The United Nations Security Council is poised to take a critical step in addressing the escalating crisis in Haiti.
On Monday, a vote is scheduled on a resolution that could authorize a one-year deployment of an international force to help Haiti combat the surge in gang violence and restore security, ultimately paving the way for long-delayed elections in the troubled Caribbean nation.
Obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday, the US-drafted resolution extends a warm welcome to Kenya, which has offered to lead the multinational security force.
The proposed force would operate independently of the UN and rely on voluntary contributions for funding. The authorization for the deployment would span one year, with a mandatory review after nine months.
Boosting Haiti’s Police Force
The primary objective of this international force would be to provide operational support to Haiti’s National Police, an underfunded and under-resourced institution with only approximately 10,000 active officers serving a population of over 11 million.
According to reports, the resolution outlines the force’s role in enhancing the capacity of the local police through collaborative security support operations aimed at countering gangs and improving overall security conditions in Haiti.
Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Alfred Mutua, says country is ready to lead multinational force to help quell gang violence in Haiti pic.twitter.com/69hc6t01Zy
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) September 30, 2023
In addition to this support, the international force would be tasked with securing vital infrastructure sites and transit points, including the airport, ports, and key intersections.
The control exerted by powerful gangs over major roads leading from the capital to the northern and southern regions has disrupted the transportation of essential goods, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
Emergency Measures for Public Safety
Should the resolution pass, the international force would be authorized to adopt “urgent temporary measures on an exceptional basis” to prevent the loss of life and assist local police in maintaining public safety.
This provision underscores the gravity of the security situation in Haiti and the need for swift and decisive action.
The mission leaders would be required to provide detailed reports to the Security Council regarding the mission’s goals, rules of engagement, financial requirements, and other pertinent matters before a full deployment can proceed.
Haitian Government’s Response
While the United Nations and international community are taking steps to address the crisis, the response from Haiti’s government remains uncertain, as reported by AP News.
A spokesperson for Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry stated that they were not aware of the resolution or the impending vote and did not have an immediate comment on the matter.
Condemning Violence and Human Rights Abuses
The resolution condemns the escalating violence, criminal activities, and human rights abuses plaguing Haiti, which undermine both its peace and stability and the security of the entire region.
“…The increasing violence, criminal activities, and human rights abuses and violations which undermine the peace, stability, and security of Haiti and the region, including kidnappings, sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants, homicides, extrajudicial killings, as well as arms smuggling,” the resolution condemns.
It highlights a range of issues, including kidnappings, sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, homicides, extrajudicial killings, and arms smuggling.
Addressing Concerns About the International Force
This proposed Kenyan-led mission has not been without its critics, who have raised concerns about Kenya’s police force’s past allegations of using torture, deadly force, and other abuses.
The resolution explicitly emphasizes the importance of preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as the vetting of all personnel participating in the mission.
It further demands swift investigations into any allegations of misconduct.
Moreover, the resolution calls for environmental controls, including wastewater management, to prevent the introduction and spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera by those involved in the mission.
Commitments and Support
The exact size of the international force, should it be approved, remains unclear.
However, Kenya has previously proposed sending 1,000 police officers, and additional pledges of support have come from Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda.
The United States, under President Joe Biden’s administration, has pledged logistical support and $100 million to bolster the Kenyan-led force. Additionally, the resolution mentions the Security Council’s intention to impose additional sanctions on those contributing to Haiti’s violence.
Notably, the UN has already imposed sanctions on Jimmy Chérizier, known as “Barbecue,” who leads Haiti’s largest gang alliance. Chérizier, a former police officer, has recently stated his intent to confront any armed force suspected of abuses.
A Year-Long Delayed Response
This proposed resolution comes nearly a year after Haiti’s Prime Minister and other top government officials urgently requested the immediate deployment of a foreign armed force.
The government’s plea arises from its ongoing struggle against violent gangs that have reportedly gained control over up to 80 percent of the capital city, Port-au-Prince.
Statistics from the United Nations indicate the gravity of the situation, with over 2,400 people killed, more than 950 kidnapped, and 902 injured in Haiti from January 1 to August 15.
Additionally, the violence has displaced more than 200,000 individuals, many of whom are now residing in makeshift shelters after gangs ravaged their communities.
In summary, the UN Security Council’s upcoming vote on the resolution to authorize an international force to restore security and combat gang violence in Haiti represents a significant step toward addressing the nation’s ongoing crisis.
The resolution, if passed, would mark a pivotal moment in Haiti’s recent history, offering hope for stability and the possibility of long-overdue elections. However, it also brings to light concerns about the composition and conduct of the international force, emphasizing the need for stringent accountability measures and a commitment to preventing human rights abuses.