UNITED NATIONS FOCUS: HAITI
CRISIS IN HAITI: SEEKING A POLITICAL SOLUTION
December 1990/January 1991 Elections
The United Nations first became actively involved in the situation in Haiti in June 1990, after
the Provisional Government of that country formally requested the United Nations to observe
its electoral process. It also asked for United Nations assistance in drawing up electoral
security plans and in observing their implementation.
Haiti's request to the United Nations was one of the first acts of the Government of the
Provisional President of Haiti, Ms. Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, who took office in March 1990 amid
political, economic, social and institutional crisis prevailing in the country. To begin to provide
a basis for solving the crisis, the Provisional Government identified the holding of free, fair
and credible elections as a matter of top priority.
Following Haiti's request, and after extensive consultations among United Nations
Member States, the General Assembly adopted by consensus its resolution 45/2 on 10
October 1990, and asked the Secretary-General to provide the broadest possible support to
the Government of Haiti in meeting its requests for electoral observers, two or three security
advisers to assist the Haitian Coordinating Committee for the Security of Electoral Activities,
and specialized observers with solid experience in the field of public order. In line with the
Assembly's request, the Secretary general established the United Nations Observer Group
for the Verification of the Elections in Haiti (ONUVEH) to provide that support. Haiti also
asked the Organization of American States (OAS) and several non-governmental
organizations to provide electoral observers. ONUVEH personnel, headed by the Personal
Representative of the Secretary- General for Haiti, Mr. Joåo Augusto de Medicis (Brazil),
began arriving in Haiti immediately following the establishment of the mission.
Teams of electoral observers and security observers were then deployed throughout the
country, covering the nine departments. ONUVEH established close cooperation with OAS
observers and representatives of other organizations present in the country.
The first round of the elections was held on 16 December 1990. Haitian voters were asked to choose, by separate ballot, their president, legislative representatives and local officials. In cases where the required majority was not obtained, provision was made for a second round of elections. On 24 December, the Electoral Council announced the winner of the presidential election, the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When the final
results of the first round were released by the Council on 11 January 1991, they showed that
President-elect Aristide had won 67 per cent of the vote.
ONUVEH concluded that the first round of elections had taken place without major
incident and that the people of Haiti, for the first time in their history, had been able to
participate in democratic elections, freely casting their ballots in conditions of security and
without intimidation. Satisfactory conditions prevailed as well during complementary
legislative elections which took place in some districts on 6 January 1991 and during the
second round of elections which took place in most districts on 20 January.
International Community reacts to Coup d'Etat
Haiti's first democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, took the oath of office
on 7 February 1991. It was hoped that the elections would put an end to a long period
encompassing the dictatorship of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier, followed by five years
of political instability under five different regimes, and mark the beginning of an era of
democracy and economic and social progress. However, on 30 September 1991, President
Aristide was overthrown in a coup d'état, headed by Lieutenant-General Raoul Cédras, and
forced into exile.
On the same day, while the whereabouts of President Aristide were still unknown, the
Permanent Council of OAS condemned the coup d'état and its perpetrators; demanded
adherence to the Constitution and respect for the legitimate Government, the physical safety
of the President and the rights of the Haitian people; and called for the reinstatement of the
That same day, then United Nations Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar made a
statement in which he expressed the hope that calm would soon be restored and that the
democratic process would be pursued in accordance with the Constitution. The President of
the Security Council associated himself with the statement.
Meeting on 2 October, the OAS Ministers for Foreign Affairs heard a statement by
President Aristide, and on 3 October they adopted a resolution demanding his immediate
reinstatement. The Ministers recommended the diplomatic, economic and financial isolation
of the de facto authorities and the suspension of any aid except that provided for strictly
humanitarian purposes. They decided to dispatch a mission to Haiti and urged the United
Nations to consider the spirit and aims of the resolution.
On 3 October, President Aristide addressed the United Nations Security Council. The
President of the Council made a statement condemning the coup, calling for the restoration
of the legitimate Government, supporting the efforts of OAS and expressing the hope that the
President of Haiti would soon return to his country and resume his functions.
On 4 October, a high-level OAS delegation arrived in Haiti and met with representatives
of various groups within the country. The delegation's negotiations with the High Command
of the Haitian Armed Forces were interrupted on 7 October, when soldiers ordered the
delegation members to leave the country.
