Make Haiti a ward of UN — how did it work last time?

Canada’s ‘paper of record’ sure likes the neocolonial ravings of a white American liberal imperialist regarding the most Black country in the western hemisphere.

Ottawa and Washington need to intervene forcefully to save Haiti from itself,” noted the opening line in a recent Globe and Mail column. Founding director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s program on intrastate conflict Robert I. Rotberg concludes that “Haiti should be made a ward of the UN.”

In March the same paper published “The mess in Haiti won’t be cleaned up without international intervention”. In it Rotberg calls for “installing new outside managers to run and resuscitate Haiti.” He adds that “the UN could and should make Haiti a ward of the world body, putting it under UN trusteeship for five or 10 years until its own government can be restored.”

Five months earlier the Globe ran “The only way to save Haiti is to put it under UN control.” In the October 2022 commentary Rotberg also declares that “Haiti needs to become a ward of the United Nations.”

But Rotberg ignores history. The UN ‘running’ Haiti has already been tried and failed miserably. In fact, Haiti’s period of being a ‘ward of the United Nations’ remains a significant source of the current mess.

Between 2004 and 2017 10,000 UN troops and police occupied Haiti after the US and Canada overthrew an elected, pro-poor, government. The UN force repressed coup opponents, engaged in significant sexual abuse and introduced cholera to the country. Since 2017 the UN presence has waned but it continues to operate and have significant influence in the country.

For their part, the US and Canada wield immense, destructive, power over Haiti. Two years ago, for instance, the US and Canada-led Core Group of foreign ambassadors selected the country’s current leader Ariel Henry through a tweet!

Regular Globe readers likely don’t understand how ignorant Rotberg appears when he demands Haiti be made a “ward” of the UN partly because the paper has steadfastly refused to mention Canada’s previous scheming to put Haiti under UN control. The Core Group traces its roots to the 2003 “Ottawa initiative on Haiti” meeting where high-level US, French, Organization of American States and Canadian officials discussed overthrowing Haiti’s elected government andplacing the country under UN trusteeship.

According to a search of the Globe database, the paper has never reported on the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti. The paper has ignored the meeting even though it was brought to public attention by prominent Quebec journalist Michel Vastel in the March 15, 2003, issue of l’Actualité magazine. Information about the meeting has been easily accessible online and in recent years two different parliamentary petitions called for an investigation into the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti.

In fact, the Globe backed the 2004 invasion that turned Haiti into an effective ward of the UN. The day after US Marines pushed the elected president out of the country, with Canadian special forces securing the airport, the paper published “Time to help Haiti”. Its editorial board noted, “if the past decade or so has shown anything, it is that Haiti badly needs international help to be viable. Canada and others must step forward to offer that help in Haiti’s hour of need.”

In the weeks before Canada began to “help Haiti” Globe foreign editor Paul Knox’s reporting from the country helped justify the foreign invasion. In the months after the coup the paper published long articles justifying the US and Canadian imposed regime’s violence against pro-democracy activists.

Apparently Rotberg and the Globe disagree with those who argue that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Perhaps centuries of racism directed at the world’s first Black Republic blinds some to the possibility that outside intervention is the problem, not the solution. But it is 2023 and a white American calling for colonial rule of a largely Black nation is seriously out of step with both Black Lives Matter and the Golden Rule.

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