by David Malone, Oxford: Clarendon/Oxford University Press, 1998.

Reviewed by Henry (Chip) Carey
June 1999
Prepared for Journal of Haitian Studies, Vol. 3/4, forthcoming.

David Malone, currently President of the prestigious International Peace Academy and previously part of the Canadian delegation of the crucial Governors Island talks, has contributed one of the finest analyses of the influence of multilateral involvement in Haiti. The study will interest two audiences: those interested in Haitian politics and/or those interested in the US/UN intervention in Haiti. International lawyers interested in the new doctrine of humanitarian intervention outside of international contexts of aggression or self-defense, will want to understand how this precedent was really established for a legitimate government in exile to invite an inter national force to re-establish its right to rule.

Malone juxtaposes the post-Cold War environment for this so-called humanitarian intervention, attributing the relative successes in reestablishing political freedoms to a robust UN effort at headquarters and in Haiti. Delays and paradoxical policies result from the rich description of conflicting voices and interests operating at the OAS, UN General Assembly and Security Council. (UNSC) While China, Cuba, and Brazil emphasized Haitian sovereignty for self-serving reasons, US domestic opponents, motivated by an animus for legitimate President Jean Bertrand Aristide, competed to stop greater coercion from being adopted. Like Alex Dupuy's important study, Haiti in the New World Order , Malone analyzes both class and political conflicts in Haiti before, during and after the de facto regime, but also places Haiti in world-wide context. He focuses on events in the capitols of the "four friends" (Venezuela, Canada, the US and France), as well as at the United Nations.

Several important themes run throughout this book, which is otherwise organized chronologically, with thematic conclusions at the end of each chapter, along with the final chapter of policy conclusions. Malone's describes

  1. the initial influence of OAS multi-lateralism to internationalizing the crisis and with its failure, its accession to the UN;
  2. the delays in taking decisive action, resulting from US domestic politics; and 3) the varying power relationships.

First, Malone focuses on the uses of multilateral action, which involves delicate negotiations, interaction with domestic political actors, particularly with the five (P-5) member-states of the UNSC. He shows how the OAS democracy protection doctrine, known as the June 5, 1991 Santiago declaration, brought Haiti immediately into the OAS orbit with the coup three months later. However, unlike the coups in Guatemala and Peru with a year, the OAS did not take such decisive action to try to reinstate the elected institutions. Television and NGO reports brought the events to the attention of the US public and to the UNSC. Ultimately, he also agrees with my view that none of this would have led to an armed invasion without US domestic politics becoming fixated on Haiti, especially because of the refugee issue, much less than the OAS doctrine of defending democracy.

Haiti became the dominant issue of the UNSC from 1993-1995, along with Cambodia and Bosnia, for the simple reason that it dominated, despite having the size of Israel, in the US media and foreign relations during that period. There is no conceivable explanation that the UNSC had any inherent interest in a country with comparatively minor human rights problems or threats to international peace except for the fact of US insistence on Haiti's importance. The exaggeration was repeated so much in UNSC Resolutions during those three years, that UNSC ambassadors and UN officials repeated it like a mantra. Haiti was taken as a more serious a human rights issue and threat to international peace than that in forty-odd other, simultaneous civil wars in the world.

Second, in seeking to explain why the Bush and the Clinton administrations delayed for several years before taking the decisive action to invade Haiti (some would say liberate) in 1994, Malone depicts a pattern that was repeated in Bosnia for even longer and Kosovo for a shorter time period. It has always been true that sovereign UN member-states have promised much and delivered little. The delay must be understood in light of the unprecedented nature of the UN mission. The initial lead role assumed by the OAS resulted from the Santiago Declaration, as well as the UN Charter's deference to regional organizations on issues of particular importance to them. The UN and OAS complimented each other, while the delays of years, while terrible for most Haitians, permitted the exhaustion of non-violent options, also mandated by the UN Charter before force is authorized.