On 7 October, the two Chambers of the Haitian Parliament, under pressure from the
military, named an "Acting President", who in turn appointed, on 10 October, a "Prime
On 8 October, the OAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs adopted a second resolution, in which
they condemned the decision to replace the President illegally and declared unacceptable
any Government that might result from that situation. They urged OAS member States to
freeze the financial assets of the Haitian State and to impose a trade embargo on Haiti,
except for humanitarian aid. The Ministers called upon the Member States of the United
Nations to adopt the same measures. They also decided to constitute, at the request of
President Aristide, a civilian mission, known as OEA/DEMOC, to re-establish and strengthen
constitutional democracy in Haiti.
On 11 October 1991, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus
resolution 46/7, in which it condemned the attempted illegal replacement of the constitutional
President of Haiti, the use of violence and military coercion and the violation of human rights
in Haiti; affirmed as unacceptable any entity resulting from that illegal situation; and
demanded the immediate restoration of the legitimate Government of President Aristide, the
application of the Constitution and thus the full observance of human rights in Haiti. The
Assembly appealed to Member States to take measures in support of the OAS resolutions
and emphasized that, when constitutional order was restored in Haiti, increased cooperation
would be necessary to support the country's development efforts in order to strengthen its
democratic institutions. The Assembly also requested the United Nations Secretary-General
to consider providing the support sought by the OAS Secretary-General in implementing the
mandates arising from the OAS resolutions.
Special Envoy Appointed
Since then, the United Nations Secretary-General has actively supported the intensive efforts
by OAS and its mediator at the time, Mr. Ramirez Ocampo, the former Minister for Foreign
Affairs of Colombia, aimed at finding a political solution to the Haitian crisis.
On 15 July 1992, newly elected Secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali informed the Security Council that he had accepted the offer of the Secretary-General of OAS, Mr. Joån Baena
Soares, to include United Nations participation in a mission to Haiti. The high-level mission
led by the OAS Secretary-General visited Haiti from 18 to 21 August 1992. On 10
September, the United Nations Secretary-General informed the Council that his
representative had taken part in the OAS mission, that the Haitian parties did not seem to
have come closer together, that OAS was planning to deploy a first group of observers in
Haiti and that it had decided to maintain the economic embargo. He concluded by saying that
he intended to continue cooperating with OAS and stood ready to lend any other assistance.
On 3 November, the Secretary-General, in a report to the General Assembly, reviewed
the efforts made by the international community to resolve the Haitian crisis. He also cited
reports of a pattern of gross and widespread human rights abuses during the year since the
coup d'etat in Haiti. As a result of the deteriorating political, economic and humanitarian
situation, thousands of Haitians were fleeing their country.
On 24 November 1992, the General Assembly adopted resolution 47/20, in which, inter
alia, it again demanded the restoration of the legitimate Government of President Aristide,
together with the full application of the National Constitution and the full observance of human
rights, and requested the Secretary-General to take the "necessary measures" in order to
assist, in cooperation with OAS, in the solution of the Haitian crisis.
Following the adoption of the resolution, the Secretary-General, on 11 December 1992,
appointed Mr. Dante Caputo, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, as his
Special Envoy for Haiti. On 13 January 1993, the OAS Secretary general also appointed Mr.
Caputo as his Special Envoy.
INTERNATIONAL CIVILIAN MISSION
The Special Envoy held a series of preliminary consultations between 17 and 22 December
1992, in Washington, D.C., with President Aristide, and at Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti,
with the Coordinator and members of the Presidential Commission, with the Commander-in-Chief of the Haitian Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Raoul Cédras, with the then Prime
Minister of the de facto Government, Mr. Marc Bazin(1), and with the Presidents of the two
Chambers of the National Assembly of Haiti. Further discussions were held with President
Aristide in early January 1993.
On 8 January 1993, President Aristide, in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General,
requested, among other things, the following: (a) the deployment by the United Nations and
OAS of an international civilian mission to monitor respect for human rights and the
elimination of all forms of violence; and (b) the establishment of a process of dialogue among
the Haitian parties, under the auspices of the Special Envoy, with a view to reaching
agreements for the solution of the political crisis and the designation of a Prime Minister by
the President to lead a Government of national concord aimed at the full restoration of
democratic order in Haiti; agreements for the rehabilitation of Haitian institutions, including
the reform of the judicial system, the professionalization of the armed forces and the
separation of the police from the armed forces; international technical assistance for national
reconstruction; and a system of guarantees to ensure a lasting solution. An identical letter
was addressed to the Secretary-General of OAS.
