US-supported rapid force deployment to Haiti in trouble

FILE - Jimmy Cherizier, also known as Barbecue, the leader of the

FILE – Jimmy Cherizier, also known as Barbecue, the leader of the “G9 and Family” gang, stands next to a garbage pile to call attention to the conditions people live in as he leads a march against kidnapping through La Saline neighborhood in Port- au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 22, 2021. Cherizier is a former officer with Haiti’s National Police who worked with the Departmental Crowd Control Unit, which is deployed when there are riots or protests and has been accused of excessive force. He has since become whom many consider Haiti’s most powerful gang leader. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)


A proposal by the United States encouraging the rapid deployment of an international military force to Haiti is on the verge of failure after no country volunteered to contribute troops, multiple sources told McClatchy and the Miami Herald.

Biden administration officials are debating whether to scrap the US resolution, circulated among UN Security Council members, unless a foreign partner steps up and offers troops in the next few days.

The potential reversal is a diplomatic setback for the White House, which had been hoping to corral an armed, foreign force that would be backed with equipment, training and logistical support from the United States.

But the United States never volunteered its own forces, raising frustration among its partners. Several countries on the Security Council demanded a concrete plan in writing to be prepared before a vote on the resolution took place. Russia and China have also openly expressed concerns on the Security Council about the deployment of foreign forces to Haiti.

Countries around the world have so far rejected the proposal. France shut down the prospect of providing troops early in the discussions, and Canada repeatedly expressed reluctance to contribute ground forces, despite delivering several armored vehicles to Haiti in recent days and calling on countries to donate to a fund to help the Haitian National Police.

Brazil — focused on its own domestic elections coming up at the end of the month — expressed skepticism, and US officials questioned whether CARICOM, the 15-member Caribbean community that Haiti is a member of, had the capacity on its own to make a meaningful difference on the ground.

“There’s been no progress getting partners to volunteer,” said one source familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “No one is stepping up.”

The regional bloc has been in discussion with both Canadian and Haitian officials in recent days over Haiti’s request for a rapid reaction force. While considering the request, members want clarity on troop makeup and the mandate of such a force.

Canada is seen as the most likely partner to lead a rapid deployment, despite its hesitation. But it remains unclear what the mandate of such a force would be. Questions range in terms of the size, duration and risk of the mission, which could include lifting the siege of the Varreux fuel terminal, or securing a humanitarian corridor by protecting the distribution of aid throughout the country.

A White House official said that discussions about the resolution remain ongoing.

“Conversations are ongoing with partners on the UN Security Council to advance the draft resolution authorizing, under Chapter VII, the non-UN mission,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told McClatchy. “We continue to consider the most effective ways to directly support, enable, and resource such an effort, which would be in addition to the humanitarian and security assistance we have already provided the people of Haiti during this difficult time.”

Haiti is in the midst of its worst security, economic and political crisis in decades, with gangs now in their seventh week of blocking the country’s main fuel terminal and seaports. The blockade is leading to a shortage of fuel, food and potable water amid a burgeoning cholera outbreak.

UN Secretary General António Guterres called on the international community to work directly with Haiti to organize a rapid force that could break the stranglehold of gangs on the country’s most important ports and highways. The Haitian government issued a similar request.

Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to sanction Haitian gangs and those who arm and finance them. While the sanctions are a start, the government of Haiti has said more is needed.

The US resolution would provide any rapid reaction deployment with powers under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which allows troops to use force for the enforcement of peace.

Updated with comments from the National Security Council.

This story was originally published October 25, 2022 6:14 PM.

Michael Wilner is McClatchy’s Senior National Security and White House Correspondent. A member of the White House team since 2019, he led coverage of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Wilner previously served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post. He holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is a native of New York City.

Profile Image of Jacqueline Charles

Jacqueline Charles has reported on Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for over a decade. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she was awarded a 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize — the most prestigious award for coverage of the Americas.


Leave a Comment