April 2023 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 April 2023
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Expected Council Action 

In April, the Security Council is expected to receive a briefing from newly appointed Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) María Isabel Salvador on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on BINUH. A representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is also expected to brief. 

BINUH’s mandate expires on 15 July 2023. 

Key Recent Developments 

Haiti remains mired in a multidimensional crisis marked by political gridlock and significant security and humanitarian challenges. In her January briefing to the Security Council, former Special Representative for Haiti and head of BINUH Helen La Lime invoked the 13th anniversary of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and warned that “years of hard-fought recovery gains are being undone”. 

The country’s political impasse remains a key concern. On 9 January, a symbolic milestone was reached when the terms of the last ten remaining senators expired, leaving the country without a single democratically elected official. Efforts to organise elections and restore the legitimacy of public institutions have achieved only mixed results. On 21 December 2022, Prime Minister Ariel Henry—who assumed office after the assassination of Prime Minister Jovenel Moïse in July 2021—signed a document titled “The National Consensus for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections”, along with representatives of political parties, civil society organisations, and members of the private sector. The document outlines the necessary steps for holding elections in the country, stipulating a 14-month transition period, with general elections to be held in 2023 and a new elected government to enter office on 7 February 2024. To facilitate this process, the document calls for the establishment of a “High Transitional Council” and a “Control Body for Government Action”, which will be responsible for promoting a political dialogue among various factions and the proper functioning of public institutions during the transitional period. On 6 February, Henry formally installed the High Transitional Council, comprising three members from the country’s political, business and civil sectors. 

This transition process has not garnered universal domestic support, however. The Secretary-General’s latest report on BINUH, dated 17 January, said that the leadership of the Montana Group—a coalition of civil society organisations that had previously put forward a transition plan seeking a two-year transitional government under different interim leadership—had rejected the national consensus document, labelling it a “manoeuvre designed for electioneering purposes”. Additionally, according to Haitian local media reports, the ten political parties that secured the most votes during the last presidential election in 2016 have not acceded to the document. During the Council’s January briefing on Haiti, several members cautiously welcomed the signing of the document but urged stakeholders to seek a broader consensus.  

Meanwhile, the country’s security and humanitarian situations continue to deteriorate. While the UN estimated in December 2022 that approximately 60 percent of Port-au-Prince, the capital, was controlled by armed gangs, some analysts now believe the number is closer to 90 percent. The Haitian National Police (HNP) have reportedly retreated from large parts of the city, urging “more citizen participation” to fill the security vacuum. This growing instability has fuelled increasingly dire humanitarian conditions. According to the most recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification surveyconducted by a group of humanitarian organisations and inter-governmental institutions—nearly five million Haitians (almost half the population) are experiencing acute food insecurity. Additionally, there are an estimated 155,000 internally displaced persons in the country, which according to the Secretary-General’s January report represents an increase of 77 percent since the end of August 2022. These trends are being exacerbated by the resurgence of cholera in the country: since the first reported case in October 2022, the number of suspected cases has exceeded 20,000, according to the Secretary-General’s report. Reflecting the country’s worsening conditions, the UN’s 2023 humanitarian appeal for Haiti will reportedly call for $715 million, which is more than double last year’s appeal and the highest since the 2010 earthquake. 

In October 2022, seeking to stabilise the country’s security situation and stem the multidimensional crisis, the Haitian government appealed for the immediate deployment of an “international specialised force” to temporarily reinforce the efforts of the HNP to combat gangs. Subsequently, Secretary-General António Guterres 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. The report 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. In her briefings to the Council in October 2022 and January, La Lime reiterated the Secretary-General’s call. 

The Security Council has yet to respond to Haiti’s request. At the Council’s October 2022 meeting on Haiti, the US noted that it and then-Council member Mexico (co-penholders on Haiti) were working on a resolution that would “authorize a non-UN international security assistance mission to help improve the security situation”. The US 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 participate in such a mission. According to media reports, the US had identified Canada as its preferred candidate, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly expressed scepticism about taking on this responsibility, instead pledging other forms of support to Haiti. In addition, Haitian civil society appears divided on the issue, with some opinion polls showing a majority in favour, but some civil society activists and analysts arguing that such a deployment would primarily serve the political interests of the current unelected government. The initiative now appears to have stalled, and neither the US nor Ecuador (which has replaced Mexico as co-penholder) explicitly referred to the deployment of an international force during the Council’s January meeting on Haiti. 

