quarta-feira, 29 de fevereiro de 2012

Haiti under MINUSTAH: a case study in post-conflict reconstruction

1.      A brief history of Haiti
From colonial times until today Haiti has had a unique political, economic and social history. It has experienced several political crises and its history is plagued by grievances.  A former French colony, Haiti was built upon slave blood and sweat. By the time the French Revolution occurred, Haiti’s slave population outnumbered the white population ten to one. Mortality rates were enormous (some estimates put it as high as 10 percent of the population within a given year). The conditions the slaves endured were precarious and death replacement meant that almost 70 percent of the population was born in different parts of Africa. Under these circumstances, no common ethnic identity existed, much less a widespread sense of nationhood.

In 1794, Haiti experienced a huge slave revolt that abolished slavery and set the slaves free. After two other revolts and coups, Jean Jacques Dessalines finally overthrew the French and proclaimed himself emperor of the country and declared Haiti to an independent nation. Defeated militarily, France refused to accept Haiti’s independence and forced the new country to pay a huge indemnity, financed by loans with exorbitant yields from French banks. In retaliation, France also kept Haiti under a blockade for almost 60 years. During the blockade, European countries regularly sent warships to the newly independent nation to coerce and extort funds from the government and the treasury.

Between the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, 20 rulers governed Haiti, of which 16 were murdered. During America’s expansionist period, Haiti fell prey to its imperial ambitions: in 1915 the USA occupied Haiti and remained there until 1934, imposing its will with great brutality, including mass murder and forced labor (Dubois, L.: 2012). Poverty and social upheaval were integral parts of Haitian society, which continued to be marked by many rebellions and coups. During the cold war, Haiti was the victim of foreign manipulation when François Duvalier, a murderous megalomaniac, came to power.  His reign of terror between 1957 and 1971 was maintained by the ruthless and feared tontons macoutes, Duvalier’s personal guard that was directly responsible for executing much of the opposition and persecuting even the Catholic Church. 

As a consequence of its tragic history Haiti has remained as one of the poorest countries in the world, with a GDP of not more than 20 billion US$ for a population of more than 8 million.  Its social indicators reveal a very fragile society with deeply rooted fractures and a long history of political violence and oppression. Due to its troubled history and poor infrastructure, post-conflict reconstruction in Haiti was never expected to be an easy task.

The establishment of The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) following a long series of other UN missions in the country took place in this turbulent context. MINUSTAH accomplishments as well as its shortcomings should, therefore, both be measured in relative terms. One must keep in mind the utterly fragile state of Haiti before UN intervention. It should be also stressed that the major earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince in 2010 represented even further setbacks of considerable proportions to the country. Without the many UN missions in Haiti, the 2010 disaster could have evolved into a large humanitarian crisis, sending refuges all across the continent.

In retrospective, it can be said that MINUSTAH represented a successful attempt at cooperation at the regional level and that it achieved its goals of preventing the eruption of a serious humanitarian and security crisis in the region. There is certainly still much to be done in Haiti, and MINUSTAH’s on-going mission cannot yet be fully measured.

2.      The establishment of MINUSTAH
There is a long history of United Nations missions and operations in Haiti. In short, on 1 June, 2004, resolution 1542 of the 4961st Security Council meeting established The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Initially, The SC approved MINUSTAH for 6 months, with the possibility of extension. Acting under Chapter 7, the SC decided that the Stabilization Mission in Haiti would have the following mandate: to establish a secure and stable environment; to support the constitutional and political process in Haiti, fostering principles of democratic governance and institutional development; and to support the Transitional Government as well as Haitian human rights institutions and groups in their efforts to promote and protect human rights, particularly of women and children, in order to ensure individual accountability for human rights abuses and redress for victims.

In order to carry out its mandate, the Security Council explicitly called on Member States to provide substantial international aid to meet the humanitarian needs in Haiti and permit the reconstruction of the country, utilizing relevant coordination mechanisms. It also further called upon States, in particular those in the region, to provide appropriate support for the actions undertaken by the United Nations organs, bodies and agencies. It is important to notice that resolution 1542 also emphasized the need for Member States, the United Nations, regional entities such as OAS and CARICOM, international financial institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to continue their contributions of promoting especially long-term social and economic development in Haiti in order to achieve and sustain stability and combat poverty. It is evident that the UN Security Council acknowledged the long-term goal of the mission and stressed that the achievement of stability ought to be coupled with poverty alleviation.

