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Keeping the Peace in Haiti?: An Assessment of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti - March 25, 2005

by Clinical Advocay Project Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School


Clinical Advocacy Project
Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School
March 25, 2005

Report: Keeping the Peace in Haiti?: An Assessment of the United
Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti

Using Compliance with its Prescribed Mandate as a Barometer for SuccessHaiti
On February 29, 2004, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left Haiti as
a group of rebels seized Port-au-Prince. Since the opposition has
taken power, it has been alleged that the new government has
committed and condoned serious human rights abuses against Aristide
supporters including arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial killings.

At the same time, Aristide supporters have been accused of violent
attacks on government supporters. Since July, the Brazilian-led
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has been
deployed in the country with a mandate to restore the rule of law and
enforce human rights protections.

A CAP delegation traveled with a Brazilian NGO, the Global Justice
Center, to Haiti to document human rights abuses that are taking
place on MINUSTAH’s watch. A second CAP delegation returned to Haiti
in January 2005 to conduct further on-site research. CAP and the
Global Justice Center interviewed victims and authorities as well as
staff of MINUSTAH, the United Nations, the police, and the current
government. In March 2005, CAP and the Global Justice Center released
a report on their findings entitled "Keeping the Peace in Haiti?: An
Assessment of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
Using Compliance with its Prescribed Mandate as a Barometer for

Haiti Report:

English (2.60 Mb)

Português (2.61 Mb)

Français (15.2 Kb)


News article on above report:

The Harvard Crimson
March 25, 2005

Harvard Law School Report Criticizes UN Efforts in Haiti
Contributing Writer

One year after the forced departure of president Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, Haiti may be in danger of becoming a “failed state,”
according to a report released on Monday by the Clinical Advocacy
Project, a division of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School

The report, “Keeping the Peace in Haiti?”, criticizes the United
Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), a Brazilian-led
peace-keeping operation established by a UN mandate in April of last

Authored by two second-year HLS students, Benjamin S. Litman and
Pooja A. Bhatia `98-`99, the report rebukes MINUSTAH for adopting a
“timid interpretation of its mandate,” and offers recommendations to
ameliorate the situation.

“The report certainly is a harsh criticism of MINUSTAH, because
MINUSTAH deserves that criticism, but it is meant to be a
constructive criticism,” Lipman said. “We think they have the
capacity, they just have to realize it, that’s all.”

The authors criticize MINUSTAH for failing to accomplish the three
components of its mandate— “providing a secure and stable
environment, particularly through disarmament; supporting the
political process and good governance in preparation for upcoming
elections; and monitoring and reporting on human rights”
— and claim
that Haiti is “as insecure as ever.”

It includes a list of alleged failings and abuses on the part of
MINUSTAH, including the claim that the group did not investigate
alleged killings of hospitalized patients by members of the Haitian
National Police.

Though Bhatia acknowledged the difficulty of MINUSTAH’s task, she
said she hopes that more will be done.

“To be sure, it is a huge task,” she said. “Haiti is a really
complicated place, and it hasn’t functioned properly in a long time.”

To initiate efforts for improving MINUSTAH’s performance in Haiti,
HLS Human Rights Program Clinical Director James L. Cavallaro `84,
who served as the editor of the report, released its findings in
Brazil earlier this week. He said yester that the report met with
some controversy in an already-tense Brazil.

“It has really stirred things up, it’s promoted debate on the role of
the UN in Haiti, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “We want to
engage all the authorities so that they cannot pass the buck as they
have tried to do with [the] hospitals.”

Cavallaro met with the Brazilian National Director for Human Rights
on Wednesday, Nilmario Miranda, to present the conclusions of the
report. Cavallaro said that Miranda received the report well and
promised to look into the alleged hospital abuses. He added that
Miranda also planned to organize a commission to research, document
and report on the human rights situation in Haiti.

“The bottom line is that the UN mandate demands a lot of the
Brazilian troops, and they haven’t stepped up yet, Cavallaro said.
Despite these difficulties, Litman was hopeful, citing progress made
as soon as a day after the release of the report.

“It definitely seems to be having an effect,” he said.

Copyright © 2005,
The Harvard Crimson Inc. All rights reserved.


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