United Nations mission in Haiti: Failure or success

Note on how to cite this journal:

Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight 

The political situation in Haiti remains unstable since after the Haitian Army Force overthrew the elected President, Jean Bertrand Aristide, on 29 September 1991. Since then, the International Community has intervened in different peacekeeping missions in this Caribbean Island. On 31 July 1994, United Nations Security Council Resolution 940 authorized the United States to lead a multinational force to restore Aristide in power. On 2001, he was reelected and he will be resigned three years after due to the uprising of some sectors of the population. Then, the Security Council voted the resolution 1542 that allowing, since 1 June 2004, the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH), to succeed the Multinational Interim Force (MIF). Its mission was over on 15 October 2017, and MINUJUSH takes over. MINUJUSH’s mission would be done in October 2019 while the political situation still remains unstable.  


The International Community has intervened directly in Haitian politics since after the Armed Forces of Haiti overthrew the elected President, the former Catholic Priest, Jean Bertrand Aristide, on 29 September 1991. The IC served as the mediator between Haitian politicians’ actors to resolve the conflict.  On 31 July 1994, United Nations Security Council Resolution 940 authorized the United States to lead a multinational force on 15 October 1994, allowing Aristide to continue his mandate that would be ended on 1996. After a democratic election, René Garcia Préval, the former Aristide Prime Minister, became President until he organized an election that allowed Aristide to be elected another time as President. The private sector and most of the political actors worried about his politics; he encouraged the poor people to attack those who are wealthy and armed the young people in all shantytowns in the country. Consequently, a guerilla with ancient army members organized them at the Dominican Republic and entered in Haiti to overthrow the Aristide’s regime. This rebellion movement forced him to resign on 29 February 2004. The United Nations Security Council voted the resolution 1542 that allowing, since 1 June 2004, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (UNSTAMIH,  MINUSTAH: French acronym) to establish by succeeded the Multinational Interim Force (MIF). The MINUSTAH mission was over on 15 October 2017, and another small follow-up peacekeeping mission, United Nations Mission For Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSH) would take over ‘to support the government efforts to strengthen rule-of-law institutions, further develop the Haitian National Police and engage in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis’(www.peacekeeping.un.org/). And also, the MINUJUSH mission could be over on October 2019 while there is still a violation of Human Rights and the rule-of-law institutions still remain weak. Is the United Nations Mission in Haiti a failure or success? The Evaluation of those two missions will determine if it is a failure or success.

Socio-politics Panorama of Haiti during the period 1991-2019

From 1991 to 2019, there is no big change in Haiti; the political situation remains unstable. There are always armed conflicts by different shantytowns rival gangs especially in Port-au-Prince; those gangs’ members have worked for politicians actors such as parliamentarians and other government members just to intimidate the population to remain on power. They accuse each other on the media and social media. Insecurity is everywhere even police officers are not safe; few of them have been assassinated. Women and girls have been raped even at day time, and many people have been kidnapped. According to Maureen Taft-Morales, “widespread corruption has been an impediment to good governance and respect for human rights throughout much of Haiti’s history. The Haitian Senate’s Special Commission of Investigation released a report in November alleging embezzlement and fraud by current and former Haitian officials managing $2 billion in loans from Venezuela’s PetroCaribe discounted oil program. The commission accuses 15 former government officials, including two former prime ministers, and President Moïse’s chief of staff of corruption and poor management. … Almost 60% of the country’s 10 million people live in poverty, and almost a quarter of them live in extreme poverty. Haiti is still recovering from the devastating earthquake in 2010, as well as Hurricane Matthew, which hit the island in 2016. In addition, Haiti continues to struggle against a cholera epidemic inadvertently introduced by United Nations peacekeepers the same year as the earthquake.”

All governments that have taken place in Haiti do not bring change even they talk about it. They only bring change for their members because they become wealthy. Consequently, most Haitians aspire to have a political position; that’s why there are more than fifty (50) political parties in Haiti. After the mandate of a President, he already knew who should replace him; his successor should be a close ally. For example, Aristide – Préval; Préval-Aristide; Martelly – Jovenel; who is next after Jovenel? PHTK (parti Haitien tèt Kale) of Martelly is a pro-Duvalieriste movement, it could be, if the population is not vigilant, a member of the Duvalier regime. Tèt Kale (Haitian Creole term) means bald head. What was the mission of UNSTAMIH/MINUSTAH?

