PORT-AU-PRINCE—In renewing the mandate for its office in Haiti Friday, the United Nations Security Council includes a provision to consider deploying a multinational force as an option to fight insecurity in Haiti.
The provision, added for the first time since BINUH was established, is among several to be reviewed in the next 30 days. It comes nine months after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested an armed force to combat gang-fueled violence, two weeks after the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Haiti and made an urgent appeal for more support, and nine days after U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said a multinational force is necessary to improve Haiti’s condition.
“I am in Port-au-Prince to express my solidarity with the Haitian people and to appeal to the international community to continue to support Haiti, including with an international force that can support the national police,” Guterres said on July 1.
“Now is not the time to forget Haiti,” says Guterres, adding that he was not in Haiti to tell Haitians what to do, but to encourage them.
The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2692 (2023) on Friday, which permits the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) to continue operations until July 15, 2024. In the renewal resolution, the Security Council also agreed to strengthen BINUH, at the request of Haiti, to help ameliorate the deteriorating security, humanitarian, political and economic crises they say requires a multinational force to address.
Before adopting the resolution at Friday’s meeting, the Council had considered several possibilities to provide security in Haiti: Fighting against the illicit trades and diverting arms and related materials; additional training of the Haitian National Police (PNH); supporting a non-UN multinational force; and establishing a peacekeeping operation, as part of a political settlement in Haiti.
“The Secretary-General will submit a written report, in consultation with Haiti, within thirty days, outlining the full range of opportunities for support that the United Nations could provide to improve the security situation,” the Security Council members said, according to UN Press.
The United States and Ecuador led the draft resolution, the press section of the UN said.
Movement on a longstanding request
Henry first asked the international community in a resolution dated October 7, 2022, to send a multinational force to Haiti against gang violence. Since then, at least 10 major meetings have been held among various multinational groups and diplomats, including the UN, the Organization of American States (OAS) and Caricom. Canada and the U.S. have also organized talks, formally and behind closed doors, to discuss the Haitian Prime Minister’s request.
However, no country agreed to lead such a force. Several, including Canada, the U.S. and Switzerland began imposing stiff sanctions on prominent Haitians suspected of backing violence between the gangs.
Blinken, speaking July 5, said that the U.S. strongly supports the Haitian people and PNH in its efforts.
Still, Blinken said, “The bottom line is that it’s imperative, I think, for the international community to come together in support of Haiti.”
Meanwhile, the situation in Haiti has continued to decline. The kidnappings are back. Between May and July 2023, 40 cases of kidnappings were recorded, a human rights organization reported Thursday. At least 75 people were killed in gang violence.
The acts of violence have resurfaced despite the Bwa Kale vigilance movement of the population which lynched 204 suspected gang members between April 24 and June 24, 2023, according to the Center for Human Rights Research Analysis (CARDH).
With the new UN provision, BINUH alone will not be enough to help Haiti face the country’s security challenges, a representative of Haiti said at Friday’s meeting.
“We will have to find innovative ideas and form synergies likely to respond to the situation, to achieve the dispatch of long-awaited robust international assistance to support the PNH in its fight against heavily armed gangs,” said the representative of Haiti.