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Updated: May 12, 2023

The information below is provided ahead of a briefing and consultations on the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) in the Security Council on Wednesday, 26 April 2023. We hope the consideration of the human rights dimensions noted below may support Council's deliberations on a potential adjustment of BINUH's mandate, as noted by the NGO Security Council Report.

Key topics below

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  1. High Commissioner designated a human rights expert on Haiti (12 April 2023).

  2. Human Rights Council adopted technical assistance resolution (4 April 2023).

  3. High Commissioner visited Haiti (10 February 2023).

  4. OHCHR report offered recommendations (10 February 2023).

  5. IACHR of the OAS published human rights report (5 January 2023). Please note: A detailed summary of its recommendations is included below (click there to open).

  1. UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH)

    1. Head of BINUH briefed Security Council (24 January 2023)

    2. Secretary-General's report published (24 January 2022).

    3. BINUH and OHCHR published report on sexual violence (14 October 2022).

  2. Montana Accord and civil society.

  1. Joint statement in the Human Rights Council (3 April 2023). Brazil among signatories.

  2. Security Council meeting on Haiti (24 January 2023): We note comments by all Security Council members.

  1. Security Council resolution 2653 imposing sanctions (21 October 2022).

  2. Security Council resolution 2645 extending BINUH's mandate (15 July 2022).


Relevant information for the Security Council to consider [889 words + IACHR recommendations]

  1. On 12 April 2023, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Volker Türk, designated Mr. William O'Neill as an expert on human rights in Haiti. Mr. O’Neill, a US national, is a lawyer specializing in humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, with a special focus on the establishment and maintenance of the rule of law in post-conflict situations. Among other roles, he led the Legal Department of the UN/OAS Mission in Haiti. He helped establish the Haitian National Police in 1995, advising on recruitment, testing and training the then new police force, participated in creating the School for Judges, and helped with training in human rights organizations. The last Independent Expert on Haiti until 2017 was H.E. Mr. Gustavo Gallón, Colombia's current Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.

  2. On 4 April 2023, the Human Rights Council concluded its 52nd session, adopting a resolution on Haiti, for the first time since its adoption of Presidential Statements on the country up to 2017. The resolution (EN as issued / FR oral revisions) was adopted without a vote. The Human Rights Council requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to appoint an independent human rights expert tasked with monitoring, and in collaboration with the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), the development of the human rights situation in Haiti, for a renewable period of one year [OP8]. The HRC also requested OHCHR to cooperate with the Government by providing technical assistance and support for capacity-building for the Haitian judiciary, security forces and prison administration, to enable it to pursue its strategy for combating the action of the armed gangs and restoring the rule of law and to promote the implementation of the recommendations made and accepted during the last universal periodic review cycle [OP7].

  3. On 10 February 2023, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Volker Türk, visited Haiti and released a report. He described the situation as follows: "The world needs to hear what I have borne witness to and what my colleagues document every day from some of the poorest, most frightening situations in the world – a capital city where, in many areas, predatory armed gangs control access to water, food, healthcare and fuel, where kidnappings are rampant, children are prevented from going to school, recruited to perpetrate violence and subjected to it. A country where one out of every two people faces hunger, lives in extreme poverty and does not have regular access to clean drinking water. Where prisoners are dying of malnutrition, cholera and more. Let’s not forget the vulnerability of the country to natural disasters." The High Commissioner further stated that there was much scope for OHCHR to support the Haitian people and work alongside them to strengthen their institutions, help strengthen civic space, to continue to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses, encourage survivor-centered approaches to combatting sexual violence, support judicial authorities and Haitian National Police and more. He stressed that international human rights law prohibits refoulement and collective expulsions without an individual assessment of all protection needs prior to return.

  4. OHCHR's report includes the following recommendations to the international community (among other recommendations): (i) Immediately strengthen the capacity of the Haitian National Police with coordinated international support, and urgently consider the deployment of a time-limited support force under conditions consistent with human rights, as well as a comprehensive and precise action plan. This must be accompanied by a rapid and sustainable re-establishment of State institutions in gang-free zones, as well as a profound reform of the judicial and penitentiary system. (ii) Continue to identify the political and economic actors involved in gang dynamics and effectively implement the sanctions already imposed. (iii) Strengthen international cooperation to ensure increased border control to stop the illicit arms trade and trafficking.