Furthermore, the SC decided that MINUSTAH would provide advice and assistance to the Transitional Government in the investigation of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law.  MINUSTAH, in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was also meant to “put an end to impunity” and to assist in the development of a strategy for reform and in the institutional strengthening of the judiciary. Another important stated goal was to assist the Transitional Government in its efforts to organize, monitor, and carry out free and fair elections at all levels at the earliest possible date. For that purpose, MINUTSAH was prepared to provide administrative, logistical, and technical assistance. It was conceded that this could only happen in an environment of “continued security”. In the end, the MINUSTAH mandate is summed up in four major lines of action: a) the establishment of a secure and stable environment; b) the promotion of the political process; c) the strengthening Haiti’s Government institutions and the rule-of-law; d) and the promotion and protection of human rights.

As of 31st January 2012, MINUSTAH is comprised of 11,241 total uniformed personnel that include: 7,699 troops; 3,542 police (including formed units); 557 international civilian personnel; 1,355 local civilian staff and 224 United Nations Volunteers. The establishment of MINUSTAH succeeded a Multinational Interim Force (MIF) authorized by the Security Council in February 2004, after President Bertrand Aristide left Haiti in exile. It also came after the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), a small mission that lasted from December 1997 to March 2000, and was comprised of some 300 civilian police personnel, including a special police unit, supported by a civilian establishment of some 72 international and 133 local personnel and 17 United Nations Volunteers. It also followed the short United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH); the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), from June 1996 to July 1997; and the first United Nation Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), established in September 1993.

The United Nation Mission in Haiti mandate was to assist the democratic government in sustaining a stable environment, professionalizing the armed forces and creating a separate police force, and establishing an environment conducive to free and fair elections. Headquartered in Port-Au-Prince, UNMIH continued from September 1993 to June 1996 and had at its peak 6,065 troops and military support personnel, acting together with 847 civilian police, supported by international and local civilian staff.

3.      Football Diplomacy – Brazil and MINUSTAH
From the onset it was decided that Brazil was to be responsible for coordinating and leading the MINUSTAH troops. The Brazilian participation in MINUSTAH represents a major breakthrough in Brazilian foreign policy: it was the first operation of its kind where Brazil was responsible for leading military operations. It followed a decade of intense political activity, where Brazil was opening up as part of globalization and neo-liberalism. Brazil’s participation in peacekeeping operations in the 1990s was part of a new Brazilian foreign affairs context that could be traced back to President Fernando Collor. The declared aim of this new foreign policy was to update the country’s international agenda in order to address the new international issues at hand, create a positive agenda with the United States, and for Brazil to distance itself from its third world characteristics. It can be noted that throughout the 1990s the Brazilian government paid attention to the advantages of participating in UN peacekeeping missions. As a continental country, Brazil understood the importance of UN peacekeeping operations in ensuring collective security and attaining foreign credibility in international contexts. 

In performing such operations, Brazil has maintained consistently clear priorities.  Brazilian foreign policy interests have been evident in important peacekeeping missions, especially in Africa and in the Americas. Despite a limited budget, Brazil has significantly contributed to creating a culture of preserving the peace. Policymakers in Brasilia understand this contribution as being decisive in preparing themselves to occupy a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. In the Security Council, Brazil has insisted on the need to address underdevelopment, poverty, and social inequalities and has made its participation in MINUSTAH conditional upon these achievements. It can be argued that Brazil’s participation in Haiti confers some degree of legitimacy to its aspiration of playing a leading role in South America. By being in charge of the post-conflict reconstruction process in Haiti, Brazil is perceived as the leading regional power coordinating a regional response to a major humanitarian crisis.

Brazilian diplomacy has not spared efforts to accomplish its goals in Haiti, which now occupies the center stage of Brazilian foreign policy. Brazil has given Haiti high priority in all areas of its international presence (culture, commerce, education, environment, human rights), which is corroborated by the many presidential visits to the country. A symbol of this determination is the football match played between the Brazilian national team and the Haitian squad, called “the peace game” by the local Haitian press.

