Expected Council Action
In October, the Council is expected to continue negotiations on a draft resolution authorising member states to deploy a non-UN multinational force to Haiti. Council members began discussion on the draft resolution in September.
The Council is also expected to renew the Haiti sanctions regime, which was established for an initial period of one year pursuant to resolution 2653 of 21 October 2022.
Additionally, the Council will hold its 90-day briefing on the situation in Haiti. Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) María Isabel Salvador will brief the Council on recent political, security, and humanitarian developments in the country and the Secretary-General’s latest report on BINUH.
Key Recent Developments
Following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, Haiti has descended into a multidimensional crisis characterised by political deadlock, extreme violence, and dire humanitarian conditions. At the time of writing, the country lacks a single democratically elected official as the caretaker government led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry struggles to reach a political settlement with opposition groups on the organisation of elections. Politically connected criminal gangs have taken over an estimated 80 percent of Port-au-Prince, the capital, fuelling unprecedented levels of violence: according to the Secretary-General’s latest BINUH report (S/2023/492), dated 3 July, 2,094 homicides were committed in the country between January and June, an increase of 67.5 percent compared with the second half of 2022.
In the absence of functioning state security institutions, a vigilante movement known as “Bwa Kalé” has emerged, resulting in the extrajudicial killing of at least 238 individuals allegedly linked to gangs, according to BINUH’s latest quarterly human rights report, dated 31 August. About half of the country’s population is food insecure and nearly 200,000 people are internally displaced. William O’Neill, the UN Expert on Human Rights in Haiti, said in July that he has “never seen the situation as bad as it is now” during the 30 years he has worked in the country.
On 7 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 Haitian National Police (HNP) to combat gangs. On 8 October 2022, Secretary-General António Guterres submitted to the Security Council a special report (S/2022/747) outlining options to enhance security support for Haiti, requested by resolution 2645 of 15 July 2022 renewing 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. At the Council’s 17 October 2022 (S/PV.9153) meeting on Haiti, the US noted that it and then-Council member Mexico—co-penholders on Haiti at the time—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”.
On 21 October 2022, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2653, establishing a sanctions regime on Haiti that included targeted assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo measures. The designation criteria outlined in the resolution include engaging in or supporting criminal activities and violence involving armed groups and criminal networks; supporting illicit trafficking and diversion of arms and related materiel; obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to and inside Haiti; and attacking personnel or premises of UN missions and operations or providing support for such attacks. An annex to the resolution designated one person under the regime: Jimmy Cherizier (also known as “Barbeque”), who heads an alliance of Haitian gangs called the “G9 Family and Allies”. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 21 October 2022.)
Following the adoption of resolution 2653, Council action on Haiti stalled in the absence of a country willing to lead the proposed multinational force. As the domestic situation deteriorated further, the Haitian government reiterated its request for security support in a letter to the Secretary-General, dated 7 June.
On 14 July, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2692, renewing BINUH’s mandate for another year and requesting the Secretary-General to report within 30 days on the full range of options for UN support to enhance the security situation in Haiti, including but not limited to support for a non-UN multinational force. The resolution also requested the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to update the Council every three months, through the Secretary-General’s regular reporting on BINUH, on “sources and routes of illicit arms and financial flows, relevant UN activities and recommendations”.
On 29 July, ten months after Haiti’s initial request for security support, Kenyan Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua announced in a statement that his country had agreed to “positively consider” leading a multinational force to Haiti. The statement said that Kenya would deploy a contingent of 1,000 police officers “to help train and assist Haitian police restore [to] normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations”. Subsequently, several Caribbean countries—including Jamaica, Barbados, and Antigua and Barbuda—announced their intention to participate, or consider participating, in the force. The pledges were welcomed by Haiti and the US, as well as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). In his report dated 14 August, requested by resolution 2692, the Secretary-General reiterated his recommendation to deploy a non-UN multinational force to Haiti and similarly welcomed the announcements of Kenya and partner countries.
From 21 to 23 August, a Kenyan delegation visited Haiti to assess needs on the ground and meet with Haitian and UN officials and members of the diplomatic community in the country. Following the assessment mission, Ecuador and the US—the Council’s current co-penholders on Haiti—introduced a draft resolution authorising the multinational force. At the time of writing, the draft resolution remained under consideration by Council members.
On 15 September, the Dominican Republic closed its border with Haiti because of a dispute over rights to a river that runs along the border. The closure is expected to have a significant detrimental impact on Haitians, many of whom rely on cross-border financial flows and the import of essential products like food and medicines. On 16 September, the Secretary-General stressed through a spokesperson that “humanitarian exemptions from the border closure are urgently required to ensure the continuation of all UN activities in Haiti”. In an 18 September statement, O’Neill said he was “extremely alarmed” by the Dominican Republic’s decision, which he urged the government to reconsider.
