UNITED NATIONS (CMC) — Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders attending the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) have participated in a pivotal high-level meeting of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti.
The meeting, held on the sidelines of the UNGA, was led by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and according to a statement issued following the meeting, noted that “this significant diplomatic engagement underscores the commitment of the involved nations to address critical issues facing Haiti and promote regional stability.
“The meeting provided a platform for high-level discussions on strategies to support Haiti in its path toward stability, prosperity, and effective governance. Leaders from the Caribbean region came together to exchange ideas, share insights, and reaffirm their collective dedication to fostering positive change in Haiti,” according to the statement.
St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr Terrance Drew expressed his optimism about the collaborative efforts, acknowledging that the challenges faced by Haiti are shared challenges and a collective response must reflect a shared commitment to the well-being and progress of the Haitian people.
The statement said that the meeting “provided a valuable opportunity for world leaders to align their efforts, explore innovative solutions, and mobilise resources to address the multifaceted challenges facing the nation”.
Caribbean leaders will attend a summit in Ottawa next month, where the discussions are likely to focus on how best to reinforce security for neighbouring countries as well.
“What’s happening in Haiti is obviously terrible for the people of Haiti. It’s devastating what’s taking place, but it’s also very dangerous for the security of the whole region,” said Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN.
“That’s been an approach, again, that we’ve been pressing for and moving forward on, and I’m quite optimistic that we’re going to see a little bit more light and agreement in the next few weeks.”
Earlier this year, Canada announced plans to co-ordinate a multilateral effort that would help make the Haitian police a more effective security force.
Those efforts included a “co-ordination cell” to assess their most pressing needs, such as training and equipment and to figure out how supporting countries could best meet those requests.
Prime Minister Trudeau would not say whether Canada will take part in a Kenya-led multinational security mission in Haiti.
Media reports suggest a request for approval for a security mission could arrive at the UN Security Council as early as next week, but Prime Minister Trudeau assiduously avoided any hint that Canada would play a role.
“Let’s be very clear that Canada is one of the countries, if not the country, that has been leaning in most substantively and standing up for the Haitian people,” he told a news conference, adding that, “Canada is taking action in significant ways, but Canada also has 30 years of experience in supporting the Haitian people.
“The only lasting solutions will come through working with the Haitian people themselves, empowering the Haitian people themselves to direct and take responsibility for the future.”
Haiti has been thrown into turmoil since the July 7, 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, with the interim Government of Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry urging the international community to send in a multinational force to maintain peace and security in the country.
Speaking during a bilateral meeting with Henry, Prime Minister Trudeau said, “There is no solution to this situation from outside.
“We have a role to play from outside… but we need to see more dialogue, more consensus-building within Haiti and around the Haitian people.”
Speaking during the ad-hoc meeting, Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged that “it’s been very difficult, in terms of getting agreement and making progress, but we are getting somewhere”.
That includes an emerging consensus that security, humanitarian aid, sustainable development, and political and legal accountability must all be components of any effective solution.
Rae said, from the Canadian perspective, outside interventions are likely to have little to no lasting impact without the Haitians themselves playing a leading role.
“I think those views, which we’ve had for a long time, are now becoming more broadly accepted. So whatever emerges from the Security Council we hope will be part of that implementation,” he said.