Expected Council Action
In February, the Security Council is expected to hold its first meeting on the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), a special political mission (SPM) established after the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) closed on 15 October 2019. Special Representative Helen La Lime is expected to brief, and a civil society briefer may also participate.
BINUH’s mandate expires on 16 October 2020.
Key Recent Developments
On 13 January, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse began, in effect, to govern Haiti alone. Earlier that day, he announced that Parliament’s mandate, which was set to expire in January 2020, had ended because of the failure to hold legislative and local elections in October 2019. In 2019, Parliament failed to pass an electoral law and approve an election budget that would have been the first steps for organising these elections, that were constitutionally mandated to be held in October 2019; nor was there political agreement on the new composition of the Provisional Electoral Council. Moïse said he sees this development as an opportunity for Haiti to undergo what he believes is much needed constitutional reform.
Moïse does not enjoy much popular support, however, and this could complicate his ability to rule by decree. He has been the subject of months of protests, some violent and deadly. Opposition groups continue to call for Moïse’s resignation and see the dissolution of Parliament as another example of his undemocratic actions. Additionally, some Haitian senators—through a different interpretation of the Haitian constitution—argue that their terms have not ended yet and say they will continue to serve.
This is not a new situation for Haiti. When the Haitian Parliament was dissolved in January 2015, also due to a lack of timely elections, then-President Michel Martelly ruled by decree until the end of his term in February 2016.
The political crisis is likely to continue to exacerbate Haiti’s severe economic and humanitarian challenges. The 2019-2020 humanitarian response plan for Haiti, which called for $126.2 million, was 32.1 percent funded on 16 December 2019. Food insecurity continues to be a grave problem. According to the World Food Programme, a third of the Haitian population of 10.9 million is facing hunger conditions and around one million Haitians suffer from severe hunger. The situation was made worse by the protests last year, which at times cut off parts of Haiti from deliveries of food and medical supplies.
The twelfth of January marked ten years since Haiti’s deadly 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which, according to reports, killed 316,000 people, injured 1.5 million, and left 1.5 million homeless. Many in Haiti’s civil society have reflected on the scant reconstruction progress. According to the International Organisation for Migration, around 35,000 people remain in camps a decade after the earthquake.
BINUH was established through resolution 2476, adopted on 25 June 2019, for an initial period of 12 months. Its mandate includes 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. In his October 2019 report on Haiti, the Secretary-General laid out six benchmarks and 25 indicators that were to be used to measure progress towards sustainable stability after BINUH’s deployment.
Council members issued a press statement on Haiti on 8 January, expressing concern at Haiti’s continuing political impasse and reiterating the need for inclusive and open dialogue to form a government.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 1 November 2019, a spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the situation in Haiti and its impact on the ability of Haitians to access their basic rights to health care, food, education and other needs. The spokesperson urged all parties to avoid hampering the functioning of hospitals and to facilitate access to health care, as well as the delivery, including through humanitarian channels, of food and medicine for individuals in prisons and orphanages and other vulnerable groups such as people living with disabilities.
Key Issues and Options
The establishment of BINUH in October 2019 marked the first time since 2004 without a UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. This will be seen as a test for the UN, and the Security Council, for transitioning from a long peacekeeping presence to a smaller special political mission. The UN, Haitian institutions and the wider international community have been developing a new working relationship. Council members are likely to want to hear more about this process as well as the main challenges BINUH has faced.
The lack of a legislative government will be a topic for this meeting and a concern for Council members. They will want to hear more about how the current political impasse may be addressed, whether through elections or reforms. Council members could issue a press statement calling for inclusive and timely dialogue to bring Haitian parties together. It is likely some Council members may also use the meeting as an opportunity to reflect on the tenth anniversary of the 2010 earthquake.
Recently, there has been some difficulty in achieving Council products on Haiti. For example, the press statement issued on 8 January was the first press statement on Haiti since July 2018. Previous attempts in late 2019 were unsuccessful because of one Council member’s belief that a statement was not timely or useful. Council members were also unable to agree on the customary presidential statement that is adopted when a mission closes; in this case, MINUJUSTH.
Council members’ differences seem to stem from differing views on how much outside influence there should be on the future of Haiti. Some approve of having detailed benchmarks while others would prefer BINUH’s mandate to be less prescriptive and led more by Haiti itself.
Council members are likely to be careful not to appear to take sides between President Moïse and the opposition during this uncertain period. This appears to have given some impetus to the January press statement, with some member states wanting it to be published before the expiration of Parliament’s term on 13 January so as not to appear to be endorsing Moïse’s governing by decree.
Additionally, the Council now has two Caribbean member states serving–Dominican Republic and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines—which could provide a unique point of view. Since joining the Council in 2019, the Dominican Republic has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the withdrawal of MINUJUSTH, believing the process was rushed and did not adequately respond to the situation on the ground.
The US is the penholder on Haiti.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|25 June 2019S/RES/2476||This resolution established BINUH, an SPM that will continue the UN presence in Haiti following the conclusion of MINUJUSTH.|
|9 October 2019S/2019/805||This was the last Secretary-General’s report covering the activities of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), which closed its offices on 15 October 2019. This report also contained benchmarks for the new United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|15 October 2019S/PV.8641||The Council held a debate on MINUJUSTH and heard a briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.|
|25 June 2019S/PV.8559||Meeting record of the adoption of resolution 2476 establishing the special political mission BINUH. There were two abstentions: China and the Dominican Republic|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|8 January 2020SC/14070||This press statement expressed concern regarding the Haiti’s continuing political impasse in Haiti and reiterated the need for inclusive and open dialogue to form a government. Security Council members also emphasized the urgent need to address deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Haiti.|