Security Council Highlights Sanctions in Tackling Haitian Gangs, but Underscores Need for Dialogue, Effective Police, in Resolving Country’s Crises
Haiti is facing the worst human rights and humanitarian emergency in decades, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today, stressing the urgent need for international support and solidarity to address its multifaceted crises.
Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, said efforts to engage in dialogue have failed to create consensus on a way forward. Gang violence has paralysed the country, obstructed the freedom of movement of people, goods and humanitarian aid, fuelled the resurgence of cholera, increased food insecurity to unimaginable levels, displaced 155,000 people and disrupted the education of thousands of children.
Harrowing accounts in the report issued by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are a call for action and accountability, she stressed. As such, the Organization will continue to provide a voice for women and girls living in communities controlled by gangs, work to reduce their vulnerability to violence and call for justice and accountability for perpetrators of these heinous crimes. “It is time to step up and turn the crisis into an opportunity for Haiti to bounce back stronger,” she stressed.
Updating the 15-member organ on the latest political, security and human rights developments, Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of BINUH, said that bilateral sanctions pursuant to Council resolution 2653 (2022) appeared to generate a renewed sense of urgency to restore democratically elected institutions. As a critical tool in combating corruption and impunity, sanctions will be most effective as part of a comprehensive approach, which includes ongoing political dialogue and enhanced operational security support to the Haitian National Police, she underscored, emphasizing that “Haitians deserve no less”.
Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2653 (2022) concerning Haiti, delivered an overview of the Committee’s activities, including the nomination of four candidates for the Panel of Experts established by that resolution. Nominations by the Secretary-General are expected at the end of the month, after which the Panel will conduct consultations with relevant stakeholders and submit a report by 15 March 2023.
Sharing his experiences from reporting on Haiti for the past 48 years, Kim Ives, Editor, Haiti Liberté, said the situation stems from a history of international law being violated and principles of peace and self-determination trampled. Some 16 million Haitian people, both in the country and abroad, are almost universally opposed to more United Nations interventions, except for Haiti’s tiny bourgeoisie. The Council has been given half-truths and has lumped together the “good guys” with the “bad guys” in one basket called “gangs”, he continued. The situation in Haiti cannot be resolved through foreign intervention, military force or even sanctions, he said.
In the ensuing debate, Member States highlighted the need to address the multifaceted nature of Haiti’s political, economic, humanitarian and security crisis, offering suggestions or articulating differing views on the sanctions regime.
The circumstances that pushed the Government to require the assistance of a specialized international force have not changed, Haiti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stressed. It is urgent that friends of Haiti provide robust assistance to help the national police put an end to gangs. The Council’s unanimous decision to sanction certain major actors who have been fuelling political instability should help enable inter-Haitian dialogue, facilitate a national compromise leading to elections in 2023 and prevent injection of dirty money into the electoral process, he said.
Sanctioning gang leaders and their sponsors, however, is not enough for security and stability, as the Council must also address the immediate challenge of the Haitian National Police, the representative for Ghana noted. The international community must support and empower Haitian efforts to improve the security situation, his colleague from the United Kingdom added.
While there are no ready-made recipes to resolve the crisis, there must be a more thorough approach to sanctions, as the unilateral measures of the United States and Canada do not represent the will of the international community, the Russian Federation’s delegate emphasized.
The root cause of Haiti’s crisis is a governance deficit, the outcome of an outrageous history of economic punishment for that country’s revolution against slavery and colonialism, Kenya’s representative pointed out. “We have listened keenly to Haitians and the Haiti they want”, he said as he highlighted the need for the Council to consider including key African and Caribbean contributions.
Solidarity in such a situation is a moral obligation, the speaker for Gabon underscored, adding that: “When fire burns down your neighbour’s home, there’s no use closing your doors or windows. The haunting stench of the smoke from the ruins of the neighbour’s house remains.” Countries must cooperate in implementing Council resolution 2653 (2022), as “every day without acting is a day of distress and murder there”, he stressed.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic also spoke.
Also speaking were representatives of Mexico, United States, Ireland, Brazil, China, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Albania, France, India, and Canada (on behalf of the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti and in his national capacity).
The meeting began at 3:55 p.m. and ended at 6:33 p.m.
AMINA MOHAMMED, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, said that during her last visit to Haiti in February, she saw strong efforts to rebuild after the tragic earthquake that struck the southern peninsula in 2021. Efforts to eliminate cholera were yielding results and there were high hopes that political negotiations would set a new course for stability and sustainable development. But at the end of 2022, she pointed out, Haiti is in a deepening crisis of unprecedented scale and complexity that is cause for serious alarm.
