The Security Council unanimously adopted last Friday resolution 2645 (2022) renewing the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and urging actions by the Haitian authorities and the international community to address the current situation. We, the Security Council signatories of the Statement of Shared Commitments of Women, Peace, and Security, built on the Trio Presidency initiative from 2021, Albania, Brazil, France, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, the UAE and the United Kingdom, have come together to express concern about and highlight the situation of women and girls in Haiti.
In recent discussions, including the first ever Informal Expert Group on WPS meeting on Haiti held in September 2021, we have heard how the rapid deterioration of the human rights situation in Haiti, particularly in gang-controlled neighborhoods of the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince has been linked to an alarming growth of reports of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and sexual slavery. These abhorrent crimes, which affect mostly women and girls of all ages, but also men and boys, are reported to be intentionally used to cause fear and forced displacement.
Despite the pervasiveness of sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti and various alerts of UN entities about it over the years, underreporting has always made it difficult to assess the real dimensions of the problem. High levels of insecurity, insufficient medical and psychological services or effective response mechanisms as well as feelings of guilt and shame, stigma, fear of retaliation or reprisals, or taboos surrounding the subject have prevented victims and survivors from coming forward. As a result, the full extent of the problem is often concealed.
Addressing the prevailing culture of impunity for the crime of sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti is urgently needed. We support the calls for urgent, comprehensive action by the international community to help the Haitian authorities in their efforts to strengthen legislation as well as police and legal response mechanisms. To that end, training to enhance response to sexual and gender-based violence and increasing women’s participation, including in leadership positions, in the armed forces and in the National Police are very important.
We recognise the need for strengthening BINUH’s capacity to help the government of Haiti in its efforts to promote human rights, including women's rights, and prevent further human rights violations and abuses. Increasing BINUH`s ability to help national authorities in preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence was a particular objective of the Security Council while discussing the renewal of BINUH’s mandate. Therefore, we welcome the new language in the resolution which encourages the identification of women’s protection advisers, as well as other protection mechanisms.
Promoting gender equality and women`s full, equal and meaningful participation and socio-economic inclusion is fundamental for the achievement of Haiti's economic and sustainable development goals, which will build the foundations to a lasting peace. As Council members, we stand with Haiti and commit to including women organizations and women leaders in our discussions about the situation in the country in order to be able to adequately identify their needs and promote their safety and support their political participation.