UN Security Council Votes To Deploy Multinational Mission to Haiti, as Russia and China Abstain
Oct. 2, 2023, (EIRNS)—The United National Security Council (UNSC) voted today to approve the U.S.-Ecuadorian resolution mandating the deployment, for one year, of a Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission to Haiti, by a vote of 13 with 2 abstentions—China and Russia. The mission, whose purpose is described as assisting and training the Haitian National Police to combat violent gangs, will be led by Kenya, but it is a U.S. project, for which Secretary of State Tony Blinken has lobbied for months. Because it is not technically a UN mission (only UN mandated), it will rely on contributions from other countries to cover its costs. The Biden administration has pledged $200 million, half of which will come from the Defense Department.
Aside from Kenya, three Caribbean countries—Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda—have offered to send police or military, and another eight (Italy, Spain, Mongolia, Senegal, Belize, Suriname, Guatemala and Peru) have volunteered to join the mission. The mission’s rules of engagement are not specified, and according to the Miami Herald, the UNSC will be informed about the rules of engagement, mission goals, and an end date before the mission’s full deployment. The resolution authorizes the MSS to “adopt urgent temporary measures on an exceptional basis” to prevent loss of life, and help the Haitian police maintain basic law and order and public safety. Kenyan Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua has proclaimed that the MSS “will be an intervention force,” that will “disarm thugs and the gangs ... free kidnapped people and free the women being raped.”
Although the resolution garnered 13 votes, it was clear from the discussion at today’s session that there are still many questions and concerns as to the nature of the deployment, and what it can realistically achieve. The situation on the ground is horrific, and the suffering of the population almost indescribable—2,500 people killed this year by gang violence alone. With the memory of the disastrous 2004-2017 UN peacekeeping mission to Haiti in mind, virtually every speaker emphasized the need for a comprehensive and “holistic” approach to the Haitian crisis, including respect for international law and Haitian sovereignty, addressing the underlying causes of the crisis and providing the necessary security to establish a broad political consensus among Haitians to ensure free and fair elections. “Haitians must forge their own path,” Brazil’s representative said today, warning that the MSS will fail unless it ensures implementation of specific measures related to an arms embargo, political consensus, free and fair elections. and humanitarian aid, but above all, “lasting economic development.”
In explaining their abstention votes, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia and Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun both said they didn’t object in principle to the resolution, understanding the dire security situation Haiti faces and the urgent need for humanitarian assistance. But as Ambassador Nebenzia pointed out, deploying a country’s armed forces to another country’s territory, even if upon request, “is an extreme measure that requires thorough elaboration.” He reported that, when he requested information on the details of the operation, on the use of force, and “contingent withdrawal strategies,” his questions went unanswered. The authorization of a force operation under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorizes the UNSC to act against threats to peace and acts of aggression, is a “serious step that requires full knowledge of related responsibility and possible consequences.... 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.”
Ambassador Zhang Jun also said that China has always taken a “cautious and responsible approach” on the Security Council’s invocation of Chapter VII authorization of the use of force, particularly since it has been abused in the past. Implementation of this resolution, he said, “must comply with international law and the basic norms governing international relations and avoid infringing on the sovereignty of other countries or interfering in their internal affairs.” The security crisis in Haiti is only one dimension of the problem, he said. A “holistic approach is required to find a comprehensive solution.”