US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told the UN Security Council that “Haiti must address its persistent insecurity challenges”, and he encouraged the international community to support its efforts.
Canada’s UN Ambassador Robert Rae said the world must learn from all previous military interventions in Haiti, which failed to bring long-term stability to the country, and ensure that Going forward, solutions “must be led by Haitians and by Haitian institutions.”
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the country’s Council of Ministers sent an urgent appeal on October 7 calling for the “immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity” to end the crisis caused in part by the “actions criminal armed gangs”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the call, but more than three months later no country has come forward.
Helen La Lime, the UN’s special envoy for Haiti, reiterated the secretary-general’s call, telling the council that “gang-related violence has reached levels not seen in years.”
Murders and kidnappings rose for a fourth consecutive year in 2022, she said, pointing to 1,359 kidnappings, more than double the number in 2021 and an average of around four a day, and murders on the rise by a third to 2,183, affecting all segments of society, including a former presidential candidate and director of the National Police Academy.
Politically, La Lime said, the expiry of the terms of the last 10 senators in office on January 9 means “there is not a single elected member left in the country”.
While this poses a “profound challenge,” she said, it is also an opportunity for Haitians to examine the root causes of dysfunction in the country and address them.
The UN envoy highlighted two key developments – the unanimous adoption by the Security Council in October of a resolution imposing sanctions on individuals and groups threatening peace and stability in the country, starting with a powerful gang leader, and the signing on December 21 by a wide range of political, civil, religious, labor and private sector leaders of a “National Consensus Agreement for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections”.
The agreement sets out a timetable for installing an elected government by February 2024, including immediate steps to promote tax reforms and increase state revenue, La Lime said. A Transitional High Council has been appointed which will work with the government to make appointments to the nation’s highest court, she said.
Lime said the agreement, whose adherents are growing every day, is “the most promising sign to emerge from the dialogue efforts so far”. Together with UN sanctions, it “offers a clear path to restoring democracy and legitimacy”, she said.
But La Lime said the deployment of a specialized international force is a third critical element needed to strengthen policing, sanctions and the transition.
Without an international force, she said, “the very positive effects of the political process and the sanctions so far will remain fragile and subject to reversal.”
Haiti’s UN ambassador Antonio Rodrigue cited ongoing efforts to implement the deal, but called the current situation an “emergency” and warned that restoring security was a challenge. prerequisite for the country to move forward.
“Without security, we cannot have fair, transparent and democratic elections or restore the normal functioning of the country’s institutions,” he warned.
Rodrigue urged the international community to respond to Secretary General António Guterres’ renewed call for the immediate deployment of an international force “to help us suppress the gangs and allow us to finalize the process of restoring democratic order in our country”.
“It’s imperative right now,” Rodrigue said. “We cannot wait and the security situation could worsen any day, and worsen the plight of people who are already suffering terribly.”
Regarding the suffering, UN envoy La Lime told the council that the gangs had intentionally blocked access to food, water and health services – during the current outbreak. of cholera – and nearly 5 million Haitians across the country face acute hunger.