After further meetings at Port-au-Prince on 16 and 17 January 1993, the Special Envoy
received two letters, one from Lieutenant-General Cédras and the other from Mr. Bazin,
accepting in principle an international civilian mission and a dialogue among the Haitian
parties to resolve the political crisis in the country.
In a letter of 18 January 1993 to President Aristide, the Secretary-General agreed to the
United Nations' participation in the International Civilian Mission for verifying respect for
human rights and the eradication of all forms of violence in Haiti, subject to the approval of
the General Assembly and under terms to be agreed jointly with OAS.
In the mean time, faced with the announcement by the de facto Government of Haiti that
it was proceeding with the holding of elections for a third of the Senate, the Permanent
Council of OAS adopted, on 13 January 1993, a declaration repudiating the proposed
elections and declaring them to be "illegitimate'' and obstructive of the efforts under way by
OAS and the United Nations towards restoring the democratic institutional framework in Haiti.
The United Nations Secretary general supported the OAS declaration. However, his request
to the de facto Haitian authorities that the elections be canceled was not heeded.
Following the Special Envoy's consultations with the Secretaries-General of the United
Nations and of OAS concerning the mandate of the International Civilian Mission and the
modalities of its operation, the joint ideas were presented to and agreed upon by President
Aristide. The terms of the agreement regarding the Mission were subsequently incorporated
in an exchange of letters between the de facto Prime Minister, Mr. Bazin, and the Special
Envoy on 9 February 1993.
Under the agreement, the International Civilian Mission is to verify respect for human
rights as laid down in the Haitian Constitution and in the international instruments to which
Haiti is a party, in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
American Convention on Human Rights. The Mission would devote special attention to the
observance of the rights to life, to the integrity and security of the person, to personal liberty,
to freedom of expression and to freedom of association. The Mission is entitled to receive
communications relating to alleged human rights violations, to visit freely any place or establishment, to enjoy entire freedom of movement within Haitian territory, to interview anybody
freely and privately, to make recommendations to the authorities and verify their follow-up,
to undertake a public information and education campaign on human rights and to use the
mass media to the extent useful for the fulfilment of its mandate. It is understood that the
Mission is authorized to resort to other international procedures for the promotion and
protection of human rights.
The agreement also provides that once the Mission has been deployed, the Special
Envoy would undertake discussions regarding ways and means through which the United
Nations and OAS may assist in reinforcing democracy, accelerating economic development
and professionalizing national institutions, in particular, the judicial system, the armed forces
and the police.
In his 24 March 1993 report to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General
recommended that the Assembly establish the United Nations component of the joint
International Civilian Mission in Haiti. The United Nations component of the Mission is to
comprise some 200 international staff, including 133 human rights observers. OAS provides
another 133 international observers, plus other required personnel for its component. The
report also contained the proposals submitted by the team of three international human rights
experts, which had visited Haiti from 15 to 22 February 1993, including its recommendations
on the deployment of the Mission throughout Haiti, the modalities of its operation and its
needs in terms of personnel and resources.
General Assembly Acts
On 20 April 1993, the General Assembly adopted, without a vote, its resolution 47/20B,
approving the Secretary-General's report and authorizing the deployment of the United
Nations' participation, jointly with OAS, in the International Civilian Mission to Haiti. The
Assembly reiterated the need for an early return of President Aristide to resume his
constitutional functions as President and strongly supported the process of political dialogue
under the auspices of the Special Envoy with a view to resolving the political crisis in Haiti.
It reiterated that any entity resulting from actions of the de facto regime, including the partial
elections to the Parliament in January 1993, was illegitimate.
By other provisions of the resolution, the General Assembly considered that any
modifications regarding the economic measures recommended by the ad hoc meeting of the
OAS Foreign Ministers should be considered according to progress in the observance of
human rights and in the solution of the political crisis. It reaffirmed the international
community's commitment to increased technical, economic and financial cooperation when
constitutional order is restored in Haiti, in order to strengthen institutions responsible for
dispensing justice and guaranteeing democracy, political stability and economic development.
