U.S., France Block UN Probe of
by Thalif Deen
www.commondreams.org, April 13,
The United States and France have intimidated
Caribbean countries into delaying an official request for a probe
into the murky circumstances under which Haitian President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide was ousted from power in February, according to diplomatic
The two veto-wielding permanent members
of the 15-nation Security Council have signaled to Caribbean nations
that they do not want a U.N. probe of Aristide's ouster.
Any attempts to bring the issue or even
introduce a resolution before the Security Council will either
be blocked or vetoed by both countries, council sources told IPS.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who
has been caught in the middle of the dispute, says he is unable
to act unless he has a formal request to do so either by the Security
Council or the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which
Haiti is a member.
''We have read news reports that CARICOM
wants a U.N. investigation. But unless we receive an official
request either from CARICOM or from the Security Council, we cannot
act on it,'' U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told IPS.
Aristide left Haiti in the midst of a
violent uprising Feb. 29. Now in Jamaica, the country's first
democratically elected leader maintains he was forced to resign
under pressure from Washington, with strong backing from France.
Both countries have dismissed the charge.
''I don't think any purpose would be
served by an inquiry,'' U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told
reporters during a 24-hour visit to Haiti last week. ''We were
on the verge of a bloodbath and President Aristide found himself
in great danger,'' he said.
At its summit meeting Mar. 27, CARICOM
heads of government ''reiterated their call for an investigation
under the auspices of the United Nations.'' But despite that announcement,
the group has been dragging its feet over a formal request for
''The reasons are obvious,'' says a Caribbean
diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. ''We are under tremendous
pressure not to follow up on our request.''
Reginald Dumas, the U.N. special adviser
on Haiti, was quoted as saying he was surprised at CARICOM's delay.
Asked about it, CARICOM Secretary-General
Edwin Carrington said last week the body was considering various
modalities and strategies. These would be disclosed at ''the appropriate
moment,'' he added.
A second Caribbean diplomat told IPS
that CARICOM was studying the ''wider ramifications'' of its request
before rushing into it.
A two-day meeting of the 15-member CARICOM
and U.N. officials that began Monday also failed to resolve the
issue. The gathering focused on ways to strengthen cooperation
between Caribbean nations and the world body.
Addressing the meeting Monday, U.N Deputy
Secretary-General Louise Frechette said the situation in Haiti
looks even more daunting now than 10 years ago.
''Weapons have proliferated and drug
trafficking has gained a foothold,'' according to Frechette. ''Haitians
are frustrated and disappointed with the international community
as much as with their own leadership,'' she added.
CARICOM foreign ministers are scheduled
to discuss Haiti again at meeting in Barbados scheduled for Apr.
In a statement issued last month, CARICOM
said, ''In the light of contradictory reports still in circulation
concerning the departure of President Aristide from office, heads
of government (of CARICOM) believed that it is in the compelling
interest of the international community that the preceding events
and all the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power from
a constitutionally elected head of state, be fully investigated.''
One constitutional expert who closely
monitors the United Nations says it is obvious where the blame
''It is clear that the United States and
France violated the U.N. charter as well as the 1973 Convention
on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally
Protected Persons, with respect to their criminal treatment of
President Aristide'', says Francis Boyle, professor of international
law at the University of Illinois College of Law.
Boyle told IPS that Aristide still remains
the lawful president of Haiti, a member state of the United Nations.
He said Annan should have publicly taken that position, and the
Security Council should have demanded Aristide's immediate return
''The fact that they did not demonstrates
the continuing and further degradation of the Office of the Secretary-General,
the U.N. Secretariat and the Security Council under this current
regime of U.S. hegemony,'' said Boyle, author of 'Destroying World
Just days prior to Aristide's flight from
Haiti the Security Council denied his request for military intervention
to quell the uprising, but it authorized an international military
force just hours after he left the country.
Boyle said it is important for CARICOM
to take the matter to the 191-member U.N. General Assembly, ''in
order to uphold the integrity of the U.N. Charter, which Annan
and the Security Council have repeatedly failed and refused to
Boyle also urged the Caribbean nations
and other states to sue both the United States and France for
violating the 1973 Convention before the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, ''in order to have the World Court
as well condemn what these two malefacting states have done to
Haiti and President Aristide, and to secure his return to Haiti
by means of an ICJ order.''
''The alternative is even more international
chaos and anarchy, and a continuing gradual descent into world
war -- like what happened to the League of Nations in the 1930s,''
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute
at Columbia University and a special adviser to Annan, has called
on the United Nations to restore Aristide to power.
To trained observers, he said last month,
the events surrounding the ouster of Aristide ''have the hallmarks
of a U.S.-led operation against Mr Aristide, similar to the 1991
coup against him during the administration of George HW Bush,
in which the U.S. government fingerprints abounded (including
thugs who subsequently acknowledged being on the payroll of the
Central Intelligence Agency).''
The situation in Haiti clearly shows it
is the Security Council, not the United Nations, which is really
ineffective, Joan Russow of the Global Compliance Research Project
''The Security Council has continued to
violate the principle of sovereign equality in the U.N. Charter.
The Council has been discredited primarily because of the use
of the veto by the United States and specifically by the U.S.
practice of intimidating, cajoling and offering check-book diplomacy.''
In the case of Haiti, she said, the General
Assembly should request the International Court of Justice in
The Hague to examine the U.S. intervention.