Expected Council Action
In June, 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 10 June. A civil society representative may also brief. The meeting may be followed by closed consultations.
Key Recent Developments
Since the Council last met to discuss the situation in Haiti on 18 February, the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the country has remained a key concern. On 24 April, clashes erupted between the rival gangs “Chen Mechan” and “400 Mawazo” in the communes of Croix-des Bouquets, Tabarre and Cité Soleil in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Over the course of several days, the fighting extended gradually across additional communes of the capital. In a 4 May report, OCHA estimated that some 9,000 persons had fled the areas, adding to the roughly 19,000 already internally displaced persons in Port-au-Prince who had fled their homes due to gang activity since June 2021.
The escalation in violence prompted Mexico and the US to call for a Council meeting on 17 May under “any other business”. La Lime briefed Council members on the humanitarian effects of the violent gang activity on the local population; on the challenges faced by the Haitian National Police, which lacks crucial staffing, financial and material resources; and on the need for sustained international commitment to support Haiti in overcoming its security crisis. In a press release issued that day, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that “armed violence has reached unimaginable and intolerable levels” and called for “urgent steps to be taken to restore the rule of law, to protect people from armed violence and to hold to account the political and economic sponsors of these gangs”, along with the need to strengthen state institutions.
Bachelet’s office reported that between 24 April and 16 May, at least 92 people unaffiliated with gangs and some 96 alleged to be gang members were reportedly killed during coordinated armed attacks in Port-au-Prince. Another 113 were injured, 12 were reported missing, and 49 were kidnapped for ransom.
The dire security situation, lack of economic opportunities and insufficient access to basic services have prompted many Haitians to leave their country. A significant number are being repatriated by the US: the International Organization for Migration reported in April that 11,620 Haitian migrants had returned to Haiti since January (compared to 2,520 Haitian nationals who returned during the same period in 2021). Of those, 74 percent were repatriated by the US. Repatriation of Haitians arriving in the US has increased since autumn 2021, when some 12,000 Haitians travelled via South and Central American countries to Del Rio, Texas, a town on the border with Mexico. The Biden administration has pursued a policy of repatriating Haitians who crossed the border but has also indicated that it could release some on a case-by-case basis. The first repatriation flights left the US for Port-au-Prince on 19 September 2021. Despite the policy, many Haitians continue to venture abroad. On 12 May, a vessel carrying mostly Haitian migrants capsized near Puerto Rico. Eleven migrants drowned; close to 40 were rescued by the US Coast Guard.
Two main political factions are competing for power and have charted opposing plans to lead Haiti out of its political crisis: a group supporting Prime Minister Ariel Henry and his plan to hold a constitutional referendum followed by elections by the end of 2022, with Henry leading the country until then; and supporters of the “Montana Accord,” for whom the constitutional referendum is not a priority and who seek a two-year transitional government under different interim leadership, with elections to be held in 2023. Henry and representatives of the Montana Group are currently engaging in mediation meetings and dialogue.
During a speech on 18 May, a national holiday, Henry called for an inclusive national dialogue and said the government was working tirelessly to create an environment with the necessary security for holding elections. Only then, he said, would the country be stable enough to create job opportunities and attract investment.
Henry has yet to appoint a new Provisional Electoral Council. This body, which was disbanded in September 2021, is responsible for organising Haiti’s long-overdue elections and overseeing a constitutional referendum (a project initiated by late President Jovenel Moïse, who was assassinated on 7 July 2021). Meanwhile, the investigation into Moïse’s assassination has not gained any traction.
On 15 March, US President Biden signed a spending bill that contains several provisions concerning Haiti. These include requirements for the State Department to report to Congress on the status of the ongoing investigation into Moïse’s murder, Haiti’s ability to carry out an inquiry into the assassination and the support that the Biden administration has provided to Haiti’s judiciary to assist in the inquiry.
On 18 April, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti released its annual report to the Council on its activities, with several recommendations for the Council’s consideration. These include that the Council urgently address the political crisis and the mounting insecurity in Haiti, with the establishment of an inclusive national dialogue with a view to creating the conditions for holding elections. It further recommends a holistic approach to establishing security and to strengthen Haiti’s police.
On 29 April, Council members received a letter from the Secretary-General conveying the findings of a strategic assessment of BINUH’s mandate. The Council mandated the assessment in resolution 2600 of October 2021 to determine whether and how the mandate could be adjusted to address Haiti’s challenges and to increase the effectiveness of the mission. The review determined that BINUH is well placed to create space for political dialogue and called for the continuation of the mandate. Based on the review findings, the Secretary-General said, BINUH “should be empowered to continue its good offices, scale-up police support to curb armed gang violence and reach out to all sectors of society, including communities in areas controlled by gangs”. In this regard, he added that the mission should engage more systematically with all Haitian stakeholders to promote national dialogue and that BINUH should be given the resources needed to increase “its advisory support to strengthen the capacity of the national police to fight gangs, reopen police commissariats in areas affected by gang violence and stem illicit financial flows”.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue for the Council is to determine how the elements of the strategic assessment will inform its future engagement on Haiti, given the significant governance, security and humanitarian challenges facing the government. Another important issue is addressing the insecurity in Port-au-Prince and its attendant humanitarian consequences.
Council members could consider a presidential statement that calls on the international community to provide sustained financial, material and technical support in a coordinated manner and in consultation with the Haitian government. They could also encourage UN member states to provide bilateral support to Haiti’s rule of law institutions in the statement.
Dynamics concerning Haiti have been difficult, and divergent views on the future of the UN presence in the country may re-emerge. Although united in the view that Haiti faces grave political, economic, security, and humanitarian challenges, Council members hold different opinions on how these should be addressed. During the last BINUH mandate renewal in October 2021, China advocated a strategic review with a view to identifying a strategy for the mission’s drawdown, placing emphasis on the government’s primary responsibility for addressing the country’s challenges. Several Council members—including Kenya and other elected members that have since left the Council (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Niger and Tunisia) also requested a strategic assessment, but with a view to determining how the mission’s mandate could be strengthened.
During the 18 February Council meeting on Haiti, China expressed the view that the UN system had provided large amounts of funding without the desired impact and that synergies with the UN agencies’ funds and programmes or regional organisations should be explored. At the same meeting, the US called on Haiti’s partners to increase support, particularly for community violence-reduction initiatives, while Russia emphasised that BINUH should prioritise supporting an effective national dialogue.
The US and Mexico are the co-penholders on Haiti.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|15 October 2021S/RES/2600||This resolution renewed the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for nine months, until 15 July 2022. It also requested the Secretary-General to conduct an assessment of BINUH’s mandate within six months of the resolution’s adoption.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|24 March 2021S/PRST/2021/7||The Council expressed its deep concern regarding the protracted political, constitutional, humanitarian, and security crises in Haiti, and emphasised the primary responsibility of the government of Haiti to address underlying drivers of instability.|
|Security Council Letters|
|29 April 2022S/2022/369||This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Security Council conveying the findings of a strategic assessment of BINUH.|
|15 February 2022S/2022/117||This was the 120-day report on Haiti and the special political mission covering developments between 27 September 2021 and 15 February 2022.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|18 February 2022S/PV.8969||This meeting record was on the 18 February 2022 meeting on the situation in Haiti.|
|Security Council Presidential 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.|