Not all agree UN coalition in gang-ridden Haiti is a good thing. But what’s the alternative?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, flanked by Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry (left) and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Alfred Nganga Mutua (right) addresses diplomats during a meeting on the security situation in Haiti, on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York City on Sept. 22, 2023. (Bing Guan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Almost a year after Haiti sent up a distress signal, the international community will finally — finally — address the escalating political and societal chaos and gang violence gripping the country. Monday, the U.N. Security Council agreed to send a multinational delegation, led by Kenya, to Haiti.

The delegation’s marching orders will be to push back the violent Haitian gangs and their leaders and prop up some sort of working government structure. In short, restore a semblance of law and order. They have a year to do it.


All this comes at the urging of President Joe Biden and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who appears powerless as his country devolves to where even hospitals and orphanages for disabled children are being attacked by gangs. Women and children are being raped, according to a U.N. report. The Dominican Republic has closed its border with Haiti, making matters worse. Daily life for many Haitians is fraught with danger.

Right direction

The Security Council’s vote signals a milestone in helping stabilize the country by addressing national security, possibly setting the stage for elections and a return to a working democracy.

For months, this Editorial Board has pushed for help of any kind to be sent to Haiti. Biden has made it clear that American boots will not be sent to the island, but the Kenya-led operation will spend millions in international funds.

Although Haitians on the island and in the Miami diaspora agree the situation is dire, some say foreign intervention is not the solution. They are opposed to the U.N. multilateral solution and instead want a Haitian-based solution with no outside occupation. We can understand. In the past, outside intervention might have quelled unrest temporarily, but leaving the country, for a variety of factors, unable to maintain stability.

Among the suggestions: Reject military intervention or UN-led mission in Haiti; withdraw support for Prime Minister Henry; support the establishment of a legitimate transitional government; block and investigate arms shipments to Haiti, many from South Florida.

Among those opposed to the U.N. multilateral solution is Miami-Dade Commissioner Marleine Bastien, speaking out as a member of the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON)

She rejects any U.N. presence as an unwanted foreign occupation. She wants the Haitian people to be allowed to stand up for themselves.

“As a sovereign nation, there is a sense among some that Haitians should be able to determine their future without outside interference,” Bastien told the Editorial Board. “And besides, when has the U.N. fixed anything in Haiti?” Bastien has a point.

In 2010, U.N. peacekeepers were sent after a killer earthquake shook the country. But they introduced cholera to the population, leading to an epidemic that killed more than 10,000 people. The U.N. was slow to acknowledge responsibility, which damaged many Haitians’ trust in such missions.

And there are claims that in the past, some U.N. peacekeepers have engaged in sexual abuse and exploitation during their time in Haiti. That should not be allowed to happen again. The U.N. should send overseers to the mission unrelated to those taking part.

In opposition

A spokesman for NHAEON told the Board, that as a whole, it “unequivocally opposes” U.N. intervention. The Haitian people, he said, must feel they have a say and preserve their “self-determination.” Agreed, and the Kenyan delegation should keep that at the forefront in their dealings inside Haiti.

However, nothing about Haiti is easy. It’s slow slide into chaos only sped up after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

After more than a decade of U.N. support, the political and economic conditions in Haiti remain incredibly fragile.

“The people of Haiti cannot wait much longer,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told foreign ministers from more than 20 countries that expressed support for the mission before the vote.

Last week, Henry echoed Blinken’s urgency, telling the U.N. General Assembly last week that police and military personnel are needed and that the use of force “remains essential to create an environment in which the state can function again.” Agreed.

Blinken said it was imperative for the Security Council to authorize the mission to Haiti as quickly as possible so the force could be operational in the next several months. Groups like Bastien’s want a timeline of what the mission will do and when it will end. And they, and we all, should get it.

On the surface, deploying a multinational U.N. coalition seems reasonable. A well-trained, well-equipped international peacekeeping force could help stabilize areas under gang control and protect civilians.

But it is imperative that the Haitian people have an outsize say in their future.