By Winston D. Munnings
With presidential elections to be held in Haiti on November 28, if there was ever a time to revisit the concept of Haiti becoming a UN Protectorate State is now. And why not? There is no other nation in the Western Hemisphere that has endured the adversities and misfortunes as that of the Republic of Haiti and its people. No other country!
Haiti’s problems and the problems of the Haitian people, however, did not start on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, killing more than 250,000 and leaving 1.5 million of its people homeless. Haiti’s problems started more than a half century ago under a merciless dictatorship, a poorly planned economy, greed, corruption, isolation … and the list goes on and on for this long neglected nation, which achieved its independence in 1804.
Fast forward all this now to 2010 (as Haiti is finally the focus of the world’s attention) and just one week shy of national elections there to elect a new president. There are undoubtedly more questions than answers by all concerned (Haitians included) about Haiti’s future and (perhaps) more suggestions than ever before as to how the new leaders might proceed to bring this ravaged nation into the 21st century.
The question of a UN protectorate status for Haiti is relatively old news, but one that shows promise for Haiti in the long run. In fact, some in the international community have already called for the creation of a UN protectorate for Haiti to provide this already fragile nation with stability and leadership as they recover and rebuild from the devastation of the last eleven months.
Others, of course, are strongly rejecting this option, viewing it as a threat to Haiti’s autonomy and sovereignty. What autonomy, one might ask? How is the current situation in this island nation benefitting the republic and its people? How long must the Haitian people continue to suffer while we intellectualize about their future?
Before the January earthquake, Haiti was still the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Given what has happened since (an assault last month by Hurricane Tomas and a deadly cholera outbreak that followed) the people of the Republic of Haiti are worse off now than ever before. The people of Haiti are hurting as never before.
Haiti needs help. Haiti needs guidance. Given the republic’s present dilemma, Haiti needs to be taken care of as a parent would take care of a child until that child is in position to take care of himself.
CARICOM, France, the United States and the future president of Haiti need to come together early 2011 under the auspices of a UN sponsored conference (now that Haiti is finally the focus of the world’s attention) to take a review of Haiti’s future and the future of its people. Critical to that review should be to assess the short, medium and long term impact on Haiti under UN Protectorate Status similar to that (perhaps) of the Kosovo model. To this end, it might be a good idea for the special envoy to Haiti (President Bill Clinton) to invoke the fundamentals of the UN Charter and let this world assembly take serious charge of Haiti’s monstrous predicament.
It is not unusual for the United Nations to play a significant role is matters of this kind. Although the circumstances vary in each case, take a look at Protectorates under direct UN administration since the early 1960s: (1) United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA), 1962-1963 - United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), 1992-1993 - United Nations Transitional Authority for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), 1996-1998 - United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), 1999 – Current, and United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), 1999-2002.
This is not the time to talk of Haiti’s autonomy as a sovereign entity. This is the time to talk of Haiti’s survival and the survival of its industrious and hardworking people who deserve, like other peoples, the opportunity to live and to be recognized and treated as human beings.
November 22, 2010