UN Security Council Authorizes Foreign Intervention in Haiti

On October 2, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted resolution 2699 (2023), co-authored by Ecuador and the U.S., to authorize a foreign intervention force in Haiti. The resolution was adopted by a recorded vote of 13 in favour with two abstentions -- China and the Russian Federation. The Security Council, "acting under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, authorized the Mission on the understanding that the cost of implementing the operation will be borne by voluntary contributions and support from individual Member States and regional organizations, in strict compliance with international law," the UN News Agency reports.

It has become apparent that approval came without clarification of an oversight mission. It leaves the establishment of such a mechanism to the mission itself, which is a recipe for impunity if ever there was one. "The Council called on the Mission to establish an oversight mechanism to prevent human rights violations or abuses, and to ensure that the planning and conduct of operations during deployment will be in accordance with applicable international law," the UN report says.

The United States is overjoyed that it finally managed to give this intervention force a legal veneer. The mission is designed to protect the narrow private interests the U.S. serves which are considerable in Haiti. It also increases the militarization of the Caribbean which is a strategic interest of NATO as well in which Ecuador is playing a considerable role by permitting its coasts to be used for war exercises.

The U.S. representative on the UNSC, Jeffrey Delaurentis, said the council "made history in authorizing the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti." What he meant by calling the resolution "history-making," is yet to be revealed. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield also referred to it as "an historic resolution."

Vassily Nebenzia, the Russia Federation's Permanent Representative to the UN explained the abstention of the Russian Federation as follows: "We are fully aware of the scale and urgency of Haiti's outstanding security challenges. [...] we must realize that deploying a country's armed forces on another country's territory (even if upon a request), is an extreme measure that requires thorough elaboration. However when configuring the mission and preparing a corresponding UNSC draft resolution, we found ourselves in a situation where our justified requests for details on the concept of this operation, modalities of the use of force, and contingent withdrawal strategies were left unanswered. Besides, we received an impression that this non-UN mission was going to obtain UN-grade legitimacy via an undercooked and insufficiently considered decision of the Council.

"We all understand that authorization of a force operation under Chapter 7 is a serious step that requires full knowledge of related responsibility and possible consequences. Unfortunately, during the work on the document, we were not sure this was the case. [...] Russia cannot agree to invoking Chapter 7 almost blindly.

"The history of Haiti has sufficient experience of irresponsible foreign interference, which is exactly what kicked off a spiral of degradation which the people of Haiti have been unable to overcome for years. For us to authorize another use of force in Haiti without being fully cognizant of the parameters of the mission is an improvident thing to do. Besides, concept of the operation should be submitted to the Council for endorsement rather than to be studied as a fait accompli."

Given all of this, a legitimate question would seem to be why then Russia did not exercise its veto?

Brian Wallace, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations endorsed the resolution on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) saying the "urgency of this moment cannot be overstated." He cited insecurity and a desperate need for humanitarian aid, as the rationale for support saying, "This is the backdrop against which we are called to act to help restore security and contribute to a stable political, social and economic environment to foster Haiti's sustainable development."

Without taking a stand on why, after years and years of UN and foreign aid, a stable political, social and economic environment has eluded Haiti, his stand cannot be respected. To suggest as did Wallace that this foreign intervention is the first step to bring about "Haitian-led and Haitian-owned" solutions is unacceptable rhetoric given the plight into which the Haitian people have been plunged since the coup organized by the U.S., Canada and France in 2004. "CARICOM therefore welcomes and reiterates its support for a Multinational Security Support Mission authorized by a United Nations Security Council Chapter 7 resolution, to provide urgent security assistance to the Haitian National Police," Wallace concluded.

Regarding Canada's position, the Canadian Press (CP) reported that on October 3, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly informed the press that "Canada is determining how it can best help with an international military intervention in Haiti, leaving it unclear whether this will involve a military role for Canada." CP added:

"Joly says she's spoken with her counterpart from Kenya as well as Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, on how Canada can be of help.

"Joly notes that Ottawa has always been involved in issues pertaining to Haiti, and says she expects Canada will do more, but isn't specifying what kind of Canadian help has been offered."

"Canada has always been involved in issues related to Haiti. We will continue to be," Joly told reporters."We want to do more. So we'll thus continue these diplomatic conversations, and I would say that we'll also continue to support solutions that are by and for Haitians," she added.

CP says that in response to the U.S. request for Canada to lead the interventionist force into Haiti, "Canada's top military general told media in March that there weren't enough armed forces available to lead such a mission."

The Black Alliance for Peace issued a statement [see below] on October 3 denouncing the UN Security Council's approval to send a Kenya-led mission to Haiti. The statement was signed by more than 70 organizations internationally.

The Kenyan force to lead this mission is internationally known for extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances committed with impunity. The U.S. State Department itself wrote in February 2023 in its "Kenya 2022 Human Rights" report that "Between July 2021 and June 30, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) received 180 complaints regarding deaths resulting from police actions. [...] Police and prison officials reportedly used torture and violence during interrogations as well as to punish pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. According to human rights NGOs, physical battery, bondage in painful positions, and electric shock were the most common methods used by police."

The U.S. State Department reported that "Missing Voices website, founded by a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to track police killings and disappearances, documented 90 cases of police killings and three suspected enforced disappearances during the year. The Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) documented 37 cases of extrajudicial killings between January and June. ... In April, the Missing Voices Coalition released its annual report on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country. The report documented 30 police killings linked to the Pangani Police Station in Nairobi in 2021.... IMLU reported 109 cases of torture between January and September, as compared with 78 cases during the same period in 2021."

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) reiterates the demand of the people of Haiti against the deployment of this foreign intervention force. It is the foreign intervention in Haiti's affairs which props up the most corrupt and brutal regimes, using the most corrupt and brutal methods to achieve this.

