Annan Calls for New U.N. Mission in Haiti
Tue Apr 20
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Tuesday for a broad, new U.N. mission in Haiti to include 6,700 troops, more than 1,600 international police and experts to help turn the Caribbean nation into "a functioning democracy".
The U.N. military contingent would replace the 3,600-strong U.S.-led multinational force sent to bring stability to Haiti after a three-week rebellion ousted its first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in February. About 2,000 of them are American troops.
Annan said the transfer of authority to a U.N. force would take place by June 1, with troops in the multinational force withdrawing in phases as U.N. troops arrived "to avoid any security gap."
In a report to the Security Council, the secretary-general said it was "unfortunate that in its bicentennial year, Haiti had to call again on the international community to help it overcome a serious political and security situation."
The U.N. special envoy to Haiti, Reginald Dumas, said last month that 10 international missions to Haiti in the last decade failed because there was no sustained commitment.
The international community must allow for least 20 years to bringing peace to Haiti and raising living standards in the Western hemisphere's poorest nation, he said.
Annan told the council the last U.N. mission, which ended in 2001, was "too brief and fraught with both international and domestic hindrances."
The new mission must be a partnership with regional organizations including the Caribbean Community, known as CARICOM, and the Organization of American States, but most of all with the Haitian people, he said.
He proposed the council authorize the new mission, to be called the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, for an initial period of 24 months.
In light of the volatile security situation and proliferation of arms throughout the country, he said the U.N. military force should provide security in all key towns and along major roads, "deter armed groups from engaging in violence," and work with the Haitian and international police to disarm fighters, Annan said.
Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger, the current Security Council president, said he didn't know when members would take up the report.
U.N. peacekeeping missions are funded by member states, on a sliding scale of assessments. The United States is the largest contributor, paying 27 percent of peacekeeping costs.
The United States, Canada and Chile are the main contributors to the multinational force. Washington expects some of these troops to become part of the U.N. force, a senior U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Caribbean nations refused to join the U.S.-led multinational peacekeeping force but have not ruled out the possibility of contributing to a U.N. force.
Caribbean leaders, many of whom do not recognize Haiti's interim government, have demanded the U.N. General Assembly investigate Aristide's claims the United States staged a coup and forced him from power-a claim U.S. officials deny.
Earlier this month, Brazilian Defense Minister Jose Viegas said Brazil was prepared to take command of the U.N. force and would send 1,470 troops to Haiti for six months. But Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Tuesday his country would take command only if there is "a firm commitment by the international community to rebuild Haiti."
Annan said the mission must have experts on human rights, HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS (news - web sites), gender and civil affairs "to help create the necessary conditions for a functioning democracy, as well as for the establishment and strengthening of legitimate local authority throughout the country."
Haiti's interim leaders are trying to start rebuilding, but Annan said the United Nations (news - web sites) has not gotten a sufficient response to its appeal for $35 million in emergency relief needed to help the shattered country.