December 6, 2023

Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

UNSC authorises Kenya-led multinational force independent of UN for Haiti

United Nations : The UN Security Council has authorised a Kenya-led force to bring law and order to the chaotic situation in Haiti over-run by criminal gangs where the world organisation is wary of directly getting involved having been burned there.

With China and Russia abstaining, the Council voted on Monday to allow the Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS) to take “all measures” to stabilise the Caribbean nation.

Haiti had asked for international help to control the gangs and Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus called the Council action “a glimmer of hope for the people that have for too long been suffering”.

While the Council gave the okay, the UN is keeping the mission at arm’s length.

“It is important to emphasise that, unlike recent international missions deployed in Haiti, the MSS mission is not a UN mission,” said Isabel Salvador, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s special representative for Haiti.

Kenya was the first – and at that time the only – country to respond in July to Haiti’s call for help made last October.

It has pledged 1,000 troops and Jamaica, the Bahamas, Belize and Antigua have also volunteered their personnel.

Many countries have offered financial assistance for the mission with the US pledging $100 million.

Foreign Minister Vince Henderson of Dominica, a neighbour of Haiti, has appealed to India to help the Caribbean nation, but New Delhi is unlikely to commit troops while it may give material or financial aid.

India has contributed police to five of the six UN missions in Haiti since 1993.

UN interventions in Haiti, which had failed to make a dent in that country’s problems, went awry in 2010 when a cholera outbreak that killed over 9,500 Haitians was traced to the nearly 1,100 Nepali peacekeepers in the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

When that mission ended in 2017, it was followed by the grandiosely named but more modest UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) and with it ended UN police and troop deployments there in 2019 without anything substantial to show for it.

Since then the UN has avoided entangling directly in Haiti.

Explaining the situation in Haiti and the need for a multinational force, Guterres’s Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, “It’s about a total breakdown of law and order.”

“The Secretary-General’s motivation is to the people of Haiti and to help ensure the security and safety of everyday people in Haiti, which is currently not happening when you have gangs controlling large parts of the capital,” he said.

The Council resolution proposed by Ecuador went through several revisions to find unanimity in the polarised Council.

The best it achieved was the abstention of Russia and China which allowed the resolution to be adopted while signalling their reservations.

The two permanent members did not want to publicly torpedo an initiative that put an African nation, Kenya, at the helm and had the support of Latin American and African countries.

Haiti, which overthrew France’s colonial rule in 1804 to become independent, has always been unstable or under dictatorship and even was under US occupation for about nine years.

After the overthrow of the brutal Duvalier family dictatorship in 1986, the country made several unsuccessful attempts at installing democracy thwarted by coups and assassination.

The last elected president, Jouvenal Moise, was assassinated in 2021 and the current president, Ariel Henry, took over and has continued as the unelected leader as the country spiralled into gang-fueled chaos since.

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