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UN Security Council Authorizes New Peacekeeping Force for Haiti - 2004-04-30

The U.N. Security Council has authorized a new peacekeeping force to take over the job of restoring stability to Haiti. Brazil is expected to take up the job as leader of the force.

The Council approved Secretary-General Kofi Annan's request to deploy 6,700 U.N. troops and 1,600 more civilians to the impoverished Caribbean nation. The force will take over June first from the 36-hundred strong multinational force that was rushed to Haiti after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled in February.

The resolution approved Friday praises the work of the multinational force, made up of U.S., Canadian, French and Chilean troops. But it says the situation in Haiti continues to constitute a threat to international peace and regional security.

Brazil has said it will head the U.N. force and send about 1500 troops, but other potential contributors to the force have been slow to come forward.

German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger, who holds the rotating Security Council presidency, said increasing demands for peacekeepers is putting severe pressure on contributor countries. He noted that the Haiti force would push U.N. peacekeeping commitments worldwide to 72,000 troops, with a budget of $4.8 billion a year.

"And we are all taking these resources out of the same pool. And the resources of member states are finished, so it's normal that we have difficulty getting the necessary resources for new peacekeeping operations together, but I'm confident we will manage," he said.

Deputy U.S. Ambassador Stuart Holliday expressed hope that passage of the Security Council resolution would encourage troop contributions. "We think that this will be an important step in getting potential troop contributors to come forward. Many have been waiting for this kind of strong statement from the Security Council," he said.

Still, several ambassadors have spoken of the peacekeeper paradox, as greater emphasis on peacekeeping missions has strained the capacity of contributor countries to meet the need.

The Security Council authorization approved Friday gives the Haiti peacekeeping force authority to restructure local police forces, disarm rebels and organize elections next year, among other things.

Less than half of the country's 5,000 police officers have returned to their posts since President Aristide left. U.N. experts say the absence of trained officers is a severe challenge as they attempt to reconcile a divided population.

A recent survey by the Organization of American States and the U.N. Development Program estimated that 25,000 of Haiti's 8.2 million residents have weapons.