Haiti: Briefing and Consultations
On Monday morning (23 October), the Security Council will hold an open briefing, followed by closed consultations, on Haiti. Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) María Isabel Salvador is expected to brief on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest report on BINUH, which was circulated to Council members on 14 October and covers developments since 3 July. UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Ghada Fathi Waly are also expected to brief.
Salvador is likely to update the Council on recent political activity aimed at finding a Haitian-led solution to the country’s multidimensional crisis. The Secretary-General’s report describes ongoing efforts to strengthen and further implement the National Consensus Agreement for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections, which Prime Minister Ariel Henry signed along with representatives of several political parties, civil society organisations, and the private sector on 21 December 2022. During the reporting period, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continued to facilitate talks between signatories and non-signatories to the accord—also known as the 21 December Agreement—with the aim of reaching a deal with remaining opposition groups to enable the holding of elections. Discussions have focused on a variety of measures to this end, including enlarging the High Transitional Council established by the 21 December Agreement, forming a government of national unity, establishing a new provisional electoral council, and enacting constitutional reform.
It appears that these talks have achieved limited progress, however. The Secretary-General’s report notes that on 20 August members of the Montana Group—a coalition of civil society actors that have not signed the 21 December Agreement—called on Henry and his cabinet to resign due to their “failure to deliver on basic needs for the population”, maintaining that Henry’s “immediate departure” was a prerequisite for the political dialogue to achieve concrete results. From 4 to 11 September, CARICOM’s Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Haiti—comprising three former prime ministers from the region: Perry Christie of the Bahamas, Bruce Golding of Jamaica, and Kenny Anthony of Saint Lucia—undertook another visit to the country, after which they issued a statement expressing disappointment with the tone of the discussions and the “hardening” of parties’ positions reflected in the call for Henry’s resignation.
At Monday’s briefing, Salvador is also expected to update the Council on the country’s security situation, which continues to deteriorate. According to the final report of the Panel of Experts supporting the 2653 Haiti Sanctions Committee, submitted to the committee on 18 August, gangs control over 80 percent of Port-au-Prince, the capital, while the remaining 20 percent is “not spared from their incursions”. Gang rivalries, turf wars, and intimidation tactics continue to fuel extreme levels of violence, which the Secretary-General’s report says is “surging at unprecedented rates”. Between 1 July and 30 September, the Haitian National Police (HNP) reported 1,239 homicides and 701 victims of abductions, more than double the numbers reported during the same period last year. According to the Secretary-General’s report, the vigilante movement known as “Bwa Kalé” has intensified, resulting in the lynching of 388 alleged gang members between 24 April and 30 September.
Monday’s briefing will be the first to take place following a period of active Council engagement on Haiti. Since the previous briefing on 6 July, the Council has adopted three resolutions concerning the country: resolution 2692 of 14 July, renewing BINUH’s mandate; resolution 2699 of 2 October, authorising the deployment of a non-UN Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission led by Kenya; and resolution 2700 of 19 October, renewing the Haiti sanctions regime. (For more information, see our What’s in Blue stories of 13 July, 2 October, and 18 October.) In his report, the Secretary-General welcomes the adoption of resolution 2692 and calls on countries to “act urgently and generously to ensure that the MSS mission receives the support that it needs in terms of personnel, equipment, logistics and funding, and is ready to deploy in the shortest timeframe feasible”. Additionally, the report reiterates the recommendation contained in the Secretary-General’s letter to the Security Council, dated 15 August, to strengthen the capacities of BINUH to “support the functioning of Haiti’s rule of law and security institutions in the wake of the deployment of the MSS mission”. At Monday’s briefing, Salvador may reiterate these calls.
Russell will address the Council both in her capacity as UNICEF Executive Director and the designated Principal Advocate on Haiti for the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the UN’s high-level humanitarian coordination platform. In her briefing, Russell is expected to update the Council on the country’s humanitarian situation. The Secretary-General’s report cites the August update of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) survey—conducted by a group of humanitarian organisations and inter-governmental institutions—which found that 4.3 million people (44 percent of the population) were experiencing “emergency” levels of acute food insecurity (IPC levels 3 and 4). According to the Secretary-General’s report, this represents a decrease of 550,000 people experiencing acute food insecurity compared to the previous IPC classification, due to “sustained humanitarian support, better access to fuel and a slight improvement in access to the South of the country”. The report cautions that this decrease remains a “fragile victory”, however, and could be reversed by disruptions to humanitarian support. At the time of writing, the UN’s 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Haiti, requiring $720 million, was only 28 percent funded, forcing the World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce the number of its targeted beneficiaries by 25 percent in June compared to the previous month.
Russell may also describe the protection challenges posed by the country’s security situation. The Secretary-General’s report says that human rights abuses in Haiti have reached “alarming levels”, including against children, who are particularly vulnerable to forced recruitment into gangs and sexual and gender-based violence. Russell may provide recommendations to the MSS mission on required protection capacities in this regard.
Waly will be briefing the Council on Haiti for the first time since resolution 2692 requested UNODC to report through the Secretary-General—concurrently with BINUH’s reporting cycle—on sources and routes of illicit arms and financial flows in Haiti, as well as relevant UN activities and recommendations. The Secretary-General’s report notes that UNODC began assisting Haitian authorities in combating illicit financial flows; strengthening judicial capacities against corruption and economic crimes; and improving information-sharing with international investigators. The report also notes that UNODC has consulted with Polifront, the Haitian border police, to assess needs and priorities to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling and strengthen capacities in intelligence-led operations to dislodge criminal gangs in control of key locations in Port-au-Prince.
At Monday’s briefing, Council members might welcome recent Council action on Haiti, while underscoring the importance of domestic progress on the political track to enable the holding of elections and to address the root causes of Haiti’s instability. Regarding the MSS mission, members may note the country’s rapidly deteriorating security situation and call for swift action from Kenya and partner countries to operationalise and deploy the force. Some may also highlight the importance of effectively implementing the provisions of resolution 2699 on human rights monitoring and oversight, including measures to prevent and counter sexual exploitation and abuse. In addition, members might reiterate the Council’s call contained in resolution 2700 for the Haiti sanctions committee to swiftly update the list of designated individuals and entities, taking into account information submitted by the Panel of Experts, which in its final report documented specific links between gangs and several prominent Haitian politicians and businessmen.