posted on Wed 14 Oct 2020 6:22 PM
UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow morning (15 October), the Security Council is scheduled to meet in person to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for another year, until 15 October 2021.

The US, the penholder on Haiti, held one round of negotiations virtually on 12 October. The draft text in blue renews BINUH’s mandate for a period of one year without making significant changes to the core mandate of the mission, its tasks, or the reporting requirements set out in resolution 2476 of 25 June 2019, which established the Integrated Office.

It appears that the US sought from the outset to adopt a short half-page resolution which would roll over the mandate of BINUH as set out in resolution 2476. However, during the 12 October negotiations, it seems that China, the Dominican Republic and Russia presented suggestions for amended language. The Dominican Republic seemingly wanted additional operative paragraphs expressing concern over continued violence and human rights violations in Haiti. The language proposed by the Dominican Republic reflected its previous statements on Haiti, expressed most recently by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Roberto Álvarez Gil, at the latest Council meeting on Haiti, on 5 October. He explained that during their term, the Dominican Republic abstained from resolutions it felt did not adequately reflect the situation on the ground and the steps needed to rectify it. He urged the UN to provide BINUH with the necessary personnel and resources to fulfil its mandate. He called on the international community to do more to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in Haiti, as well as to help Haiti organise urgently-needed elections.

It appears that China also made extensive suggestions for changes to the language of the US draft.  China advocated renewing BINUH’s mandate for six months, rather than twelve, and for a strategic assessment to be conducted in that timeframe, with the aim of elaborating recommendations for an exit strategy that would lead to the eventual drawdown of BINUH and the transfer of its tasks to the Haitian government. China had previously said that Haiti’s crises must be resolved by the Haitians themselves and that there can be no external solution to the problems in the country. Several Council members felt that such an assessment and the call to foresee an exit strategy as suggested by China were premature, given that BINUH was only established one year ago. It appears that the EU members of the Council (Belgium, Estonia, France, and Germany), the UK, and the US were united in their support for a 12-month mandate renewal, while Russia supported China’s suggestions.

China also wanted to add several elements from the latest Secretary-General’s report on Haiti to the draft resolution. Namely, China sought to add language, noting that there has been an increase in gang-related violence and that the human rights situation in Haiti remains difficult. Several members agreed that the situation in Haiti is concerning and that it is important to address those issues but disagreed about their inclusion in a draft resolution on the renewal of BINUH’s mandate. Some suggested that these issues could be better addressed in a presidential statement so that the Council could share its concern in unison. At the time of writing, it is still unclear if these suggestions may be incorporated into a future product.

This afternoon (14 October), the US put a draft resolution in blue that does not include the amendments proposed by China and the Dominican Republic, despite China breaking silence earlier this morning over their proposed language. This may result in the two Council members abstaining on the draft resolution. China and the Dominican Republic also abstained on resolution 2476. The draft text in blue includes new language in its preambular part that incorporates suggestions from Russia and the EU Council members, in which the Council calls on Haitian stakeholders to organise elections “as soon as technically feasible” and to hold an “inclusive inter-Haitian national dialogue to address longstanding drivers of instability”.

On 5 October, Council members held an informal open VTC meeting on BINUH, followed by a closed session. At the open session, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BINUH, Helen La Lime, said that while some progress had been made during BINUH’s first year, apprehension from Haitians on the future of Haiti is “palpable”. In her briefing, La Lime described increased unrest in the country, threats posed to the security of the state due to the activity of violent gangs, the widespread perception of impunity, and an economic recovery negatively affected by the impact of COVID-19. La Lime stressed that BINUH stands ready to assist, but that a lack of trust between Haitian parties has hindered any political rapprochement.

All Council members spoke after SRSG La Lime and repeated their appeal to see Haitian political leaders come together in a spirit of compromise for Haiti’s political future. Council members also seem united in agreement on the need for the Haitian National Police (HNP) to be adequately supported and resourced by the Haitian government. Council members are also concerned about the actions of armed gangs and many condemned the recent murder of Montferrier Dorval, the president of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association, which is an influential part of Haitian civil society. In the closed session, it appears that La Lime re-emphasised the importance of holding elections and promoting accountability for Haiti’s future.