Efforts to engage in dialogue have failed to create consensus on a way forward, she said. Insecurity has reached unprecedented levels and human rights abuses are widespread. Armed gangs have expanded their violent criminal activities, using killings and gang rapes to terrorize and subjugate communities. This gang violence has paralysed the country, obstructed the freedom of movement of people, goods and humanitarian aid, fuelled the resurgence of cholera, increased food insecurity to unimaginable levels, displaced 155,000 people and disrupted the education of thousands of children. The United Nations, she emphasized, stands in solidarity with the people of Haiti during these extremely difficult times.
She then pointed out that Port‑au‑Prince and the regions beyond are suffering the worst human rights and humanitarian emergency in decades, hindering any opportunities for sustainable development. Vulnerable communities are suffering most, she underscored, before condemning in the strongest terms the reports of widespread sexual violence by armed gangs. The harrowing accounts in the report issued by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are a call for action and accountability, she stressed. The United Nations will continue to provide a voice for women and girls living in communities controlled by gangs, work to reduce their vulnerability to violence of all kinds and call for justice and accountability for perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
There is also an urgent need for international support and solidarity, she further noted. While Member States have recently taken important steps through targeted sanctions in support of Haiti’s stability, more is needed. “Now is certainly not the time for the world to turn away from Haiti,” she stressed, adding that “it is time to step up and turn the crisis into an opportunity for Haiti to bounce back stronger”. Every country with the capacity to do so must urgently consider the Haitian Government’s request for an international specialized armed force to help restore security and alleviate the humanitarian crisis. This is essential if Haiti is to return to institutional stability and the road towards peace and sustainable development, she said, while reiterating the Secretary-General’s call for international support to the Haitian National Police.
Haiti’s people have a right to go about their daily lives without the threat of kidnapping, rape or murder, as well as a right to access basic and life-saving services, and to exercise their political and civil rights, she said. The crisis in Haiti is a test of the common humanity that should be at the heart of international cooperation, a test of solidarity with people in deep suffering. In addition to an urgent response to the immediate emergency, Haiti will need international support to address the structural causes of the crisis and break cycles that have long constrained its development. Essential in its own right, inclusive, sustainable development is humanity’s ultimate crisis-prevention tool, she said.
Reaffirming the solidarity and commitment of the entire Organization with Haiti and its people, she called for unity and solidarity in support of a solution led by Haitians and for all Haitians.
HELEN LA LIME, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of BINUH, updated the Council on the latest political, security and human rights developments in that country. With the end of the siege of its main fuel terminal in early November through the concerted effort of the Haitian National Police, fuel began to flow in several neighbourhoods in the Port-au-Prince area, which allowed hospitals and businesses to open, creating the semblance of a possible return to normalcy. This hope, however, was quickly dispelled by the new level of gang activity, she noted.
November witnessed 280 intentional homicides, the highest on record, she said. Reported kidnappings in 2022 have so far exceeded 1,200 cases — double the number recorded in 2021 — making every commute for the average Haitian an ordeal. The increase in recorded rapes reflects the horrendous modus operandi of gangs using sexual violence to intimidate and subjugate whole communities. Further compounding the plight of millions living amidst this violence is the catastrophic economic situation, whereby all main roads in and out of the capital are under gang control, stymieing trade. Close to half the population is food insecure, with 20,000 people facing famine-like conditions. Some 34 per cent of schools remain closed and there have been large levels of displacement. While State authorities do their best to manage the cholera outbreak, suspected cases have reached 15,000 throughout the country.
On political developments and public responses, she said Council resolution 2653 (2022) was widely welcomed by Haitians, as subsequent bilateral sanctions appeared to generate a renewed sense of urgency on ways to restore democratically elected institutions. Some in civil society called for sanctioned individuals to step back and make space for necessary reforms to restore functioning, transparent institutions. As the debate grew, BINUH continued its efforts to advance political dialogue, she reported, spotlighting inclusive consultations of civil society groups in October and November on a transitional road map, which led to a national consensus document and public communique on 6 December, calling for a final agreement by the end of 2022.
Other stakeholders have also been active, including the private sector, which on 8 December appealed for changes in business practices. The business community must uphold its commitments and strengthen links with civil society and political actors, she said. More broadly, all sectors of society must put aside their differences and forge a common path for taking Haiti forward, she encouraged.