Under the Bush and early Clinton years, the US opposed the coup regime, but refused to endorse coercive sanctions. Later, the embargo was made mandatory, and but it was not enforced, and with its failure, an invasion only then become politically viable and was authorized. The change in US policy was accompanied by a change in US policy toward the UN, which had been viewed with suspicion for most of the Cold War.

Malone analyzes this staged process in Haiti, which delayed the taking of forcible action, which with hindsight seems obvious should have been undertaken years earlier to achieve the desire result of halting the violence. The sequence in Haiti became similar elsewhere: condemnation of violent human rights violations and illegitimate political acts, followed by sanction s endorsed multilaterally, followed by failed peace negotiations, which were finally concluded with coercive diplomacy. The differences were in results: success in Haiti and Bosnia and failure over Kosovo. Time was also spent on resolving differences within the UNSC, where China and Russia were reluctant to endorse invasions, given their contemporaneous problems in Tibet and Chechenya. Russia wanted legal equivalence of a UN peace-keeping role in Haiti with a Confederation of Independent States role in Azerbijian, Georgia and Tajikistan. No one was ever sure what effects the porous embargo was having, while much of the Haitian democratic opposition favored its continuation, while opposing any invasions. Aristide's own waffling on this issue also allowed the US to feel that it was not harming the goals of the legitimate government. Within the UN, a coalition of major states and different regions had to be formed, while distractions in Cambodia and Bosnia (while ignoring Rwanda!) had to be formed and maintained. Malone thus persuades the reader that the mission to transform Haiti was a singular achievement, in spite of the delays.

Finally, Malone focuses particularly on the influence of the US, which he depicts as dominant, but not hegemonic. The US did not get everything it wanted, partly because of necessary compromises with the other P-5, partly because of differences among domestic political actors, and partly because , he argues, of prevarication. I wonder whether the conflicting signals from the Hill, Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon and the UN mission resulted from the fact that US itself was deeply divided along partisan and bureaucratic lines, making a coherent policy difficult to formulate. Even after the National Security Council began focusing on an invasion in Jan. 1994, conflicting signals were heard at UN headquarters over whether to pursue negotiations , in spite of the failure of the Governors Island accords, or whether to endorse Sometimes, the UN was the locus of power, but ultimately, with the rise of the US Congressional Black Caucus, the hunger strike of Randall Robinson, the decline in Clinton's approval ratings and the constant barrage of Haitian boat people on television, the White House opted formally in April 1994 for restoring Aristide, even if needing an intervention. The invasion was implemented by the US two months after the UN granted permission and four months after the White House responded to domestic political forces (or used them to implement its plans). Malone's descriptions sound like he had a learning-process in US politics as few diplomatic assignments offer. There is one figure in the book, who does not appear particularly prominent in the evolution of UNSC policy, Aristide. There are, of course, no shortage of words and studies about him. For diplomats, that Aristide was democratically elected was more significant than his charisma and lobbying techniques. While I agree, it is also true that Aristide was a hero to many in the developing world and on the left, who helped keep his place on the international agenda. Malone does underscore, however, that Aristide, as head of the legitimate government and who invited the US/UN invasion, against his own instincts, politically reduced the controversial legal and political violation of Haitian sovereignty and UN Charter restrictions on the use of force. No matter how effective and inspiring, or corrupt and unpopular Aristide is ever to become in the future, his place in history is felt in places like Mogadishu, Pristina and in future humanitarian disaster, especially when the UN becomes involved.

Malone also provides one of the first analyses of the UN mission during the remainder of Aristide, as well as Rene Preval's terms. He describes how political constraints have prevented long-term planning of economic aid and UN-organized police training. As with his descriptions of the invasion itself, the "coalition of the willing" again compete for influence in creating and improving Haiti's first independent police force. With a deteriorating situation on the ground, the UNSC was caught between honest criticism of its mission and its Haitian counterparts, and attempting to maintain political confidence in the worthiness of the project. The economic stagnation, partly the result of the withholding of foreign assistance, is particularly vexing.

