July 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 July 2022
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AMERICAS

Haiti

Expected Council Action

In July, the Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) ahead of its 15 July expiry.

Key Recent Developments

The Council last discussed Haiti in a 16 June meeting, during which it was briefed by Special Representative and head of BINUH Helen La Lime and Arnoux Descardes, Executive Director of the NGO Volontariat pour le Développement d’Haïti. La Lime outlined the key findings of the Secretary-General’s latest report on Haiti, dated 13 June, which describes in stark terms the multidimensional crises facing the country.

The briefers and Council members lamented the ongoing political stalemate and emphasised the importance of a broad and inclusive inter-Haitian dialogue to pave the way toward elections and constitutional reform. 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 the so-called “Montana Group”, 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.

Many speakers took note of the formation on 31 March of a tripartite committee—composed of representatives of academia, faith-based organisations and the private sector—that aims to broaden consensus towards national elections. By May, the committee had begun a process of nationwide consultations focused on five main themes: security, elections, constitutional reform, governance arrangements, and humanitarian issues. Speakers also noted that Henry recently held a series of direct talks with leaders of the “Montana Group”, who proposed new modalities for the relaunching of formal negotiations. Descardes underlined that “[o]nly an inter-Haitian dialogue can build a broader consensus” and therefore urged political actors to “go beyond statements of good intentions”.

The escalation of gang violence in recent months remains a major concern. On 24 April, fighting erupted between the two rival gangs “Chen Mechan” and “400 Mawazo” in several communes of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince (Croix-des Bouquets, Tabarre and Cité Soleil) and has since spread to additional communes in the capital. Between 1 January and 31 May, the Haitian National Police recorded 540 kidnappings and 782 intentional homicides—which represent an increase of 36.4 percent and 17 percent, respectively, compared with the final five months of 2021. The Secretary-General’s report notes that 198 kidnappings and 201 homicides were recorded in May alone.

At the 16 June meeting, many Council members emphasised the detrimental effects of the surging violence on civilians, particularly women and children. Most Council members referenced the high incidence of sexual and gender-based violence. Partial data collected by BINUH paints an alarming picture, indicating an average of 98 victims of sexual violence per month between January and March in Port-au-Prince, mainly in gang-controlled areas. The Secretary-General’s report says that women, girls and LGBTI persons are particularly exposed to sexual violence, including rape and sexual slavery, while men and boys are also affected by such violence.

In a 23 June statement, UNICEF outlined the effects of the recent spike in violence on children’s education in Haiti. An assessment conducted by the Haitian Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training and UNICEF in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in April and May revealed that more than 500 out of 976 schools were dysfunctional or inaccessible due to clashes between armed groups, among other things. In addition, eight percent of the assessed schools are occupied by armed gangs or by displaced families.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 30 June, during its 50th session, the Human Rights Council considered and adopted the final outcomes of the Universal Period Review of Haiti (A/HRC/50/15). The report contains 221 recommendations to be examined by Haiti.

Key Issues and Options

The key priority for the Council in July is to renew BINUH’s mandate. Members are expected to reflect on how the mission’s mandate can best support Haitian authorities in addressing the governance and security issues in the country. They are likely to consider if and how to incorporate the recommendations put forward in the strategic assessment of BINUH’s mandate, which Council members received on 29 April. The Council requested the assessment in resolution 2600 of 15 October 2021 to determine whether and how the mission’s mandate could be adjusted to address Haiti’s challenges and to increase the effectiveness of the mission. The assessment determined that BINUH is well placed to create space for political dialogue and called for the continuation of the mandate.

Among other things, the assessment warned that gangs could “develop an almost insurgent capability” if left unchecked, while outlining the many challenges that the Haitian National Police (HNP) faces in addressing the security situation, including difficulties in recruiting and vetting police officers, and endemic corruption. In this regard, it advised that BINUH should “receive adequate resources to scale up 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”. Subsequently, the Secretary-General recommended in his 13 June report on Haiti to increase BINUH’s ceiling of authorised police advisers from 30 to 42. He further called for a 12-month renewal of BINUH’s mandate.

To inform deliberations ahead of the mandate renewal, it seems that Brazil had sought to schedule a Council visiting mission to Haiti during its July presidency. At the 16 June meeting, Brazil noted that it had decided to postpone the visit because of the precarious security conditions in Haiti and BINUH’s insufficient resources to guarantee the safety of the visiting mission. Until conditions permit an in-person visit, members may consider holding informal virtual meetings with Haitian actors to hear their views about various aspects relating to BINUH’s mandate and the UN’s work in the country. Such an informal practice has developed in the Council’s work on Colombia.

The dire effects of the insecurity on children are a matter of concern. Haiti is not on the Security Council’s agenda on children and armed conflict, and as such, the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict does not contain information on the situation of children in the country. In light of the alarming incidence of grave violations committed against children in Haiti—including cases of sexual violence and abductions—members may consider inviting a UNICEF representative to brief the Council in its next meeting on Haiti.

Council Dynamics

BINUH’s mandate has been contentious since the mission’s inception in October 2019. 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. China has argued that the UN system has provided large amounts of funding without the desired effect and that synergies with the UN agencies’ funds and programmes or regional organisations should be explored. Other members are of the view that BINUH’s mandate should be strengthened to better position the mission to address the many challenges facing the country.

During the most recent negotiations on BINUH’s mandate, which took place in October 2021, China advocated a six-month mandate renewal and requested the 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 difficulties. However, other members opposed China’s suggestions, preferring instead the customary one-year mandate renewal. As a result of the contentious negotiations, which included the tabling of a competing draft by China, resolution 2600 renewed BINUH’s mandate for nine months, shorter than the usual period.

During the 16 June meeting, many members indicated their positions regarding BINUH’s upcoming mandate renewal. Albania, Brazil, Mexico, Ireland, and the A3 members (Gabon, Ghana and Kenya) called for the strengthening of BINUH’s mandate to ensure that the mission is fit to address the multidimensional challenges plaguing Haiti. Among other things, these members advocated the strengthening of the mission’s human rights component, including by deploying additional personnel specialising in sexual and gender-based violence. France, Mexico and the US called for a 12-month renewal of the mandate, with France also expressing its support for raising the ceiling of the mission’s authorised police advisers to 42.

Brazil addressed other issues not mentioned by other Council members, arguing, for example, that BINUH should be given a mandate to support the Haitian authorities in controlling illicit financial flows. It further noted that there is a lack of trust in BINUH among the local population, which is partly attributable to misconceptions about the mission’s role in the country, and advocated a focus by the mission on strategic communications—the topic of one of Brazil’s signature events during its presidency.

China did not spell out its position on the mandate renewal but noted that the Council should use the opportunity to “explore more effective ways for BINUH to provide Haiti with support”. It added that the mission should “use a regular review mechanism to assess the implementation of all mandated tasks and make timely adjustments in order to optimize such implementation”.

Some speakers highlighted the nexus between security and development at the 16 June meeting, arguing that efforts to stabilise the security situation should go hand in hand with initiatives aimed at addressing the dire socioeconomic conditions in the country. The A3 called on the UN country team in Haiti to support economic development through a focus on employment and women’s empowerment to offer young people opportunities that will prevent them from joining gangs. The United Arab Emirates noted that efforts to improve the security sector will be more effective if they are accompanied by community violence-reduction programmes.

The US and Mexico are 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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
13 June 2022S/2022/481 This was the Secretary-General’s latest 120-day report on Haiti.
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.
Security Council Meeting Records
16 June 2022S/PV.9066 This was a meeting on the situation in Haiti.

 

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