Brazilian officials have stressed on several different occasions the relevance of Haiti in Brazilian foreign policy. Brazil understands its commitment to the Caribbean country as a long-term endeavor with the aim of regenerating Haiti’s social and political tissue and establishing long-lasting stability. For Brazilian diplomacy, security problems cannot be dissociated from political, humanitarian and economic aspects. It therefore attributes the highest importance to three related issues: a) security and the establishment of law and order; b) political stability; and c) economic reconstruction. In order to contribute to the achievement of these ambitious goals, Brazil has deployed more than 2,000 troops to Haiti and has offered some US$ 350 million in assistance,  besides engaging nine different federal ministries in cooperation activities ranging from the installation of a tropical fruit processing facility to the distribution of school books and food. Furthermore, major efforts were made to achieve cooperation in public health, culture, farming, and the strengthening of institutions. For Brazilian diplomacy, providing such assistance was essential in order to avoid the Brazilian troops being seen as “an oppressive force” but rather as a force of peace and reconciliation.

Nothing could have been a better public relations strategy in Haiti than the football match between the Brazilian national team and the Haitian one. As the biggest world cup winner (Brazil has won 5 world cups, far more than any other nation) the Brazilian team is revered in Haiti, a country that is also very fond of football. The seleção brasileira also has an ethnic component that fosters major sympathy in countries with large Afro-descendent populations, since most of its players are of African descent (like the legendary Pelé). The match was played in 2004 in a newly reconstructed stadium. It symbolized a new approach of the international community towards Haiti: cooperation rather than exploitation. 

For a country accustomed to a long history of foreign exploitation and oppression, this shift in attitudes was essential to guaranteeing general support of the peacekeepers. It was also a signal to the Brazilian public, also weary of foreign intervention and suspicious of the role of the Security Council, that this time things in Haiti were at least meant to be different. For the first time in Haiti’s history there would be a foreign presence whose perceived long-term aim was to help the Haitian people, not to oppress. In Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, Brazil sought to redeem part of its own history of injustice and social oppression. In Haiti, Brazilian politicians were trying to declare to the world that they, a developing country in the southern part of the hemisphere, understood all too well the difficulties and sorrows of their continental neighbors. Haiti is for Brazil an exercise of redemption and self-liberation.

It could be correctly argued that Haiti fulfilled both Brazilian domestic political interests as well as its international ambitions. Some commentators (Altemani, Lessa) spoke of a turning point in Brazilian foreign policy. They point to the fact that Brazilian participation in MINUSTAH attracted huge interest from the media, the congress, and public opinion, a rare case in a continental country that is quite accustomed to its own size and therefore quite autarchic. In May 2004, the first contingent of Brazilian troops departed Brazil to join MINUSTAH’s operations in Haiti, under the command of Brigadier General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira. It was the first time Brazil was leading a major peace operation under the auspices of the United Nations. For Brazil, the time was ripe for a debut in the regional scenario. As an aspiring global player, it wanted to reveal its commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the region. As an emerging power it wanted by all means to characterize its mission in Haiti as benign and anchored in true humanitarian and social concerns, especially to appease internal opposition and to reaffirm the uniqueness of its own anti-colonial history. 

As of 2012, Brazil remains fully committed to assisting Haiti in all major areas. During the last refugee crisis in 2011, Brazil granted admission to thousands of Haitian workers seeking asylum. Cooperation in agriculture, education, public health, culture, and environment continue at a speedy pace. Brazil has been a vociferous fighter for more commitment from the international community to Haiti. The deployment of troops illustrates this commitment: of the 8,431 troops under MINUSTAH command, 2,146 come from Brazil, making it by far the largest troop contributor to the mission. To put things into perspective, the second largest contributor, Uruguay, has contributed with 1,044, followed by Nepal and Sri Lanka with 1,038 and 947 respectively. The US contributed with 8 troops, France 2, and Germany, Russia, China and the UK with none. It is remarkable that MINUSTAH is a major UN operation whose main troop contributors are all developing countries (Brazil, Uruguay, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Jordan, and Chile). Even Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, has contributed with 187 troops, 18 times more than all the combined contribution of the 5 veto members of the SC (which together contributed with only 18 troops).

