Haiti: Briefing on the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH)
Tomorrow (18 February), the Security Council is expected to convene for an open briefing, which may be followed by consultations, on the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BINUH Helen La Lime will brief on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest 120-day report (S/2022/117) on the mission, issued on 15 February.
Tomorrow’s meeting will provide an opportunity for Council members to take stock of major political, security, economic and humanitarian developments in the country before considering adjustments to BINUH’s mandate in July. During the mission’s last mandate renewal (S/RES/2600 of 15 October 2021), Council members commissioned a strategic assessment of the mission in order to identify ways in which its mandate could be adjusted to “increase the mission’s effectiveness and its efforts to support engagement with Haitian national authorities, civil society and other stakeholders”. In accordance with resolution 2600, the assessment is expected to be submitted to the Council in mid-April. On 7 January, the Secretary-General appointed Murad Wahba, a former Deputy Special Representative in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), to lead the assessment.
In her briefing, La Lime is likely to cover efforts by the Haitian government to foster unity among political stakeholders and to pave the way towards elections and constitutional reform. In this regard, the report of the Secretary-General noted continued outreach by Prime Minister Ariel Henry—including with supporters of the “Montana Accord”, and with several political groups, trade unions, the private sector and civil society—to discuss the political situation in the country.
On 24 November 2021, Henry presented a partially reshuffled government, which included the appointment of eight new ministers. Its composition includes civil society representatives and former political opponents of late President Jovenel Moïse, as well as officials that served in his administration. The cabinet reshuffle is intended to broaden “ownership of the political roadmap and inclusion in the Executive”.
Council members are likely to show interest in the status of electoral preparations. During the swearing-in ceremony of his new cabinet on 25 November 2021, Henry stated that his administration would prioritise public safety “with the funds that we have available”, the holding of elections, and constitutional reform based on “popular consultation”. The Secretary-General’s report notes the slowed pace of electoral preparations, mostly due to the absence of a reconstituted Provisional Electoral Council since its disbandment on 27 September and the disruption of national fuel supplies since mid-October. Council members are likely to be united in emphasising the need for elections to be held, but views on timelines may vary, with some calling for the poll to take place expeditiously and others emphasising the need first to address Haiti’s security, economic and humanitarian challenges.
How to address the rampant insecurity in the county and how to further strengthen the National Haitian Police are key concerns of members and likely to be discussed in the meeting. The Secretary-General’s report notes that gang violence remains the predominant threat to Haiti’s security as gangs continue to expand their control of territory. The report registered 655 kidnappings for ransom (with gangs as the main perpetrators) as well as 1,615 intentional homicides during the recently completed 120-day reporting period; these figures represent an increase of 180 and 17 percent, respectively, compared to the same reporting period in 2020. Human rights violations, including sexual violence, and violence-related internal displacement, have also reportedly increased with the expansion of gang influence.
The US and Canada organised international meetings via videoconference on 17 November 2021 and 21 January, respectively, that were intended to identify steps and resources to assist Haiti with its security, political and economic challenges. Some Council members may recall these events and emphasise the need for increased international focus on and assistance to Haiti.
In a similar vein, several Council members may emphasise the need for continued humanitarian assistance for Haiti. On 16 February, the Haitian government hosted an international conference aimed at supporting reconstruction and recovery efforts following the 14 August earthquake that mainly affected the country’s south-west and killed over 2,200 people. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, speaking at the event, cautioned that “a lack of adequate and timely investment in reconstruction will inevitably push the most vulnerable populations…towards negative survival strategies”. The Haitian government estimated reconstruction needs at some $2 billion. Several Council members may call for increased focus on alleviating the humanitarian situation in Haiti; in this regard, Ireland may reference the connection between food scarcity and insecurity in the country.