The question concerning Haiti
Country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Says Situation Calm in Many Regions, But Police Force Needs Robust International Support Fighting Armed Groups
Support for national law enforcement and financing for humanitarian aid are urgently needed to address three converging crises in Haiti that have resulted in a desperate, deteriorating situation, senior United Nations officials told the Security Council today in the wake of large-scale unrest in the country following the Government’s recent decision to cease subsidizing fuel.
Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), told the Council that three crises have intersected in Haiti in recent weeks. A gang crisis has driven more than 20,000 people from their homes, an economic crisis has led to soaring food prices and a black market for fuel and — as these trials play out — political stakeholders struggle to find common ground and define a path towards elections. On 18 September, one of the largest alliances of criminal gangs in Port-au-Prince blocked the Varreux fuel terminal, and the continuing state of siege has cut the capital off from its primary source of fuel.
Yet, despite these challenges, national stakeholders have re-engaged, the new customs administration is beginning to operate, and the Haitian National Police have worked hard to restore some semblance of freedom of movement for the population, she said. However, neighbourhoods remain unpoliced and the situation at the Varreux fuel terminal “threatens to highlight the very real limits of the national force”. Urging more support to the basket fund for the Haitian National Police, she called on the Council to take urgent action to support Haitians in their efforts towards a better future.
Valerie Guarnieri, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), noting that the situation in Haiti has reached new levels of desperation, pointed out that protestors have looted $6 million of relief supplies that could have benefitted 410,000 people in need. While WFP will stay and deliver, it will not be able to help everyone due to lawlessness. Calling for additional support from Member States, she emphasized that operating in Haiti will come at a sharp increase in cost from a Humanitarian Response Plan that is only 22 per cent funded. “Haiti needs help now,” she emphasized.
Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), then pointed out that Haiti’s 1,500 kilometres of coastline and its long land border with the Dominican Republic makes it particularly vulnerable to illicit trafficking. Detailing UNODC’s work, including its efforts to address transborder challenges with regional actors, she stressed that investments in Haiti’s security sector must be complemented with similar efforts throughout the entire national criminal justice system. Further, a better understanding of trafficking flows in Haiti is needed, as this would facilitate the design of tailored criminal justice and border-management responses.
In the ensuing debate, Council members expressed concern over persistent insecurity in Haiti, condemning attacks on humanitarian assets and underlining the need to build capacity in the country’s security sector. Many also called for tangible measures to break the political deadlock and enable the holding of national elections. While members also welcomed efforts by BINUH and UNODC to address the situation, some stressed that the international community must learn from its past mistakes and support Haiti without interfering in its internal affairs.
On that point, China’s representative urged the parties to conduct political consultations and establish national institutions that represent the interests of the Haitian people. For its part, the Council must translate the readiness it expressed in resolution 2645 (2022) to impose targeted sanctions on those supporting gang violence into action. He expressed hope that the United States and Mexico will soon submit a draft resolution to this end, which should also expressly prohibit the transfer of certain weapons to non-State actors and support Government port-management and customs reform.
The representative of Mexico said that his delegation is working closely with that of the United States to provide a possible solution to the crisis. Collective, coordinated Council action is necessary to avoid Haiti’s collapse, he emphasized, encouraging members to support the future draft resolution. He also underscored the need for the international community to provide the Haitian National Police with equipment, technology and training.
To that end, the representative of the United States said that his country will support the Haitian National Police by procuring more equipment, including protective gear and new vehicles. Also, having provided $80 million in assistance, it is about to vet the first 100 candidates of the Special Weapons and Tactics training programme. Calling on the Council to act, he also highlighted the draft resolution his delegation is working with Mexico, adding it will be circulated soon.
Kenya’s delegate, also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, stressed that, while more resources are welcome, Haiti’s history shows that foreign intervention has been profoundly damaging. Therefore, any Council action must take past failures into account and be accompanied by transparency and respect, rooted in frameworks led and designed by Haitians. Calling Haiti the “sixth region of the African Union”, he pointed out that Africa has the experience and know-how — along with the political and cultural sensitivity — to be a trusted partner, inviting the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to collaborate with the African Union to help a country populated by Africa’s diaspora.
Jean Victor Geneus, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti, then told the Council that that decision to cease providing subsidies was a difficult but imperative one, as the State was losing a total of $400 million a year. Commending the Haitian National Police, who were able to limit damage in the face of better-equipped gangs, he said that the situation is under control and calm in many regions of the country. However, given the worsening insecurity, robust international support is needed to support the Haitian National Police in fighting armed groups. Welcoming announced contributions to this end, he also supported the decision by some countries to consider imposing sanctions on those fomenting insecurity in Haiti. “Our current priority is [a] return to constitutional order by re-establishing security and political dialogue,” he stressed.
Roberto Álvarez Gil, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, offering the perspective of Haiti’s neighbour, underscored that a lasting, sustainable response to the ongoing crisis must come from the Haitian people. However, international cooperation is vital to ensure stability and peace in the country and the wider region, he said, also highlighting his country’s “usual spirit” of cooperation and friendship with the Haitian State and people.
Also speaking were representatives of India, Albania, Ireland, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Brazil, Russian Federation, France and Canada.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:57 p.m.