As part of Kenya’s continuing Presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), an Arria Formula meeting on the situation in Haiti was held on Friday, October 15th, 2021. An “Arria formula meeting” refers to an informal meeting of the members of the Security Council, which must be convened by a member of the Council in order for the meeting to take place.

In this instance, the A3+1 grouping, namely, Kenya, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – all current members of the Security Council – together with a number of co-sponsors, convened the Arria Formula Meeting titled, “Beyond the inconvenient truths about underdevelopment in Haiti: seeking pan-African solutions/pathways and supporting national dialogue and reconciliation”. The meeting, which was convened to engage in a genuine dialogue on how Haiti could transform from its current state to one of stability and focused on the county’s socio-economic development agenda, was attended by a number of dignitaries. H.E. Dr. Ralph E. GONSALVES, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Amb. Macharia KAMAU, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were the main briefers in the Arria Formula Meeting, while H.E. Ariel HENRY, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti, was the first responder after the initial briefings. H.E. Prof. Peter Anyang’ NYONG’O, Governor of Kisumu County, in Kenya, H.E. Dr. Carla Natalia BARNETT, the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and H.E. Louise MUSHIKIWABO, Secretary- General of La Francophonie, were some of the dignitaries and high-profile participants who graced and addressed the meeting.

It is worth recalling that Haiti was the first country to abolish the reprehensible practice of slavery and one whose triumphant revolution inspired liberation crusades across continents. Unfortunately, Haiti’s glorious march to freedom and independence has suffered tremendous setbacks. As a beacon of freedom and hope for many colonial countries fighting for independence during the 19th and 20th Centuries, Haiti has endured many challenges due to a continuing legacy of slavery, colonization and environmental degradation.

Indeed, speakers at the Arria Formula Meeting on Haiti were all in agreement that the country was in deep crisis, lacked an effectively functioning governmental administration and was saddled with weak public institutions. It was further noted that this had been compounded by a breakdown in national security, law and order, a situation that had culminated in the regrettable assassination of Haiti’s President, H.E. Jovenel MOÏSE.

It was also observed that against this background, there were emerging frustrations within the international community over Haiti’s history of protracted conflicts and related volatile natural disasters, which had persisted institutional failures. Similarly, repeated policies from external interests had failed to address the problems in Haiti, leading to growing reluctance of additional external intervention efforts.

A key outcome of the meeting was that Haiti was in urgent need of very substantial assistance and that in light of Haiti’s history, origins, ethnic make-up, geological location and contribution to the historic Black Liberation struggle, the nations of the Caribbean and Africa – CARICOM and the AU – could provide acceptable and exercise alternate fraternal responsibilities over Haiti.

This significant conclusion of the Arria Formula meeting is consistent with His Excellency President Hon. Uhuru KENYATTA’s sentiments and recommendations, on Haiti, which were conveyed by Principal Secretary Amb. Macharia KAMAU in his remarks.

In this regard, Amb. Kamau noted that President Kenyatta’s pan Africanist ideals were rooted in the firm belief that the familial bonds of blood and heritage that existed between the peoples of Africa and their kith and kin in the Caribbean could never be broken. This belief was further reinforced by the recently convened first ever Africa-CARICOM Summit – under the Chairmanship of President Kenyatta – on September 7th, 2021, as well as by President Kenyatta’s just concluded fruitful visit to the Americas.

As part of President Kenyatta’s engagement world leaders, particularly with the leadership of the Caribbean while in Barbados, the President was persuaded that it was only through demonstrable leadership by members of the CARICOM and Africa – and other partners – that credible solutions to the challenges of Haiti could be proffered.

It is for this reason, and consistent with President Kenyatta’s pan-Africanist worldview, that Kenya promised 2,000 placements in Kenyan training institutions to Haiti. This would be for purposes of capacitating the Haitian government’s governance competencies in their security personnel, health workers, teachers and in any other fields that Haitian authorities would deem vital in turning around their country’s fortunes.

While expressing profound gratitude and welcoming Kenya’s offer for help, the Prime Minister of Haiti appealed to other partners for similar tangible support that would be instrumental in assisting his country break the vicious cycle of crises, which had incessantly hindered Haiti’s progress.