Why the UN is Sending Troops to Haiti

Esther Bondi; 
Esther Bondi; https://www.flickr.com/photos/62437264@N04/41418652434/in/photolist-A4y4T-bhkjDz-ej4mXB-2672qn9-e6vTra-e6vt5P-e6vA7p-e6B7W7-h1LQK5-29VZGx-bFfXsK-Kz9xVP-h1LDx3-9vQt5v-7SArQZ-nrJAsr-9K1CK7-ahKq5b-e6B8oj-7Q7Ph3-7DuGKn-bELZyo-bKUmhX-KwJrJd-JCN8g3-h1JPfp-h1JKDB-Y8vm65-Y7akT9-278wmM9-acqoW9-h1LHcs-dVbj8y-2aAr2XS-h1LJui-eBkiYk-h1JKHJ-7JvpbH-g6KbnT-FsKkDh-aBvEiJ-L3wNsq-e6vS7P-99Mkgx-aFKaBD-99Qtth-Fv3epM-9JXNgK-dSUkmW-e9gviA

Recently, the United Nations (“UN”) Security Council approved a request of the Haitian Government to deploy an international security mission. [1] Thirteen out of fifteen council members voted to approve the resolution drafted to authorize the security mission – Russia and China abstained from voting. [2] Additionally, ambassadors approved a non-UN mission, the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, “to help secure critical infrastructure and transit hubs such as the airport, ports, schools, hospitals and key intersections.” [3] These missions will provide support and resources, but what is happening in Haiti that drove the need for such support?

In 2021, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise was assassinated. [4] Since his assassination, gang violence has erupted and wreaked havoc on Haiti and its citizens. [5] It is estimated that 90% of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is under gang control. [6] There has been no elected President since the assassination in 2021. [7] Prime Minister Ariel Henry has controlled all executive and parliamentary functions since the assassination and has been incredibly outspoken about the state of Haiti and the need for international aid. [8]

Haiti is currently facing catastrophic violence, crime, and food insecurity. [9] It is estimated that, “criminal groups in Haiti killed more than 2,000 people between January and June 2023, an increase of almost 125 percent compared to the same period in 2022.” [10] In addition to the tragic murders, there has been a rise in sexual violence, kidnappings, looting, and burning down homes. [11] As a result of the violence and chaos, around 195,000 Haitians have been displaced from their homes and around half of the population of Haiti is at risk of starvation. [12] The hope is that the security missions and humanitarian assistance will bring peace and security to Haiti. [13]

The UN Security Council authorized the security mission, but it will not be directly under UN control. [14] So far, Kenya has pledged 1,000 police officers to assist with the security missions and Antigua, the Bahamas, and Jamaica have also pledged their support. [15]

Many leaders and ambassadors are cautious about the security missions due to past failed peacekeeping missions. [16] UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke of the situation in Haiti stating, “it is impossible to look at the [Haitian] crisis without seeing the long shadow of centuries of colonial exploitation, extortion, dictatorship and other screaming injustices.” [17] The Foreign Minister of Haiti, Jean Victor Geneus, spoke optimistically about the mission thanking the UN for showing solidarity and with hopes that the missions will, “help restore a safe and stable environment and re-establish democratic institutions there.” [18]

The security forces part of the mission will be in Haiti for twelve-months and it is unclear when they officially will arrive in Haiti. [19] The United States government will not be sending troops; however, they aim to provide around $100 million of support. [20] Hopefully, the security mission and humanitarian aid will bring Haiti and its people peace, stability, and prosperity.

[1] Security Council authorizes ‘historic’ support mission in Haiti, United Nations (Oct. 2, 2023), https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/10/1141802. 

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Haiti: political instability, gang violence and disease, International Rescue Committee (April 7, 2023), https://www.rescue.org/article/haiti-political-instability-gang-violence-and-disease.

[5] Mark A. Green, Gang Rule, Gang Killings in Haiti, Wilson Center (April 25, 2023), https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/gang-rule-gang-killings-haiti. 

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] “Living a Nightmare” Haiti Needs an Urgent Rights-Based Response to Escalating Crisis, Human Rights Watch (Aug. 14, 2023), https://www.hrw.org/report/2023/08/14/living-nightmare/haiti-needs-urgent-rights-based-response-escalating-crisis.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Security Council authorizes ‘historic’ support mission in Haiti, supra note 1.

[14] Richard Roth et al., UN Security Council approves sending foreign forces to Haiti, CNN (Oct. 2, 2023), https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/02/americas/un-approves-haiti-military-mission-intl/index.html.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Living a Nightmare, supra note 8.

[18] Security Council authorizes ‘historic’ support mission in Haiti, supra note 1.

[19] Richard Roth et al., supra note 14.

[20] Michelle Nichols, UN approves Haiti security mission to fight gangs, Reuters (Oct. 3, 2023) https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/un-authorizes-haiti-security-mission-fight-gangs-2023-10-02/.