Haiti and the International Community: A Case Study
Survival, Vol. 39, No. 2, Summer 1997, pp. 126-146
Posted: 18 Oct 2019
Date Written: 1997
The international community's involvement in Haiti since 1990 has attracted less media and scholarly attention than multilateral activities in Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia and former Yugoslavia. Multilateral efforts to restore ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power, however, including the UN Security Council (UNSC)- authorised use of force to effect his reinstatement, contain lessons with a broader application. The manner in which the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the United Nations set about defending democracy in Haiti highlights new substantive trends in both organisations. The dynamics within the UNSC regarding Haiti illustrate the dominance of its five permanent members, and the growing weight of the US within that group. The case also sheds light on new working methods within the UNSC. Finally, the Haiti case suggests that the multilateral route to promoting national interests can be a useful one for the US.
Haiti's new democracy remains fragile, and no one should underestimate the inherent difficulties involved in international projects like that of rebuilding the country. Yet, so far, the UN effort to put Aristide back in power must be considered a success. For the majority of Haitians, the economic quality of life has not improved, but the country is now free of the systematic political repression that has previously scarred its history. With continued international engagement, Haiti has a chance.
This article examines the broader lessons of the Haiti case for UN and international intervention, first by reviewing the evolution of the crisis and international reactions, then by exploring some of the key characteristics of that reaction.
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