United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti

The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (French: Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti), also known as MINUSTAH, an acronym of the French name, was a UNpeacekeeping mission in Haiti that was in operation from 2004 to 2017. The mission’s military component was led by the Brazilian Army and the force commander was Brazilian. The force was composed of 2,366 military personnel and 2,533 police, supported by international civilian personnel, a local civilian staff and United Nations Volunteers.[1]

2004-2017 United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti

Brazilian soldiers patrol the camp Jean Marie Vincent in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Abbreviation MINUSTAH (French: Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti)
Formation 1 June 2004
Type Peacekeeping Mission
Legal status Replaced by MINUJUSTH
Head
Sandra Honoré (Special Representative of the Secretary-General)
Parent organization
UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, United Nations Security Council
Website UN Peacekeeping: MINUSTAH, www.minustah.org(in French)

Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the United Nations reported that the headquarters of the mission in Port-au-Prince had collapsed and that the mission’s chief, Hédi Annabi of Tunisia, his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa of Brazil, and the acting police commissioner, RCMP Supt. Doug Coates of Canada, were confirmed dead.[2][3][4] On 14 January 2010, UN headquarters dispatched the former head of MINUSTAH and current Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, as the organisation’s Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and interim head of MINUSTAH.[5] Mulet clarified on 22 January 2010 that MINUSTAH would concentrate on assisting the Haitian National Police in providing security within the country after the earthquake, while American and Canadian military forces will distribute humanitarian aid and provide security for aid distribution.[6]

MINUSTAH’s mandate was extended by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1944 past its deadline of 15 October 2010[7] amid alleged fears of instability.[8] The mission’s mandate was then extended until 15 October 2012 and was periodically renewed until 2017.[9]

On 13 April 2017, the United Nations Security Council announced that the mission would end in October 2017.[10] It was replaced by a much smaller follow-up mission, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).[11]

. . . United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti . . .

According to its mandate from the UN Security Council, MINUSTAH is required to concentrate the use of its resources, including civilian police, on increasing security and protection during the electoral period and to assist with the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law, public safety and public order in Haiti.[12] MINUSTAH was established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1542 on 30 April 2004 because the Security Council deemed the situation in Haiti to be a threat to international peace and security in the region.[13] In 2004, UN peacekeepers entered Cité Soleil in an attempt to gain control of the area and end the anarchy.[14]

U.S. Marines patrol the streets of Port-au-Prince in March 2004.
Brazilian MINUSTAH soldier with a Haitian girl in February 2005
Brazilian soldier stands security in Port-au-Prince

In 2004, independent human rights organizations accused the Haitian National Police (HNP) and sometimes MINUSTAH of atrocities against civilians.[15][16][17] It is still argued if any, or how many civilians were killed as a by-product of MINUSTAH crackdowns on criminals operating from slums. The UN and MINUSTAH expressed deep regret for any loss of life during operations.[18][19]

In early 2005, MINUSTAH force commander Lieutenant-General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira testified at a congressional commission in Brazil that “we are under extreme pressure from the international community to use violence”, citing Canada, France, and the United States.[20] Having ended his tour of duty, on 1 September 2005, Heleno was replaced by GeneralUrano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar as force commander of MINUSTAH. On 7 January 2006, Bacellar was found dead in his hotel room.[21] The death was considered to be suicide, however later some suspicion of assassination arose.[22] His interim replacement was Chilean General Eduardo Aldunate Hermann.

On 17 January 2006, it was announced that Brazilian General José Elito Carvalho Siqueira would be the permanent replacement for Bacellar as the head of the United Nations’ Haiti force.[23]

On 14 February 2006, in its Resolution 1658, the United Nations Security Council extended MINUSTAH’s mandate until 15 August 2006.[24]

MINUSTAH is also a precedent as the first mission in the region to be led by the Brazilian and Chilean military, and almost entirely composed of, Latin American forces, particularly from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador and Uruguay.[25] From 1 September 2007 until his death following the earthquake on 12 January 2010, the mission was led by TunisianHédi Annabi.[26]

India provided three units of around 500 police personnel for MINUSTAH. The Indian contingent joined the mission in October 2008, and were stationed in Port-au-Prince and Hinche. They were tasked with maintaining law and order, setting up and operating checkpoints, and anti-crime operations.[27] Two Indian police units will remain in Haiti after MINUSTAH ends on 15 October 2017, to serve in the successor mission, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).[28]

. . . United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti . . .

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. . . United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti . . .

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