In what is being hailed as an historic first, the UN Security Council on Monday authorized the deployment of an international police security force to help Haiti’s national police quell surging gang violence and restore security across the strife-torn Caribbean nation.
This is an alternative means of intervention to sending in blue-helmeted United Nations “peacekeepers”, which has a dubious record of success in Haiti. Following the earthquake of 2010 Nepalese troops were fingered for causing a cholera epidemic that killed thousands.
The mission was requested by the Haitian Government and civil society representatives, following months of chaos and steadily worsening conditions affecting civilians. There have been more than 3,000 homicides reported this year, and over 1,500 instances of kidnapping for ransom.
The “multinational security support” force will have a 12-month mandate in Haiti. The timing of its arrival is not set yet and more countries have been invited to participate.
The resolution also calls for a global stop to arms sales to Haiti, except for approved security purposes.
Around 200,000 have been forced to flee their homes while sexual violence and abuse against women and girls at the hands of armed gangs ticks up. Tens of thousands of children are unable to go to school.
Adopting the resolution with a recorded vote of 13 in favour and 2 abstentions (Russia and China), ambassadors in New York also authorized the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission to help secure critical infrastructure and transit hubs such as the airport, ports, schools, hospitals and key intersections.
They also called on countries participating in the mission to ensure the highest standards of transparency, conduct and discipline for their personnel, and called for an oversight mechanism to prevent human rights violations or abuses, including sexual exploitation.
The non-UN mission is also slated to help ensure unhindered and safe access to humanitarian aid for millions of Haitians in need.
The resolution, adopted under UN Charter‘s Chapter VII, which sets out the Security Council’s responsibilities to maintain international peace and security, was penned by the United States and Ecuador.
Jean Victor Geneus, Foreign Minister of Haiti – not currently a Security Council member – thanked ambassadors for their support and for tabling the historic resolution.
“More than just a simple vote, this is in fact an expression of solidarity with a population in distress,” he said.
He added that the resolution is glimmer of hope for the Haitian people that have for too long suffered the consequences of a multipronged crisis.
He urged Member States to commit to the mission “as quickly as possible” to help restore a safe and stable environment and re-establish democratic institutions there.
Speaking after the adoption, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Representative of the United States, said the Council had “made history” by authorizing the multinational support mission, and stepping up to “create a new way of preserving global peace and security”.
He said it was answering the call from a fellow Member State facing a multidimension crisis.
“The deployment of this mission will help to support Haiti’s critical near term needs and to foster the security conditions necessary for the country to advance long term stability,” he said.
He added that while the mission will primarily support Haitian police, it is but one part of the larger effort to address the wider crisis, including humanitarian, economic and political challenges.
The mandate is considered to be controversial in some circles as the Kenyan police have a reputation for brutality and human rights violations.
Another concern is that the Kenyans will simply be unsuccessful in their mission and will get bogged down in a guerilla war in Haiti, to the detriment of the civilian population.
Sources: United Nations, CNN, news agencies.