Expected Council Action
In January 2023, the Security Council is expected to receive a briefing from Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) Helen La Lime on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on BINUH.
BINUH’s mandate expires on 15 July 2023.
Key Recent Developments
Haiti remains plagued by instability, with political deadlock, gang violence and natural disasters exacerbating humanitarian needs and complicating efforts to alleviate the dire situation. Against this backdrop, on 7 October 2022, the Haitian government appealed for the immediate deployment of an “international specialised force” to temporarily reinforce the efforts of the Haitian National Police (HNP) to combat gangs. On 8 October, the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council a special report outlining options to enhance security support for Haiti, requested by resolution 2645 of 15 July 2022, which most recently renewed BINUH’s mandate. It recommended that “[o]ne or several Member States, acting bilaterally at the invitation of and in cooperation with the Government of Haiti, could deploy, as a matter of urgency, a rapid action force” to support the HNP. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 17 October 2022.)
The Security Council has yet to act in response to the Haitian government’s 7 October request and the Secretary-General’s 8 October report. In her remarks at a 17 October 2022 Council meeting on Haiti, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (US) noted that Mexico and the US were working on a resolution that would “authorize a non-UN international security assistance mission to help improve the security situation”. She added that such a mission would be “led by a partner country with the deep, necessary experience required for such an effort to be effective” and would “operate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter”. At the time of writing, no member state had indicated its willingness to lead or to participate in such a mission.
In her briefing to the Council at the 17 October Council meeting, La Lime reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for Haiti’s partners to deploy an international armed force to the country, while emphasising that “[a]ny enhanced security support to the [HNP] should also be accompanied by support to the justice system: both to ensure proper accountability, but also to re-enforce nationally led initiatives, such as the proposed judicial units specialized in adjudicating crimes committed by gangs, as well as financial crimes”. The Secretary-General’s most recent report on BINUH, dated 13 October 2022, highlighted that detention conditions across the country have deteriorated owing to the “prison system’s inadequate budget, food shortages, limited medical supplies and delays in the transfer of prisoners to hospitals”. As at 28 September, Haitian prisons held 11,788 inmates, approximately 84 percent of whom awaited trial.
On 21 October 2022, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2653, which established a sanctions regime on Haiti, including targeted assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo measures. Resolution 2653 designated one person under the regime: Jimmy Chérizier (also known as “Barbeque”), who heads an alliance of Haitian gangs known as the “G9 Family and Allies”. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 21 October 2022.) According to a 5 December note by the President of the Security Council, Gabon has been elected as the chair of the sanctions committee established pursuant to resolution 2653.
In addition, Canada and the US have introduced sanctions on individuals fuelling violence in Haiti under their respective national laws. At the time of writing, Canada had imposed sanctions against 13 individuals characterised as members of the economic or political elite for providing illicit financial and operational support to armed gangs, while the US had imposed sanctions on four Haitian nationals, including politicians accused of providing support to drug trafficking activities. On 28 November 2022, the EU for the first time imposed restrictive measures against gang leaders in Haiti; at the time of writing, only Chérizier had been designated under this legislation.
On 4 November 2022, the HNP announced that the blockade imposed by Chérizier since September on the Varreux Terminal, Haiti’s main fuel terminal, had been lifted. Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said on 2 December that the blockade’s lifting had “led to an improvement in the availability of fuel and other supplies” while adding that “accessing and transport remains a problem for our humanitarian partners”.
The already dire humanitarian situation in the country has been further exacerbated by the re-emergence of cholera. Haiti reported on 2 October 2022 its first case of the disease after more than three years without a single reported case. As at 12 December, the UN reported that more than 14,000 suspected cholera cases had been recorded. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 283 deaths from the disease had been recorded as at 6 December.
On 21 December 2022, the Security Council held a meeting on Haiti, at the request of Russia. La Lime, who briefed at the meeting, noted that civil society groups held inclusive consultations in October and November 2022 on a transitional road map and adopted a national consensus document on 6 December 2022, which calls for a final agreement by the end of 2022. She also said that resolution 2653 has received wide support from Haitian nationals. La Lime emphasised that civil society groups and political organisations have been calling for international operational support for the HNP, with clear parameters on the terms of engagement.
Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, who delivered remarks at the meeting, called on member states to urgently consider the request of the Haitian government for an international specialised armed force to stabilise the security situation and alleviate the humanitarian crisis. The civil society representative, journalist Kim Ives, presented a different view than that of the other briefers, and stressed that the territorial integrity of Haiti should be respected. He added that the UN or any other foreign entities should only provide Haiti with disinterested economic support to rebuild its ravaged economy and political institutions. Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon) briefed for the first time in his capacity as Chair of the 2653 Haiti Sanctions Committee. He informed the Council that the committee has approved the appointment of four experts to serve on its Panel of Experts, who specialise in the areas of finance, humanitarian affairs, armed groups and criminal networks, and arms. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 21 December 2022.)
