The United Nations (UN) replaced on Monday its peacekeeping mission in Haiti with a smaller police presence which is expected to be drawn down after two years as the country boosts its own force.
The new mission is known as the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) and is aimed at focusing on justice, human rights and police development.
The UN on Monday called the transition to MINUJUSTH a “turning point” for Haiti and said “the United States believes the transition from MINUSTAH to MINUJUSTH can serve as a model for how UN peacekeeping missions should adapt as a country’s needs change and its political situation evolves.”
The peacekeeping mission known as MINUSTAH, one of the longest-running in the world, was dogged by controversies, including the introduction of cholera to the island nation and sexual abuse claims.
Meanwhile, some Haitians complained that MINUSTAH had not fulfilled its mission.
“After 13 years of MINUSTAH presence, stability exists only name. It is a failure by MINUSTAH. This mission arrived in the country at a time of crisis. It was to calm the game. Maybe it has done it. But speaking of stability, the country isn’t stable,” said Joinet Merzius, the General Coordinator of the Haitian Observatory of Human Rights.
Haiti’s police force now stands at 15,000 officers, including rapid response personnel, up from 2,000 in 2004 when the UN mission arrived, said President Jovenel Moise earlier in the year.
“We congratulate Haiti for its progress in achieving greater security and stability,” said Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. “The transition to MINUJUSTH marks a turning point in Haiti: from stability efforts to a focus on justice and the rule of law. With MINUJUSTH, the Government of Haiti and the people of Haiti will take the lead in providing their own security and law enforcement.”
MINUJUSTH will focus on developing the Haitian National Police (HNP), strengthening the rule of law, and promoting human rights.
“The United States believes the transition from MINUSTAH to MINUJUSTH can serve as a model for how UN peacekeeping missions should adapt as a country’s needs change and its political situation evolves,” Nauert said. “As a longstanding partner of Haiti, the United States looks forward to this new chapter in Haiti’s national story and will remain committed to working with the Government of Haiti and the international community to ensure a more secure, stable, and self-sufficient Haiti.”