While most of the book's arguments are mainstream and reasonably presented, it is obvious that no reader could agree with any book's conclusions, particularly on a subject like Haiti, for which opinion is exorbitantly polarized. Malone praises US Envoy Lawrence Pezzullo and Aristide, which might anger some on the left, and criticizes US policy as prevaricating and self-serving, which will not endear him to US diplomats either. He provides the kind of perspective that is removed from the estranged US and French diplomats on the one hand and the US and Aristide on the other. Malone cites the exemption to the OAS embargo of Haiti for assembly plan manufactured exports to the US, as a sell-out to US interests. Another or additional plausible explanation, offered by the US Ambassador Alvin Adams, was to sustain the 60,000 families in Port-au-Prince whose breadwinners had been side-lined until the exemption was offered in Jan. 1992. The exemption applied not only to the relatively few US manufacturers in the two industrial parks, but also to European and Haitian capitalists as well. That Malone did not entertain this argument in the book may or may not an error, but this pattern of pithy explanation helps keep the book concise.

Another example of unavoidable controversy is Malone's report that Secretary-General Bhoutros Bhoutros-Ghali did annoy members of the UNSC because he saw himself as their superior and on a par with the heads of state of the fifteen Ambassadors to the Council. This is classic UN polite under-statement. It is well known that then US Ambassador to the UN Madeline Albright was enraged at the Secretary General not only because he did not follow many of her "orders," but specifically wanted him removed after he disobeyed her "suggestion" to establish a multinational force in Bosnia to counter the 1995 Croatian offensive, which led to the greatest ethnic cleansing of the war.

In another example, Malone writes that the 1991 UNSC resolutions led to the precedent of UN no-fly zones in Iraq, the view established by UN officials. In fact, there Council resolutions did not establish the no-fly zones any more than Council resolutions have permitted bombing threats in 1998 and 1999 against Iraq and Serbia. In all these cases, the US has taken the initiative, asserting legal authority from Council Resolutions, even though there is no language that explicitly authorizes these actions explicitly anywhere.

There are also the inevitable minor misstatements. If one takes just ten pages (49-58) one reads: 1) on p.49 that members of the electoral commission (CEP) announced that the 1987 election had failed (but General Namphy canceled the elections); 2) on p.50 that the US relied on the military to "deliver credible elections" (the US relied on the electoral commission, and merely trusted the military; 3) on p.51 that the UN hesitated to accept President Prosper Avril's offer of elections, "perhaps sensing that he was on his way out" (The UN, in a letter drafted by Reinhart Helmke and signed by Secretary General Javier PE9rez de Cuellar demanded that Avril accept security monitors but Avril refused to sign); 4) on p.52 that the OAS field mission was called ONUVEH (that was the name of the UN mission; 5) on p.53, writing that over 1.6 million cast ballots and that the OAS/UN quick count was reliable because it was close to the official count, but not mentioning that the count was short of 100,000 to 500,000 ballots and that the count was largely faked; 6) on p.53, mentioning the "serene atmosphere of the 20 Jan. 1991 "run-off elections" (omitting the crucial details that more first-round elections occurred, and only 5-10% turned out); 7) p.54, stating that Raoul Cedras was "the army officer responsible for organization of the balloting (He was coordinator for electoral security and had nothing to do with balloting). and 8) p.58 stating that great violence had been unleashed before the military put down former Duvalier Interior Minister Roger Lafontant's coup attempt on 6-7 January (almost all of the violence occurred in the daytime after the coup was put down at dawn).

In fairness another question that I have is his repeated assertion that the UN had attempted a blockade on several occasions and in fact did so with UNSC Resolution 875. I never heard this. Certainly the language of 875 would have permitted a blockade: "to use such measures commensurate with the specific circumstances as may be necessary." I doubt that a blockade was ever mandated, if ever, until Resolution 940, which authorized the invasion and then only in the final days as the US Navy arrived in Haitian harbors.

