Intervention in accordance with international law


Dieu Nalio Chery / AP

If the issues of supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia by the collective West are being resolved surprisingly quickly, then help to the so-called third-world states that really need help can wait, and wait…

A year ago, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry for the first time asked the UN to «send a UN peacekeeping force to rescue the population from rampant criminality». The U.S., which has repeatedly invaded the country, sharing the island of Española with the Dominican Republic, tried to shift responsibility to Canada, which also refused to send its soldiers to Haiti. It took Washington and Ottawa a year to persuade Kenya to lead a «peacekeeping mission» to Haiti. It would be easier for blacks to solve black problems, they said.

While negotiations were underway, the G9 and Family gang alone, led by former policeman Jimmy Cherisier, nicknamed «Barbecue», seized control of a key fuel terminal in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, paralyzing the country and cutting off the population’s access to water, fuel and basic goods.

Lawlessness and crime have hit large parts of western and central Haiti, where «roving bandits» are taking over villages and towns, looting, raping and killing residents and burning their shacks.

According to official UN statistics, from January 1 to August 15 this year in Haiti about 3,000 people have been killed, more than 900 wounded and 1,472 kidnapped for ransom, while more than 200,000 people have lost their homes — bandits simply drove them out of their homes.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his report to the UN Security Council that nearly 30,000 people have been forced to flee the island. They flee to the United States, where they are filtered and often sent back to be slaughtered by gangsters.

Adding to the continuing rampant crime has been the vigilantes from the «Anti-Gang Vigilante Movement», known as Bwa Kale. Armed with machetes, residents have turned to self-defense. They capture gangsters and publicly burn them — according to the laws of the Lynch Court.

The Haitian National Police attempted several operations against the gangs, but failed utterly. And what can 10,000 poorly trained and armed police officers do in a country of more than 11 million people intimidated and terrorized by drug criminals.

After the U.S. State Department succeeded in convincing Kenya to take charge of the «peacekeeping mission» in Haiti, a resolution drafted by the United States and Ecuador and approved by 13 votes of the UN Security Council members, with two abstentions — Russia and China.

The resolution authorizes the deployment of a force under Kenyan command for one year, with an extension after nine months. At the same time, the UN refused to finance the mission, shifting it to the account of «voluntary contributions». So far, it is known that the US alone has pledged up to $200 million. But pledging doesn’t mean keeping a word.

Kenya’s plan envisions the deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers and several hundred officers or soldiers from Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, with Chile, Spain, Senegal and Spain possibly sending their own security personnel.

Kenyan police will train their Haitian counterparts to patrol and protect «key facilities». But what can 1,500 police officers do when tens of thousands of soldiers and officers from the U.S. and Latin America who have participated in previous missions have been unable to deal with powerful gangs?

The question is not an idle one.

So why did Russia and China abstain from voting on the Security Council resolution? This caused bewilderment among the UN members with little situational awareness. And the point is this.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, explained that Moscow «has no principled objections to this initiative as such. At the same time, it should be understood that sending the armed forces of another state to any country, even at its request, is an extreme measure that requires careful consideration».

The Russian Permanent Representative noted that the history of Haiti «has enough accumulated experience of irresponsible foreign intervention» which «gave rise to a spiral of degradation». «To authorize a new use of force in Haiti without a clear understanding of the parameters of the mission to be established is short-sighted», Permanent Representative Nebenzya added.

Russia hopes that the mission will help stabilize the situation in Haiti «while respecting the sovereignty of this country, as well as the rights of its inhabitants». There are good reasons to doubt that this time, too.

First, there have been at least two major U.S.- and UN-led foreign military interventions in Haiti since the late twentieth century. Some 21,000 fighters were sent in a United States-led intervention in 1994 and some 13,000 in a Brazilian-led force in the early 2000s. And they have all failed; crime in Haiti has not only not been broken, but has grown much stronger.

The most recent, 13-year «stand-down» (2004–2017) of the UN «peacekeeping mission» in Haiti, ended with a sex crime scandal and a cholera epidemic instigated by UN peacekeepers. The cholera alone killed more than 10,000 Haitians. And the main issue — restoring order and peace on the Haitian side of the island — was not resolved.

This experience made Haiti even more pessimistic about intervention and fostered resistance to any force under the UN flag.

The UN forces left, leaving behind a country to be torn apart by bandits armed by the United States. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime claims that Haiti is receiving increasingly sophisticated weapons and ammunition, and Secretary-General Guterres has admitted that the arms are coming exclusively from the United States through proxies.

Second, some security analysts have expressed concern that misunderstandings and miscommunications could arise between police officers from Kenya, where English and Swahili are the official languages, and the people of Haiti, where they speak French and Creole.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua has assured that key officers are being trained to speak French. It is unclear what units will be deployed to Haiti, most likely it will be a paramilitary general service unit that responds to protests with means of violence.

Third, human rights experts and U.S. officials have expressed doubts about the ability of Kenya’s security forces to both enforce crime control and their own morale. And Kenyan law enforcement officials have been repeatedly accused of using excessive force, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary arrests. In an open letter to the UN Security Council in August this year, Amnesty International said it was concerned about the use of excessive force.

According to human rights activists, there are more than 30 documented cases of Kenyan police shooting protestors and using tear gas. And there is a risk of excesses by Kenyans during joint security operations, including during arrests in coordination with Haitian police.

In this regard, The New York Times recalled that in 2021, Somali authorities lost confidence in the Kenyan military serving in the African Union peacekeeping force, broke diplomatic relations with Kenya, accusing it of interfering in internal affairs.

The infamous leader of the powerful G9 gangster alliance, Jimmy «Barbecue» Cherisier, said he would resist any foreign force and overthrow the government, calling for a broader truce among the capital’s gangs as part of a new Live Together alliance.

Will a poorly trained «peacekeeping mission» help consolidate the current government in Haiti and put an end to crime, or will it unwittingly facilitate the rise to power of a new underworld dictator? This is what worries Russia and China, which abstained from adopting the UN resolution on Haiti.