  5. On 5 January 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS published its report on Haiti (which we found only in Spanish). The report examines the main drivers and effects of citizen insecurity, including growing numbers of homicides and kidnappings and the serious impact on human rights of the violence of armed groups with significant territorial control in Haiti. Concerning citizen security, the report notes the following main challenges: i) problems to strengthen and consolidate law enforcement institutions; ii) lack of systematic data collection processes; iii) existence of organized armed groups and disputes among them; iv) indiscriminate access to firearms; and v) impunity for crime perpetrators, especially in cases in which members of the Haitian law enforcement forces are allegedly involved. Concerning human mobility, the report stresses that, based on the principles of international solidarity and cooperation, Haiti and other States in the region must take measures to adopt a comprehensive, immediate, effective, and lasting response that protects the rights of mobile individuals. The report also notes the main challenges for the enjoyment and protection of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in Haiti and the challenges to protect freedom of expression, specifically regarding the protection of journalists.

THE OAS-IACHR report lists 26 recommendations, summarized here (click the arrow on the left to expand).

Strengthening of human rights institutions in the country and actively listening to Haiti in the renewal and reformulation of the mandates of international agencies in the field, especially the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.

Recommendation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights


Information previously considered by the Security Council [434 words]

UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH)

  1. On 24 January 2023, Ms. Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of BINUH briefed the Security Council. She reported that gang-related violence had reached levels not seen in decades. In 2022, 1,359 kidnappings and 2,183 murders were reported. There were increasing reports of minors being recruited to serve in gangs. Ms. La Lime noted that sanctions were creating space for additional political dialogue and necessary reforms. This includes the sanctions imposed by Security Council resolutions 2653 (2022), as well as bilateral sanctions.

  2. In addition to the above, the Secretary-General's report presented by Ms. La Lime (S/2023/41) noted that excessive force used by police while attempting to restore order during protests reportedly resulted in the killing of 34 protesters, journalists and bystanders [paras 41-42]. The Secretary-General urged countries in the region to consider halting the deportation of Haitians until the human rights and humanitarian crises have been adequately addressed [para 78]. The Secretary-General also called to urgently address the disproportionate impact of gang violence on women and girls. He called for an accountable justice system to take immediate action against the current state of widespread impunity for perpetrators. It was necessary to improve the access of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse to relevant judicial and non-judicial mechanisms [paras 79-80].

  3. On 14 October 2022, BINUH and OHCHR published a comprehensive report on sexual violence perpetrated by armed gangs. Gang members used mass rape and other acts of sexual violence as a weapon to inflict terror and punish and humiliate local populations. They particularly targeted women and girls and LGBTI people [S/2023/41, para 47].

Montana Accord and civil society

  • In January 2021, over 1,000 civil society representatives, political parties, and other organized groups formed the Commission for Haitian Solution to the Crisis and developed the Montana Accord, named for a hotel in Haiti where it was initially signed. The plan calls for a two-year transition under an inclusive interim government that will rebuild institutions until they can again support the carrying out of free, honest, and democratic elections [Pierre Espérance, Haitian Executive Director of the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH), Just Security, 15 December 2022]. In this regard, it may also be worth noting the following: On 2 February 2023, Mr. Pierre Espérance wrote in Just Security that a coalition of civil society organizations has reached agreement with key political figures on a potential path forward. He called on the international community to press harder on Prime Minister Ariel Henry to engage in order to start re-establishing the rule of law in Haiti.


Comments by Members of the Security Council [728 words]

  1. On 3 April 2023, a cross-regional joint statement was delivered by the Dominican Republic on behalf of at least 17 States, including Brazil, during a general debate in the Human Rights Council on technical assistance and capacity-building. They expressed the need for a constructive and inclusive political dialogue in Haiti. They called for the utmost attention of the international community with the aim of supporting the Haitian people to overcome this crisis through humanitarian and technical assistance, cooperation for capacity-building, in particular for the Haitian National Police and the judicial and penitentiary systems, including a long-term plan to put Haiti on a path of socio-economic development and institutional strengthening.

