Haiti is facing the worst human rights and humanitarian emergency in decades, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today, stressing the urgent need for international support and solidarity to address its multifaceted crises.
Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, said efforts to engage in dialogue have failed to create consensus on a way forward. Gang violence has paralysed the country, obstructed the freedom of movement of people, goods and humanitarian aid, fuelled the resurgence of cholera, increased food insecurity to unimaginable levels, displaced 155,000 people and disrupted the education of thousands of children.
Harrowing accounts in the report issued by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are a call for action and accountability, she stressed. As such, the Organization will continue to provide a voice for women and girls living in communities controlled by gangs, work to reduce their vulnerability to violence and call for justice and accountability for perpetrators of these heinous crimes. “It is time to step up and turn the crisis into an opportunity for Haiti to bounce back stronger,” she stressed.
Updating the 15-member organ on the latest political, security and human rights developments, Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of BINUH, said that bilateral sanctions pursuant to Council resolution 2653 (2022) appeared to generate a renewed sense of urgency to restore democratically elected institutions. As a critical tool in combating corruption and impunity, sanctions will be most effective as part of a comprehensive approach, which includes ongoing political dialogue and enhanced operational security support to the Haitian National Police, she underscored, emphasizing that “Haitians deserve no less”.
Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2653 (2022) concerning Haiti, delivered an overview of the Committee’s activities, including the nomination of four candidates for the Panel of Experts established by that resolution. Nominations by the Secretary-General are expected at the end of the month, after which the Panel will conduct consultations with relevant stakeholders and submit a report by 15 March 2023.
Sharing his experiences from reporting on Haiti for the past 48 years, Kim Ives, Editor, Haiti Liberté, said the situation stems from a history of international law being violated and principles of peace and self-determination trampled. Some 16 million Haitian people, both in the country and abroad, are almost universally opposed to more United Nations interventions, except for Haiti’s tiny bourgeoisie. The Council has been given half-truths and has lumped together the “good guys” with the “bad guys” in one basket called “gangs”, he continued. The situation in Haiti cannot be resolved through foreign intervention, military force or even sanctions, he said.
In the ensuing debate, Member States highlighted the need to address the multifaceted nature of Haiti’s political, economic, humanitarian and security crisis, offering suggestions or articulating differing views on the sanctions regime.
The circumstances that pushed the Government to require the assistance of a specialized international force have not changed, Haiti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stressed. It is urgent that friends of Haiti provide robust assistance to help the national police put an end to gangs. The Council’s unanimous decision to sanction certain major actors who have been fuelling political instability should help enable inter-Haitian dialogue, facilitate a national compromise leading to elections in 2023 and prevent injection of dirty money into the electoral process, he said.
Sanctioning gang leaders and their sponsors, however, is not enough for security and stability, as the Council must also address the immediate challenge of the Haitian National Police, the representative for Ghana noted. The international community must support and empower Haitian efforts to improve the security situation, his colleague from the United Kingdom added.
While there are no ready-made recipes to resolve the crisis, there must be a more thorough approach to sanctions, as the unilateral measures of the United States and Canada do not represent the will of the international community, the Russian Federation’s delegate emphasized.
The root cause of Haiti’s crisis is a governance deficit, the outcome of an outrageous history of economic punishment for that country’s revolution against slavery and colonialism, Kenya’s representative pointed out. “We have listened keenly to Haitians and the Haiti they want”, he said as he highlighted the need for the Council to consider including key African and Caribbean contributions.
Solidarity in such a situation is a moral obligation, the speaker for Gabon underscored, adding that: “When fire burns down your neighbour’s home, there’s no use closing your doors or windows. The haunting stench of the smoke from the ruins of the neighbour’s house remains.” Countries must cooperate in implementing Council resolution 2653 (2022), as “every day without acting is a day of distress and murder there”, he stressed.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic also spoke.
Also speaking were representatives of Mexico, United States, Ireland, Brazil, China, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Albania, France, India, and Canada (on behalf of the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti and in his national capacity).
The meeting began at 3:55 p.m. and ended at 6:33 p.m.