U.N. Authorizes Haiti Invasion : Caribbean: Security Council resolution, approved 12-0, permits a U.S.-led military action to restore democracy. But no attack is expected for at least a month.


Sending a message to Haiti’s military leaders that “it’s time for them to leave,” the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Sunday permitting the use of force to restore democracy to the Caribbean nation.

The 12-0 vote, with China and Brazil abstaining, provides the diplomatic cover for U.S.-led military action long threatened by President Clinton. No invasion is expected for at least a month, however, to give economic sanctions more time to drive Haiti’s leaders out and the United Nations more time to assemble a multinational force to keep order after any invasion.

The resolution authorizes the use of “all necessary means”--the same phrase used by the United Nations to approve the 1991 Persian Gulf War--to oust the military dictatorship of Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, who overthrew Haiti’s democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991.


Madeleine Albright, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the resolution completes the “diplomatic groundwork” considered necessary before an international force, assembled and led by the United States, could be sent into action in Haiti.

The international community, Albright said in a television interview, is sending “a very strong message” to the Haitian leaders: “You can depart voluntarily and soon, or you can depart involuntarily and soon.”

Yet Albright said it would not be useful to include in the resolution a deadline for the military regime’s departure. “What is going on here,” she said, “is a rising crescendo of voices that are saying it’s time for them to leave.”

White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, asked on CNN’s “Late Edition” about the timetable for military action, said, “I think it is sufficient to say soon.”

For more than a year, the United States has been trying to increase pressure slowly on the Haitian Haiti’s leadership. It led the way in the United Nations to impose a fuel embargo a year ago, and in May the United Nations imposed an almost-total trade embargo. Those two steps have had a devastating impact, particularly on Haiti’s impoverished masses.

Only over the weekend did the embargo’s latest provision, an end to commercial airplane flights serving Haiti, take full effect. “We are tightening the noose around their necks,” Albright said.


The U.N. resolution provides for a two-phased operation: an invasion by a U.S.-led multinational force to remove the military leadership, then the deployment of a 6,000-member U.N. force to help a new government secure order and train new police and military forces. The peacekeeping force should complete its mission by February, 1996, the resolution declares.

The time it will take to assemble such a multinational force, after first overcoming the reluctance of other governments to contribute to it, was considered one of the factors leading to a delay in any military operation.

In addition, the White House will need time to build popular support for any plan that would send U.S. troops into potential combat. By 44% to 38%, Americans disapprove of Clinton’s handling of Haiti, a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll indicated last week. In addition, 56% opposed sending troops there, but support for an invasion rose from 29% a month ago to 36% now.

Cedras has said he would step down--but not necessarily leave Haiti, as the United States is demanding--if the international community recognizes Emile Jonassaint, the Supreme Court head installed as president by the military, as the national leader, a course quickly dismissed by the United States and the United Nations.

With a long history of U.S. invasions in the region--since 1961 the United States has conducted or supported invasions of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Panama--Latin America is highly sensitive to U.S. military operations. Some countries sent representatives to voice their concerns to the Security Council before Sunday’s vote.

They expressed the worry that the resolution would set a precedent for future U.S. intervention in the region. While the George Bush Administration sought, and won, such international blessing for the dispatch of troops to the Persian Gulf region to end the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, earlier military operations in the Caribbean and Central America were conducted without any such U.N. approval.


“There are not sufficient elements to justify the broad use of force and even less to give across-the-board authorization for the actions of poorly defined multinational forces,” Victor Flores Olea, Mexico’s ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council.

Ramiro Piriz-Ballon, Uruguay’s ambassador, said, “Peaceful solutions have not yet been exhausted.” He said his nation “will not support any military intervention in the brotherly republic of Haiti, whether of a multilateral or unilateral nature.”

The vote followed the dispatch Friday of a letter in which Aristide asked the United Nations to “take prompt and decisive action” to restore democracy in Haiti. It was such a letter that most members of the Security Council, particularly those from Latin America, said they wanted before approving a U.S.-led invasion.

When the vote was held, Brazil’s ambassador, Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, joined China in abstaining. “In reacting to violence,” he said, “the international community should avoid the generation of more violence.”