Process to Draft Haiti Resolution

On September 22, the U.S. hosted a ministerial-level event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss the proposed multinational force. At the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged $100 million to support the deployment – pending Congressional approval – as well as logistical support in the form of intelligence, airlift, communications, and medical capabilities. Several other countries in attendance reportedly also announced pledges of support.

The website Security Council Report informs that UNSC negotiations on the draft resolution lasted one month. The co-drafters circulated an initial draft of the resolution to council members on September 1 and convened the first round of negotiations on September 5. The co-drafters then circulated a revised draft on September and convened another round of negotiations on September 7. A second revised draft was circulated on September 8, followed by a third round of negotiations on September 9. On September 14, the co-drafters circulated a third revised draft, after which negotiations were paused for the opening session of the UN General Assembly. Council members reconvened for a fourth round of negotiations on September 25. 

On September 26, the co-drafters circulated a fourth revised draft that they placed under silence procedure -- a period of deliberation of at least 72 hours whereby the resolution is posted on the UN's official document system and a deadline is given for a response. Silence is broken when a country raises an objection. In this case, the silence was broken by China. On September 27, the co-drafters circulated a fifth revised draft, placing it under another silence procedure, which China broke again. On September 29, the co-drafters circulated a sixth revised draft that they put in blue -- this refers to the final stage of negotiating a draft resolution when the text is printed in blue. China subsequently proposed additional edits to the draft, which was then further revised and finalized for a vote on October 2.

Security Council reports, "It seems that in the final draft resolution in blue, the council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, authorizes member states to form and deploy a Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission to support the efforts of the HNP to re-establish security in Haiti and to build security conditions conducive to holding free and fair elections. The draft resolution authorizes the mission for an initial period of 12 months, which is to be reviewed nine months after the adoption of the resolution, and requires participating countries to notify the Secretary-General of their intention. It specifies that the cost of implementing the operation will be borne by voluntary contributions and support from individual countries and regional organizations.

"The draft resolution apparently gives the MSS mission a two-fold mandate. One function is to provide operational support to the HNP to counter gangs, including by building its capacity through the planning and conduct of joint security support operations. The second is to support the HNP in the protection of critical infrastructure sites, such as airports, ports, schools, hospitals, and key intersections.

"The draft requests the MSS mission leadership, in coordination with Haiti and other participating countries, to provide the Council with a concept of operations prior to deployment, including information such as the sequencing of deployment, mission goals, rules of engagement, exit strategy, number of personnel, and financial needs.

"It seems that the draft resolution authorizes the mission to take all necessary measures to fulfil its mandate but emphasizes that all measures must adhere to international law, including international human rights law. It calls on the mission to establish an oversight mechanism to prevent human rights violations, in particular sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), and directs the mission to take necessary action to prevent and investigate such incidents, specifying a number of measures it must take in this regard, including vetting and training of personnel and the provision of safe and accessible complaint mechanisms. The draft resolution also stresses that any logistical support that the UN provides to the mission must abide by the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

"Additionally, it seems that the draft resolution in blue expands the arms embargo imposed by resolution 2653 of 21 October 2022, which established a sanctions regime on Haiti. While resolution 2653 called on countries to take necessary action to prevent the supply of arms to individuals and entities designated by the sanctions regime, the draft resolution in blue apparently expands the arms embargo to Haiti as a whole, with exceptions for the UN-authorized mission and Haitian security units working to promote peace and stability in the country. The 2653 Sanctions Committee may also grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis. (Currently, the sanctions regime only designates one individual, Jimmy Cherizier, also known as "Barbeque," who heads an alliance of Haitian gangs called the "G9 Family and Allies.")

"It seems that Council negotiations on the draft resolution were difficult. One major issue was the timing and type of authorization the Council was to provide. China's initial position was apparently that negotiations on the issue were premature, as the Council should not authorize the mission until it had received additional information from Haiti and Kenya on their bilateral agreement regulating the deployment, including details such as its rules of engagement, areas of deployment, resourcing, and exit strategy. China also argued that the Council should be cautious about invoking its authority under Chapter VII of the UN Charter -- which concerns enforcement measures -- and that the Council does not necessarily need to authorize a bilaterally agreed deployment. Instead, it may consider other options such as welcoming or endorsing it.

"To address China's concerns, it seems that Council members requested Kenya and Haiti to submit information to the Council outlining their bilateral agreement and the operational details of the deployment. Those details were reportedly not provided, however, as the countries had not yet advanced to that stage of the planning process. Kenya apparently maintained that the deployment's operational details should be agreed by all participating countries – not only bilaterally between Haiti and Kenya -- and that it could not complete its own domestic assessment and approval process required to finalize these details until the Council had authorized the deployment. For this reason, Kenya and some Council members held the view that a Chapter VII authorization was necessary and that a product retrospectively welcoming or endorsing the multinational force would not be sufficient.

"In an apparent compromise, the draft resolution in blue authorizes the MSS mission under Chapter VII but requires the mission to submit a concept of operations prior to deployment. It also requires participating countries to inform the Secretary-General of their intent. Additionally, the draft requests the mission to include information on its exit strategy in its regular reporting to the Council.

"It seems that another challenging issue concerned the illicit flow of weapons into Haiti. China apparently proposed additional language strengthening the arms embargo under the 2653 Haiti sanctions regime, as well as mandating the mission to support the HNP's efforts to combat illicit trafficking of arms and enhance border security. The expansion of the arms embargo proved contentious and was apparently not contained in the draft resolution that was initially put in blue. Following further engagement from China, however, the draft was further revised to reflect this proposal."

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 12 - October 2023

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