Human Rights-Related Developments
In a 1 November 2022 press release, the Committee on the Rights of the Child said that it was “deeply concerned about the severe violations of children’s rights in Haiti”, adding that “the rights of children to life, education, safe water, sanitation, health, and nutrition are under threat”. According to the press release, most children had not attended school since the start of the academic year in October. It added that cholera is threatening 1.2 million children in areas where cholera cases have been reported and that almost 100,000 children under five face severe acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF estimates.
Upon the conclusion of a four-day visit to Haiti, UNICEF Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes Manuel Fontaine expressed concerns on 23 November 2022 about rising cholera cases in the country, saying that “in Haiti right now, there is a triple threat to children’s lives—malnutrition, cholera and armed violence. And sometimes all three together”. He noted that effective and timely delivery of treatment against cholera had been hindered by the fact that “the urban-poor areas most affected by the cholera outbreak are under the control of heavily armed gangs”.
Key Issues and Options
A key priority for the Council is to prevent a further escalation of the situation in Haiti, which may have destabilising spillover effects in the region. A related issue is addressing the growing humanitarian needs owing to increasing cholera cases and food insecurity. UN officials and other experts advocate a holistic approach to addressing the situation, which calls for simultaneous efforts to promote a solution to the political deadlock, the security threats, and the humanitarian crisis.
To promote a response to the security situation, an option for the Council is to update the 2653 sanctions list to target additional individuals who fuel violence in Haiti, in line with the recommendations of the Panel of Experts of the 2653 Haiti Sanctions Committee.
It seems that Mexico, whose Council terms ends on 31 December 2022, and the US do not want to introduce a draft resolution on a possible non-UN international security assistance mission until there is a commitment from member states to lead or participate in such a mission. Member states apparently hesitate to commit to such a force for several reasons, including concerns about the safety of their deployed personnel and the objections raised to foreign interventions by Haitian actors, including opposition groups. To inform their deliberations on the matter, Council members and other relevant member states may consider holding informal meetings (either virtually or in person) with Haitian actors and civil society organisations to hear their views.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members are united in their concern about the situation in Haiti. In recent months, there seems to be a convergence of views regarding the urgency of Council action on the matter, as reflected in the establishment of a sanctions regime on Haiti—the Security Council’s first sanctions regime since it created the Mali regime through resolution 2374 of 5 September 2017.
Members also generally agree that sanctions alone will not solve all of Haiti’s problems and have emphasised the need to promote a Haitian-led political solution. Several members—including Ireland (which finishes its term at the end of 2022), Russia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—expressed this position in their explanation of vote on resolution 2653. Some members, including China, have been increasingly critical of Haitian political actors because of their reluctance to put aside their differences and advance dialogue.
There appear to be divisions among Council members in their approach to the possibility of the Council authorising a non-UN international security assistance mission to Haiti. Russia, for example, has emphasised the need to listen to the voices of Haitian actors who oppose a foreign intervention in their country. Other members advocate a cautious and thorough analysis of the option.
In the 21 December 2022 Council briefing on Haiti, the A3 members (Gabon, Ghana, and Kenya) encouraged Council members to respond to the insecurity in the country with utmost urgency. Kenya (which finishes its term at the end of 2022) noted that any new intervention backed by the Security Council must avoid past mistakes and should encompass a clear scope of tasks, concept of operations and an exit strategy. It added that the Council should consider including key African and Caribbean contributions in any possible intervention to gain the Haitian people’s confidence. China and the UAE in their statements welcomed the efforts of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to address the crisis in Haiti.
The five incoming Council members—Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, and Switzerland—in 2023 may affect Council dynamics on Haiti. Mexico was active on the file during its 2021-2022 term on the Council, serving as co-penholder with the US. It remains to be seen if Ecuador, its successor in the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) seat, or Brazil—where a new administration will come to power in January 2023—will seek a similarly active role on Haiti.
Beyond the Council, Canada has long demonstrated a strong interest in supporting efforts to address insecurity in Haiti and assist Haitian stakeholders to achieve political consensus. Ambassador Bob Rae (Canada) visited Haiti from 7 to 9 December 2022 with the aim of encouraging “greater unity among key stakeholders towards a political path and process for democratic elections”. This was his second visit to Haiti in the past three months and was immediately preceded by a fact-finding mission.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|21 October 2022S/RES/2653||This resolution established a sanctions regime on Haiti, including targeted assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo measures.|
|15 July 2022S/RES/2645||This resolution renewed the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for one year, until 15 July 2023.|
|13 October 2022S/2022/761||This was the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on Haiti.|
|8 October 2022S/2022/747||This letter transmitted the Secretary-General’s report outlining options for enhanced security support to Haiti, which was submitted in line with resolution 2645 of 15 July.|