In Violation of Haiti’s Constitution: After MINUSTAH, UN Seeks to Keep an Armed Force in Haiti

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

The main thing
you need to know about the Apr. 11 speech to the UN Security Council of
Sandra Honoré, the head of the United Nations military occupation force in
Haiti, is that she is not talking
about a complete pull-out but a “transition.”

            MINUSTAH, or the UN Mission to
Stabilize Haiti, is currently composed of about 3,200 soldiers and police
officers, who cost $346 million this past year. First deployed in June 2004
(supposedly for only six months), the force’s current mandate ends on Apr. 15.

            In a Mar. 16 report, UN Secretary General Antonio
Guterres proposed that MINUSTAH be renewed for a final six-month mandate,
ending Oct. 15. However, this force would be replaced by “a smaller
peacekeeping operation with concentrated focus on the rule of law and police
development,…[and] human rights monitoring,” Honoré said.

            The new armed force would be
comprised of close to 300 UN police officers to “support political stability,
[and] good governance, including electoral oversight and reform,” Guterres

            Thus Honoré called on the Security
Council to set in place “the transition from MINUSTAH to a new and smaller
Mission,” which will have a new name.

            There is only one problem. Other
than the Haitian Army and Police, the Haitian Constitution explicitly forbids
any “other armed corps [to] exist in the national territory.”

            But Honoré ignored this illegality
and spoke as if she were Haiti’s head of state, brazenly dictating Haiti’s
direction. “The United Nations in Haiti look forward to intensifying our
cooperation with all Haitian stakeholders as they identify and implement
[their] national priorities,” Honoré said. “I am also encouraged by the calls
from a broad cross-section of Haitian society for constitutional reform to,
among other things, simplify the electoral cycle and strengthen legal oversight
bodies with a view to stabilizing the country’s democratic institutions and
reforming its governance.”

            The UN is supposed to only
militarily and politically intervene in conflicts between states to maintain
“international security,” not in member states’ internal affairs. In this
respect, MINUSTAH, like its proposed successor, violates the UN Charter’s
principles guaranteeing non-intervention in national matters.

            Some Security Council members
alluded to this problem. Bolivia, for example, said that the new mission should
act “in consultation and coordination with the new government” and “must always
take into account [Haitian] priorities and consider that the Republic of Haiti
must be the sole and main author of its destiny, without any interference.”
Bolivia said it would continue to assist Haiti along with allies in the
anti-imperialist Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) “in
accordance with [Haitian] government priorities and in full respect for its
sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

            Bolivia will also assume the monthly
rotating Security Council presidency in June, at which point it “plans a
conduct a visit to Haiti so that the Council can have a first hand view of this
situation in Haiti.”

            Venezuela, another ALBA member, also
made oblique critiques of the UN role in Haiti saying that “we have to reflect
on the effectiveness of the UN’s peacekeeping operations.”

            “This security council must also be
aware that it has made mistakes, and we must question the preeminence of a
security-based vision and the fact that we have ignored the need to strengthen
the Haitian state’s institutions,” Venezuela’s representative Rafael Ramirez
said. Instead, “we must focus on a social development agenda, especially when
it comes to eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities.”

            Repeatedly and pointedly, Venezuela
urged countries to aid Haiti “unconditionally and without any type of political

            “The close of MINUSTAH must point to
the beginning of a new phase of political stability in Haiti and the end of
military interventions geared towards security in Latin America and the
Caribbean,” Ramirez said. “The people of Haiti are dignified and brave and
deserve unconditional cooperation, and this is the only kind of cooperation
that can allow Haiti to sovereignly determine its own destiny.”

            In contrast, Nikki Haley, the U.S.
Ambassador to the UN and April’s Security Council president, took an opposite
tack. “Peacekeeping has made a great contribution to Haiti,” she said. “Its
support of the government has been essential in ensuring a secure and stable
environment. It has also provided invaluable assistance in aiding the Haitian
people in recovering from a number of natural disasters, including the 2010
earthquake and Hurricane Matthew.”

            She never mentioned that MINUSTAH
caused one of Haiti’s worst disasters, the still-raging cholera epidemic. In
October 2010, the UN allowed sewage from its cholera-infected Nepalese troops
to pollute Haiti’s largest river, sparking an epidemic which, by some
estimates, has killed 10,000 and sickened one million.

            Haiti’s permanent representative,
Denis Régis, was invited to speak at the Security Council meeting but
unfortunately made a completely vapid speech offering no push-back on the UN’s
plan to keep an armed force of police officers in Haiti indefinitely after
MINUSTAH’s withdrawal. On the contrary, he said that Haiti “supports the
establishment of a new presence” and the “Haitian government endorses this [UN]
vision and will continue to work in close collaboration with the United

            Régis spent the last half of his
speech pleading with United Nations member states to “relaunch mechanisms of
humanitarian aid” to Haiti to help with the post-Hurricane Matthew famine in
Haiti’s southern peninsula and the on-going cholera crisis.

            After partially admitting in
December it unleashed cholera in Haiti, the UN has launched a campaign to raise
$400 million over two years to eradicate cholera in Haiti. So far, only $2 million has been pledged. Haiti should
point to the $346 million wasted in the last year to pay for UN soldiers who
spend most of their time cloistered in heavily fortified bases, occasionally
making pointless “show-of-force” sorties in huge armored vehicles.

            On Mar. 29, the 30th
anniversary of Haiti’s Constitution, cholera victims and anti-MINUSTAH
activists marched through the capital to demand reparations
for the damage caused by cholera and the complete and immediate withdrawal of
UN armed forces, including police. The UN’s current plans, supported by the
government of President Jovenel Moïse, defy these demands, which most Haitians

            Other nations who spoke at the Apr.
11 Security Council session on Haiti include the United Kingdom, Uruguay,
Ethiopia, France, Kazakhstan, Egypt, the Russian Federation, Italy, Sweden,
Japan, Ukraine, Senegal, China, Brazil, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, the
European Union, Guatemala, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and Peru.