Summary. Tacitly enshrined in the United Nations Charter (Chapter VII and Security Council regulations) and in the legislation of many States, including the United States – the world’s leading power post-World War II, sanctions regimes are above all a political and diplomatic « weapon » in international relations, used since the 1950s: North Korea (sanctions adopted by the United States), Iraq (Security Council Resolution 661 of 6 August 1990), etc.
The sanctions adopted by Canada (against 19 public, political and business figures), the United States (against around 50) and the Security Council (through Resolution 2653/2022) with a view to the « immediate cessation of violence, criminal activities and human rights abuses that jeopardize the peace, stability and security of Haiti and the region » and to bring the political actors to engage in real negotiations to bring Haiti out of its current dead-end would be a narrative or a classic instrument to which Haitian actors are accustomed.
Following the coup of 30 September 1991 – an attack on the democratic order causing serious suffering to the population, the Organization of American States (OAS), followed by the European Community, put in place an embargo on Haiti. On 3 June 1993, the Security Council adopted Resolution 841 (1993) placing Haiti under embargo,renewed by Resolution 861 (1993). In addition, new sanctions were introduced on 7 May 1994. The Bigio family was among those sanctioned by the US administration. As the fundamental objective pursued was reached, i.e., to collaborate for the return of Aristide, the sanctions were lifted.
Jude Célestin came second in the 2010 presidential election, according to official partial results, but was dropped by the President René Préval and the UNITE political platform team, due to the announcement of sanctions by the US government, which favoured the accession of Michel Martelly (third) to power, winning the second round at the expense of Ms Mirlande Hyppolyte Manigat.
It is important for Haitian actors and society to understand the mechanisms of sanctions: typology (economic sanctions, individual sanctions, etc.), the difference between bilateral sanctions, which are binding only on the State that adopts them, and multilateral sanctions, which must be followed by all States under Article 48 of the United Nations Charter, and their respective consequences.
Beyond the main objective pursued by the United States, Canada and the Security Council, consisting of « behavioural change » and not condemnation, sanctions must aim to strengthen democratic institutions and should be as consistent as possible with the principles of the rule of law.
If in the past the objectives pursued were achieved (e.g., the return of President Aristide, the ousting of Jude Célestin from the presidential elections…), the institutions, on the other hand, were not strengthened. They have been vassalised, politicised and corrupted… This is basically the reason for the catastrophe that Haiti is facing, even though tens of millions of dollars for projects have been spent since the return of Aristide on October 15, 1994.
Most of the frozen funds were stolen from the population, which was plunged further into abject poverty. They must be returned to the treasury through a clearly established mechanism, otherwise the sanctions will not benefit the population.
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