Mission to Haiti

Daily Brief, 30 May, 2024


The stage finally seems set for the deployment of an international mission to Haiti.

We’ve looked at Haiti’s collapse into chaos in the Daily Brief before, and we’ve explained the need for an international mission to address it. We’ve also detailed how the Multinational Security Support mission (MSS), authorized by the UN Security Council in October, has faced delays in getting boots on the ground.

But the Kenyan-led MSS mission is expected in Haiti soon, after a Kenyan delegation arrived there last week. What’s more, Kenyan President William Ruto recently met in Washington with US President Joe Biden, who pledged more support to the mission.

This is encouraging news for people in Haiti.

The MSS mission is tasked with assisting Haitian police in rolling back the extreme turmoil in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince. They will help police secure key infrastructure and fight the criminal groups that currently control nearly all of the city and that are responsible for widespread abuses.

At least three questions remain, however, especially when you recall the failures and abuses of past international responses in Haiti.

First, are the countries involved taking sufficient steps to ensure the MSS mission respects human rights?

Haitian police will oversee the operation, and the national security council will define and supervise the mission’s assistance. The US government says it’s vetting all MSS personnel as required by US law. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is collaborating on the design of the mission’s regulatory framework.

However, the UN Security Council has yet to receive critical – and required – information from the MSS mission on things like their rules of engagement, on human rights safeguards, and on accountability mechanisms.

What will happen, for example, if allegations emerge of abuses by Haitian National Police or MSS personnel? How can people report it, and how will it be investigated independently? Details like these need to be clear.

Second, what about the legal hurdles the MSS mission still faces? These include a January decision by Kenya’s High Court, finding the order to deploy police officers to Haiti unconstitutional. An appeal on that is pending, and a new lawsuit on the same grounds is scheduled for June.

Third, there’s a serious question about money. The mission’s trust fund has received only US$21 million. That’s far below the estimated initial operational costs of US$600 million.

Governments, especially the US, France, and those from Latin America and the Caribbean, should ensure the mission has what it needs.

Haitians urgently need international support to restore security, and it’s essential the job is done right – that means, with respect for human rights.