While the Government continues to invest in the Haitian National Police, with six new armoured vehicles received in October and a dozen more expected in the new year, the force continues to be under-resourced and insufficiently equipped, she pointed out. Further compounding challenges posed by gangs are the rising attrition levels, which have brought its operational strengthen to under 13,000 personnel, with fewer than 9,000 available as active-duty officers. Holding security gains continues to be a challenge and the Haitian National Police needs assistance in the form of a specialized force.
Civil society groups, political organizations, chambers of commerce and religious groups, she further noted, are increasingly calling for international operational support for the police, with clear parameters on terms of engagement and an integrated approach which would work alongside, and not substitute, the police.
In expressing her gratitude to donors who have pledged $17.8 million to the Joint Programme of Support to the Haitian National Police, she added that programmes to counter illicit weapons and financial flows are also moving with clear national ownership. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has provided legal support in drafting the new customs code and is currently mapping transnational criminal networks to understand the reality and extent of firearms and drug trafficking in Haiti.
Although a significant number of Haitian interlocuters support adoption of sanctions as a critical tool in combating corruption and impunity, they will be most effective as part of a comprehensive approach that includes the ongoing political dialogue and enhanced operational security support to the Haitian National Police, she emphasized. These three approaches in parallel will be essential to restoring order, public confidence and hope that the country’s tomorrow can be better, she said, stressing that “Haitians deserve no less”.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2653 (2022) concerning Haiti, noted that the text demanded the immediate cessation of violence, criminal activities and violations of human rights that have compromised peace and security in the country and region. He cited kidnappings, sexual violence, trafficking in migrants, homicides, extrajudicial killings and child recruitment by armed groups. Consequently, the Council has imposed measures against individuals directly or indirectly involved in such activities — including travel bans and asset freezes. He said there is a website devoted to Committee activities and that, on 12 December, he circulated a letter on nomination of a group of experts containing a list of four candidates, including specialists in weapons, armed groups and criminal networks as well as financial aspects and humanitarian affairs.
Nominations by Secretary-General António Guterres are expected at the end of the month, after which the panel will come to New York to conduct consultations with relevant stakeholders and the community. It will then travel to the region to collect information on individuals or entities who could participate in activities described in paragraphs 15 and 16 of the resolution that threaten peace and security. He echoed the appeal in paragraph 23, wherein the Council demands that all Member States and international, regional and subregional organizations cooperate with the panel of experts, and requests Member States to ensure their security, providing them free access to relevant persons and data. The panel is expected to submit its report by 15 March 2023, which will be examined by the Committee before submission to the Council. He will present an annual report to the Council on strengthening the measures in the resolution.
KIM IVES, Editor, Haiti Liberté, said he has been reporting on Haiti for the past 48 years, most recently last month when he traveled there with his colleague, journalist Daniel Cohen, to investigate the fuel crisis stand-off. Using a drone, they assessed barricades, police movements, shipping traffic and open-air markets, he said, adding that, despite the gas shortage and insecurity, they visited hospitals, clinics, internally displaced persons camps, an industrial park, wealthy quarters and sewage-choked slums. The situation in Haiti speaks to a history in which international law has been violated and principles of peace and self-determination have been trampled, he underscored. Recalling that Haiti has been the victim of three coup d’états — in 1991, 2004 and most recently 2021 — he said the Council’s agreement to militarily intervene in the first two cases cemented in place an unjust and illegal status quo.
“The victims of those coups — the Haitian masses — were the ones policed, repressed, terrorized, demonized, sexually violated, politically bullied and economically sanctioned,” he said. For this reason, 16 million Haitian people, both in the country and abroad, are patently and almost universally opposed to any more United Nations interventions, except for Haiti’s tiny bourgeoisie. Regarding the current situation, he highlighted that Council members have been given half-truths. “You have been told that Haiti is under the rule of ‘gangs’ and that the power of this world body is needed to punish and crush them,” he said. What the Council has not been told, added, is that the previous two United Nations military interventions so weakened the Haitian State, along with the coup d’états, that it has opened the void for the growth of such criminality.