The mission of UNSTAMIH/MINUSTAH was restoring a secure and stable environment.  (www.peacekeeping.un.org/en/mission/minustah). 

Furthermore, after the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010, which resulted in more than 220,000 deaths (according to Haitian Government figures), including 96 UN peacekeepers, delivered a severe blow to country’s already shaky economy and infrastructure. The Security Council, by resolution 1908 of 19 January 2010, endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to increase the overall force levels of MINUSTAH to support the immediate recovery, reconstruction and stability efforts in the country (www.peacekeeping.un.org/en/mission/minustah).

Generally what peacekeeping does? UN peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. We have unique strengths, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandate set by the UN Security Council and General Assembly (www.peacekeeping.un.org).

Did UNSTAMIH / MINUSTAH mission accomplish?  

Nicolas L. Pauyo, in his book, Haiti: Re-foundation of a Nation, makes the following comments: “Dr. Ricardo Seteinfus, former Special Representative of the OAS in Haiti made this blunt remark: ‘The UN fails to take into account the cultural traits. Submitting Haiti to a peace operation is to ignore the real challenges facing the country. The problem is socio-economic development. When the unemployment rate reaches 80%, it is unbearable to deploy a stabilization mission. There is nothing to stabilize and everything is to build” (Pauyo 2011, 11). Pauyo asserts that the good news is that our friends have received a mandate from the UN to rebuild the State, the judiciary, and police systems as well as to reestablish authority and trust. They must be brave and do their job! They must not go away before completing the task because the new tactic now is to quickly exhibit strength and muscle and withdraw rapidly to let no one say that these foreigners abused their power. Such tactic is not acceptable! If they leave, it would have been best if they had never even come. Being in Haiti since 1994, they have to step up to the consolidation of our institutions. … We should not let happen what Ricardo Seteinfus said about the MINUSTAH: ‘Its mandate in Haiti is to keep the peace of the cemetery’ (Pauyo 2011, 43). 


Almost all experts in political scientists argue that the mission of United Nations in Haiti is a failure. The peacekeeping mission could not be accomplished while there are still gangs in all shantytowns, the population cannot function normally due to the insecurity, and most of Haitians youth want to flee this insecurity’s nation. However, the mission of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (UNSTAMIH / MINUSTAH) is restoring a secure and stable environment. I was one of Haitian who criticizes the mission of UN in Haiti; it is not because I was against the peacekeeping’s mission, but because the peacekeepers did not really do their job. I understand Ricardo Seteinfus viewpoint: ‘The UN fails to take into account the cultural traits. Submitting Haiti to a peace operation is to ignore the real challenges facing the country. The problem is socio-economic development. When the unemployment rate reaches 80%, it is unbearable to deploy a stabilization mission.’ I do not totally agree with him. I understand that cultural traits should be considered included in the socio-economic issue, but it is not a reason to ignore the importance of stabilization or a peacekeeping mission in Haiti. By the way, we all argue that the world is a village. The internal conflict of a country can affect the whole region. For example, our neighbor, Dominican Republic, does not feel safe because of the insecurity or the instability of Haiti. Chile is another country that has been affected by the situation in Haiti because a lot of Haitians fled to Chile and many other countries in the region. Consequently, the principal cause of Haitians’ emigration is socio-political instability. The Haitian people who are living in Haiti are in slavery without chains in their hands and feet because they are traumatized. If all Haitians politicians actors want to sit together and thinking about a new social contract, that would be fine; but we still need United Nations peacekeepers as mediators because they are experts; they know what peacekeeping, mediation, and reconciliation mean; and after the reconciliation what should be done. So, MINUJUSTH should stay until its mission is really accomplished, but it needs more Haitians experts in mediation and resolution conflict who know the Haitian culture and the real needs of the population.

Works-Cited – Bibliography

Pauyo, Nicolas L. Haiti:Re-foundation of a Nation, AuthorHouse, 2011

Taft-Morales, Maureen. Haiti’s Political and Economic Conditions: In Brief, Dec. 2017 (www.fas.org/)


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