Haiti Policy: Stumbling Toward 2023

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Photo of Antony Blinken and Melanie Joly Politico/Blair Gable/AP Photo

The impression that the ongoing Haitian crisis is framed by a diplomatic reality no one wants to own may be somewhat overstated, but it does capture the rudderless international response to Haiti’s intensifying calamity. Diagnosis of the crisis has been easy—but what key actors in Haiti and its international partners can agree on what to do about has remained muddled.

Notions of another “intervention” should be addressed prudently after three full-scale international interventions over the past three decades. The policy paralysis has been amplified by the ill-defined—though well-intentioned—notion of the need to have a “Haitian-led solution” as a precursor to any full-scale international response.

After months of mounting chaos, Haiti’s interim Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, in October requested help in the form of an international intervention—but leaving undefined the terms of reference of what this might look like. Ultimately, the UN Secretary General characterized a possible response as a “deployment of an international specialized armed force.” But the geopolitics of the UN Security Council, with neither Russia nor China interested in lending support to what is essentially a US policy challenge, resulted in the US trying to find “partner countries.” The fact that Washington has so far been unwilling to take the lead on such an operation has paralyzed a needed international response. In any event, for many, Henry’s appeal was seen as little more than a way to shore up his own tenuous hold on Haiti’s political and security reality.



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