He pointed out that some analysts, who report to the Council and even publish their accounts in authoritative media networks, conflate criminal gangs with the autonomously formed civilian self-defence committees combating criminality. Those defence committees are the very embodiment of self-determination and organic community action and response, he added. “In short, you are lumping together the ‘good guys’ with the ‘bad guys’ in one basket called ‘gangs’,” he said. Recalling resolution 2653 (2022), he said the Council chose to sanction only one person, accusing him of threatening peace, security and stability in Haiti. Naming several kidnappers and criminal gangs they control, he said the Council sanctioned Jimmy Cherizier, known as Barbecue, who is the spokesman for a federation of neighbourhoods known as the “Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and Allies, Mess with One, You Mess with All” dedicated to keeping kidnapping, extortion, rape and other crimes out of their midst. Mr. Cherizier got his start as a stellar cop fighting criminal gangs, he added, highlighting that the G9 coalition sought to decrease violence and succeeded in establishing a truce in July 2020 between its neighbourhoods and those controlled by the criminal gangs.
Describing how fiction became accepted as fact in popular discourse, leading the United Nations to target a crime-fighting leader in Haiti’s slums, he stressed how easily misguided, counterproductive and blunt Chapter 7 (of the United Nations Charter) power can be, especially when the Council is receiving inaccurate information. Sanctions should be evidence-based, not the result of political machinations, he added. Disputing various elements in the Special Representative’s accounts, he said Ms. La Lime should have noted that Ariel Henry is a de facto head of Government with virtually no popular support or legal mandate. About the Varreux barricade creating fuel shortages across the country and closing down hospitals, he said that too is another half-truth. He recounted that, during their visit to the General Hospital, Haiti’s largest, the administrator told them the hospital never closed down. However, it has been harder to obtain fuel since August when supplies became short due to the Government not paying its gas bills, and even more difficult after the price hike.
Pointing to statements by former United States Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White, he said foreign actors are deciding what leaders Haitians should have, while a Prime Minister with no legal or popular mandate is running roughshod over the Haitian Constitution. The situation in Haiti cannot be resolved through foreign intervention, military force or even sanctions, he said, underscoring that: “The Haitian people, acting with full sovereignty, must be allowed to sort out their own problems, just as they did 219 years ago when they founded Latin America’s first nation.” The only thing the United Nations or any foreign entity might do is provide Haiti with disinterested economic support to rebuild its ravaged economy and political institutions. He called on the Council to respect the principles enshrined in the Charter, particularly Article 2, paragraph 7, which states that: “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State.”
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), stressing that there are no readymade recipes to resolve the crisis in Haiti, added that unblocking of the oil terminal was presented as the key to solving all problems, but long-awaited improvements have not occurred. Chronic crisis and economic collapse in the country is the result of many years of external political engineering, he said, adding that the historical responsibility for this must be borne not only by Washington, but also Paris. Recalling that, for over 100 years after Haiti’s independence, colonial France received so-called payments from that country, he noted that this was the first and only time in history those freed from slavery were forced to pay huge sums of money to their oppressors. Billions were sent to French bankers and plantation owners instead of being used for the development of the young country. While the former colonial Powers have changed their methods today, they have not changed their colonial approaches, he noted, adding that they continue to interfere in Haiti’s internal affairs by positioning political actors. As a result, local elites believe their future depends not on the will of the people but on the favor of external sponsors. Calling on the international community to enable a truly legitimate Haitian Government, he called for a more thorough approach to sanctions and said that unilateral measures by the United States and Canada do not represent the will of the international community.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) recalled that following unanimous adoption of the Mexico-sponsored resolution on Haiti, the new sanctions regime there has demonstrated certain impacts. Recognizing that sanctions alone will not bring about changes, he suggested maintaining a sense of urgency and assessing the best ways to help Haiti, pointing out that the main political actors must reach consensus on the future of their country. Addressing multiple needs of the people involves acknowledging their social roots, including the legacy of colonialism, he added. Emphasizing the need to tackle corruption, he quoted the President of Mexico as stating that “corruption is the main cause of inequality, poverty, frustration, violence, migration and serious social conflicts”. The first independent nation in Latin America and the Caribbean, Haiti is an example of freedom, resistance and perseverance, he stressed, pointing out that it must not be a victim of political pettiness or geopolitical games.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said his country continues to work to address Haiti’s insecurity and worsening humanitarian crisis, and supports Haitian-led efforts to facilitate a political accord to benefit the population. He noted that Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry hopes to have a broad-based accord ready before the end of 2022, expressing cautious optimism following an 8 December statement from influential private sector leaders indicating support for a consensus-based accord — the first time those leaders have united to such an extent on accords and democratic institutional reforms. He expressed pleasure that four highly qualified experts have been chosen to fill critical vacancies covering finance, humanitarian affairs, armed groups, criminal networks and arms, and at progress Gabon has made in drafting guidelines for the sanctions committee. The United States has placed visa restrictions on individuals known to have colluded with criminal gangs in Haiti, which have already begun to have chilling effects on gang leaders and political and economic elites causing and financing the ongoing crisis. He was encouraged that the Haitian national police were able to re-establish control over the Varreux fuel terminal, but violence remains an everyday concern, with kidnappings, sexual violence, rape by gangs and the blocking of main roads. Advocating for a non-United Nations multinational security force, as requested by the Haitian Government, he recalled that the United States has provided more than $90 million in security support in the past 18 months, as well as life-saving aid, including to address famine-like conditions in Port‑au‑Prince and the spread of cholera. Washington has always been the largest donor to the United Nations appeal for Haiti, having provided more than $171 million in humanitarian assistance and resilience programming since fiscal year 2021.
