Expected Council Action
In January 2024, 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
Since 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 has been unable to reach a political settlement with opposition groups on the organisation of elections. Amidst the impasse, politically connected criminal gangs have overtaken 80 percent of Port-au-Prince, the capital, fuelling unprecedented levels of violence. According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, at least 3,960 people were killed, 1,432 injured, and 2,951 kidnapped in gang-related violence in Haiti in 2023 alone—a sharp increase from the year before. While Port-au-Prince has long borne the brunt of this violence, a report published by OHCHR on 28 November 2023 found that it is increasingly affecting nearby regions such as Lower Artibonite.
The spiralling security situation has exacerbated the country’s already dire humanitarian conditions. At an 8 December 2023 press conference, Deputy Special Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Haiti Ulrika Richardson said that 5.2 million people require humanitarian assistance and that 4.35 million—two out of five Haitians—face acute food insecurity, while noting that the UN’s 2023 humanitarian response plan for Haiti was only 33 percent funded.
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 Haitian National Police (HNP) to combat gangs. Secretary-General António Guterres subsequently endorsed the request, recommending 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 July 2023, ten months after Haiti’s initial request, Kenyan Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua announced in a statement that his country had agreed to “positively consider” leading a multinational force to Haiti and would contribute a contingent of 1,000 police officers to “help train and assist Haitian police [to] restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations”. After Kenya’s announcement, several Caribbean countries stated their intention to participate in the force, and the US pledged up to $200 million in financial and logistical support.
Although the UN would not administer the proposed force, Kenya, Haiti, and other stakeholders sought authorisation from the Security Council prior to deployment. Consequently, on 2 October 2023, the Council adopted resolution 2699, authorising member states to form and deploy a Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission to Haiti. The resolution authorised the mission for an initial period of 12 months, to be reviewed after nine months. It specified that the cost of implementing the operation would be borne by voluntary contributions from individual countries and regional organisations, and it established a UN trust fund for this purpose. In addition, the resolution requested the MSS mission leadership, in coordination with Haiti and other participating countries, to provide the Council with a concept of operations prior to deployment, including information such as the sequencing of deployment, mission goals, rules of engagement, exit strategy, number of personnel, and financial needs. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 2 October 2023.)
Kenya has since begun preparations for the MSS mission in collaboration with Haiti, the US, and other contributing countries. Kenyan officials have undertaken three assessment visits to Port-au-Prince, most recently in December 2023, and convened a joint planning conference with Haitian stakeholders in Nairobi. They have reportedly also prepared an initial draft of the concept of operations requested by resolution 2699 and are currently seeking input on it from partner countries. However, some domestic legal and political factors in Kenya are complicating the planning process. The High Court of Kenya has issued a temporary injunction against the deployment until it rules on its constitutionality, currently expected on 26 January 2024. In addition, Kenyan officials have insisted that no taxpayer money will be spent on the deployment and that it will not take place until it is fully funded by the international community. On 12 December 2023, at Russia’s request, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas Miroslav Jenča briefed the Council on the current state of planning for the MSS mission.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s protracted political impasse remains a key concern and a driver of the country’s deteriorating security and humanitarian situations. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has convened a series of talks between the government and opposition groups to agree on modalities for the organisation of elections. These discussions have been facilitated by CARICOM’s Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Haiti, comprising three former prime ministers in the region: Perry Christie of the Bahamas, Bruce Golding of Jamaica, and Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia. In early December 2023, after prior talks yielded limited progress, the EPG proposed its own draft framework agreement, which opposition groups rejected. In a 7 December 2023 statement, Guterres expressed his concern about “the limited progress in the inter-Haitian dialogue” and underscored “the importance of an agreement on the restoration of democratic institutions…to achieving sustainable rule of law and security” in Haiti.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 28 November 2023, OHCHR and BINUH issued a report detailing a “shocking rise” in gang violence and its expansion to rural areas beyond Port-au-Prince. The report, covering the period from January 2022 through October 2023, documents atrocities committed by criminal groups in the region of lower Artibonite, including executions of civilians and use of sexual violence against women and children, and underscores the urgent need for the deployment of the MSS mission. In a statement accompanying the report, Türk called the situation in Haiti “cataclysmic” and similarly emphasised that the MSS “needs to be deployed to Haiti as soon as possible”.
From 23 October to 1 November 2023, William O’Neill, the UN Expert on Human Rights in Haiti, undertook his second official visit to the country. In a 30 October statement concluding his visit, O’Neill said he continued to be alarmed by the “worrying situation”. He underscored that sexual violence against women and girls continues to be “endemic” and noted that no progress has been made regarding access to services and justice for survivors since his last visit in June 2023. O’Neill emphasised his particular concern about the impact of insecurity and violence on children, noting that “an entire generation is seemingly being sacrificed by violence, and the future of a country is threatened by the dramatic situation faced by its youth”. He called on the authorities in Haiti to prioritise children’s needs, noting that a “vast majority” of the gang members are children who will require rehabilitation and reintegration.
On 19 October 2023, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2700, renewing for one year the Haiti sanctions regime imposed by resolution 2653 of 21 October 2022. On 8 December 2023, the 2653 Haiti Sanctions Committee designated four additional individuals under the regime: Renel Destina, leader of the Grand Ravine gang; Vitel’homme Innocent, leader of the Kraze Barye gang; Johnson André, leader of the 5 Segond gang; and Wilson Joseph, leader of the 400 Mawozo gang.
Key Issues and Options
The key immediate task for the Security Council is to monitor and support the deployment of the MSS mission, which is seen as critical to stabilising Haiti’s security situation. At January’s briefing, Council members may reiterate their gratitude to Kenya for assuming leadership of the mission and welcome initial planning steps while underscoring the importance of swift additional progress towards full deployment, including the finalisation of the concept of operations to be submitted to the Council per resolution 2699.
Regarding the broader political situation in Haiti, Council members may reiterate their support for the EPG’s mediation efforts and call on national stakeholders to demonstrate the spirit of compromise necessary to reach consensus on the electoral transition.
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, however, on appropriate Council action to support this process. For instance, China and Russia both abstained on resolution 2699, arguing that a national political consensus and more detailed operational information were required before the Council should authorise the MSS mission. It seems that Russia reiterated this view at the Council’s 12 December 2023 briefing, contending that little progress had been made towards deployment since the Council’s authorisation and that this vindicated Russia’s initial position.
UN DOCUMENTS ON HAITI
|Security Council Resolutions
|19 OCTOBER 2023S/RES/2700
|This resolution renewed the sanctions regime on Haiti imposed by resolution 2653 of 21 October 2022.
|2 OCTOBER 2023S/RES/2699
|This resolution authorised member states to form and deploy a Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission to Haiti to help re-establish security in the country and build conditions conducive to holding free and fair elections.
|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.
|16 OCTOBER 2023S/2023/768
|This was the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on Haiti.