Despite minor incidents and the devastating earthquake that took the lives of some 100 blue helmets, the death toll has remained low. MINUSTAH has not faced many casualties and their operations in Haiti are highly regarded by the local population. Since the beginning of operations in 2004, only 35 personnel troops from MINUSTAH died in Haiti, most in accidents unrelated to warfare or political violence, and many died during the 2010 quake.

4.      The 2010 earthquake – New challenges to post-conflict reconstruction
Once a prosperous French colony, the economy of Haiti could not survive two centuries of foreign exploitation, internal mismanagement and several natural catastrophes. By the beginning of the 21st century, its population was starving and this once thriving land had become the poorest country on the continent. Although the security situation was improving, institutions were taking hold and the economy was reviving, the overall situation was still fragile. To make matters much worse, in 2010 a huge earthquake struck the Caribbean island, killing between 100,000 and 310,000 thousand people and devastating the country’s infrastructure. The quake originated approximately 25 kilometers from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti and was a major seismic event, reaching an astonishing 7.0 degrees in the Richter scale. Some three million people have been directly affected by the quake, probably the largest in the region in the last 200 years.

The quake destroyed thousands of buildings and severely damaged the already poor infrastructure. Even the headquarters of MINUSTAH were not spared from the tragedy. The quake also took the lives of Héde Annabi, the civilian head of MINUSTAH and many other personnel from the UN. It caused great damage to Port au Prince, Jacmel and other important towns in the region. The presidential palace, the parliament building, the Notre-Dame cathedral, the main prison in Haiti, as well as virtually all public hospitals were destroyed or severely damaged. The tragedy left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and destroyed roads; water pipes; industrial facilities; hospitals; schools; bridges; air, sea, and land transport facilities; and communication systems.

It is difficult to measure the financial loss caused by the tragedy, but to grasp the sheer magnitude of it suffices to mention that an estimated 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings were severely damaged and demolished. Following the quake, the education system virtually collapsed. Approximately half the nation’s schools and the main universities in Port-au-Prince were affected, with more than 1,300 schools and 50 health centers being destroyed. Following the destruction of the Prison Civile in Port-au-Prince some 4,000 inmates managed to escape, further complicating the already fragile security situation.

The consequences of the 2010 quake are still being felt today: recently Oxfam reported that a half million Haitians remain homeless, still living in precarious conditions under makeshift tarps and in tents.  It is believed that the earthquake was the third deadliest on record, killing as much as three times more people than the deadliest quake in Europe that 100,000 in Lisbon in 1771. For an already country poor suffering from chronic lack of proper infrastructure, this devastating quake represented a serious blow. It could be argued that the quake in Haiti represented such a major and unexpected setback to post-construction efforts there that measurements of the successes obtained so far must take it into account. It is not an exaggeration to claim that the accomplishments of MINUSTAH without the quake would have been significantly higher. Nevertheless, even though much remains to be accomplished, MINUSTAH has already achieved some considerable successes, as we shall discuss next.

5.      Successes achieved so far
Considering the original mandate of MINUSTAH of restoring secure and stable environments, promoting the political process, and protecting human rights), it is possible to assert that the biggest achievements have been made in restoring a secure environment and promoting the political process. There has been great progress in security, even though the situation in Haiti is not at present fully stable. Security forces have a firm grasp of the country and relatively few casualties have affected MINUSTAH troops.

A clear example of the accomplishments of MINUSTAH in terms of security is the situation in the Cité Soleil slum, just outside Port-Au-Prince. Originally a shantytown, Cité Soleil currently harbors some 200,000 to 400,000 residents, most of who live in extreme poverty. It is located at the western end of the runway of Toussaint Louverture International Airport and was once one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere due to its lack of basic infrastructure such as stores, electricity, health care facilities, and schools. Until 2007 it was ruled by a number of gangs, each controlling their own sectors, with more than 30 armed fractions controlling every few blocks of the complex. Gangs would roam the streets and terrorize the neighbors. Neither the state nor the UN forces were able to control them. In fact, until 2007 the UN troops were not able to enter the area at all.