SIOBHÁN MILEY (Ireland), noting that there has been no end or respite to the savage control and repression exercised by criminal gangs against the Haitian people, said her country condemns the violence in the strongest terms. Haiti’s leaders need to come together to end the cycle of violence and impunity, which has plagued the country for too long. While Ireland welcomes the end of the blockade of the Varreux terminal, which has liberated the supply of fuel into Haiti, it does not signal a return to law and order, she pointed out, welcoming efforts to provide support to the Haitian National Police. Noting that the humanitarian response is less than half funded, she said the humanitarian community’s life-saving efforts require continued international support, warning that more lives will be lost without increased support to actors on the ground. Underscoring the need for an immediate and sustainable political resolution, she called on all political actors in Haiti to set aside vested interests, enmity, division and personal gain, and come together in solidarity.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that progress on the ground, especially liberation of the Varreux fuel terminal, responsible for 70 per cent of Haiti’s fuel supply, shows the capacity and commitment of the Haitian National Police. However, gangs continue to be a disruptive force, making it almost impossible for the resumption of institutional normalcy and proper functioning of public services. In addition, the current outbreak of cholera is posing significant risks to the Haitian population. More so, lack of progress on the political front in the last months is staggering, he said, adding that the current political deadlock and humanitarian and security crises in Haiti reinforce each other. No significant progress will be possible if the main political constituencies remain entrenched and averse to compromise. He voiced hope that the sanctions regime will effectively establish targeted sanctions against those engaging in or supporting violence. As some Member States are already imposing unilateral sanctions against some Haitian individuals, he said that it is high time the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Haiti starts its own deliberations. Haitian-led solutions, which will only materialize if Haitian stakeholders talk and compromise, can pave the way for fair elections and normal resumption of Haitian institutions, he stressed.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), noting that the situation in Haiti has gone from bad to worse, said the root of the crisis is a governance deficit that is the outcome of an outrageous history of economic punishment for that country’s revolution against slavery and colonialism. It has been worsened by failed foreign interventions, and the alliance between gangs, politicians and business elites. The Haitian National Police needs more operational support through training and adequate equipment so that it can, among other things, put a stop to the kidnappings and gangs’ control of roads and other critical infrastructure. Noting that the gangs, with links to transnational crime, political patronage and recruitment of the young unemployed, operate like militias, he said they can be overcome by coordinating mediation, a credible political process and a strong enforcement capability. The international community will need to support Haiti to implement the National Action Plan for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Roadmap on the Illicit Proliferation of Firearms and Ammunition. To gain the confidence of the Haitian people, the Council should consider including key African and Caribbean contributions. Emphasizing that Kenya has engaged vigorously on this matter, he highlighted the African Union’s recognition of the duty to reconnect with the African diaspora. “We have listened keenly to Haitians and the Haiti they want,” he said, adding that Haiti inspired a world-wide movement for freedom that even led directly to the establishment of the host country. He urged the country to look to African countries for inspiration. Kenya will continue to support Haiti bilaterally and in the multilateral arena, including the Economic and Social Council Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, he said.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) underscored the need for decisive and proactive actions to effectively address Haiti’s complex security, humanitarian, socioeconomic and political situation. There can be no security and stability until violent gangs are curbed and replaced by a professional peace force, he underscored. Despite recent progress in regaining control of the oil terminal and resuming fuel distribution in the capital, gangs still control the main roads to the north and south, thereby obstructing supply to other regions. In this context, Ghana looks forward to the timely constitution of the panel of experts and their important work. Sanctioning gang leaders and their sponsors, however, is not enough for security and stability, as the Council must also address the immediate challenge of the Haitian National Police. In encouraging enhanced regional consultations on pending proposals, he stressed that the deployment of an international security assistance mission must be braced by support for enhancing the police’s capacities and strengthening State institutions. As inaction in the face of the deteriorating situation is untenable, the Council must work with other actors and bear in mind that a long-term strategy must hinge on addressing deep-rooted causes such as poverty, unemployment and inequality. All political actors must step up their efforts to deliver a Haitian-led process that can define a path to national elections, he urged.
