29 February 2004 Acting just hours after Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned as President of Haiti, the United Nations Security Council this evening unanimously authorized the immediate deployment of a Multinational Interim Force to the troubled nation.
The Council's action followed an appeal by Haiti's acting President, Boniface Alexandre, for urgent international support in restoring peace and security.
Adopting a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for the use of military power, the Council mandated the operation to contribute to a secure and stable environment in the country, to facilitate the provision of relief aid to those in need, and to help the Haitian police and the Haitian Coast Guard maintain law and order and protect human rights.
The Council decided that the operation would be stationed in Haiti “for a period of not more than three months” while declaring its readiness to establish a follow-on UN stabilization force to support the continuation of a peaceful and constitutional political process and the maintenance of a secure and stable environment.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan was requested, in consultation with the Organization of American States (OAS), to make recommendations on the size, structure and mandate of the follow-on UN operation. He was also asked to elaborate a programme of action for the UN's political, humanitarian, human rights and development work in support of Haiti.
Member States were called on to urgently contribute personnel, equipment and other necessary financial and logistic resources to the Multinational Interim Force.
The Council demanded that all the parties to the conflict halt the violence, reiterating that “there will be individual accountability and no impunity for [human rights] violators.” It further demanded respect for the constitutional succession and the political process under way to resolve the current crisis.
The resolution called on the international community, in particular the UN, the OAS, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to work with the people of Haiti in a long-term effort to promote the rebuilding of democratic institutions and to assist in forging a development and poverty alleviation strategy.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, Mr. Annan hailed the quick adoption of the resolution, declaring that “the international community has shown the will to help the Haitian people."
Ahead of the Council's meeting, the Secretary-General had pledged the UN's help for Haiti.
Responding to press questions, Mr. Annan also voiced hope that the “the international community is not going to put a band-aid on, and that we are not only going to help stabilize the current situation, but assist the Haitians over the long haul and really help them pick up the pieces and build a stable country.”
He called on the Haitian people to “remain calm, to work with the new President, and to think of their country and their future, not individual ambitions.”
In addition, he warned “those who are likely to want to commit serious human rights violations that they will be held individually accountable.”
The Secretary-General has been in touch with various world leaders on the Haiti issue over the course of the past critical days, including Mr. Aristide.