What's In Blue

Posted Fri 21 Jun 2024

Haiti: Private Meeting

This afternoon (21 June), the Security Council will convene for a private meeting on Haiti. Ecuador and the US, the penholders on the file, requested the meeting to receive an update on the deployment of the multinational security support (MSS) mission that the Council authorised Kenya to lead through resolution 2699 of 2 October 2023. Kenyan National Security Advisor Monica Juma is expected to brief the Council.

Resolution 2699 authorised the MSS mission to help Haiti combat gang activity and restore security. It was initially scheduled to deploy in February, but that timeline has been postponed for several reasons, including a judicial challenge in Kenya, a surge in gang violence in Haiti that precipitated a political transition, and a lack of funding. Most recently, Kenya aimed to deploy the first contingent of police officers to coincide with Kenyan President William Ruto’s 23 May state visit to the US, but that deployment date was pushed back reportedly because of equipment shortfalls at the base that the US is constructing for the mission in Port-au-Prince. On 9 June, according to Kenyan media, Ruto said that the mission would hopefully deploy within two weeks, but it has yet to do so at the time of writing.

The MSS mission is expected to comprise up to 2,500 police personnel, deployed in phases, at an annual cost of approximately $600 million. According to the latest available information from the UN, eight countries—the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Chad, Jamaica, and Kenya—have formally notified the Secretary-General of their intention to contribute personnel to the MSS mission, while additional countries have expressed interest in doing so but have not yet provided official notification to that effect. As at late April, the UN-administered trust fund for the mission had received $18 million in contributions from Canada, France, and the US.

The US is the mission’s main financial backer and has pledged a total of $300 million in financial, logistical, and material support. The disbursal of a large portion of those funds has been held up in the US Congress, however. On 12 April, the administration of US President Joe Biden released $60 million to support the mission and the Haitian National Police (HNP) under a legal provision known as the Presidential Drawdown Authority. On 19 June, media outlets reported that the administration would override the congressional hold and release a further $109 million.

At today’s meeting, Juma is expected to brief Council members on the status of the MSS mission. She may describe ongoing coordination between Kenyan and Haitian stakeholders—including most recently an 18 June meeting in Nairobi between Kenya’s inspector general of police and HNP officials—and provide an estimated timeline for deployment. She may also update Council members on the mission’s concept of operations, which was requested by resolution 2699 and is reportedly finalised, although it had not yet been submitted to the Council at the time of writing. Additionally, Juma may detail the mission’s efforts to ensure compliance with international human rights law, including by establishing an oversight mechanism to prevent human rights violations or abuses, as requested by resolution 2699.

Regarding Haiti’s political situation, the Transitional Presidential Council (TPC)—which was established by the 11 March agreement that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) facilitated among Haitian stakeholders following the surge in gang violence—was formally installed on 25 April. It comprises seven voting members representing political parties and the private sector, as well as two non-voting observers drawn from civil society and the religious community. The TPC was charged with selecting a new interim prime minister and, together with the prime minister, appointing a new cabinet; establishing a provisional electoral council and national security council; and cooperating with the international community to accelerate the deployment of the MSS mission. A political agreement signed by TPC members specified key tenets of the transition, emphasising security, constitutional reform, and elections as their main priorities and outlining a 22-month transitional period leading to the swearing-in of a new president in February 2026.

On 29 May, after protracted negotiations, the TPC announced the appointment of Garry Conille—a former physician and UN official who most recently served as UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean—as interim prime minister. On 12 June, Conille and the TPC presented a new government cabinet. It includes former head of the Port-au-Prince bar association Carlos Hercule as minister of justice, Haiti’s former ambassador to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Dominique Dupuy as minister of foreign affairs, and former World Bank and International Monetary Fund official Ketleen Florestal as minister of finance and planning. Like former Prime Minister Ariel Henry before him, Conille will oversee the ministry of interior affairs, which is responsible for organising elections and preparing for the MSS mission.

While gang violence appears to have receded from its peak earlier this year, the country’s security situation remains dire. According to the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), issued on 16 April and covering developments since 15 January, 1,660 persons were killed and 845 were injured by gang violence between 1 January and 31 March, representing a 53 percent increase compared to the previous reporting period and making the first three months of 2024 the most violent period since BINUH established its human rights monitoring mechanism in early 2022. A 12 June report by the National Human Rights Defense Network, a Haitian human rights organisation, found that at least 20 police officers had been killed between January and mid-June, including most recently three police officers belonging to the HNP’s tactical anti-gang unit, who died in a 9 June shoot-out with gang members in the Sans-Fil district of Port-au-Prince. On 14 June, Conille’s office announced the dismissal of HNP chief Frantz Elbé, whom Haiti’s police unions had reportedly criticised for an inadequate response to the gang violence. Elbé will be replaced by former police chief Normil Rameau, who held the post from 2019 to 2020.

The acute security situation continues to have severe humanitarian consequences. From March to June, the number of displaced persons increased by 60 percent, from 362,000 to more than 578,000, according to the International Office for Migration (IOM). In their latest outlook report covering the period from June to October 2024, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) designated Haiti a “famine hotspot of highest concern”, with an estimated 1.6 million people facing emergency-level acute food insecurity as a result of gang violence, displacement, restricted humanitarian access, and extreme weather conditions.

Additionally, the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict, covering developments in 2023, recorded 383 grave violations against 307 children in Haiti. (The six grave violations, as determined by the Security Council, are child recruitment and use; killing and maiming; rape and other forms of sexual violence; attacks on schools and hospitals; abductions; and the denial of humanitarian access.) The report calls for accelerating the deployment of the MSS mission to assist the HNP in re-establishing security in Haiti and to provide appropriate child protection training to HNP personnel.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails

Subscribe to receive SCR publications