Delegates Urge Greater Role for United Nations Office, Foreign Minister Says National Police Need International Support in Coming Days, Not Months
Haitian national authorities require urgent international support to address a rapidly deteriorating security situation and deadlocked talks about future governance, the United Nations top official for that country told the Security Council today, as members underscored that the United Nations presence in Haiti must work to address unprecedented gang violence and strengthen fragile State institutions to restore the rule of law.
Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), briefing the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Office (document S/2022/481), said that gangs are tightening their control over swaths of the capital, Port-au-Prince, metropolitan area. The horrific violence that unfurled over the Port-au-Prince suburbs of Cité Soleil, Croix-des-Bouqets and Tabarre in late April and early May “is but an example of the state of terror in which Haiti’s political and economic heart is plunged,” she said. The pervasive, deepening sense of insecurity — exacerbated by the seeming inability of the Haitian National Police to address the situation — “is dangerously fraying the rule of law in the country,” she added.
She went on to emphasize that the stalled investigation into the assassination of late President Jovenel Moïse epitomizes the deeply entrenched issues affecting Haiti’s justice system. Further, she pointed out that the formation of a new Provisional Electoral Council is “frustratingly still a distant prospect” and elections that would usher in a return to democratic governance are highly unlikely to occur this year. Also detailing Haiti’s economic and humanitarian challenges, she underscored that the country must remain at the forefront of the international community’s agenda so that national authorities receive the assistance they need to address these interconnected challenges.
Arnoux Descardes, Executive Director of Volontariat pour le Développement d’Haïti, echoed the Special Representative’s assessment of such challenges and stressed the urgency of taking action against those involved in smuggling, the illegal arms trade and financial crimes. The Haitian National Police must deploy effective operations to dismantle gangs, and the Government should appoint a Provisional Electoral Council while guaranteeing financial support for political parties to prevent dirty money from influencing electoral campaigns. He also stressed the need to revise Haiti’s Constitution, including its provisions governing terms of office, the balance of power and the participation of Haitians living abroad in the country’s political, economic and social spheres.
In the ensuing discussion, Council members expressed concern over the rampant gang violence and political deadlock in Haiti. Many highlighted the importance of a Haitian-led solution to the country’s many challenges, calling for political stakeholders to reach consensus and hold elections as soon as possible and on the international community to support the Government in strengthening the capacity of the Haitian National Police. While some emphasized that BINUH cannot replace national efforts to address these issues, many members noted the importance of the Office’s work, which can help strengthen Haiti’s fragile institutions.
On that point, the representative of Mexico stressed that Haiti must have a robust United Nations presence in the form of a special political mission with a solid, stable mandate. BINUH is essential for encouraging political dialogue and revitalizing the national judicial system, he said, adding that tackling the flow of arms into the country is “an inescapable first step to address this crisis”.
Brazil’s representative, however, noted that the Organization’s efforts in Haiti — especially those of BINUH — are currently insufficient to prompt progress on the ground. The Office’s structure should be reinforced to provide specialized support to the Haitian National Police, include a specific mandate to control illicit financial flows and strengthen its efforts to prevent, monitor and investigate human-rights abuses.
Echoing those concerns, the speaker for the Dominican Republic, which shares the Hispaniola island with Haiti, recalled that less than three years ago his delegation warned of the negative consequences of scaling back the United Nations mission, “and today we are reaping the results of that disastrous decision”. There must be no delay in aid to Haiti, he said, citing studies by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) that 5.3 million of Haiti’s 11 million inhabitants suffer from chronic hunger, a figure that has doubled in the last four years — mainly due to economic decline, political instability, poor resilience to natural disasters and gangs controlling critical infrastructure. “For our country, this situation is a national security issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, the representative of Gabon, also speaking for Ghana and Kenya, stressed that the legacy of underdevelopment and insecurity cannot be disassociated from historic injustices inflicted on Haiti for rising up against slavery. He urged the Council to take more urgent steps and called for stakeholders to set aside differences and create favourable conditions for safe, transparent and credible elections.
On that point, Ireland’s representative pointed out that civic space in the country is shrinking as a direct consequence of gang violence, calling for inclusive dialogue, capacity-building for the Haitian National Police, judicial reform and holistic responses for victims. The humanitarian response plan for the country remains less than 30 per cent funded, he added, calling on the Council to ensure adequate resources for those “who carry an unimaginable burden in our name”.
Jean Victor Geneus, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Haiti, stressed that, while the Government is doing everything possible to normalize the deteriorating security environment, the national police must receive — in the coming days, not weeks or months — robust international support to end this “unacceptable” situation. He also urged increasing BINUH’s capacity to address the unprecedented level of crime and violence in the country, pointing out the impossibility of holding free democratic elections in the current environment. He went on to stress that a lasting solution can be made possible through long-term economic development, drawing links between crime and extreme poverty.
Also speaking were representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, China, India, Norway, France, Russian Federation and Albania.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:59 p.m.