GENG SHUANG (China) recalled that, in 2022, Haiti faced continuing gang activity, a resurgence of cholera, food and energy shortages and increasing violence against women and children. He pointed out that China pushed for three urgent Council deliberations and was the first to propose sanctions against the gangs and their supporters. It also requested the Secretary-General to submit recommendations on how to help the Haitian National Police combat gangs. Moreover, China asked the Government to provide updates on its political process and reiterated that preventing gangs from illegally acquiring weapons is essential. In this regard, he encouraged political parties and relevant stakeholders to engage in a broad dialogue and consultations, expressing support to CARICOM in resolving the crisis.
GHASAQ YOUSIF ABDALLA SHAHEEN (United Arab Emirates), noting that ending the blockade of the Varreux fuel terminal last month will provide much-needed relief to many people in Haiti, said this does not resolve remaining challenges. Pointing to the obstruction of roads and control of neighbourhoods by gangs, she expressed concern about rampant levels of sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti. Stressing the importance of an inclusive, Haitian-led and Haitian-owned dialogue, she said it is vital to create an environment conducive to peaceful elections as soon as the security situation permits. Highlighting the role of CARICOM and the Economic and Social Council Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, she said they can contribute to regional and international efforts in a consistent and sustainable approach for the development and stability of Haiti. Her country stands ready to work within the Council, the Haiti Sanctions Committee and other relevant fora, she stressed.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) said that the Sanctions Committee should consider designating perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence. She also underlined the need for the Committee must keep up with its intentions to safeguard due process by authorizing the sanction regime’s Ombudsperson. In advocating for humanitarian workers to have safe and unhindered access to those in need, she said she feared a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation as gangs continue to retain significant territory. Many of the problems facing Haiti can be traced to systematic failures, including the breakdown of the security and justice sector and endemic corruption and impunity. Climate-related security threats are also evident. Poor disaster resilience has resulted in vulnerable people leaving their rural homes for cities and children being forced to turn to the people holding them hostage for food. Haiti’s political actors must work together to find a sustainable Haitian-led political solution, she emphasized. The multifaceted crisis requires more than just elections; it demands multiple and combined security, humanitarian and political sector efforts to pave the way for a better future. Criminal actors who are fuelling violence and disrupting humanitarian assistance must be stopped. She urged the international community to remain engaged and called for wider discussions on a multinational force to improve the security situation.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said that Haiti is on the verge of an abyss, with the worst human rights and humanitarian situation in decades. Everything of importance seems to have been compromised, he lamented. Noting that the unanimous adoption of resolution 2653 (2022) sent a clear message to perpetrators, he expressed hope that the arms embargo will help prevent the direct or indirect arms supply to criminal groups. Pointing to the breakdown of law and order and a cholera outbreak, he outlined the United States’ efforts to secure medical assistance to populations in isolated areas. “The ship is in danger, and this is not a time for routine politics, power bargaining and uncompromising positions,” he said, noting that help for Haiti may and should come from outside, but solutions must come from within the country. Reiterating the importance of strengthening the judicial sector and other accountability mechanisms, he pointed out that a sustainable solution can only be achieved by restoring law and order.
