United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians
in Haiti in 2006–2007
United Nations Efforts to Protect
Civilians in Haiti in 2006–2007
Presented in conjunction with
Addressing the Doctrinal Deficit:
Developing Guidance to Prevent and Respond to Widespread
or Systematic Attacks Against Civilians
Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations
Military Planning to Protect Civilians:
Proposed Guidance for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
A Project of the Future of Peace Operations Program
The Stimson Center, Washington, DC
Copyright © 2012
The Henry L. Stimson Center
Cover and book design/layout by Shawn Woodley and Rebecca Rand.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means without prior written consent from the Stimson.
1111 19 th Street, NW, 12 th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
The Stimson Center is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to developing pragmatic
approaches to enduring and emerging problems of international security. The Center’s work on
peace operations has been supported in recent years by the Carnegie Corporation, Compton
Foundation, Humanity United, and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We are deeply
grateful for their support.
Special thanks are reserved for the former and current MINUSTAH officials that offered their
time and reflections on their respective experiences. Without them this study would not have been
possible. Thanks also to each of the reviewers, and to Julien Marneffe who supported research for
this case study.
4 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Table of Contents
I. The Haitian Context 13
1.1) A Tepid Start: 2004-2005 14
1.2) Critical Changes in the Operating Environment: 2006 15
II. MINUSTAH’s Revised Analysis and Approach (2006-2007) 19
2.1) MINUSTAH’s Analysis of the Problem 19
2.2) MINUSTAH’s Strategy to Address Illegal Armed Groups 20
III. Cumulative Effects on Security for Civilians 29
3.1) Improved Levels of Security 29
3.2) External Variables that Contributed to MINUSTAH’s Success 31
3.3) The Mission’s Shortcomings in Relation to the Protection of Civilians 31
3.4) Lessons for Other Contexts 33
IV. Comparison: MINUSTAH’s Analysis and Action and Stimson’s Proposed Principles of Protection 35
4.1) Understand the Strategic Logic Behind Attacks on Civilians 35
4.2) Develop a Counter-Strategy that Reduces Threats to and Vulnerabilities of Civilians 37
4.3) Target the Desired Outcome 40
4.4) Act Quickly to Address Crises 41
4.5) Engage the Full Range of Actors at Each Step 41
4.6) Use Information Operations to Shape the Environment 44
4.7) Continuously Assess the Impact of Operations ...........................................................45
V. Findings and Recommendations 47
5.1) Alignment with the Proposed Principles 47
5.2) Recommendations 48
About the Project and Author 53
Figure 1: MINUSTAH Security Operations in Port-au-Prince (Dec 2006-Mar 2007) ..........................22
Figure 2: Timeline of Events ...............................................................................27
Figure 3: Reported Kidnappings May 2005 – July 2008 ......................................................30
Figure 4: Trend of Category I and II Allegations Received and Substantiated .................................32
6 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Command and Control
Conduct and Discipline Unit
Centers of Gravity
Committees for the Prevention of Violence and for Development
Community Violence Reduction
Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration
United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Former Forces Armées d’Haiti
Formed Police Units
Haitian National Police (Police Nationale d’Haïti)
Illegal Armed Groups
Interim Government of Haiti
Joint Mission Analysis Center
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
Médecins Sans Frontières
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Office of Internal Oversight Services
Public Information Office
Quick Impact Projects
Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
United Nations Development Program
United Nations Security Council
8 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Policy makers, practitioners, and experts alike have increasingly identified the protection of
civilians as a priority for United Nations peacekeeping operations and as key to mission success.
A 2009 independent study 1 commissioned by the United Nations’ Department of Peacekeeping
Operations (DPKO) and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) concluded
that a failure to protect civilians can undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the mission, and
in turn jeopardize the political processes that peacekeepers were originally deployed to support.
Unfortunately, over the past several decades numerous operations have failed to adequately prevent,
mitigate, or respond to large-scale killings and abuses of civilians in their area of operation. The
2009 report expounds on shortcomings related to the protection of civilians in the context of UN
peacekeeping operations — one of which was a dearth of guidance, planning, and training provided
to peacekeepers deployed in the field. In the absence of guidance on how security forces should
protect populations from mass and/or systematic violence against civilians, peacekeepers were
left to develop ad hoc tactical approaches. Given the expectations of the local and international
communities, and the immediate and long-term ramifications of violence against civilians,
improvised and reactive approaches have proven insufficient.