Cité Soleil was thus a symbol of Haiti’s shortcomings, representing its biggest contradictions and problems. Nowadays, even though the area remains quite violent by most standards, Cité Soleil is no longer a no-go area for the police or the UN troops. Investments in infrastructure, education, sanitation, and community police forces have improved the quality of life, albeit marginally. Even though there is still a lot to do in this shantytown, the improvement of the security situation there illustrates the overall security situation in the country. To be clear, as of 2012 MINUSTAH is still working to fulfill its original mandate. But the security situation has remained stable, in spite of the 2010 quake. According to the UN in 2011: “the overall security situation remained relatively calm, albeit fragile, with sporadic instances of civil unrest throughout the country linked to the electoral process” (UN: 2011).

The UN report goes on to assert that: “MINUSTAH military and police personnel continued to play a vital role in the maintenance of overall security and stability, particularly during the unpredictable post-electoral period. In July, MINUSTAH conducted a successful joint military and police operation in the Port-au-Prince areas of Cité Soleil, Bel Air and Martissant with the intent of disrupting gang activities and assisting the Haitian authorities in maintaining law and order in those areas. Several gang members, as well as prison escapees, were arrested, and criminality has since decreased in the targeted areas. The Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH jointly carried out several successful anti-crime operations, including targeted activities against drug trafficking” (Ibid.).

Another important factor that contributed to the improvement of the overall security operation was the strengthening of the Haitian National Police. MINUSTAH has been successfully training new personnel and in May 2011, the graduation of the twenty-second group of cadets enhanced the ability of Haitian National Police to provide adequate protection to the civilian population. The UN report concludes its analysis stating that “the military component of MINUSTAH continued to play a crucial role in the maintenance of a secure and stable environment, as well as in border management, disaster preparedness and response, electoral support and recovery and reconstruction efforts” (ibid.).

It is important to note that the devastating 2010 earthquake could have caused the security situation in Haiti to have spiraled out of control, generating a humanitarian and security crisis of major proportions. MINUSTAH was fundamental in preventing a more tragic outcome. The secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon has spoken of the “vital contribution made by MINUSTAH in the aftermath of the earthquake, reinforced by the surge capacities authorized by the Security Council last year” (UN:2011). Without MINUSTAH, Haiti could have well slid back into anarchy, becoming the only failed state in the continent and threatening the stability of the whole Caribbean region. Due to its proximity to Florida, it could also have triggered a massive wave of refugees.

A second major improvement can be found in the restoration of the political process. In a recent report the Secretary General affirms that: “Haiti has experienced, for the first time in its history, a peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected president to another from the opposition” (UN: 2011). This in itself is a major accomplishment. It is important to remember that Haiti never experienced in its entire history a long and sustained period of political stability. There were some concerns about the fairness of the last presidential election and political consensus remains weak, but nevertheless the results can be hailed as a significant breakthrough.

6.      Challenges ahead.
Haiti has made considerable progress since the tragic earthquake of 12 January 2010. For the first time there has been a peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected president to another belonging to the opposition. The security situation has improved considerably and the political process is slowly becoming more stable. All these improvements have been attained because MINUSTAH provided significant man-power and resources to the country. In a sense, Haiti has developed a kind of UN dependence, even though national institutions such as the National Police have started to function in a more proper manner.

The UN does not intend for its presence in Haiti to be eternal. Quite on the contrary, it has indicated on several different occasions that MINUSTAH ought to be the last UN operation there. The biggest challenge ahead for Haiti will most likely be gradual disengagement from the UN and the transfer of responsibility to local authorities. In its latest report, the UN states, “if MINUSTAH is to be the last peacekeeping mission deployed to Haiti, the Haitian authorities must also increasingly take responsibility for the country’s stability. This means a greater countrywide presence of the State: the Haitian National Police, the judiciary and public administration. It entails advancing education and providing basic services, housing and protection to those still displaced by the earthquake. It also means putting in place a credible and permanent electoral council and taking steps to reduce the dependence of Haiti on international support to hold free and fair elections.” (UN: 2011). Furthermore, a rule-of-law environment must take firmer hold and good governance must be improved.  

Another great challenge that lies ahead is the containment of the current cholera outbreak and the improvement of sanitary conditions. As a result of heavy rains a cholera epidemic reached a second peak in June of 2011. Due to climatic conditions and lack of proper infrastructure, another cholera outbreak could destabilize the progresses made so far in the security area and in the political process. The international community should remain committed to assisting the Haitian people in efforts to contain another outbreak of a cholera epidemic.