On 1 March, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of María Isabel Salvador (Ecuador) to replace La Lime as Special Representative for Haiti and head of BINUH. The April meeting on Haiti will be the Council’s first since Salvador assumed her duties. 

Human Rights-Related Developments 

During the Council’s January meeting on Haiti, La Lime noted that gang-related violence in the country has “reached levels not seen in decades”, as more than 2,100 murders and 1,300 kidnappings were committed in 2022, representing an increase in these crimes for the fourth consecutive year. According to BINUH, this trend has continued in 2023: from the beginning of the year to 15 March, 531 people were killed and 277 kidnapped in gang-related incidents that took place mainly in Port-au-Prince. The situation is particularly dire for vulnerable populations: from 2021 to 2022, the UN has reported a nine-fold increase in violence targeting schools, leading to repeated school closures, and a 45 percent increase in documented incidents of sexual violence against women and girls. During a visit to the country in February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said the estimated 200 gangs operating in the capital are “perpetrating a near permanent climate of terror” and described the situation as “a living nightmare”.  

Key Issues and Options 

A key issue for the Security Council is how to support Haitian authorities in addressing the country’s security crisis. The deployment of an international force authorised by the Council is one option, but in the absence of a country willing to lead such an operation, these deliberations seem to have reached an impasse. 

Another option may be to designate more individuals under the Council’s sanctions regime for Haiti, established by resolution 2653, which the Council adopted on 21 October 2022. Currently, only one person is designated under the regime: Jimmy Chérizier (also known as “Barbeque”), who heads an alliance of Haitian gangs known as the “G9 Family and Allies”. At the Council’s January meeting on Haiti, the US said it is “identifying additional targets involved in the unrest in Haiti to nominate at the United Nations”.  

The Security Council may also consider changes to BINUH’s mandate, which expires on 15 July. The Council established BINUH as a special political mission in 2019 with resolution 2476, based on Chapter VI of the UN Charter relating to “the peaceful settlement of disputes”. This mission followed the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH, 2004-2017) and the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH, 2017-19), larger peacekeeping operations established under Chapter VII of the Charter, which authorises the use of force. Although it remains unclear whether Council members have the political will to mandate a new multidimensional peacekeeping operation, there appears to be growing recognition that BINUH’s mandate is not currently fit for purpose given the scale of the challenges Haiti is facing. Consequently, in the absence of an international force authorised by the Security Council, a recalibration of BINUH’s mandate may be an alternative. The US has reportedly begun considering this option. 

Council Dynamics 

Council members are united in their concern for the spiralling situation in Haiti. They generally agree on the need for a multidimensional Haitian-led political solution that addresses both security and socioeconomic challenges. Notably, this consensus includes the use of UN sanctions as a tool to target individuals fomenting violence.   

Views diverge on other possible Council responses, however. Co-penholders Ecuador and the US, as well as other members such as Albania, Brazil, and the A3 countries (Gabon, Ghana, and Mozambique), appear still to support the deployment of an international force as requested by the Haitian government and recommended by the Secretary-General, but other members such as China and Russia have cautioned against such a measure. At the Council’s January meeting on Haiti, China urged the international community to “take into full consideration the various views within Haiti and draw the appropriate lessons from failed external interventions so as to avoid repeating those mistakes”. 

This difference of opinion also appears linked to Council members’ views of the current Haitian government led by Henry. A majority of members have encouraged the government to engage with Montana signatories to build stronger support around the national consensus document. Members in favour of an international force have also voiced general support for the government’s efforts. By contrast, China and Russia have been more critical of Henry’s leadership and have highlighted the concerns voiced by opposition groups. At the Council’s January meeting, the Chinese representative said that the “crisis of political legitimacy is the fundamental crisis in Haiti”, while the Russian representative similarly said that “the legitimacy crisis is one of the key obstacles to breaking the country’s vicious cycle of lawlessness, violence and socioeconomic degradation”.  

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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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
17 JANUARY 2023S/2023/41 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.
Security Council Meeting Records
24 JANUARY 2023S/PV.9247 This was a meeting on the situation in Haiti.