#TheWardPost UN Security Council - Haiti

Haiti, Kenya, the Court, and the Haitian Diaspora

Haiti, Kenya, the Court, and the Haitian Diaspora

Ambassador Curtis A. Ward

Amb. Curtis A. Ward

(04 February 2024) — The recent High Court ruling in Kenya which declared that deployment of a Kenyan police mission abroad is in violation of the country’s constitution, though creating headlines around the world, does not infer an end to the UN Security Council-authorized Multinational Security Stability (MSS) mission in Haiti. While some alarm may be justified, at least for now, this ruling of the lower court is merely the first step in the judicial process.

Certainly, any delay of the deployment of the MSS mission to Haiti is a setback in the process of bringing desperately needed security and stability to the beleaguered country and its people. But the decision of this High Court judge in the process is not the final word. The High Court is a lower court in the hierarchy of the Kenyan judicial system. This decision must be kept in context. Kenya is a democracy, and the rule of law is important to that country. Thus, Kenya’s President William Ruto, in keeping with judicial processes, decided to appeal the lower court’s decision.

Kenya’s commitment undaunted

Kenya’s Amb. Lazarus  Amayo addressing Haitian diaspora members

The Kenyan government’s commitment to the mission, according to statements president Ruto and other government officials, remains firm. Kenya’s ambassador to Washington, His Excellency Lazarus O. Amayo confirmed to members of the Haitian diaspora leadership and friends of Haiti, including this writer, at a meeting convened and hosted by Haitian diaspora leader, Dr. Joseph Baptiste, at his Washington DC suburban home. The meeting, on 26 January 2024, coincided with the day of the court’s decision, and it was timely to hear from Kenya’s ambassador Amayo that President Ruto remained fully committed to the mission. Ambassador Amayo assured the group that the government of Kenya intended to fulfill its obligation to the international community to help the Haitian people. Also, present at the meeting was Haiti’s ambassador to Washington, His Excellency Harold Joseph.

There are good reasons to expect that the lower court’s decision will be reversed on appeal. Given my understanding of the judicial process and the pleadings and arguments presented at the trial court level. It seems the lower court did not fully consider the two most important decisions authorizing the deployment – the National Security Council’s (NSC) decision and parliament’s approval to authorize the deployment of Kenyan police to Haiti.

The NSC’s decision and parliament’s subsequent approval are important steps in the authorization process. The government appears confident that when considered at the appellate level the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court will rule that the parliament is vested with the constitutional authority and prerogative to authorize the deployment.

Urgency for political order and development

There are several additional issues that could affect the MSS mission’s deployment. Importantly, the mission’s cost is expected to far exceed the total amount of funds already pledged, falling well short of funds required for implementation of the mission’s mandate. Underfunding could be the greatest threat to the mission’s success.

Amb. Curtis Ward addressing meeting

Also, yet to be considered by the international community are development funds required for the social, economic, political, and long-term stability of Haiti. Success of the MSS mission depends on development funds being employed concurrently with the security mission. Development funds must prioritize the economic and social restructuring of Haiti, thus giving the people, particularly the youth and the poor masses, a future that significantly neutralizes the drivers – push and pull factors – to gang membership and criminality. Implementation of these programs must be prioritized along with security and stability.

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There is an urgency for the restoration of political order, democracy, the rule of law, good governance, and the protection and guarantee of the rights and freedoms of Haiti’s citizens. Haiti’s historic revolution provided aspirational goals for enslaved and oppressed peoples around the world. Haitians, having fought for and won their freedom, were penalized, and made to suffer for more than 200 years by imperial oppressors fearful that the Haitian success could be replicated elsewhere. The first black nation to free itself of colonial oppression and inhumane servitude deserves our support.

Dr. Joseph Baptiste & Mrs. Baptiste with Amb. Amayo

U.S. government remains committed

The ruling of Kenya’s lower court is a setback. But it is not fatal. The U.S. government (USG), in a statement issued by the State Department (DoS), on 27thJanuary, acknowledged the ruling and the Kenyan government’s intent to appeal. The DoS spokesperson said, “The United States’ commitment to the Haitian people remains unwavering.” The USG reaffirmed its support of ongoing international efforts to deploy a MSS mission for Haiti, as requested by Haiti and authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 2699.  The USG also renewed its calls for the international community to urgently provide support for the mission. The USG must lead with a significant increase in its own pledge for the mission to succeed.

In reiterating it’s call for restoration of democratic order through an inclusive political process in Haiti, including consensus in a power-sharing and inclusive governance, and for free and fair elections, the USG can and must do more towards consensus building among the various political factions. It also requires Congressional participation and support in this process.

The political divisions in Haiti continue as a stumbling block to efforts by CARICOM’s eminent persons group. But CARICOM must continue in pursuit of its originally stated objectives to seek political consensus. The uncompromising, ego-driven positions of so-called political leaders must not be allowed to stand between long-term security stability and sustainable development vis-à-vis chaos in Haiti.

Given the restated commitments of the Kenyan and U.S. governments, the Haitian people should find some comfort that help is still on the way. CARICOM members and other pledged contributors of personnel to the MSS mission should continue preparation in earnest, including joint planning with Kenya, and be ready for future deployment.

Haitian diaspora imperative

Political progress in Haiti will require concentrated pressure by the Haitian diaspora and governments who are benefactors to many of the Haitian politicians. It is often claimed by several of these factional leaders, and their diaspora supporters, that Haitians at home can solve Haiti’s problems if left alone to do so. This nationalistic argument defies reality, given the state of deterioration in the systems of governance and the rule of law, prevalence of corruption and the country’s lack of resources, and provides no realistic path to resolving Haiti’s problems.

My reading of the Haitian diaspora suggests that most members support the authorized Kenyan-led mission and for a process of political compromise in Haiti. Several are prepared to offer their expertise and other resources in support of the mission and a path to political consensus. Diaspora engagement appropriately mobilized in partnership with benefactor countries should be a priority. Thus, international efforts must prioritize diaspora engagement and mobilize their financial and technical expertise.

There should be no doubt that diasporic Haitians have a rightful stake in shaping their country’s future. A fully engaged diaspora will be the guarantor of stability in a future Haiti

© Curtis A. Ward

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About the author

Ambassador Curtis A. Ward

Ambassador Curtis A. Ward is a former Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations with Special Responsibility for Security Council Affairs (1999-2002) serving on the UN Security Council for two years. He served three years as Expert Adviser to the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee. He is an Attorney-at-Law and International Consultant with extensive knowledge and experience in national and international legal and policy frameworks for effective implementation of United Nations (UN) and other international anti-terrorism mandates; the legal and administrative requirements to effectively implement and enforce anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT); extensive knowledge of the legal and regulatory requirements for effective implementation and enforcement of United Nations multilateral and U.S.-imposed unilateral sanctions; and the imperatives for Rule of Law and governance. He is a geopolitical and international security analyst, and a human rights, democracy, and anticorruption advocate.

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