UN seeks Brazilian successor to late force commander in Haiti peacekeeping chief

Speaking to reporters in New York, Jean-Marie Guéhenno paid tribute to 58-year-old Lieutenant-General Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for a long and successful career. “The tragic death of General Bacellar has affected all of us,” said Mr. Guéhenno. “He was a committed soldier who served his country for 39 years and had a distinguished service with MINUSTAH.” Brazil has made a very strong commitment to Haiti, and another Brazilian Force Commander would be welcomed, he added.With the investigation into the death still going on, he declined to comment further on the circumstances, but stressed that MINUSTAH’s work continues apace. “The mission is very much under control. Actually, it is working to prepare for the elections.”Mr. Guéhenno also welcomed an announcement from the Caribbean country during an otherwise tragic weekend that the twice-postponed first round of elections would take place on 7 February. The Security Council had said last week that the poll should be held by that date at the latest.Mr. Guéhenno attributed recent trouble in Haiti to the fact that the status of the elections had changed from having been a dream 12 months ago to becoming a reality. “And it is a reality that everybody will have to face up to because the elections are going to be free (and) honest,” he said. MINUSTAH, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Haitians would exert all possible efforts to ensure that the elections would give everyone a fair chance to compete and that afterwards the losers would not be “sidelined or crushed” in the too frequently manifested winner-take-all proposition in that country, but would be reconciled, Mr. Guéhenno said. He said Haiti had made tremendous progress in a number of areas. “When I visited Haiti in June in Bel Air I had to be in an armoured personnel carrier, with a helmet and a flak jacket and Bel Air was basically an off-limits place. Now the situation in Bel Air is much better, as it is in most parts of Haiti.” He acknowledged that the situation in Cité Soleil, another poor suburb of the capital, remains difficult. There, gangs are mixed with civilians, which is an operational challenge for any force in the world, Mr. Guéhenno added, and the peacekeepers were looking for ways to “strengthen their posture.” Deputy Force Commander General Eduardo Aldunate Herman of Chile has assumed command of the MINUSTAH force. read more

Fabric of society at risk in Bosnia and Herzegovina UN Security Council

Valentin Inzko, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, told the Security Council on Tuesday that the situation was being heightened by a “general trend” towards stockpiling weapons across the Balkan state.“I am deeply concerned by the recent readiness among some politicians to refer to the possibility of a renewed conflict, including controversial statements by senior Bosniak politicians suggesting that a rearming effort was underway to ‘respond’ in case of a hypothetical war,” said Mr. Inzko.At the same time, senior Republika Srpska officials were also resorting to violent rhetoric, denying the statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina and advocating for eventual secession, he added.“Public comments were also made, glorifying convicted war criminals and calling for the return of an Republika Srpska army.”There needs to be a change in the way politics is conducted within the country – High Representative Valentin InzkoMr. Inzko warned that some Croat officials have “mused” about the territorial reorganization of the country and threatened the dissolution of the state if the current electoral issues are not resolved to their satisfaction.“Bosnia and Herzegovina is a single, multi-ethnic, sovereign state, consisting of two entities, in which all citizens – the three constituent peoples and others – live and work together, and elected officials above all have a responsibility to contribute to peace and reconciliation,” stressed the High Representative, urging all public figures to choose their words more carefully and responsibly.Progress cannot be taken for grantedIn his briefing, High Representative Inzko said while the country has made significant strides since the end of the war in 1995, the progress cannot be taken for granted.“The risk is that this divisiveness and sense of unease about the future of the country slowly seeps into the fabric of society,” he said, urging the international community to increase efforts to promote reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and across the region.“Beyond this, there needs to be a change in the way politics is conducted within the country. It needs to come from the politicians themselves, but we as an international community, individually and collectively, have an interest in encouraging this change.”The Office of the High Representative (OHR) is an ad hoc international institution responsible for overseeing implementation of civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina that saw thousands killed in fighting.In addition, the conflict witnessed widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity and necessitated the setting up of a special international court, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to prosecute those accused.ICTY concluded its work in December last year, having heard the testimony from nearly 5,000 people and sentencing 90 individuals for their crimes. read more