Haiti: Vote on BINUH Mandate Renewal*
Tomorrow morning (14 July), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for one year, until 15 July 2024. Ecuador and the US, the co-penholders on Haiti, circulated the first draft of the resolution to Council members on 22 June and convened an initial reading of the text on 26 June followed by a first round of formal negotiations on 29 June. The co-penholders then circulated a revised draft on 30 June and convened another round of negotiations on 5 July. On 7 July, the co-penholders circulated a second revised draft and placed it under silence procedure until 10 July, which was subsequently broken by China and Russia. On 11 July, the co-penholders circulated a third revised draft, placing it under silence procedure until 12 July. Silence was again broken by China. On 13 July, the co-penholders placed a fourth revised draft directly in blue without an additional silence procedure.
Following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, Haiti has descended into a multidimensional crisis characterised by political gridlock and escalating gang violence reaching levels described by the Secretary-General as “comparable to countries in armed conflict”. In October 2022, 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. The same month, the Secretary-General 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.
The Security Council has yet to act in response to the Haitian government’s request and the Secretary-General’s report, however, as no member state has indicated its willingness to lead such a mission. In a letter dated 7 June addressed to the Secretary-General, the Haitian government reiterated its request for security support. On 6 July, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US remains “active” in its search for a lead country, but he did not report any tangible progress in this regard.
In light of this impasse, recent media reports indicated that the co-penholders were considering a more robust security posture for BINUH as an alternative to the deployment of an non-UN force. Council members seem to agree that the mission should be scaled up in response to the deteriorating security situation in Haiti. However, there are different views on the extent of such a strengthening, and whether or how to link such a move to the potential deployment of a non-UN force, as well as to domestic political progress towards elections in Haiti. These discussions have informed negotiations on this year’s mandate renewal.
It appears that the initial draft text that the co-penholders circulated proposed relatively limited changes to BINUH’s mandate, with the expectation that the Council will later authorise the deployment of a non-UN force. The text primarily proposed some measures to enhance BINUH’s security and operational capacities, including by increasing the number of BINUH’s police and corrections personnel from 42 to 70, by scaling up BINUH’s support to the HNP on training and investigations, and by highlighting the importance of BINUH’s electoral work. It also included language encouraging BINUH to explore options to enhance the Haitian criminal justice sector in order to fight impunity and requesting the mission to cooperate with the Panel of Experts on Haiti established pursuant to resolution 2653 of 21 October 2022 in order to facilitate the panel’s work. These general principles were not particularly contentious and were retained in the draft in blue, although specific language and points of emphasis evolved throughout subsequent drafts.
The initial draft text also apparently addressed the issue of enhanced security support for Haiti. It seems that the draft acknowledged that an international specialised force in support of the HNP would facilitate a safer and more stable environment for the continued implementation of BINUH’s mandate and encouraged member states to support the deployment of such a force as soon as possible. The draft text also requested the Secretary-General to submit a written report to the Security Council within 30 days, outlining options to enhance the security situation in Haiti through more robust UN engagement, including the possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation.
During the negotiations, Council members apparently made additional proposals to add or strengthen language on several issues, including preventing the illicit trafficking of arms into Haiti, enhancing cooperation between BINUH and the 2653 Panel of Experts, recognising the adverse effects of climate change in Haiti, and calling for additional human rights monitoring and woman and child protection capacities for BINUH.
While it seems that Council members were able to agree or find compromise on several of these proposals, the most contentious discussions focused on the two options for enhanced security support. China and Russia apparently opposed the suggested language on this issue, leading them to break the first silence procedure. Regarding a non-UN force, these members argued that the Council should not endorse such a deployment before a lead country has proposed concrete terms of reference and domestic Haitian actors have reached a comprehensive political settlement. On more robust UN engagement, China and Russia apparently argued that the request to the Secretary-General to outline possible options should not pre-empt any conclusions by specifically mentioning the possible deployment of a peacekeeping operation—particularly given that Haitian authorities have not requested this form of assistance and that the Secretary-General had already considered this option in his special report of 8 October 2022. Subsequently, China broke the second silence procedure on similar grounds.
In an apparent compromise, the draft resolution in blue retains language on both options for enhanced security support, but within a wider context and with additional conditions. Concerning a non-UN force, the draft in blue encourages member states to provide security support to the HNP in response to the appeal from the Haitian authorities and the Secretary-General, and references as an option in this regard the deployment of a specialised force, upon consultation with Haitian stakeholders. The draft text in blue also expands the scope of the proposed Secretary-General’s report on more robust UN engagement, requesting that it outline the full range of support options that the UN can provide to enhance the security situation in Haiti, including, but not limited to, support for combatting illicit trafficking and diversion of arms and related materiel, additional training for the HNP, support for a non-UN force, or a possible peacekeeping operation, in the context of supporting a political settlement in the country.
In addition, the draft resolution in blue requests the Secretary-General to include specific topics in his regular reporting on BINUH to the Security Council, such as progress of relevant work against illicit arm trafficking and financial flows into Haiti. It further requests the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to report through the Secretary-General to the Council every three months—concurrent with BINUH’s reporting cycle—on sources and routes of illicit arms and financial flows, relevant UN activities, and recommendations. The draft text in blue also requests BINUH to provide as an annex to the Secretary-General’s regular report information on cases of gang violence, criminal activities, and human rights abuses in Haiti.
The draft resolution in blue also contains stronger language on the current political situation in Haiti and BINUH’s mandate in this regard. It reiterates the need for all Haitian stakeholders, including with BINUH’s support, to continue to facilitate a Haitian-led, Haitian-owned political process to permit the organisation of free, fair, and credible legislative and presidential elections, with the full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation of women and the engagement of youth, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders through an inclusive inter-Haitian national dialogue. In this regard, the draft further requests all Haitian stakeholders to urgently reach an agreement on a “sustainable, time-bound, and commonly accepted roadmap for elections”.
*Post-script: On 14 July, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2692, renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for another year, until 15 July 2024.