United Nations Missions in Haiti

In this sense, the missions objective were “to verify respect for human rights as laid down in the Haitian Constitution and in the international instruments to which Haiti is a party, in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Mission would devote special attention to the observance of the rights to life, to the integrity and security of the person, to personal liberty, to freedom of expression and to freedom of association.”

These were clearly aspects of international life which had been breached before in other crisis of the sort. The observers were deployed and scattered throughout the country.

The results of the mission were not as expected however. Before the mission the situation in the country was the following: “Almost 4,000 people were killed and over 300,000 people were internally displaced. For political reasons, many were disappeared, others received gunshot or knife wounds, others, mostly women, were raped and sexually assaulted, and many others were victims of arbitrary arrest and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”

. The initial responses had been positive but after the reinstallation of President Aristide. The Mission had adapted to the needs of the country and the joint command of the mission provided support from all the parties involved.

After the reinstatement of president Aristide through the Governors Island Agreement the situation worsened and the mission was unable to work in proper conditions and with the proper support. One example in this sense was the Medical Unit in charge of providing medical aid to the victims of human rights abuses. The lack of facilities, of trained personnel, of treatment conditions and at the same time of political support determined the medical unit to perform below its imposed standards. Another setback for the mission was the constant volatile security situation in the country. More precisely, the UN mandate prevented the forces to intervene. Therefore, in two occasions was the mission forced to withdraw from the country as a result of war situations. Therefore the mandate of the second mission as well as the internal political aspects of the country prevented the UN to fully achieve its mission.

In terms of peacekeeping mission in the real sense of the term, the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) was the first peacekeeping mission to be established in the country. However, it failed to be fully operational. Resolution 940/1994 establishing the mission “authorizes Member States to form a multinational force under unified command and control and, in this framework, to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure from Haiti of the military leadership, consistent with the Governors Island Agreement, the prompt return of the legitimately elected President and the restoration of the legitimate authorities of the Government of Haiti, and to establish and maintain a secure and stable environment that will permit implementation of the Governors Island Agreement (…)”

The mandate was an extremely broad one in the sense that it authorized the use of force should the case may be. This provided an important message to the local forces and enabled the UN forces to be credible actors in the country. The immediate results of the missions presence were the organization of elections in the country, in 1995 the legislative elections and the presidential elections in December 1995. The mandate ended in 1996.

From 1996 to 2000 there were several other missions for peacekeeping such as the UN Support Mission in Haiti, the UN Transition Mission in Haiti, as well as the UN Civilian Police Mission in Haiti

. Despite some reforms and democratic exercises such as the elections held in 1995, there was little change in the country. This is largely due to the fact that the approach was not a universal one. More precisely, the UN did provide medical, military, and government assistance, but, at the same time, it failed to take into account other underling factors such as the massive corruption at the top of the Haiti administration. Haiti is known to this day as being one of the most interesting countries for drug trafficking. Little action was taken at the time to diminished this trade. This in turn did not determine a change at the level of the society and it provided a proper ground for the continuation of the insurgency and subversive attacks.

The 2004 events marked the symbol of the UN failure in the country to that point. After the breakout of the conflict, the UN Security Council authorized the Multinational Interim Force to reestablish peace. Its follower is the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which is present to this day.

There have been a wide set of criticism at the MINUSTAH.

Firstly, there is the issue of the mission being understaffed

. Moreover, claims of funds misappropriation have become visible and these accusations damage the image of the UN in Haiti and the trust and respect some decision makers from Haiti share for the UN core values. According to UN Audit reports released, there are several issues related tot he staff, the procurement process, as well as other subjects which may determine a negative perspective.

This perspective is seen at the moment in the way in which Haitian people condemn the UN for spreading cholera. In this sense, street protests are constantly being organized against UN forces and violent attacks are conducted against them. However, as the peacekeepers have the mandate to shot back in self-defense, the hostilities can become in the future rather difficult obstacles to undertake. Recently, “Hundreds of protesters threw stones at UN peacekeepers, set up burning barricades and torched a police station in Cap Haitien. A demonstrator was shot and killed by a United Nations peacekeeper during an exchange of gunfire in Quartier Morin, on the outskirts of Haitis second largest city, Cap Haitien”

At the same time there are opposing versions of the events which automatically lead to interpretations.


The UN Mission in Haiti, regardless its name and mandate cannot be considered a truly successful mission in comparison to other smaller missions and with a higher delivery. At the same time though, the elections, as well as the feeble democratic process and government are the results of the UN peacekeeping operations. Despite the corruption allegations from both sides and interpretations of actions or inactions, the UN has provided a certain degree of trust among the population. However, the missions can be viewed as having failed because it did not manage to provide a proper organization, management, officers and most important a proper strategy. However, the situation, even in these conditions, has improved as a result of UN missions in Haiti and given the opening of the prime minister for cooperation, the UN may signify in the future a new opportunity for the country.


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Cecille Marotte and Herv Rakoto Razafimbahiny. “Haiti 1991-1994: The International Civilian Missions Medical Unit” in Health and Human Rights..

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