On 22 September, the US hosted a ministerial-level event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss the proposed multinational force. At the meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged $100 million to support the deployment—pending Congressional approval—as well as logistical support in the form of intelligence, airlift, communications, and medical capabilities. Several other countries in attendance reportedly also announced pledges of support.
Human Rights-Related Developments
From 19 to 28 June, O’Neill undertook his first official visit to the country. In a 28 June statement concluding the visit, O’Neill underscored that the human rights situation in Haiti is “dramatic”, adding that “all rights are violated”. He noted the efforts made by the Haitian National Police to combat gang violence, stressing that a specialised international force is “essential” and “must be coordinated in close collaboration with the police…to allow them to build their capacity…with all the guarantees of human rights due diligence”. O’Neill transmitted his findings to the Human Rights Council in a report (A/HRC/54/79) dated 25 September.
In a 3 August statement, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Margaret Satterthwaite expressed her grave concern about the attempted assassination of Haitian judge Wilner Morin in Port-au-Prince in May. Morin is investigating multiple high-profile corruption cases, and Satterthwaite noted her dismay at the “great vulnerability of independent justice operators who deal with high-impact corruption cases” in Haiti.
On 18 August, a statement from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced the “extreme brutality of violence” being inflicted on the civilian population and relayed a call from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk for “urgent action” to deploy a non-UN multinational force to support the Haitian National Police in “addressing the grave security situation and restoring the rule of law, in strict compliance with international human rights norms and standards”.
On 8 September, the 2653 Haiti Sanctions Committee held informal consultations to consider the final report of the committee’s Panel of Experts, submitted in accordance with paragraph 21 of resolution 2653. The report, which was due to the Security Council by 15 September and was not yet publicly available at the time of writing, may recommend additional individuals to designate under the Haiti sanctions regime.
Women, Peace, and Security
On 8 June, the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) met on the situation in Haiti. Special Representative for Haiti and Head of BINUH María Isabel Salvador briefed. According to the summary of the meeting (S/2023/617), issued on 23 August by Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the IEG co-chairs, together with the UK, as the penholder on WPS, Council members asked, among other questions, whether the UN had developed “the parameters that would be required in a non-United Nations international force to ensure that it would protect women and girls effectively”. Members also asked for guidance on how the Security Council “can help to address gender equality issues, including through specific provisions” in BINUH’s mandate. UN Women, as the IEG Secretariat, recommended that the Council retain all existing WPS references from recent resolutions on Haiti. UN Women also recommended that members consider adding language demanding the full participation of women in all political dialogues and transitional arrangements and requesting that the UN periodically report on their representation in conflict resolution and decision-making processes. UN Women further recommended adding new language ensuring that “gender equality issues and attention to sexual and gender-based violence are prioritized in any additional deployments or international support to help the Government of Haiti tackle the armed gangs”.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue for the Council in October is adopting a resolution that would authorise the deployment of a non-UN multinational force to support the efforts of the HNP to re-establish security in Haiti. Council members began negotiating a draft resolution in early September.
Another issue for the Council is renewing the mandate of the Haiti sanctions regime, which expires on 21 October. To date, Cherizier remains the only individual designated under the regime. As part of the renewal, the Council may consider designating additional individuals and amending the arms embargo sanctions measures, following recommendations from the Panel of Experts and UNODC, respectively.
Council members are united in their concern about the spiralling situation in Haiti and generally agree on the need for a Haitian-led political solution that addresses both security and socioeconomic challenges. Views vary on appropriate Council action to support this process, however, and have complicated negotiations over the draft resolution authorising the deployment of the multinational force to Haiti.
It appears that China has argued that negotiations at this stage are premature and that the Council should not authorise a deployment until it has received additional information from Haiti and Kenya on their bilateral agreement regulating the multinational force, including details such as its rules of engagement, areas of deployment, resourcing, and exit strategy. China has apparently also argued that the Council should be cautious about invoking its authority under Chapter VII of the UN Charter—which concerns enforcement measures—and that the Council does not necessarily need to authorise a bilaterally agreed deployment. Instead, it may consider other options such as welcoming or endorsing it.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|14 JULY 2023S/RES/2692||This resolution renewed the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for one year, until 15 July 2024.|
|21 OCTOBER 2022S/RES/2653||This resolution established a sanctions regime on Haiti, including targeted assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo measures.|
|3 JULY 2023S/2023/492||This was the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on Haiti.|
|Security Council Letter|
|14 AUGUST 2023S/2023/596||This was a letter from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council, outlining the full range of support options the UN could provide to enhance the security situation in Haiti.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|8 MAY 2023SC/15277||This press statement expressed deep concern over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Haiti.|