[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] voted [UN report] Thursday to end a 13-year-long peacekeeping operation in Haiti. The council will slowly downgrade the UN’s presence in Haiti to a small policing force over the next six months. Following the recommendations [text, PDF] of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres [official profile] the Council also agreed to establish the new United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH): an operation dedicated predominantly to aiding the Haitian government in strengthening its own legal institutions. MINUJUSTH is also authorized to “protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, as needed.” The Council has stated that the implementation of MINUJUSTH and the general reduction of UN presence in Haiti will enable the Haitian government to become more independent and lead to a “new chapter in [Haitian] history as the Mission transitions.”
The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti was established [UN backgrounder] in 2004 following an armed conflict which ousted then-President Bertrand Aristide. Following the Haitian earthquake [Britannica backgrounder] in 2010, the UN decided to increase its presence to aid recovery, reconstruction, and stabilization efforts. The mission also took steps to aid Haitians effected by the 2010 cholera outbreak [UN backgrounder]. However, Haiti is still recovering [BBC report] from Hurricane Matthew, which killed approximately 1,000 people in October. Along with decimating infrastructure and leaving thousands internally displaced, Hurricane Matthew threatened to interfere with the general election scheduled for November of that year. The election was scheduled after the 2015 election was met with widespread allegations of fraud. Despite the hurricane, the elections went forward, and Jovenel Moise [Al Jazeera report] was elected the nation’s new president. Critics are challenging his election after only 21 percentof eligible voters where able to reach the polls on election day. Many believe this is due to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. MINUJUSTH will now be the agency to help Moise politically stabilize the nation.