To address the lack of guidance specific to the protection of civilians, the Stimson Center undertook
an initiative in 2009 to encourage governments and institutions that deploy military operations to
develop doctrine on the protection of civilians. The Stimson Center organized an international
experts workshop hosted at the UK Defence Academy, at which civilian and military leaders
identified challenges and best practices from the field. 2 Through further research and consultations,
the Stimson Center subsequently developed proposed principles for military operations confronted
with mass or systematic abuse against civilians. The resulting publication, Protecting Civilians:
Proposed Principles for Military Operations 3 offers seven principles including:
Understand the strategic logic behind attacks on civilians;
Develop a counter-strategy that reduces threats and vulnerabilities;
Target the desired outcome;
Act quickly to address crises;
Engage the full range of actors at each step;
Use information operations to shape the environment; and
Continuously assess the impact of operations.
1 Victoria Holt and Glyn Taylor, with Max Kelly, Protecting Civilians in the Context of UN Peacekeeping Operations (United
Nations: New York, 2009).
2 For the workshop report, see Alison Giffen, Addressing the Doctrinal Deficit: Developing Guidance to Prevent and Respond to
Widespread or Systematic Attacks Against Civilians (Washington, DC: The Stimson Center, Spring 2010).
3 Max Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (Washington, DC: The Stimson Center, May 2010)
1-3, p. 2.
10 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
At the same time that the Stimson Center was undertaking this independent initiative, the United
Nations, the African Union, the European Union, and some national governments began to
develop guidance related to the protection of civilians. The principles were intended to support and
inform the development of guidance for military operations determined to protect civilians. They
are designed to be read alongside doctrine appropriate to the type of operation, as supplemental
guidance on how to think about the problem of civilian insecurity and derive a solution. 4
This case study is designed to accomplish two goals.
First, policymakers and practitioners are keen to learn from past operations that faced protection
crises. To that end, this case study will first explore the analysis, decisions, and actions of the United
Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to protect civilians in Port-au-Prince from
2006 to 2007. It will also explain why MINUSTAH was relatively successful at protecting civilians;
describe its shortcomings; and draw lessons for other contexts.
Second, this case study will analyze the relatively successful MINUSTAH operations of 2006-2007
through the lens of Stimson’s Proposed Principles in order to demonstrate and/or test the relevance
of these suggested principles. 5
The analysis was achieved by conducting desk research and not-for-attribution phone interviews
with mission leadership.
Clarifying the Concept of Protection of Civilians (POC) for this Case Study:
The protection of civilians (POC) is an evolving concept. In the context of this case study, POC
is defined broadly as efforts to protect civilians from low-level and widespread or systematic
violence, secure their rights to access essential services, and create a secure environment for
civilians over the long-term. 6 POC can include two distinct efforts:
A) Proactive protection of civilians from threats and vulnerabilities; and
B) Harm mitigation and adherence to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Human Rights
Law (e.g. efforts to avoid civilian casualties, or efforts to reduce sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).
4 In the case of a UN peacekeeping operation, it should be read alongside the United Nations Peacekeeping: Principles and
Guidelines, the UN Concept Note on the Protection of Civilians, and the newly developed frameworks and strategies specific
5 This case study was designed using the methodological approach known as ‘process verification,’ meaning the case will examine
whether observed processes (of MINUSTAH) match a designated theory (the Proposed Principles). The methodological
approach adopted for this case study draws heavily on the work of Andrew Bennett and Alexander L. George who have written
extensively on case study research, theory development, and ‘process tracing’. As described by Bennett and George, “The general
method of process tracing is to generate and analyze data on the causal mechanisms, or processes, events, actions, expectations,
and other intervening variables that link putative causes to observed effects.” In other words, process tracing does not intend to
test the covariation of initial causes and certain outcomes, but rather to explain the causal mechanisms and processes that lead
to certain effects. One approach to process tracing is ‘process verification’ whereby the investigator attempts to test “whether the
observed processes among variables in a case match those predicted by the previously designated theories.” (N.B. Covariation
refers to the correlation between observed outcome variables and their hypothesized causal variables.) Andrew Bennett and
Alexander L. George, “Process Tracing in Case Study Research,” a paper presented at the MacArthur Foundation Workshop on
Case Study Methods, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA), Harvard University, October 17-19, 1997.
