Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Haiti- UN Peacekeeping Force Evolving to a Policing Role


In the lead-up to the UN Secretary General's visit, Haiti is getting some long-merited attention. This AP article takes a balanced look at the challenges facing peacekeeping and peacebuilding in the Haitian state.

Haiti is in a transitional phase, where it is out of immediate crisis, but where, 'The senior U.N. envoy to Haiti says it is too soon for the U.N. to consider withdrawing its 8,800-strong, Brazil-led peacekeeping force, noting past failed attempts to help the country... "An early withdrawal right now would be a big mistake, 'Big' with a capital letter," Edmond Mulet said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "This is a time to hold on, to make this work this time."'

The challenge is that UN military peacekeepers are obliged to undertake what is essentially a policing function. '... the U.N. mission eventually hopes to use more civilian police than soldiers but is hampered by a world shortage of trained, French-speaking officers... The peacekeepers provide more than 80 percent of Haiti's security needs, but the government is working to eventually take over that responsibility. The national police academy is pumping out hundreds of recruits, trying bolster the nation's small police force of 6,000.'

Chronic poverty and gangs, drug-traffickers still pose a threat to real peace and stability in Haiti, with official suggesting that a UN force will be need until President Preval's term ends in 2011.