  2. On 24 January 2023, the Security Council held a meeting on Haiti. The US expressed appreciation for the role that civil society and the private sector played in helping to bring disparate parties together. The US called to address the increasing humanitarian needs, help Haiti address insecurity [manifested in the gang violence, including gender-based violence, as well as the recruitment of children]. It recognized the need to also support institutional reform, including in the justice sector. China called for BINUH to build a platform for an inclusive dialogue that would promote a universally accepted transition. Unlike China's usual opposition to sanctions (labeled as "unilateral coercive measures") it approved of the sanctions which were supported by Haitians to deter gang violence (Russia's comments below added clarification). China also welcomed regional partners' provision of capacity-building to support the Haitian National Police. Its comments in support of the human rights of Haitian migrants were surprising (to us), considering its habitual return of North Korean refugees to their country. Russia supported the Secretary-General's call to investigate the assassination of President Moïse. It criticized the head of the Secretariat for equating Security Council sanctions, which it welcomed in this context, with unilateral coercive measures, that can be harmful. The UAE and Brazil called for an inclusive dialogue. The UAE also welcomed the support to Haiti, including by the UNODC. It was particularly concerned about SGBV and children's access to education. Brazil had noted in an earlier meeting on 15 July 2022, while adopting the resolution extending BINUH's mandate, that more could have been done. It had emphasized the need to reinforce BINUH in terms of security, capacity and resources, noting also the need to prevent and respond to SGBV. The A3 (Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique) called for more ambitious action by the international community to support Haiti and address the root causes of the crisis, including to further support the police. They were particularly disturbed by the disproportionate impact of gang violence on women and girls. They welcomed the targeted sanctions. Albania called for urgent, decisive and bold measures. This includes support for the police, an inclusive political dialogue, full implementation of the sanctions, to be broadened if needed, and the creation of an international security assistance mission. Malta detailed the concerning human rights violations, including sexual violence, and called to promote accountability, strengthen support for survivors and enhance support for the police. Ecuador called for the Council to continue to support the work of UNODC and strengthen efforts following up on the selective arms embargo pursuant to resolution 2653(2022). Ecuador seeks to strengthen support to BINUH to end human rights abuses and advance an inclusive transition. The UK called to authorize an international security assistance mission in response to Haiti's request for international assistance and to address widespread gang violence, including sexual violence. It also stands ready to consider further designations of sanctions. Switzerland stressed the importance of documenting human rights violations. It particularly condemned violence against children, including their abduction and recruitment. In addition to accountability, it called to strengthen medical and psychological support for survivors. It welcomed the sanctions and the Council's intention to authorize an Ombudsman. France noted the need to further support the police. It welcomed the sanctions, while stressing the need to also strengthen the criminal justice system. Japan called to increase support for Haiti to overcome its crisis, restore the rule of law and achieve stability, including through support for the police. It supported the sanctions regime and was ready to support initiatives in line with the SG's call for the deployment of an international specialized armed force. Haiti stated that a specialized international force was urgently needed to bolster the efforts of the Haitian National Police.


References in Security Council outcomes (not verbatim) [286 words]

  1. On 21 October 2022, the Security Council adopted resolution 2653 by consensus, imposing sanctions against those engaged in or supporting gang violence, criminal activities or human rights abuses [PP2]. The Council called for a political process with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and the engagement of youth, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders [PP6]. Sanctions designation criteria included, inter alia, engaging in, directly or indirectly, or supporting criminal activities and violence involving armed groups and criminal networks that promote violence, including forcible recruitment of children by such groups and networks, kidnappings, trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants, and homicides and sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and sexual slavery [OP16(a, e and f); grave concern about such violations was expressed in PP7].

  2. On 15 July 2022, the Security Council adopted resolution 2645 by consensus, extending the mandate of BINUH until 15 July 2023 [OP1]. The Council decided that BINUH’s human rights unit would include dedicated capacity to address sexual and gender-based violence, including the identification of women’s protection advisers [OP2]. It called for a political process leading to elections, with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and the engagement of youth, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders [OP3]. The Council expressed grave concern about the extremely high levels of gang violence and other criminal activities, including kidnappings and homicides, and SGBV, as well as ongoing impunity for perpetrators [PP8]. The Council urged the Haitian authorities to take steps, including strengthened rule of law, socio-economic measures, violence reduction programs, including specific programs focused on SGBV, weapons and ammunition management, and bolstering national accountability and protection mechanisms, as well as through any initiatives to assist the functioning of the judiciary [PP10].


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