Expected Council Action
In July, the Security Council is expected to hold consultations to discuss the transition of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) to a special political mission that will start on 16 October. It will also be briefed on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report which is due on 11 July. The mandate of MINUJUSTH expires on 15 October.
Key Recent Developments
Tensions have been rising in Haiti in recent weeks, once again in response to the ongoing PetroCaribe scandal involving oil from Venezuela. Money saved from deferred payments for oil—reportedly some $4 billion—was supposed to be used on social programmes and infrastructure improvements in Haiti, but recent investigations show that it was embezzled. Protests have been occurring off and on for months, and the most recent outbreak of protests that began in June occurred after another investigation into the scandal specifically cited the involvement of President Jovenel Moïse, which he has denied in the past. The protestors called for Moïse to resign. On 10 June, Pétion Rospide, a radio journalist, was shot and killed after reporting on anti-corruption protests; Moïse called it a “heinous act”. Journalists have organised protests in Rospide’s honour. Other journalists have also been attacked recently. According to police reports, two people were killed and five were injured in the most recent riots.
The economic situation in Haiti remains difficult, keeping tensions high. In a briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, on 20 June it was reported that there are twice as many food insecure people in Haiti in 2019 as in 2018: an estimated 2.6 million people. He attributed this to the “significant deterioration of the economic situation” and “a reduction of agricultural production brought about by two dry spells”. Additionally, ahead of hurricane season, it was noted that more resources are needed to prepare Haiti. As for the 2019 humanitarian response plan for Haiti, around $126 million is required. It stands currently at 11 percent funded.
The Secretary-General submitted additional operational details of the proposed special political mission (SPM), including objectives, structure and size, in a 13 May letter to the president of the Council.
The US, as penholder, began negotiations on a text for the SPM in mid-June. The resolution was adopted on 25 June by 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and the Dominican Republic). The text incorporated most of the Secretary-General’s recommendations and established the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for an initial period of 12 months. It is to be headed by a special representative at the Assistant Secretary-General level who will “play a good offices, advisory, and advocacy role at the political level”. BINUH’s mandate will include advising the government on issues related to promoting and strengthening political stability and good governance, the rule of law, an inclusive inter-Haitian national dialogue, and protecting and promoting human rights. It will also assist the government in planning and conducting free, fair and transparent elections. The resolution changes the reporting period from 90 to every 120 days. It also requests that the Secretary-General provide strategic benchmarks for achieving the tasks given to the SPM.
The draft resolution was one of the subjects of discussion with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic during a 21-23 June Council trip to the Dominican Republic.
Key Issues and Options
The key issue for the Council will be to watch closely the situation on the ground and monitor how it aligns with the benchmarks for the withdrawal of MINUJUSTH.
If warranted by the situation, the Council could adopt a statement signalling its concern, as it did in July 2018 when it issued a press statement condemning ongoing violence and called on all parties to exercise restraint.
Members remain apprehensive about the situation on the ground, especially given the timing of the planned UN withdrawal in October which may coincide with Haiti’s possible elections. During the adoption of a MINUJUSTH resolution in April, some members expressed concern that the withdrawal process was being rushed. Some were worried about increased criminality in the country and deteriorating economic conditions, along with the continued protests.
The Dominican Republic expressed its concern that MINUJUSTH’s withdrawal could coincide with Haiti’s scheduled elections and potential instability. Peru said that any exit strategy must consider the security conditions on the ground and the ability of Haiti to ensure security throughout its territory. These worries were echoed during negotiations on the resolution for the SPM. Several members of the Council responded to the penholder’s first draft by suggesting additional language on corruption, rule of law, gender, an inclusive national dialogue, and recognising Haiti’s vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters. A group of like-minded Council members–Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Peru and Poland–submitted several edits jointly on these issues. While ultimately successful with most of their language, the US, supported by China and Russia, disagreed with any explicit reference to climate change. Instead, the text recognises “the adverse effects of natural disasters on the stability of Haiti, including earthquakes, hurricanes, and other weather phenomena and their impact on land degradation and food insecurity” and calls for adequate response capabilities. In their explanation of the vote on 25 June, France and Germany expressed regret that the resolution did not refer explicitly to climate change.
Speaking after the vote, China explained that it abstained because it felt that the final draft did not adequately reflect the amendments China proposed during the negotiations. It stressed, nevertheless, that China would support BINUH. The Dominican Republic said it had wanted to see a more robust, multidimensional mandate especially since it believes that Haiti is experiencing deepening economic and social instability. It abstained because it felt that the BINUH mandate did not go far enough.
The US is the penholder on Haiti.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions
|25 June 2019S/RES/2476
|S/RES/2476 (25 June 2019) established BINUH, an SPM that will continue the UN presence in Haiti following the conclusion of MINUJUSTH.
|12 April 2019S/RES/2466
|This was a resolution renewing the mandate of MINUJUSTH for six months, until 15 October.
|Security Council Meeting Records
|12 April 2019S/PV.8510
|This was a meeting at which resolution 2466, renewing the mandate of MINUJUSTH for six months, was adopted with 13 members voting in favour of the resolution and abstentions were cast by the Dominican Republic and Russia.
|Security Council Letters
|13 May 2019S/2019/387
|This letter contained expanded recommendations from the Secretary-General for the Special Political Mission.