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The UN Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to extend its integrated UN office in Haiti for another year, but did not back a China-led provision to include certain bans on transfers. small arms and light weapons.
The motion presents another example of China trying to increase its involvement on the island.
Violence erupted across Haiti after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last year. Authorities failed to identify and arrest those involved in planning and financing the assassination as the gangs moved to aggressively expand their territory during the leaders’ absence.
The UN mandate will remain in effect until July 15, 2023, with a focus on helping to establish a locally-developed and locally-led political process that will enable peaceful, free and fair presidential elections.
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Mexico’s ambassador to the UN, Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez, said the mandate sends “a clear message” that the necessary Haitian parties must reach an agreement that will lead to a return to institutional order.
The Haitian government must provide an update on progress towards these goals by October 17 of this year.
The United States and Mexico have submitted a resolution aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Haitian National Police to combat gang violence and coordinate support from the international community to combat illegal arms trafficking.
China wanted more aggressive actions and called for a general embargo on the movement of small arms to “non-state actors engaged in or supporting gang violence” in Haiti.
“It’s a necessary step,” Zhang Jun, the People’s Republic of China’s permanent representative to the world body, said of the measure. China has also pushed for a broader list of actions, including improved police capacity and tougher port and border measures as part of the crackdown on gun smuggling, which it identified as the main driver for the continued violence.
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Zhang also urged all countries to tighten arms export controls, which he said China will pursue with “relevant countries”.
China’s greatest interest in the country is perhaps due to the recognition of Taiwan by former Haitian leaders. Some analysts speculate that Beijing may try to influence any political transition to convince the country to change its stance on the Taiwan issue, according to Reuters.
Beijing insists its tougher stance on Haiti has nothing to do with that recognition but rather a desire to take “meaningful” action.
“The situation in Haiti cannot be worse,” a spokeswoman for the Chinese mission to the UN told AFP. “As we conduct negotiations here, gang violence is escalating in Port-au-Prince.”
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“An arms embargo against criminal gangs is the minimum the council should do in response to the appalling situation,” she added.
Zhang said he hoped the failure to enact tougher measures “won’t send the wrong signals to the gangs” and that China would continue to push for an embargo.
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The United States has said it does not oppose an embargo, but needs a UN sanctions committee or panel to oversee it.
He would “need more work,” a diplomatic source told AFP.
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Post expires at 5:05am on Friday July 22nd, 2022