6 Adapted from Giffen, Addressing the Doctrinal Deficit (2010) p. 8. This definition was originally adapted from the ICRC
definition to be operational for practitioners. See “Enhancing Protection for Civilians in Armed Conflict and other Situations
of Violence.” International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), September 2008, p. 9-10.
It is important to distinguish between proactive protection and harm mitigation/adherence to
IHL and Human Rights Law. Proactive protection describes steps that actors take to intercede
to prevent, mitigate, or respond to harm perpetrated by others. Harm mitigation requires armed
actors in particular, and others actors, to take steps to ensure they are complying with international
humanitarian and human rights laws, and other international or national laws and codes of conduct
in a way that prevents and/or minimizes the chance that their own actions will cause harm to
civilians. Although distinct approaches, they both impact the security of civilians and are intimately
linked to the legitimacy of military operations as elaborated upon in the Proposed Principles:
Given the importance of legitimacy for contemporary military operations of all types,
careful adherence to relevant laws is a fundamental requirement. While military operations
to protect civilians will frequently be controversial even where necessary and successful,
they must at minimum be conducted at all times and at all levels in accordance with the
applicable laws of armed conflict. Where military operations are conducted in partnership
with local groups or host nation security forces, steps must be taken to ensure that such
local allies also observe relevant legal regulations. The importance of such considerations
is evident in the frequency with which belligerents who flagrantly violate such laws try
to create false perceptions of moral equivalence by accusing their adversaries of similar
Governments and institutions only recently have begun to define the concept of proactive protection
in the context of peace operations. For example, DPKO and the Department of Field Support (DFS)
recently defined the concept in the context of UN peacekeeping operations in the DPKO/DFS
Operational Concept Note on the Protection of Civilians in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
(2010). Despite being created after the time period reviewed in this case study, the concept note
offers a useful framework for discussing the proactive protection of civilians.
As explained by Kelly and Giffen, “the Concept Note adopts a three-tiered approach:
Tier 1 is ‘protection through political process,’ encompassing political engagement, advocacy,
and assistance by the UN mission to the effective implementation of a peace agreement or
other political process to resolve the conflict.
Tier 2 is described as ‘providing protection from physical violence,’ involving actions to
prevent, deter, and respond to situations in which civilians are under the threat of physical
Tier 3 focuses on ‘establishing a protective environment’ that enhances the safety and
supports the rights of civilians through promoting legal protections, facilitating humanitarian
assistance, and supporting national institutions.” 8
These tiers are neither hierarchical nor sequential: all three are to be pursued simultaneously
in a coordinated manner to produce synergistic effects that achieve the overarching objective
of a durable peace in which civilians are not under threat from physical violence or other
human rights abuses. As the Concept Note explains : ‘[…] Peacekeeping operations are
7 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 2-13, p. 16.
8 Max Kelly with Alison Giffen, Military Planning to Protect Civilians: Proposed Guidance for United Nations Peacekeeping
Operations (Washington, DC: The Stimson Center, May 2011) pp. 19-20; the excerpt refers to the United Nations Department
of Peacekeeping Operations/ Department of Field Support, Draft DPKO/DFS Operational Concept Note on the Protection of
Civilians in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (2010) pp. 2-3.
12 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
generally the only international entity responsible for playing a direct role in the provision
of protection from physical violence; in that regard, they have a unique responsibility
among protection actors.’ 9
This case study focuses primarily on MINUSTAH’s efforts to proactively protect civilians from
physical violence (Tier 2) and also recognizes some of the mission’s shortcomings related to
harm to civilians. The study examines MINUSTAH’s efforts during 2006-2008, precisely because
of the acute threats of physical violence against civilians during that time period and the mission’s
subsequent emphasis on ‘Tier 2 protection’. Finally, this case study considers the protection of
civilians as a possible end in itself, and/or a means to achieving other objectives.
9 Max with Giffen, Military Planning to Protect Civilians: Proposed Guidance for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (2011)
pp. 19-20; the excerpt refers to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations/ Department of Field Support,
Draft DPKO/DFS Operational Concept Note on the Protection of Civilians in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (2010) pp.
I. The Haitian Context
In recent decades, Haiti has experienced on-going political instability, a series of US- and UN-led
military and political interventions, and a difficult transition to democracy. In 2000, Jean-Bertrand
Aristide was re-elected president in contested elections marked by extremely low voter turnout. He
quickly reverted to authoritarian methods of rule, relying on armed groups, like the Chimères 10 , as
a tool of political repression. Following the elections, political crisis paralyzed the government as
tensions between Aristide’s supporters and the opposition turned violent. Civil unrest climaxed in
February 2004, when a violent uprising led by a coalition of former Haitian military (former Forces
Armées d’Haiti, ex-FAdH) and political and economic opponents forced Aristide’s departure.
