After the departure of "Life President" Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986, Haiti had a series of short-lived governments. In 1990, the country's provisional Government requested the United Nations to observe the December 1990 elections.
The United Nations Observer Group for the Verification of the Elections in Haiti (ONUVEH) observed the preparation and holding of the elections, which were termed as "highly successful" by the head of ONUVEH. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, of the National Front for Change and Democracy, was elected President.
But in 1991, a coup headed by Lieutenant-General Raoul Cédras ended democratic rule. The President went into exile. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations condemned the coup and began diplomatic efforts for the return to democratic rule. The Secretary-General, at the request of the General Assembly, appointed a special envoy for Haiti, Mr. Dante Caputo, who was also appointed separately as special envoy by the OAS.
In response to the worsening situation, and on the request of Mr. Aristide, a joint United Nations/OAS mission -- the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) -- was deployed in the country in 1993. Its task was to monitor the human rights situation and to investigate violations.
The special envoy sought to reach an agreement on the appointment of a Prime Minister at the head of a Government of national unity, an amnesty for the coup leaders and the return of the President. But his proposals were not accepted.
In an effort to restore constitutional rule, the Security Council imposed an oil and arms embargo on Haiti in June 1993. General Cédras then agreed to hold talks. Such talks, conducted in New York by the special envoy, led in July to an agreement: Mr. Aristide would return to Haiti in October and appoint a new head of the armed forces.
As provided for by the agreements, the Security Council suspended the embargo following the approval by Parliament of a new cabinet, and established the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) to assist in modernizing the armed forces and in creating a new police force. But its mandate was undermined by the non-compliance of the military authorities with the agreement.
After a series of incidents, UNMIH, MICIVIH and other international agencies left Haiti in October 1993, and the Security Council resumed the embargo.
After further negotiations, MICIVIH returned to Haiti in 1994. The mission denounced the human rights violations taking place, and was met with harassment and obstruction. The Security Council added to the sanctions a trade embargo, with the exception of medical products and foodstuffs.
The de facto Government declared MICIVIH's international staff undesirable and gave them 48 hours to leave. The Secretary-General, concerned about their security, decided, in agreement with the OAS Secretary-General, to evacuate them.
The Security Council in July 1994 authorized Member States to form a multinational force and use "all necessary means" to facilitate the departure of the military leaders and the return to democratic rule. It also decided that a strengthened UNMIH would take over from the multinational force once a secure and stable environment was established.
The Secretary-General dispatched an envoy to seek arrangements for the President's return. But the military leaders declined to meet the envoy. Preparations for an operation to enforce the Council's decision began. The United States and Haiti's military leaders reached in September 1994 an agreement aimed at avoiding further violence. The agreement, mediated by a delegation headed by former United States President Jimmy Carter, provided for the early retirement of various military leaders, the end of the embargo and free parliamentary elections.
The 20,000-strong 28-nation multinational force, led by the United States, began deploying in Haiti, followed shortly thereafter by an UNMIH advance team.
General Cédras resigned and left Haiti, along with the Chief of Staff. On 15 October 1994, President Aristide returned to Haiti, and the following day the embargo was lifted. MICIVIH also returned, resuming its monitoring and promotion of human rights, and providing assistance to institution-building.
As decided by the Security Council, UNMIH took over in 1995 from the multinational force to assist the Government to maintain the secure and stable environment established by the force. UNMIH also helped to create, for the first time in the country's history, a national civil police. The United Nations and OAS oversaw the 1995 parliamentary and local elections, won by a coalition associated with President Aristide.
Its mission concluded, UNMIH was replaced in its functions by the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), which was followed by other operations -- the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH).
© United Nations