[Dateline: New York | Author: OROLSI]
Mr. Edmond Mulet, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and the head of the peacekeeping operation there came to UNHQ this week to present the MINUSTAH budget, hold consultations and to launch a new approach to rule of law work in Haiti. At a meeting organised by the DPKO Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Mr. Mulet, who was formerly the Assistant Secretary-General and Head of Operations and was the SRSG in Haiti from June 2006 – August 2007, is well acquainted with the situation in this country, and with the importance of promoting rule of law to achieve long-term stability. From his institutional and first-hand knowledge, he delivered a clear message: the UN and its Member States must act as one with the Haitians to implement a strategy to nurture at all levels an understanding of and respect for the rule of law in Haiti.
“We must adopt a more systematic perspective for our support to Haitians’ own efforts to build the rule of law,” he announced, after presenting the ramifications of the lack of rule of law that has undermined so many efforts over so many years to develop the country and its political system, pointing out that the devastating effects of the 12 January earthquake were aggravated by decades of underdevelopment.
Harking back to the general review of peacekeeping that was published in 2000, known as the Brahimi report, which was the catalyst for the creation of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he described the rule of law pillars on which development can be built.
“Rule of law, of course, is police, prisons, and justice. But rule of law is also a land registry, a birth registry, construction and building codes, commercial laws; it is the capacity of the State to collect taxes, to guarantee a level of legal security to promote entrepreneurship, investments, job creation, to facilitate economic development.”
In the short term, he stated that re-building the necessary infrastructure and training personnel to replace the estimated 30% of civil servants who died in the earthquake were essential, but for the longer term, he described a DPKO initiative to forge a Rule of Law Compact, based on wide-ranging consultation with all strata of Haitian society, as a first step to creating consensus around a rule of law reform agenda.
“It is only under Haitian leadership, and with the participation of all sectors of Haitian society, that the political will necessary to build the rule of law will be created. I see the role of the international community, and my role, as the head of MINUSTAH, as working not to undermine Haitian sovereignty, but to strengthen it. I am very conscious of this. That is why a type of Compact, which will establish a common understanding on the needs, the measures to take, and the ways by which the international community can support Haiti, would be helpful.”
SRSG Mulet went on to describe specific benchmarks that MINUSTAH would aim to achieve in the coming year to support this effort.
The meeting was chaired by Assistant Secretary-General Atul Khare, who is the head of DPKO Operations, and included the Deputy SRSG from MINUSTAH, Mr. Kevin Kennedy, the UNDP Assistant Administrator, Jordan Ryan, and the UN Police Adviser Ann-Marie Orler.
Member States, including the leading troop, police, corrections and financial contributors, reacted positively to the SRSG’s remarks and pledged their support. SRSG Mulet made it clear that this was one of what would be a series of briefings and progress reports with Member States and concerned organizations on developments in Haiti. The Haitian Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations supported this initiative and expressed his country’s gratitude to MINUSTAH and the United Nations.