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Haiti - Reconstruction : Envisage the future of the country without the UN presence ?
An interview with the UN News Center (UNC) allows us to learn more about Edmond Mulet, [often maligned, rightly or wrongly] and his vision of our country in the event of the departure of the UN.
UNC: What did you do before you joined the United Nations ?
Edmond Mulet : "At my age (66), you can imagine I’ve done many, many things in my lifetime. My first work was when I was ten years old, working for a daily newspaper in Guatemala. I worked as a proof-reader, as a reporter, and then I had a column. Then I studied law and became a lawyer. I was very much involved in the struggle against the military dictatorships in Guatemala, and I was in jail a couple of times. I had to leave Guatemala – my home country – because of threats. I participated in elections, knowing that I would lose, or knowing that the results would not be the real ones. I lost some elections, won some elections. One day, I won an election and the next day there was a coup d’etat and they cancelled the whole thing.
Finally in 1985, I was elected to the Guatemalan congress and I was re-elected in 1990. In 1992, I was the president of the National Assembly in Guatemala. A year later I was appointed ambassador to the United States. I went back to Guatemala after three years, and I was Secretary-General of my political party. I was involved in legal issues, I had my own legal office. I was appointed ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, I was there for five and a half years. And then I was recruited to come to the UN."
UNC: Can you see a day when there won’t be a UN peacekeeping presence in Haiti ?
Edmond Mulet : "It depends on the capacity of the Haitians themselves and the Haitian institutions to absorb all of what we’re doing to build these institutions. We have been building the Haitian National police capacities, the goal was to reach 14,000-15,000 of them and right now we’re near 10,000 and I must say that the Haitian National Police is probably the best well-regarded institution by the Haitians themselves. Very well structured, very disciplined. The problem they have in Haiti is that they don’t have the resources, not even to pay the Haitian National Police their salaries.
So when will MINUSTAH be leaving depends very much on their own capacity to develop their assumed responsibilities and those capacities. And everything in the end is tied up to the economic situation. If they have national and international investment, job creation, economic activities, and the state is able to collect taxes in order to pay for services for the state, then I think there’s a way out.
Many people ask: “what is a peacekeeping mission doing in Haiti? There’s no internal conflict, there’s no guerrilla movement, there’s no civil war, there’s no conflict with any neighbouring country, there’s no border issue with anybody else, there’s no ethnic conflict, there’s no religious conflict, there’s no conflict for natural resources like with other places in the world like Congo for example, Haiti doesn’t have no oil, no diamonds, no coltan, nor anything else, so what is a peacekeeping mission doing in a place like Haiti?”
The Security Council doesn’t have another tool to face a situation of a failed state, so we are there like a backbone of a country, creating the space and the opportunities for other actors on the development side, the economic side, on the social side, for them to build those capacities in the future.
Our proposal right now is to create a contract for Haiti, a compact – civil society, private sector, Haitian government, international community – with very clear goals, responsibilities, and obligations and with a follow-up mechanism; and see if the Haitians are doing what we expect them to do, assuming responsibilities, and us – the international community – delivering on our promises of aid, assistance, money. But we have to tie the whole thing up around the concept of the rule of law. And rule of law is not only police, it’s not only courts, it’s not only corrections. In Haiti it’s also the issue of a civil registry, of a land registry, of functioning courts – creating the conditions and the guarantees for investors to create economic activity and break this vicious circle of assistance and donations and subsidies. I think that we have to help them to be self-sufficient in many ways and these are some of the benchmarks of the mission there.
We will be conducting an assessment in June-July of the security-political situation in Haiti. We should draw down to the levels we had before the earthquake for the military and police components, and then we’ll see how everything goes."
HL/ HaitiLibre / UNC