In response to extremely high levels of gang violence, other criminal activities, kidnappings, trafficking in persons, homicides, and sexual and gender-based violence, as well as the recent blocking of access to and illegal occupation of ports and fuel terminals by armed gangs operating in Haiti, the Security Council unanimously adopted UNSCR 2653 on 21 October 2022. The resolution authorized, for an initial period of one year, the imposition of a travel ban, asset freeze, and a targeted arms imports embargo on those who engage in or support criminal activities and violence involving armed groups and criminal networks that promote violence, support illicit trafficking, finance those activities, violate the arms embargo or human rights, engage in sexual or gender-based violence, obstruct delivery of humanitarian assistance, or attack UN personnel. One of Haiti’s most influential gang leaders, Jimmy Cherizier, was listed in the annex of the resolution for his role in conducting attacks against civilians and actions that directly contributed to the economic paralysis and humanitarian crisis in Haiti, including the occupation of the Varreux Terminal. The resolution also specifically identifies key benchmarks for sanctions review.
This was the first time the UN Security Council declared the activities of criminal networks a threat to international peace and security. The resolution is also notable because of its sweeping humanitarian carve-out and expression of intent “to consider authorizing the Ombudsperson to receive delisting requests,” potentially extending its mandate to sanctions regimes other than the Al-Qaida/ISIL/Associates regime.
In November 2022, Haitian police regained control of the Varreux Terminal which had been held by the G9 alliance of gangs led by the designated gang leader, but new roadblocks were set up by armed gangs elsewhere in the country that continued to disrupt delivery of humanitarian assistance. In a December 2022 briefing, the health situation in Haiti was described as “dire,” as reports of up 14,000 cases of cholera emerged. These estimates increased to 24,000 the following month. The Haitian government appealed for an international specialized force to reinforce its police, but no Member States stepped forward to offer assistance.
An interim agreement for a political transition was reached between Henry and some members of the “Montana Accord” group on 21 December 2022, (the “The National Consensus for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections”), but by April 2023, there were signs that the consensus was fraying (due to criticisms from other members of the “Montana Accord” Group). The July 2023 Secretary-General report stated that gang activity continued and that the levels of insecurity and violence were approaching levels associated with countries in armed conflicts. Vigilante groups formed to counter gang violence, and the level of homicides increased across the country.
The Haitian government repeated its appeal for an international force in June 2023, but given Haiti’s difficult experience with UN peacekeeping operations in the past, disagreements over the nature and mandate of such a force emerged both within the Security Council (from China and Russia) and from within Haiti itself (from some civil society organizations). The political mission (BINUH) was renewed for another year on 14 July 2023, with the unanimous adoption of UNSCR 2692. In August 2023, Kenya offered to provide forces and a reconnaissance mission arrived in Port-au-Prince to follow up on the offer. The sole designee of sanctions, Jimmy Cherizier (AKA “Barbeque”), condemned the idea and threatened to fight any foreign forces deployed in the country. Human Rights Watch reported in late August 2023 that 150 criminal gangs were operating in Port-au-Prince and that 80% of the capital was under gang control.
Coerce armed groups and criminal networks to cease violence, criminal activities, and human rights abuses in the country.
Constrain armed groups and criminal networks from having access to financial resources and arms and related materiel of all types.
Signal support for meaningful negotiations to overcome the political stalemate in the country and to hold free and fair legislative and presidential elections when the security situation permits.
Travel ban against individuals, asset freeze against individuals or entities engaging in violence, criminal activities, and human rights abuses, and a targeted arms imports embargo on designated individuals / entities.
Carve out provision created for humanitarian actors in paragraph 10 of UNSCR (2653). Carve out provisions from UNSCR 2664 (2022) also apply.
Current and maximum number of designees during the episode: 1 individual designee (leader of an alliance of Haitian gangs, G9 Family and Allies).
Current list of sanctions designees:
UN sanctions should have little impact on the general population since they are focused exclusively on specific individuals and entities.
Sanctions were imposed for a limited time period (1 year) to be renewed periodically. Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts created. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated. Enforcement authorities not specified.
Panel of Experts reports:
G9 gang blockade of the Varreux Terminal led by the designated individual was terminated, but armed gang activity was redeployed to other locations, and levels of violence increased. The security and humanitarian situations in the country remain dire.
Only one designation was made, and he remains defiant, threatening to fight any foreign forces to address the situation, but police intervention was more important in retaking the fuel terminal.
No discernible constraints observed yet.
Single designation indicates a focus on gang leadership, but only at the highest level and covering only some of the country’s many gangs. Inter-gang conflict and police activities also important in constraining armed groups and criminal networks.
An interim transitional political agreement was reached between major political factions in December 2022, but there was evidence of fraying by April 2023 and designation of only one armed group leader.
Other factors, such as internal political dynamics and CARICOM diplomacy were also important in facilitating the political agreement.
No unintended consequences of sanctions observed.
[not adopted under Chapter VII]