NEW YORK – On Thursday September 6, 2018, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten the Honorable Leona Romeo-Marlin represented the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the United Nations Security Council meeting concerning the peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to express our sincere thanks to Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita for her excellent briefing on the situation in Haiti.
We are also pleased with the attendance of Special Representative Helen LaLime. We warmly welcome her appointment and wish her good luck in executing her duties. Mr. President, I am particularly pleased to be here today.
Sint Maarten, a Small Island Developing State, autonomous country in the Kingdom of The Netherlands, is the proud home to over 118 different nationalities. One of the largest of these is the Haitian diaspora, numbering well over 5000 persons. With such strong social ties, the events in Haiti are very much felt at home. As part of the Caribbean region, we also share some of Haiti’s vulnerabilities to natural disasters and climate change.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Irma, the strongest Atlantic Hurricane on record. Let me commemorate here today the people who passed away or were wounded; those who have lost their homes and livelihoods; those who today are still rebuilding their lives. In St Maarten, but certainly also in the neighboring countries in the Caribbean.
Throughout the region work remains ongoing to improve resilience and ensure a full recovery from its devastating impact. Our National Recovery and Resilience Plan will include institutional reform and capacity building.
1. Rule of law: progress and challenges
Mr. President, today we discuss the situation in Haiti, against the background of the benchmarked two-year exit strategy to a non-peacekeeping UN presence. For this transition to happen successfully a further strengthening of the Rule of Law is paramount.
Cabinet of the Prime Minister
The Government of Sint Maarten
The rule of law is the bedrock of any just, prosperous and peaceful society. It is an element of trust for both the population and investors. In addition, it helps cushioning external and internal shocks, as Haiti recurrently experiences. St. Maarten as Caribbean country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands recognizes this challenge.
Over the past few years, Haiti has made significant progress, under difficult circumstances. However, as the latest Secretary-General’s report indicates, substantial work remains to be done.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands therefore encourages the government of Haiti to continue institutional reform, strengthen Rule of Law institutions and improve respect for human rights. That means an increased engagement of the government with MINUJUSTH in all these fields, but it also means providing the necessary support; political, legislative and budgetary. One important dimension in this regard is judicial reform. To this end parliament needs to swiftly adopt both the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal procedure.
2. Strengthening police capacity
Mr. President, the rule of law also requires effective and accountable security institutions, in particular the police and correctional facilities.
The outbreak of violence in July serves as a reminder that the security situation in Haiti is still fragile and it could be challenged again in the coming months.
It is of paramount importance that the Haitian National Police improves its ability to manage these threats and shore up the trust of the Haitian people in its performance. Particular attention should be given to the reported increase in gang activities and any perceived vulnerabilities following the scaling down of the presence of Formed Police Units (FPU) in two areas.
We commend Haiti on recent steps taken in cooperation with MINUJUSTH to increase the capacity of its National Police. In this regard I would also like to highlight two very positive developments: the growing number of women recruited, and the specialized office for sexual violence crime, which was embedded within the judicial police directorate.
On sexual based violence we welcome the initiatives undertaken to increase awareness, although the noted underreporting remains worrisome. It is essential that perpetrators of these serious crimes are prosecuted.
3. The road ahead on achieving the benchmarks
Mr. President, the Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes the thorough report of the Secretary General which transparently measures the level of progress made on the mission’s mandate against the previously elaborated benchmarks.
We also appreciate the capacity assessment, security transition plan and mitigating measures MINUJUSTH has drafted and identified.
All this should ensure a robust framework for the transition to a non-peacekeeping UN-presence, leading to a responsible withdrawal based on the situation on the ground. The government of Haiti, the mission, and the UN Country Team should continue to work closely together on achieving this. The coming period will be crucial in this regard.
We wholeheartedly support the Secretary-General’s call that efforts must be redoubled to ensure that the benchmarks are attained.
Mr. President, as a close neighbor to Haiti, St Maarten and the Kingdom of the Netherlands strongly support the Haitian aspirations towards peace, justice and development. The necessary foundations for this are clear: a strengthening of the Rule of Law, including by increasing the police, justice and corrections capacity, a swift implementation of priority actions and an increased respect for human rights. For this the government of Haiti should take full advantage of the presence of MINUJUSTH until its exit and of the UN country team thereafter.
The Kingdom of Netherlands will continue to support the UN’s committed work in Haiti
Photo caption – Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin addressing the UN Security Council meeting in New York.