Actually, Malone does not really focus on the subject of his title: UNSC decision-making, as represented by the Haitian case. This will not disappoint many Haiti-focused readers of this journal. For this reviewer, it is a shame that Malone concluded, falsely in my view, that the Haitian case has been so unique as to defy systematic comparison with other actual and potential cases, though he does draw some tentative conclusions. Haitian studies need to be read in the context of larger institutions and processes if the country is to receive the academic attention and research is to receive the funding commensurate with the country's political importance.

Second, with respect to humanitarian intervention, the Haitian case does have ramifications and implications for the rest of the world. This is not so because President Aristide claimed Haiti was a crucial example for the world in a Sept. 1991 speech before the UN General Assembly the week before his overthrow. Rather, the intervention in Haiti indeed has a precedent that Malone concludes is unlikely. The touted "threat to international peace" was claimed by NATO with respect to Kosovo for one of the same reasons used in Haiti to justify a UN Charter, Chapter Seven forcible intervention: the destabilizing effect of refugees. No decent person could have argued that Haitian boat people threatened the US, let alone international peace. Prior to the March 1999 attack on Serbia, the same claim could not have be en made about the Kosovars who were not yet fleeing to Macedonia and Albania. Moreover NATO's claim that its humanitarian intervention in Kosovo obviated the need for UNSC authorization in Kosovo.

In fact, the Haitian case is not rare but typical of the post-Cold War era, where domestic politics, especially television coverage and domestic responses to refugees and slaughter have occasionally impelled the US to act.

While far worse crises are ignored by the US media than Haiti or Kosovo (Rwanda and Cambodia are just two examples), the US can predictably be expected to lead humanitarian interventions where it has economic and political-military interests like in Southeast Europe, or where refugees can emerge on US television, as in Haiti. Since 1991, semi-successful US-led interventions have occurred in Somalia, Cambodia, and Bosnia with UNSC authorization and unsuccessfully in Rwanda, as well as in Iraq and Serbia without express UNSC permission for forcible intervention.

We can expect that, with the relative success in Kosovo, that coercive diplomacy will again be applied by the West in human rights crises, even when its states are not directly attacked or no palpable threat to international peace exists. Unfortunately, such an intervention is foreseeable in Haiti. The Haiti precedent also of not completely disarming paramilitary forces is a precedent to ignore legal mandates and only partly demobilize the Kosovo Liberation Army or Serb paramilitary forces because of the high military and political risks. The supreme military value is not humanitarian protection, but the safety of Western forces. No rifle-toting US forces will be present to disarm the victimizers, who can wait for the departure of foreign forces. Because of the latter, the West is likely to remain much longer than originally promised. If there is a concern for refugees, it is over their fleeing to Western Europe or the US. And, the US is likely to dilly-dally for several years, just as it waited from 1991 until 1994 to take decisive action in Haiti, from 1990 until 1995 in Bosnia and over a year, in spite of Milosevic's record, to invade Serbia in 1999, delayed as he was by domestic concerns over Monica-gate and impeachment.

On the larger points, Malone analysis is robust. I agree that US influence, while "undoubtedly the driving force behind the Council's action on Haiti" nevertheless was reduced by the need to "make compromises in order to build support for its preferred approach." (p.3) I also agree that "the case of Haiti shows the (Security) Council...persevering with its efforts to restore democracy to Haiti through embarrassing setbacks and periods of drift among the Friends" (France, Canada, Venezuela and the US) (p.172.) Finally, while supporting a doctrine of humanitarian intervention for Haiti, Malone also concedes correctly in my view that "the motivations of the key 'foreigners', the US Administration, was not humanitarian. Nor were the motivations of many of those who supported the Resolution (940) in the (Security) Council. This knowledge makes it difficult to pigeon-hole comfortably the Haiti case a primarily a humanitarian intervention (p.182). Yet, it is on that humanitarian legal basis that Haiti's sovereignty has been limited and its future altered, partly for better and partly for worse, by the UN and the US since the 1990 Haitian elections.


Henry F. (Chip) Carey
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303
tel: 404-651-4839
fax: 404-651-1434


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