Civilian Mission Deployed
Pending the General Assembly's approval, the United Nations Secretary-General dispatched
to Haiti on 13 February 1993 an advance team and a survey group to prepare for the
deployment of the United Nations component of the Mission. On 14 February, an initial group
of 40 observers from OAS arrived in Haiti, where they joined forces with a small team of
OAS observers that had been in Port-au-Prince since September 1992.
The Mission operates under a Head of Mission, appointed jointly by the United Nations
and OAS and reporting to the Special Envoy. Its headquarters is located at Port-au-Prince,
with 14 regional offices and sub-offices across the country. It has been estimated that the
financial requirements for the United Nations' participation in the Mission in 1993 would
amount to approximately $23.7 million.
Deployment in the provinces began on 5 March. By the end of March, the Mission had a
team in each of the nine departments of the country. By the end of May 1993, the Mission
had 141 international staff members, including 86 observers deployed in the regional teams.
The Executive Director of the joint Mission is Mr. Colin Granderson (Trinidad and Tobago).
Mr. Ian Martin (United Kingdom) has been appointed as Director for Human Rights and
Deputy to the Executive Director.
On 3 June 1993, the Civilian Mission submitted its first report on the human rights situation
in Haiti. The report, which was of an interim nature, concentrated on such issues as violations
of the right to integrity and security of person linked to violations of the right to freedom of
expression and association; deaths in detention, disappearances and arbitrary executions;
and other violations of the right to physical integrity and individual security.
TOWARDS A POLITICAL SOLUTION
Oil end Arms Embargo Imposed
In the mean time, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy conducted with the parties
concerned consultations aimed at seeking a political solution to the Haitian crisis. The
immediate objective of those consultations was to achieve agreement on three main issues,
namely the return of President Aristide to Haiti, the appointment of a Prime Minister to head
a Government of national concord and the resolution of the question of amnesty. Other
critical issues included technical assistance for the economic and institutional reconstruction
of the country and the nature and duration of the international presence in Haiti, coupled with
international guarantees to ensure compliance with the agreements.
Despite the mounting international pressure, however, the negotiating process undertaken
by Mr. Caputo was rejected by the de facto authorities and the military command in Haiti
when they refused to accept the key elements of the proposed framework for a settlement.
On 7 June 1993, the Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations addressed
a letter to the President of the Security Council, in which he stated that despite the efforts of
the international community, constitutional order had not yet been re-established in Haiti
because the de facto authorities continued to obstruct all initiatives. In the light of that
situation, the letter went on, the Government of Haiti requested the Security Council to make
universal and mandatory the sanctions against the de facto authorities adopted at the
meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of OAS and recommended in the General Assembly
resolutions, giving priority to an embargo on petroleum products and the supply of arms and
On 16 June, the Security Council, acting under Chapter Vll of the Charter, unanimously
adopted resolution 841 (1993), by which it decided to impose an oil and arms embargo
against Haiti as part of the continuing international effort to restore constitutional rule to that
country. The President of the Council, in a statement on behalf of its members, said that the
adoption of the resolution was warranted by the unique and exceptional situation in Haiti and
should not be regarded as constituting a precedent.
The Council decided that the sanctions would enter into force on 23 June 1993 unless the
Secretary-General, having regard to the views of the Secretary-General of OAS, reported
to the Council that, in the light of the results of negotiations currently under way, the measures
were no longer warranted. At any time after such reporting, should the de facto authorities
in Haiti fail to comply in good faith with their undertakings in those negotiations, the sanctions
measures would enter into force immediately.
The resolution obliged States to prevent the sale or supply, by their nationals or from their
territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of petroleum or petroleum products or arms
and related matériel, including military vehicles, police equipment and their spare parts, to any
person or body in Haiti. States were also to prevent any activities by their nationals or in their
territories which promote or are calculated to promote such sale or supply. States were also
required to freeze all funds in the name of the Government of Haiti or the de facto authorities
there, as well as those funds controlled directly or indirectly by the two, wherever located or
A committee of the Security Council consisting of all its members was established to
monitor compliance with the resolution and promulgate guidelines to facilitate its
implementation. The committee may authorize, on an exceptional case-by-case basis under
a no-objection procedure, the importation to Haiti of petroleum products in noncommercial
quantities for verified essential humanitarian needs.
