands cheered them on, chanting, 'We don't need money to do the
Baton-swinging Haitian police and United Nations peacekeepers in riot
drove the men away, only for them to return and throw rocks."
Spokesperson was asked who decided on this use of force. Initially and
cordially, she said that a "serious problem of crowd control" had
existed as parents tried to get to the school, which "two teams, French
and American, were working with MINUSTAH" to clear the rubble. Video here,
from Minute 13:20.
One wondered, given the insistence that the UN system which includes
Development Program can do nothing about the building codes and
led to the collapse, why MINISTAH was described as being in charge of
fact, the Council mission if not that of
Ban and Clinton
might want to inquire into how MINUSTAN spends money, and who decided
on it. As
City Press exclusively reported in October 2008, "there
are other extensive overhead costs of the UN system in Haiti,
not least the rental of a
former hotel in Port au Prince. After weeks of waiting, DPKO finalize
MINUSTAH headquarters complex (The
Christopher Hotel) is rented directly from a private individual (Dr.
Desir) at the rate of $3.86 per square meter. The total complex is
square meters which includes parking, office space, pre-fab office
canteen and conference space. The total monthly rent is thus $94,000.
note that this does not include the MINUSTAH logbase, which is located
plot of land provided at no cost by the Haitian Government. The
select the Hotel Christopher was based on a locally-completed
process which determined that this facility was one of the few premises
au Prince which would meet the Mission's
requirements with regards to space, water and power . It is also in a
neighbourhood that was judged in 2004 to be among the safest in Port au
Beyond all these hard-won numbers, we are left with the question of the
transition from a peacekeeping mission, not to peacebuilding, but
As Annabi said, such aid is needed. But is DPKO the right agency to be
Council may also wish to follow-up on a
UN shooting incident in April 2008 which Inner
Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Okabe about
City Press: There are reports from Haiti
that a protest has been filed with
MINUSTAH (the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti)
after the death of the
peacekeeper and the shooting up of street vendors and the destruction
property and some deaths. Has MINUSTAH received a protest in that
and is there an investigation?
Spokesperson Okabe: I'll look into that for you.
later to the transcript:
Deputy Spokesperson later told the correspondent
that, according to MINUSTAH, the mission says it has not been sent any
complaint or protest directly, but it has received a copy of a letter
local commercial associations (Association of the Defense of Haitian
& Consumers and The Association for Small Businesses) addressed to
Government prosecutor, in which it is alleged that the two persons
killed by MINUSTAH troops on 12 April 2008 following the public murder
Nigerian United Nations Police, who was shot dead in the market in
is, of course, investigating these
allegations, but has not found any facts to substantiate them.
Consequently the allegations that any MINUSTAH personnel killed these
individuals or subsequently removed their bodies from the scene remain
unsupported by any evidence."
The individual named in Inner City Press follow-up written question
Amonese Pierre and Anna Ainsi Connu. While the UN has said it is
itself -- we have heard this before -- this particular case should
be followed, as a matter of the UN's own "Responsibility
Protect" and otherwise.
March 2008, exactly a year ago and where
we’ll leave this retrospective off, Inner
asked about "an AP story
today about Haiti
-- the headline is 'Millions
Starve as Food Rots in Haiti's Ports' -- talking about blockages in
ports. It talks about WFP somehow getting its food in, but that
charities can't get its food in. Does MINUSTAH, or the UN system,
confirm that millions are starving while food rots in Haiti's
Michele Montas said, "I don't know whether I can say that or not.
There have been a number of measures against corruption in the ports,
might have created this situation. I have nothing from MINUSTAH
information about people dying of hunger because the food is not
in. Okay, thank you very much."
No, thank you – while we await the delayed response to our
3 inquiry. Watch this site.
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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