The UN Security Council voted unanimously Friday evening to extend the UN political mission in Haiti after a dispute between China which has no diplomatic relations with Latin America's poorest country and many other members who stressed the importance of the long-term presence of the United Nations in the crisis-wracked nation.
In a compromise just hours before the mission's mandate ends at midnight Friday, the United States and Mexico, who drafted the council resolution, reached agreement with China to extend it for nine months -- less than the year Washington wanted and more than the six months Beijing was seeking.
That averted a threatened Chinese veto of the resolution and led to the 15-0 vote approving the measure, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were private.
Diplomats said the reason behind China's down-to-the-wire action is Beijing's anger at Haiti for maintaining diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Haiti is one of just 15 countries -- and the second largest in population -- that continue to recognise self-ruling democratic Taiwan which China claims as part of its own territory.
The future of Taiwan has increasingly become a potential powder keg, with Beijing recently sending a record number of military aircraft to harass the island over China's National Day holiday.
Haiti has been contending with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed over 2,200 people and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes in August, and escalating gang-related killings, kidnappings and turf wars.
Last month, US border patrol agents' treatment of Haitian migrants massed at the southern US border sparked outrage.
Last week, Haiti's top diplomat implored the Security Council for help tackling gang violence and crime, saying the UN political mission needs to pivot toward strengthening security and law enforcement institution.
“It's vital to take account of the new realities that the country is facing and that the mandate is adjusted accordingly,” Foreign Minister Claude Joseph told the council.
The resolution extends the political mission, the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti known as BINUH, until July 15, 2022 but makes no change in its original mandate adopted in June 2019.
It authorises the political mission to advise Haiti's government “in promoting and strengthening political stability and good governance,” including promoting the rule of law, supporting an inclusive national dialogue and protecting and promoting human rights.
The resolution adopted Friday asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to conduct as assessment of BINUH's mandate within six months, including whether and how it should be adjusted to address Haiti's ongoing challenges. (AP)