UNSC resolution to ban small arms transfer to Haiti unanimously passes
A resolution put forward by the US and Mexico has passed to put arms sales to Haitian non-state actors to a halt, as deaths from gang violence increase.
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council agreed to ask member states to ban transferring small arms to Haiti, which is affected by gang violence - however, it stopped short of a Chinese-requested comprehensive embargo.
Along with fuel shortages and increasing food prices, bloodshed in the Caribbean nation has been on the rise. Many areas, according to agencies, are inaccessible. Between July 8 and 12, gang violence alone killed or injured at least 234 people in Haiti's Cite Soleil, a densely populated neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, according to the UN.
"Most of the victims were not directly involved in gangs and were directly targeted by gang elements. We have also received new reports of sexual violence," said UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Jeremy Laurence.
The USNC resolution, which was mainly put forward by Mexico and the United States, was adopted unanimously. The resolution calls on UN members to prohibit the transfer of small arms, light weapons, and ammunition to non-state factions in the country, while also granting the UNSC the authority to impose individual sanctions against gang figureheads within 90 days from when the resolution is adopted.
Zhang Jun, the Chinese Ambassador to the UN, called the resolution a "warning" to gangs in Haiti and a "step in the right direction."
The Council's resolution, however, did not mention another Chinese request, which was that the UN examines the possibility of sending a regional peace force to support the Haitian security forces. Instead, the resolution asks the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to join, along with countries in the region, to consider options regarding the strengthening of Haitian security. A report will also be submitted on October 15.
The resolution, furthermore, asserts the extension of the mandate of the UN special political mission in Haiti, Binuh, until 2023.
On Thursday night, Haiti announced the seizure of weapons from cargo containers holding 18 military-grade weapons, four 9 mm handguns, 14,646 rounds of ammunition, and $50,000 in counterfeit cash.
Arrest warrants have been issued by Haitian prosecutors against a number of suspects possibly linked to the cargo.
Over the past years, China has been vocal about issues regarding Haiti, particularly pertaining to Haiti's recognition of Taiwan, which China regards as under its sovereignty.
Poverty and gang violence in Haiti has caused many to flee to the Dominican Republic or to the US.
On Friday, speaking to AFP, Haitians appeared pessimistic that the UN could do anything to change the harrowing situation in the country.
"Gangs are multiplying, insecurity is increasing and so is arms trafficking. Binuh has failed in its mission," Fleurant Duceppe, a law student in Port-au-Prince, remarked.
"It is not useful to us in any way," he added. "It is up to us, the people, to take our destiny in hand."
Read next: NYT: US Missionaries Kidnapped in Haiti