ALICE JACOBS (United Kingdom) said her country remains deeply concerned by the ongoing dire humanitarian situation in Haiti. The actions of armed gangs have displaced thousands, limited free movement of people and goods and denied citizens access to medical services during a resurgent cholera outbreak. Perpetrators and sponsors of gang violence must be held to account and denied the capacity to spread further instability and suffering, she emphasized. While sanctions are a necessary tool to break the cycle of criminal violence that so disastrously impacts the Haitian people, they are not enough. The international community must consider seriously any request for assistance from the Haitian Government and society, including on security. This, she continued, must support and empower Haitian efforts to improve the security situation and create conditions for elections so that the Haitian people may choose their next Government. As her Government continues to support action which moves Haiti closer to security and stability, she welcomed the movement by some Haitian stakeholders towards resolving the political gridlock and called for greater efforts to reach political consensus. An urgent route forward is needed to address insecurity, humanitarian and economic crises and avoid further deterioration of the situation, she underscored.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), speaking in his national capacity, called on the Council to respond quickly to the security situation in Haiti. “When fire burns down your neighbour’s home, there’s no use closing your doors or windows,” he said, emphasizing that “the haunting stench of the smoke from the ruins of the neighbour’s house remains”. Solidarity in such a situation is a moral obligation. Without security, the Haitian economy will hardly be able to recover from the combined effect of multiple crises and epidemics, let alone retain the talent and able hands it needs for development. Countries must cooperate in the implementation of Council resolution 2653 (2022), including through data sharing, he stressed, adding that “every day without acting is a day of distress and murder there”. He then spotlighted the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Haiti, emphasizing that, without an immediate response or better outlook, nearly 5 million Haitians face a food crisis and many thousands are at risk of famine. On the economic situation, he expressed hope that all logistical obstacles will be lifted to allow for resumed fuel distribution. As the political impasse cannot be resolved without a return to social peace and security, he encouraged Haitian political actors to maintain dialogue and reach an agreement on the organization of elections.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) stressed the urgent need for the international community to end the spiral of violence and misery afflicting Haiti. The recovery of the Varreux terminal is positive, but gangs are increasing kidnappings, sexual violence and homicides, with total impunity. She called for support for the Haitian National Police, which needs equipment, funding and training. Welcoming the sanctions regime, she noted that such measures are a deterrent to criminal groups and all political figures who support and finance them. Alongside sanctions, it is essential to rebuild justice in Haiti, given the dilapidated state of its judicial institutions, which undermine the State and threaten the security of Haitians. Fighting impunity and strengthening the justice system as a whole must be a top priority if the international community hopes to end the violence. She urged political actors to find a compromise leading to organization of democratic elections when security conditions are met. The crisis in Haiti is multidimensional, she said, voicing commitment to facilitate humanitarian assistance, citing the cholera epidemic, which has hit the country since October, widespread hunger and children no longer going to school. France will step up its food assistance and continue to resolutely support BINUH.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), Council President for December, spoke in her national capacity, stressing that, given the dire situation in Haiti, the international community and United Nations agencies must enhance their humanitarian assistance. The immediate priority must be reigning in criminal gangs and bringing a semblance of order, particularly in the capital city, Port-au-Prince. In this regard, she welcomed security assistance being extended by countries in the region, voicing hope that such efforts will help the Haitian Police authorities in addressing the armed gangs’ destabilizing criminal activities. The Haitian Police also need capacity-building support. Further, any decision on the deployment of a regional security mechanism should be carefully thought-out, taking into consideration experiences from the past, including those of United Nations missions. The multifaceted political, security and economic crisis demands all Haitian stakeholders to engage in meaningful negotiations. There is an urgent need to arrive at consensus on a political road map for the holding of long overdue elections. The Haitian parties also need to ensure that process is both inclusive and legitimate. In the long term, institutional stability, good governance and the rule of law are essential to avoid relapse of the current phase of political impasse. In this regard, she commended the facilitating role of the Special Representative and BINUH and noted the proactive engagement of regional partners. “The Haitian people continue to suffer from the effects of a multidimensional crisis that unfortunately has been prolonged for decades,” she said, underscoring that, more than ever, they require the unwavering support of the international community.
JEAN VICTOR GENEUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Haiti, said his Government is grateful for the international community’s commitment and support in finding a lasting solution to the ongoing crisis in his country. Affirming his Government’s support for the work of the Sanctions Committee, he said the Haitian judiciary has started work to find the best approach to ensure implementation of resolution 2653 (2022) within the Haitian legal system. Noting a timid resumption of daily life in the country since the adoption of that resolution in October, he said the freedom of access to the main oil terminal in Varreux is far from resolved. The structural problem posed by armed gangs continues to prevent the work of the Government and the people in many areas. The killings, rapes, abductions, and commandeering of trucks carrying goods continue. Recounting various incidents in which Haitians were savagely killed, he said: “So, I find it incredible that here, in this forum, someone can do marketing and promotion for gangs that kill and assassinate.”
The country is facing a looming humanitarian crisis, he said, warning that half the population of approximately 4.5 million people could be plunged into food insecurity. The situation is due to structural causes aggravated by the blocking of roads, the stealing and hijacking of trucks transporting food stuff, and the actions carried out by armed gangs. The impact of gang activity has also led to galloping inflation that makes the few available foods stuffs unaffordable for people living hand-to-mouth. Moreover, the resurgence of cholera is spreading at exponential speed, posing a public health danger for the country and the region. He expressed the Haitian people’s gratitude for the emergency support provided by other nations to the Ministry of Public Health to contain the spread of that disease.
