[Dateline: Port-au-Prince | Author: DPKO/MINUSTAH]
On 30 March 2008, the United Nations System held a one-day Rule of Law retreat in Port-au-Prince, with active participation from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as well as the United Nations Country Team and assistance from the Department of Peacekeeping Operation's (DPKO) Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions.
The retreat provided an opportunity for open discussion and reflection on current coordination mechanisms, with a view towards strengthening the United Nations common response to Rule of Law challenges in Haiti.
Participation from MINUSTAH components included representatives from the UN Police, Justice, Corrections, Human Rights/OHCHR, Child Protection, the Legal Adviser, Civil Affairs, Political Affairs, Electoral Assistance, Community Violence Reduction, the Gender Adviser, the HIV/AIDS Adviser and the Joint Operations Centre. Staff from eight UN country team agencies also participated in the retreat, including UNDP, IOM, UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNAIDS and UNODC, which sent a delegate from its headquarters in Vienna.
Facilitated by the Rule of Law Coordinator in MINUSTAH, the retreat represented a groundbreaking effort to develop practical approaches to strengthening Rule of Law coordination.
In addition to strategic planning exercises, the retreat concentrated on creating a mechanism to enhance operational coordination of Rule of Law activities in the context of the Security Council's 2008 resolution 1840 (S/RES/1840) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Haiti (2009-2011).
In discussing optimal mechanisms for coordination of United Nations assistance in Haiti, participants built on the principles set forth in the 14 April 2008 Guidance Note of the Secretary-General addressing United Nations Rule of Law assistance.
Participants were mindful of the recent visit in March 2009 by the Secretary-General and U.S. President Bill Clinton, during which the Secretary-General stated: "In spite of recent and severe setbacks, we now have a real window of hope to lift Haiti out of its downward spiral if the Haitian authorities, international community, and national and international private sector can rally around a critical path to place the country on the road to economic security."
With the overarching goal of establishing a mechanism for operational coordination of the UN’s Rule of Law activities in Haiti, the retreat addressed the following specific objectives:
To avoid the duplication of activities by different United Nations actors;
To maximize the use of limited financial and human resources;
To strengthen and harmonize communication between national counterparts and United Nations actors; and
To identify common substantive priorities for Rule of Law coordination in Haiti.
By all accounts, the retreat proved extremely useful to the United Nations System working in Haiti in the Rule of Law, and produced several working proposals that will be refined during the next several weeks, in close consultation with Haitian authorities, civil society and the international community.