The United Nations Security Council has given the green light to the deployment of an armed multinational force to Haiti, as the Caribbean nation battles rampant gang violence and political paralysis.
The decision comes after repeated calls for military assistance from Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres and the United States have also strongly urged the international community to support such a mission.
Thirteen council members voted in favor of the resolution, with Russia and China abstaining.
Although approved by the powerful UN Security Council, the force would not be formally under UN control. It is expected to be led by Kenya, which has promised 1000 police officers to lead the mission. Several of Haiti’s Caribbean neighbors – Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas and Jamaica – have also offered support to the mission.
The “multinational security support” force will have a 12-month mandate in Haiti. The time of its arrival has not yet been set and more countries have been invited to participate. The resolution also calls for a global halt to arms sales to Haiti, except for approved security purposes.
An adviser to Haitian Prime Minister Henry, Jean-Junior Joseph, told CNN that the government welcomed the vote, adding: “We look forward to the mission of combating general insecurity.”
Warring gangs control much of Port-au-Prince – Haiti’s capital and main port – cutting off vital supply lines to the rest of the country. Gang members have also terrorized the metropolitan population, forcing about 200,000 people to flee their homes amid waves of indiscriminate killings, kidnappings, arson and rape.
The mission is expected to strengthen local security and reinforce the Haitian National Police in its pursuit of gangs. Haiti’s security forces already receive some international support, but remain understaffed and underarmed.
In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 22, Prime Minister Henry told his brother countries that it was “urgent” that the Security Council approve a military mission to restore order. The violence has exacerbated broader instability across the country, Henry said, noting that inflation has soared more than 50%, leaving 4.9 million Haitians struggling to eat, a depressing new record for the country.
In a statement on the same day, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken. urged The international community supported the plan and provided assistance, including personnel, and said Washington was ready to provide “robust” financial and logistical assistance.
The Security Council has found itself in repeated deadlocks in recent years amid deepening geopolitical rivalries. A statement from U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield described Monday’s decision on Haiti as “historic” and said the mission “speaks to the U.N.’s ability to galvanize collective action.”
Speaking at the Security Council after the vote, China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, said his country had “a cautious and responsible approach” towards authorizing the use of force, but that in the case of Haiti , China’s abstention represented a “constructive stance” toward the resolution.
Russia’s U.N. envoy Vassily Nebenzia criticized the move in remarks to the council, saying that “sending the armed forces of another state to any country, even if it requests it, is an extreme measure that must be carefully thought out.” “, but noted “some positive elements.” to the approved resolution.
Both Russia and China expressed approval of the resolution’s arms embargo.
Critics of the mission have previously pointed to scandals associated with UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti, including allegations of sexual abuse and the introduction of a deadly cholera epidemic, which killed nearly 10,000 people. Some Haitians also question the mandate of Prime Minister Henry, who assumed leadership of the country after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021.
Henry has said that Haiti’s long-awaited elections cannot be held until the country reaches a basic level of security.
The United Nations special representative in Haiti, María Isabel Salvador, said her office would support the mission “within the limits of its mandate,” while emphasizing that “unlike recent international missions deployed in Haiti, the mission MSS is not a UN mission. ”