UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council postponed Wednesday’s vote on extending the U.N. political mission in Haiti after China called for closed consultations on the proposed resolution.
China has no diplomatic relations with Haiti, which is the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country and is being wracked by an increase in gang-related violence, with kidnappings and killings on the rise.
Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, said after the meeting that “everybody’s very much preoccupied, and we think that we need to do more.” The question is “what to do in practical terms,” he said.
The United States and Mexico, which are in charge of drafting the resolution, will make some changes to the text.
In October 2021, a last-minute compromise was reached between China, which wanted only a six-month extension for the U.N. mission, and many other council members that called for a long-term U.N. presence and sought a year-long mandate.
That resolution adopted unanimously extended the political mission until this Friday. Diplomats said they expected to vote on a new resolution on that day.
When that resolution was adopted in October, Haiti had been contending with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed over 2,200 people in August, and escalating gang-related killings, kidnappings and turf wars.
A year after the assassination, gang violence is even worse and Haiti has gone into a freefall that has seen the economy tumble and many Haitians flee the country to escape the turmoil.
This week, officials in Haiti’s capital reported that dozens of people had died as a result of days of fighting between rival gangs in the violent Cite Soleil neighborhood. Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday that thousands of people were trapped in that district without drinking water, food and medical care.
An overwhelmed government is struggling to crack down on the gangs. At the same time, attempts to form a coalition government have faltered, and efforts to hold general elections have stalled, leaving many wondering where Haiti is headed.
China’s anger with Haiti stems from its diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Haiti is one of just 13 countries that continue to recognize self-ruling democratic Taiwan, which China claims as part of its own territory.
The United Nations has been involved in Haiti on and off since 1990, and the last U.N. peacekeeping mission was in the country from 2004 until October 2017. The political mission now there advises Haiti’s government on “promoting and strengthening political stability and good governance,” including the implementing the rule of law, inclusive national dialogue and protecting and protection of human rights.
Mexico’s U.N. ambassador, Juan Ramon De La Fuente Ramirez, told reporters before Wednesday’s meeting that he was very concerned about the situation in Haiti.
“It’s time to act intelligently and effectively,” he said, adding that the new resolution should at least mention the deep-rooted causes of the violence, which it hasn’t previously.
The Mexican envoy also called for an urgent inter-Haitian dialogue, including with the gangs, “because that’s the only way Haitians are going to be able to assume themselves more responsibility.”
Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press