CARICOM SUMMIT: UN Secretary General reiterates appeal for international security force for Haiti

Last Updated on Monday, 3 July 2023, 19:52 by Denis Chabrol

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres addressing the opening of the CARICOM Summit in Trinidad on July 3, 2023

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday again reiterated his appeal for the Security Council to approve the deployment of security force to restore order in gang-ravaged Haiti and pave the way for democratic elections.

His latest call was issued at the opening of the summit of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders in Trinidad.

“I will continue to push for a robust international security force – authorized by the Security Council – to be able to help to help the Haitian national police to defeat and dismantle the gangs,” said Mr Guterres who visited Haiti in recent days to get a first-hand view of the situation there and meet with stakeholders.

None of the CARICOM Prime Ministers- Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Phillip Davis of The Bahamas or Roosevelt Skerritt- gave any clear indication that the region would back the use of force  or participate in such a mission to crush armed gangs as well as train and equip the Haitian National Police to bring the situation under control.

Incoming CARICOM Chairman, Skerritt urged colleague leaders to address the complex issues facing Haiti by brokering a Haitian-led solution crisis with support from CARICOM and the international community. “We are well aware that it is just the beginning and our engagement must build from that. We must keep the dialogue going until not only there is light at the end of the tunnel but a station for the stakeholders to disembark from the train united in purpose and in action,” he said.

Earlier  Monday, during a news conference he shared with the Trinidad and Tobago leader, the UN Secretary General stopped short of openly calling on the United States, Canada and other Developed Nations to participate in a security force.

I must tell you that it’s time for all those that have the capacity to create the basic conditions for this force to exist, to volunteer themselves to participate.  

 The question is not a question of the Security Council decision. The most important problem is that we need to have countries that have the robust kind of police force, and the robust kind of equipment and logistics support to be able to also volunteer themselves,” he said. Mr Guterres said he was confident the UN Security Council would back a multi-national security force going into Haiti if the key players committed strongly to participate in such an operation. “The tragedy of Haiti, the violence of Haiti, the horrible capacity of the gangs would not exist if there was no weapons trafficking into Haiti, and so, this must be a full priority for the international community,” he said.

” I’ve seen African countries volunteering. I’ve seen countries in the Caribbean volunteer, but most of them have limited capacity,” he told that news conference. There, he said one of the priorities would have to be to cut off the supply of illegal guns to Haiti.

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt speaking at the opening of the CARICOM Summit.

At the opening of the CARICOM Summit, he said peace and democracy depended on each other, even as he praised CARICOM leaders for last month’s meeting in Jamaica and the three high-level personalities involved.  “Let’s be clear: There can be no lasting security without strengthened democratic institutions – and there can be no strong democratic institutions without a drastic improvement in the security situation, Mr Guterres said. 

Haiti’s elections are long-overdue, largely due to the political upheaval there.

Describing the security situation in that former French territory as “appalling” and the humanitarian needs as “soaring”, the UN Chief nevertheless said he was optimistic about a solution to ease the suffering of Haitians. He bemoaned the fact that the UN’s humanitarian appeal is only funded at 23 per cent. “It is a tragedy within a tragedy,” he said.

“It is impossible to look at the crisis without seeing the long shadow of centuries of colonial exploitation, extortion, dictatorship and other screaming injustices.