The Council’s unanimous decision to sanction certain major actors who have been fuelling political instability by supporting armed gangs should help facilitate inter-Haitian dialogue and the embrace of a national compromise that could lead to general elections in 2023, he continued. Moreover, the sanctions will make it possible to avoid injection of dirty money into the electoral process. Underscoring the importance of creating a safe security environment, he said the circumstances that pushed the Haitian Government to require the assistance of a specialized international force have not changed. Gangs have simply reduced their activities in some places while continuing to terrorize the population. It is urgent that the friends of Haiti provide robust assistance to help the national police to put an end to the phenomenon of armed gangs, he said, underscoring that the vast majority of Haitians is in favour of that kind of assistance.
“To describe bandits and criminals who kill, rape and abduct as revolutionary leaders or leaders of the opposition simply does not correspond to the reality,” he said. Noting Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s efforts to promote dialogue with various sectors of the population, he reported that the Prime Minister met this morning with representatives of civil society, the business community, and political parties to finalize a national consensus for an inclusive transition and to form a higher council of the transition to move towards the organization of elections in the course of the next year that will allow Haitians to freely choose their elected leaders.
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ GIL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, noting that his country is doing its part to support its neighbour, said that since the closure of Varreux, the Dominican Republic has been facilitating the supply of fuel to maintain a number of basic operations in Haiti. That fuel is destined for hospitals, supermarkets, free trade zones, agro-industries, banks, embassies of third countries and international organizations operating in Haiti, such as the United Nations. His country has also responded to requests for security support for the transportation of diplomatic personnel from other countries and international organizations in Haiti. Moreover, it has provided health services to tens of thousands of Haitians, he said, noting that 32.4 per cent of child births in his country’s public hospitals are born to Haitian migrants and that those services are offered free of charge.
The considerable efforts of the Haitian Government and the Haitian police to regain control of their country require the cooperation of all the States represented in the Chamber, he said, adding that practical conditions must be created on the ground for tenacious dialogue and cooperation to be possible. He voiced hope that in January 2023 the Sanctions Committee and the panel of experts established in resolutions 2645 (2022) and 2653 (2022) will begin their work, in order to have greater scope in the prosecution of criminals. The Council must implement the proposal contained in resolution 2645 (2022) as soon as possible by creating a multinational force in support of the Haitian National Police. This is the only viable way in the short term to rescue the Haitian people from their current situation and bring a much-deserved peace to their region, he stressed.
ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, said the body has 21 member States who are committed to supporting the country’s long-term development. Recalling his recent visit to Haiti, he said calm prevailed in the streets, but unfortunately, it was not because the security situation had improved; it was because people were afraid to leave their homes or have already fled the country. Heavily armed gangs now control the majority of the Haitian capital, with negative impacts on the movement of food, fuel and medicines. The main national roads that pass north and south of the capital are blocked. Recounting stories of people who have paid ransoms, and women and girls subjected to horrific sexual violence, he said farmers cannot sow or harvest and businesses cannot function without paying bribes. Cholera cases are on the rise, with significant repercussions for children, he added.
Since Haiti’s multifaceted crisis emerged following the assassination of Present Jovenel Moïse, the Advisory Group has met on 10 occasions and has issued six joint statements, he said. The international community must recognize that approaches taken in past decades have not worked, he said, highlighting the root causes of Haiti’s challenges, including extreme poverty, corruption, impunity and collusion between political and economic spheres. Calling for full implementation of resolution 2653 (2022), he said: “We need to be prepared to support Haiti for the long-term” on humanitarian, development and peacebuilding fronts. Regarding the request from acting Prime Minister Henry for a “multinational force” to assist the Haitian National Police, he said there are ongoing discussions to determine exactly what this assistance would entail. All civil society actors should be involved, he stressed, encouraging Haiti to ensure that the voices of women and youth are heard.
Speaking in his national capacity, he added that those who bribe, rape, steal, kidnap and kill must be stopped in their tracks. “It’s nonsense to consider someone who extorts to be doing a public service”, he said, stressing: “Nothing for Haiti without all of Haiti.” Canada will continue to pursue an end to impunity, he said, underscoring that the international community must not ignore the corrosive impact of corruption.