Improving economic conditions remains another of Haiti’s biggest challenge. In spite of the support of the international community and probably also as a consequence of the 2010 quake, Haiti remains very poor and the economy is not yet fully operational and self-sufficient. In fact, Haiti still relies upon foreign aid and should the flow of aid diminish, the recent improvements in security and the political process could suffer a major setback. As a matter of priorities, the international community should continue to support the Haitian authorities, with funds, know-how and enhanced cooperation especially in areas such as education, public health, sanitation, and the environment. The private sector and civil society must be strengthened and foreign direct investment should replace humanitarian aid as international cash flow.

7.      Conclusion:
MINUSTAH was established with a mandate to: a) establish a secure and stable environment; b) promote the political process; c) strengthen Haiti’s Government institutions and the rule-of-law; d) and to promote and protect human rights. These are the benchmarks by which the mission should be measured. Additionally, all successes should take into account the impacts of unforeseen 2010 earthquake in the reconstruction process.
In spite of its shortcomings and the work still to be done, it can be said that MINUSTAH is a success. It has overseen the development of a much more secure and stable environment, with Cité Soleil as a good example of its achievements. It has helped Haiti steer through the political changes that led to the first peaceful democratic transition in the country. It has considerably strengthened Haiti’s government institutions and rule of law, and it has certainly helped promote and protect human rights.

Considering the turbulent history of Haiti, it is not implausible that the 2010 earthquake could have triggered a major humanitarian and security crisis in the region. MINUSTAH certainly was instrumental in preventing such an outcome. With considerable improvement in infrastructure, a more secure and stable environment, and with free elections and a check-and-balance system in place, Haiti has the potential, if not to become once again a thriving economy, at least to regain some of its dignity. With sustained foreign direct investment, the country can establish itself as an important Caribbean nation.

MINUSTAH’s main achievement is most likely the novelty it represents: a UN operation with clearly social rather than military aims. The degree of Brazilian participation has shown that it is possible for emerging economies to play a decisive and stabilizing role in the international community, sharing the burden of leadership with developed countries. It has also made clear that developing nations are willing to contribute more actively to UN operations, provided there is a clear break with the past, a sharper prioritization of social issues, and a larger participation of multilateral bodies such as the United Nations, the Organization of the American States, and the CARICOM.

Brazil’s former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva is reported as having said, “food is the best weapon against war”. A migrant son of a very poor family from the impoverished hinterlands of Brazil’s northeast, he knew all too well what famine meant. Becoming the acclaimed president of the 7th largest economy on the planet, his message was heard and respected around the world. Haiti showcased Brazilian diplomacy in a context of profound political and societal domestic change.  In his acceptance speech for the World Food Prize, an international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world, Lula famously said, “Political leaders should shift focus from making war to fighting hunger. Because this is the only war all political leaders should learn how to wage: to fight for life and not to fight for death”. Lula added: “Hunger is the most powerful and dreadful weapon of mass destruction mankind has ever created. Hunger kills no soldiers in battlefields, hunger kills no enemies, hunger kills no terrorists. Hunger kills children (…) The rulers of the world must learn how to govern our countries with the feelings of their hearts (…) Not the hungry should help the hungry. The ones like us, the ones who eat every morning, and every afternoon and every night: we are the ones who have to help the hungry (…) for the hungry are sometimes so hungry they cannot even cry out for help”. As a mainly humanitarian mission, MINUSTAH could help the international community establish a new precedent: the moral obligation to assist others in need and the beneficial impacts this endeavor can help maintain peace and stability throughout the world. So far, it represents a clear example of a successful UN post-reconstruction effort, even though much remains to be accomplished. Being largely supported by troops contributed by developing countries, MINUSTAH also clearly has a huge potential to become the example of a more participative international order, one in which power is more evenly shared and the responsibility to protect falls upon more shoulders. If it had not been for the 2010 earthquake, the situation would be much better. Had MINUSTAH not occurred, the 2010 seismic event might well have triggered a humanitarian catastrophe of large proportions. A substantial part of MINUSTAH’s original mandate has already been accomplished. Haiti will certainly need more help and support from the international community, but MINUSTAH has been without doubt a blessing and a good omen for this impoverished country.

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Author: Danilo Zimbres
Norwich University, February 2012

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