What's In Blue

Haiti: Last Friday’s Vote on the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) Mandate Renewal

On Friday (15 October), the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2600, renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for nine months, until 15 July 2022. Resolution 2600 also requests the Secretary-General to conduct an assessment of BINUH’s mandate within six months of the resolution’s adoption. The US, the penholder on Haiti, presented the draft jointly with Mexico, which has cooperated with the US on several Council products on Haiti this year.

Negotiations on the resolution were difficult. Disagreements arose among several Council members over a request for an assessment of BINUH’s mandate and over the duration of the mission’s renewal. China put a competing draft in blue on 14 October, the date initially scheduled for the vote on the text initiated by the US and Mexico. Following further negotiations, China withdrew its proposed text, and the US and Mexico submitted a compromise text, which the Council adopted as resolution 2600 on 15 October.

The co-penholders circulated a first draft of the resolution on 5 October. That text would have renewed BINUH’s mandate for one year, without substantive changes to its mandate as initially set out in resolution 2476 of 25 June 2019 and most recently extended in resolution 2547 of 15 October 2020. Resolution 2476 established the special political mission as a successor to the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), which closed in October 2019, ending 15 years of a UN peacekeeping presence in the country. When BINUH was last renewed in October 2020, the mission’s core functions remained unchanged.

Following an initial comment period until 8 October, a revised version was placed under silence until 11 October. Several Council members, including China and the “A3 plus one” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), broke silence, and another silence period ensued for the second revised draft until the morning of 13 October. Silence was broken again by these members, after which the adoption scheduled for the morning of 14 October was postponed until later that same day, and then to 15 October. On the evening of 14 October, China put a competing draft text in blue. Following several hours of bilateral negotiations, the co-penholders placed a consensus draft in blue on 15 October in the afternoon, which was adopted at 6 pm that day.

The complicated negotiations and multiple silence breaks reflect divisions between Council members on BINUH’s role in the country. During the negotiations, the “A3 plus one” apparently expressed the view that BINUH’s mandate should be reviewed and strengthened to better position the mission to address the many political, socio-economic, security, humanitarian and human rights challenges facing the country. They advocated for an assessment of BINUH to determine potential adjustments to the mandate in the future. China, in line with the position it took during the 2020 negotiations on BINUH’s mandate, apparently called for a six-month renewal of the mission’s mandate and requested an assessment during that period with a view to identify a strategy for the mission’s drawdown. It seems that China stressed that the Haitian government holds primary responsibility for addressing the country’s challenges and starting a national dialogue. Russia apparently supported China’s approach.

It seems that several Council members from Europe, including Ireland, Norway and the UK, initially supported the co-penholders’ approach, which sought to have a straightforward 12-month renewal of the mandate without making changes to the text. However, once the draft was opened for comments, these members apparently voiced interest in adding language on cross-cutting issues, such as women, peace and security and climate change. (The final text, which was adopted as resolution 2600, contains the suggested language on women, peace and security but did not retain language on climate change.)

The co-penholders appear to have attempted to bridge the different views, while aiming to maintain BINUH’s core functions and preserve its one-year mandate cycle. It seems that the first revision of the draft included paragraphs condemning the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and noting with concern the acute political, economic, security, and humanitarian crises in Haiti. This revised version also stressed the primary responsibility of the Haitian government to address drivers of instability and inequality and engage with several stakeholders, including civil society, women, youth and the private sector. It further urged all Haitian stakeholders to commit to an inclusive inter-Haitian national dialogue with a view to organising “inclusive, peaceful, free, fair, and transparent legislative and presidential elections as soon as technically feasible”.

However, the “A3 plus one” and China apparently expressed concern that their views were not sufficiently reflected in the amended draft. The “A3 plus one” insisted on the inclusion of their request for an assessment of the mission and of language expressing the need to assist Haiti in peacebuilding and reconciliation processes and to facilitate socio-economic development. China apparently requested several amendments to the first draft, including language expressing concern over the recent rise in gang violence.

A second revision of the draft text reflected an effort to compromise. A new preambular paragraph referencing gang violence was apparently added. This version of the text also included a new operative paragraph requesting the Secretary-General to conduct an assessment of BINUH’s mandate within a year by October 2022. The goal of the assessment, according to language in this draft that was retained in the adopted text, is to evaluate how the mandate could be adjusted to address ongoing challenges; to increase effectiveness of the mission and its efforts to support engagement between all Haitian national stakeholders; to strengthen the rule of law; and to promote respect for human rights.

This version, however, did not garner consensus, as the “A3 plus one” broke silence to request that the strategic assessment be finalised within six months rather than twelve months. China also broke silence, insisting on a six-month mandate renewal. Russia apparently supported China’s position and requested additional language on Moïse’s assassination that would have referenced “allegations of foreign involvement”.

It seems that the co-penholders did not agree to these changes. Following unsuccessful bilateral engagement, China put a competing draft in blue on 14 October. The Chinese draft called for a six-month extension of BINUH’s mandate and for an assessment to be carried out during that timeframe. This draft apparently did not call for the review to be conducted with a view to articulating BINUH’s exit strategy, reflecting a departure from the view expressed earlier in the negotiations. It seems that at that point, China agreed with the “A3 plus one” suggestion that the strategic review be conducted with a view to adjusting BINUH’s mandate to address Haiti’s ongoing challenges.

On 15 October, with two drafts—the China and co-penholder texts—scheduled for a vote in the morning, the co-penholders engaged in further bilateral negotiations. A consensus version was finally adopted that afternoon, extending the mission’s mandate for nine months, and incorporating the request by the “A3 plus one” for an assessment of BINUH within six months, including on “whether and how the mandate could be adjusted to address the ongoing challenges faced by Haiti”.

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