The Council also called upon all States to cooperate with the committee by providing
whatever information it might seek. It also called upon States to bring proceedings against
persons and entities violating the measures imposed by the Council and to impose
On 21 June 1993, Mr. Caputo received a letter from the Commander-in-Chief of the Haitian
Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Cédras, accepting the Special Envoy's earlier invitation
to him to initiate a dialogue with President Aristide with a view to resolving the Haitian crisis.
On 3 July, after almost a week of talks on Governors Island, New York City, President
Aristide and Lieutenant-General Cédras signed an agreement containing arrangements which
the parties felt paved the way to a "satisfactory solution to the Haitian crisis and the beginning
of a process of national reconciliation".
Under the Agreement, President Aristide will appoint a new Commander-in-Chief of the
Armed Forces to replace Lieutenant-General Cédras, who will take early retirement.
President Aristide will return to Haiti on 30 October 1993. The parties agreed to a political
dialogue, under the auspices of the United Nations and OAS, between representatives of
political parties represented in the Parliament, with the participation of representatives of the
Presidential Commission. The objectives of the political dialogue were to reach a political
truce and promote a social pact to create conditions necessary to ensure a peaceful
transition; to establish procedures to enable the Haitian Parliament to resume its normal
functioning; to reach an agreement enabling the Parliament to confirm the Prime Minister as
speedily as possible; and to reach an agreement permitting the adaption of the lows
necessary for ensuring the transition. The parties further agreed that the President would
nominate a Prime Minister, to be confirmed by the legally reconstituted Parliament. Following
the Prime Minister's confirmation and assumption of office, all United Nations and OAS
sanctions were to be suspended. Other provisions dealt with issues of amnesty, the creation
of a new police force and international cooperation.
The Agreement specifically requested the presence of United Nations personnel in Haiti
to assist in modernizing the armed forces and establishing the new police force. The
Secretary general, after consultations with the constitutional Government of Haiti, was to
report to the Security Council with his recommendations on that aspect of the implementation
of the Agreement. The United Nations and OAS were called upon to verify the fulfilment of
all the commitments set out in the Agreement. The Secretary-General entrusted the
verification to his Special Envoy and asked him to report regularly to him and to the
Secretary-General of OAS.
Suspension of the Sanctions
In his letter to the Secretary-General on 15 July, the President of the Security Council confirmed the readiness of the Council to suspend the sanctions imposed against Haiti under Security Council resolution 841 (1993) immediately after the Prime Minister had been ratified and had assumed the functions of that office in Haiti*. It was agreed that
provisions would be made for the automatic termination of such suspension if the parties to
the Agreement or any authorities in Haiti failed to comply in good faith with the Agreement.
The Council also declared its readiness to terminate the sanctions, upon receipt of a report
from the United Nations Secretary-General immediately after the return of President Aristide
Political Truce Signed
On 14 July 1993, representatives of political forces and parliamentary blocs began a political
dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations and OAS.
At the conclusion of the talks in New York on 16 July, the parties agreed on a six-month
truce "to guarantee a smooth and peaceful transition" in their country. In agreeing to the truce,
the parties undertook to promote and guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms and to refrain from any action that might lead to violence or disrupt the transition
to democracy. They also undertook not to table motions of no confidence against the new
Government of national concord, in so far as it respected the Constitution and the lows of the
Republic, or to obstruct the work of the Parliament.
The signatories invited President Aristide to appoint a new Prime Minister as soon as
possible, and undertook to ensure that lows necessary for the transition of power were
passed on the basis of an emergency procedure.
They agreed that the members of Parliament elected as a result of the contested
elections of 18 January 1993 would voluntarily refrain from occupying their parliamentary
sects until the Conciliation Commission has rendered its verdict on this issue.
The United Nations and OAS agreed to make two experts available to help prepare and
implement an act establishing the Conciliation Commission.
Published by the United Nations Department of Public Information
Printed by the United Nations Reproduction Section, New York
DPI/1402--August 1993 - 5M
1. Mr. Bazin resigned on 8 June 1993.