U.N. Approves Six-month Peacekeeping Mission to Haiti
A resolution unanimously adopted by the 15-nation body authorizes the deployment of up to 6,700 peacekeepers and 1,622 civilian police officers to take over security in Haiti from a U.S.-led international force on June 1. Brazil is expected to lead the U.N. force.
Although U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed keeping the peacekeeping force in Haiti for two years as a sign of the United Nations’ commitment to the troubled nation, the resolution approves the mission for six months “with the intention to renew for further periods.”
The move reflected the council’s efforts to keep the soaring peacekeeping budget under control, diplomats said, according to Reuters.
Currently, about 2,000 U.S. troops and 1,500 French, Canadian and Chilean troops are in Caribbean nation, deployed soon after Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, fled the country. Aristide fled on Feb. 29 following three weeks of bloody clashes between militant supporters and opponents. He is now residing in Jamaica.
Some U.N. officials and diplomats worry that the peacekeeping force will be hard to fill by June 1 because of concerns some nations may have over the continued presence of rebels in Haiti and the competition for French-speaking peacekeepers, The New York Times reported.
But Chile’s U.N. ambassador, Heraldo Munoz, said countries in Latin America and elsewhere would likely help out.
“I trust that we will have the troops,” he said according to Reuters. “I hope that with this (resolution), we will be there for the long haul and not lose patience as we have in the past.”
The new force, to be called the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, aims to enable a return to democracy in a secure and stable environment, the council said.
The council also called for free and fair municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections to be held “at the earliest possible date,” Reuters reported.