Second, Haiti’s political leadership and civil society activists should start looking down the road to anticipate the obvious: the winding down of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The force has declining political credibility and has exhausted its policing mandate, but it remains a crutch for the government. Before MINUSTAH packs up, Haiti needs to begin to transition toward another form of international commitment more closely associated with Haiti’s long-term governance needs. One possible model might be a variation of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), itself made possible because of the pre-existing mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) that ensued from the 1990s national peace process. The CICIG operates as a UN-sponsored institution but is not a UN body. It attracted considerable attention last year as a key instrument in the demise of Guatemala’s president and others caught in a web of corruption on a grand scale.The CICIG model isn't a magic wand, but this is still a smart outside the box suggestion for how the international community should consider helping Haiti. Haiti's problems are more about politics and institution building, both of which need civilian institutional support more than soldiers on the ground.
To be sure, several key elements of the CICIG model don’t transfer easily to Haiti, especially the willingness to allow core judicial and investigatory functions to operate autonomously from government bodies. Yet, other countries in the region, notably Honduras and possibly El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, are starting to explore local adaptations of this effective, high-profile model. If nothing else, for Haiti it would build a layered, longer term commitment of international institutional support, integrating elements of good governance, transparency and judicial reform. Critically, civil society activism associated with such an initiative could provide the needed backbone to Haitian political leadership to genuinely engage in the difficult tasks of governing and institution building. Over the past three decades the Haitian political class has presided over little more than a sequence of elections joined together by political crises, with very little real governance in between.
Also consider the Minustah's budget is $390 million while a solid CICIG-like organization can be run for $15-20 million. The budgets aren't completely comparable because no country treats its military and civilian budgets interchangeably, but it's still a cost comparison that should be made if anyone says there is no money for a CICIG-style effort.