Expected Council Action
In February, the Security Council will receive a briefing from the Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), Helen La Lime, on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest report on BINUH, due by 12 February. The meeting may be followed by closed consultations.
Key Recent Developments
An increasingly precarious security situation and a fractured political landscape in Haiti has remained at the forefront of the international community’s concerns since the Council last met to discuss the situation in the Caribbean nation on 4 October 2021.
On 17 December 2021, the US convened a meeting with Haiti and international partners to identify steps to address Haiti’s security, political and economic challenges. Participants agreed that the Haitian National Police needed to be strengthened and that continued political dialogue among all sectors of Haitian society had to accompany this process.
In a similar vein, Canada hosted a virtual ministerial-level meeting on Haiti on 21 January with the participation of 19 member states and several multilateral organisations, including the EU, the Organization of American States and the UN. According to a statement issued by Canada following the meeting, discussions centred on “the current situation in Haiti and the importance of strengthening international support and the coordination of international assistance with a view to ensuring effective and structured efforts over the long term”. The participants also agreed to strengthen their current and future support for Haiti’s security sector and called for the Haitian government and civil society to work in unison to bring about a viable political solution, required to re-establish long-term security in the country.
A stable security environment remains crucial for Haiti to organise long-delayed elections. Following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, Ariel Henry, whom Moïse had nominated as prime minister shortly before his death, took over government affairs and pledged to organise a referendum on Haiti’s constitution—a process initiated by Moïse but mired in controversy—and to conduct elections intended to fill long-vacant seats in parliament and to choose a new president. On 1 January, Henry himself became the target of an assassination attempt when gunmen opened fire on the prime minister while he was attending a ceremony to commemorate Haiti’s independence day in the northern city of Gonaïves. A local gang had reportedly warned Henry, who was unharmed in the attack, not to enter their territory.
Henry’s tenure is contested. In a tweet posted on 21 January, the prime minister asserted that 7 February, the date Moïse’s term would have ended, did not mark the end of his mandate and that he intended to lead the country towards “free and democratic elections”. However, Haiti’s political actors continue to disagree over how the electoral process should advance. An accord forged by Henry with several political parties on 11 September 2021 would provide for elections and a constitutional referendum to be held by the end of 2022. This accord is rivalled by parallel initiatives, one of which is the “Montana Accord” reached in August 2021—envisioning a two-year transitional period—backed mostly by civil society representatives and several political figures. Discussions to reach a consensus are ongoing.
Haiti’s Senate met on 10 January for the first time in a year. As the delay in holding elections caused most senators’ mandates to expire, only ten out of the 30 Senate seats are currently filled.
On 15 October 2021, the Council adopted resolution 2600, renewing the mandate of BINUH for six months and calling for a strategic assessment of the mission. The assessment is to consider “whether and how the mandate [of BINUH] could be adjusted to address the ongoing challenges faced by Haiti”. It is expected to inform BINUH’s mandate renewal in April, with a view to increase the mission’s effectiveness and its efforts to support engagement with Haitian national authorities, civil society and other stakeholders.
On 7 January, the Secretary-General appointed Mourad Wahba to lead the assessment mission. Wahba previously served as a Deputy Special Representative in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), one of BINUH’s predecessor missions. The in-country visit of the assessment team is currently underway.
Key Issues and Options
How to establish and maintain a stable security environment to allow space to tackle the many challenges in Haiti is one of the key concerns of the Council. In this regard, Haiti has continued to grapple with political instability, a dire humanitarian situation, a fuel shortage affecting some of the country’s most crucial infrastructure, escalating gang activity, and increasing humanitarian needs. The Council may consider a briefer familiar with Haiti’s security sector to speak about the country’s security needs.
A related concern is mitigating Haiti’s constitutional crisis and ensuring the country remains on track to create an environment conducive to elections. To that end, the Council may consider issuing a statement urging broad political dialogue and compromise.
Council dynamics regarding Haiti have become difficult. The last BINUH mandate renewal exposed divergent views on the future of the mission. Co-penholders Mexico and the US suggested a renewal without substantive changes to BINUH’s mandate—which was adopted in its current form only in 2020—while China advocated a strategic review with a view to identifying a strategy for the mission’s drawdown. Then-Council member Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines and African Council members requested a six-month mandate renewal and the strategic assessment currently underway, but with the intent of identifying ways to strengthen the mission.
Against this backdrop, international and bilateral efforts to assist Haiti in addressing its current insecurity are underway. The US, for example, has increased its bilateral security support to Haiti in the form of $15 million in additional funding to its ongoing programmes to strengthen the Haitian National Police, especially its efforts to counter the rampant influence of violent gangs. It is also funding nine advisors for the Haitian National Police and intends to increase the number of seconded police advisors to BINUH, among other personnel and material support. Mexico reportedly pledged to increase its assistance to Haiti’s provisional electoral council to sustain efforts to conclude the electoral process by the end of 2022.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|15 October 2020S/RES/2547||This resolution renewed BINUH for one year.|
|11 June 2021S/2021/559||This was the Secretary-General’s latest report on Haiti.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|4 October 2021S/PV.8871||This was a meeting on the situation in Haiti|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|7 July 2021SC/14574||This was the statement was released by the President of the Security Council, condemning the assassination of the President of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse.|
|1 July 2021SC/14571||This was the press statement reiterating deep concern of Council members regarding deteriorating political, security and humanitarian conditions in Haiti and stressing the primary responsibility of the Government of Haiti to address the situation.|