Is it Time for MINUSTAH to Wrap it Up?

11/24/2010 12:00am

At the UN General Assembly discussion on Haiti next Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in keeping with past practice, is likely to heap praise on MINUSTAH and the elections process. As we noted yesterday, MINUSTAH’s position on the rigged nature of the elections through party exclusion is to pretend there is no controversy: “Mulet said there have been no allegations of government manipulation of the campaign or any other wrongdoing,”  Bloomberg’s Bill Varner reported yesterday. Voter access and registration? Miraculously, close the entire eligible voting population has already registered, disease outbreaks, homelessness, and other obstacles be damned.

Since MINUSTAH is doing such an amazing job at fulfilling their mission, perhaps it’s time to ask: when is MINUSTAH going to leave? Bob Naiman at Just Foreign Policy proposes that it’s time for a timetable for MINUSTAH’s withdrawal, and some foreign leaders are also calling for the UN troops to leave Haiti.

Naiman writes:

Haitian protesters have been chanting: “MINUSTAH go home,” MINUSTAH being the name of the UN force.

Why do UN troops remain in Haiti? What are their plans for leaving? Is there a timetable for the withdrawal of UN forces from Haiti? If not, why not?

If the demands by Haitian protesters for UN forces to leave are not just, shouldn’t someone have to explain why? No explanation is being given for why UN troops should remain in Haiti indefinitely.

Naiman then goes on to cite media interviews with aid workers and scholars critical of MINUSTAH and questioning its ongoing presence. Further on, he writes:

…there are several reasons why this is a particularly appropriate time to raise the question of what the plans are for the UN forces to leave, in addition to the protests.

First, the cholera outbreak and the UN response raise fundamental questions about the accountability of the UN military force to the Haitian government and the Haitian people. Why have calls for investigation of the cause of the cholera outbreak been dismissed?

Second, the UN’s dismissive and provocative statements in response to the protests indicate a partisanship in Haitian politics that is the opposite of what one would expect from a genuine “peacekeeping” force. The UN has referred to the protesters as “enemies.” Really? Wouldn’t you expect a genuine “peacekeeping” force, charged with being the cause of a cholera outbreak that has killed 1,100 and may kill 10,000, to show a little humility, empathy, and compassion? Wouldn’t you expect a genuine “peacekeeping” force to make some kind of reasonable concession, like agreeing to participate in an independent investigation of the cause of the outbreak?

Third, the UN, in its dismissals of the protests, has sought to refocus attention on the elections scheduled for November 28. OK, what about these elections?

These are the elections that are so urgent, according to the UN, that they must occupy all of our attention, so that we cannot afford to investigate the cause of the cholera outbreak.

Let’s assume – just for the sake of discussion – that these concerns about the elections will continue to be ignored, and that the Nov. 28 elections go forward as planned, despite these problems and others. The UN will undoubtedly claim the election as a success, regardless of how many people participate. Since, according to the UN, the resulting government will be the legitimate government of Haiti, should not we expect the UN to be planning to hand over all responsibility for security in Haiti to this new government?

Why is the UN not broadcasting its plan to do so?

Read the rest here.

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