As a result, in March 2004, a US-led international force deployed under a UN mandate to support
the interim government and prepare the ground for a transition to the United Nations Stabilization
Mission in Haiti – known by its French acronym MINUSTAH – which assumed authority in June
2004. As authorized under Security Council Resolution 1542, MINUSTAH’s mandate laid out three
categories of tasks: (1) create a secure and stable environment; (2) support the political process,
particularly a new round of elections; and (3) monitor and promote human rights. Only the first
category was authorized explicitly under Chapter VII, allowing the use of force in defense of the
mandate, with protection of civilians cited as one such task. 11
The UN mission began deploying in 2004 into an unstable environment. Violence against civilians
was perpetrated by a variety of actors including the ex-FAdH, urban illegal armed groups (IAGs),
and the Haitian National Police (HNP). Although difficult to find credible and systematically
collected statistics on the levels of violence in Haiti; estimates suggest hundreds and even thousands
of people were killed in 2004 and 2005. 12 In the absence of comprehensive statistics, anecdotal
evidence provides some insight as to the severity of violence. Just eight months after opening in
December 2004, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma center in Port-au-Prince had treated
1,550 people for violent injuries, including 1,132 gunshot victims. Half of the victims were women,
children, or elderly. 13
10 Armed groups of pro-Aristide supporters known as the Chimères, or “ghosts,” were used by Aristide to suppress opposition.
The invention and use of the Chimères follows a long tradition within Haiti of paramilitary gangs being manipulated for
political and personal ventures and security, e.g. “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s Tonton Macoutes in the 1960s.
11 As per Security Council Resolution 1542, MINUSTAH was mandated, among other things, under Chapter VII “(f) to protect
civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, without prejudice to the
responsibilities of the Transitional Government and of police authorities;” United Nations, Security Council Resolution 1542, S/
Res/1542, 30 April 2004, para. 7.
12 Credible and systematically collected statistics highlighting the levels of violence in Port-au-Prince and Haiti are difficult to
find, largely due to limited government capacity and disaggregated attempts to collect information by NGOs. According to
one estimate, 1,600 individuals were violently killed between President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s ousting in February 2004
and October 2005. See Robert Muggah, “Securing Haiti’s Transition: Reviewing Human Security and the Prospects for
Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration,” Small Arms Survey, Occasional Paper No. 14, October 2005. A more
controversial estimate suggested almost 8,000 murders and 35,000 incidents of sexual assault in the 22 months following the
ousting of Aristide. See Athena Kolbe and Royce Hudson, “Human Rights Abuse and other Criminal Violations in Port-au-
Prince: A Random Survey of Households,” The Lancet, 31 August 2006.
13 “Haiti working amid intensifying violence,” Médecins Sans Frontières, 5 December 2005.
14 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
1.1) A Tepid Start: 2004-2005
During the first years of deployment, MINUSTAH struggled to address sources of civilian
insecurity. The corrupt and weakened HNP had a limited presence across the country, enabling the
ex-FAdH to hold areas in most provinces in the north and the countryside while IAGs ruled the
impoverished areas of Port-au-Prince. 14 IAGs — consisting of several thousand gang members in
Port-au-Prince — carved out their own ‘fiefdoms,’ excluding the state from entire neighborhoods
while extracting resources from the population through extortion, use of choke points on main
roads, taxes on businesses and remittances, control of access to water and medical clinics, and
During this time, MINUSTAH struggled to balance and achieve two competing imperatives: (1)
support the Haitian political process and Interim Government of Haiti (IGoH) on the one hand,
and (2) create a secure and stable environment on the other. Although these objectives were meant
to be complementary, inherent tensions between the two strategic objectives exacerbated already
existing challenges including that:
The interim government lacked the capacity and the will to confront the ex-FAdH and IAGs.
For fear of the collapse of an already unstable regime, IGoH pursued a policy of avoiding direct
confrontation with these armed actors, especially against the ex-FAdH. 16 This was likely due to
the strength of the armed actors, the weakness and pervasive corruption within the country,
and the weakness of state security forces, as well as the links between political/economic elites
and armed actors. As a result of the government’s stance, and in an environment of political
constraint, MINUSTAH followed a similarly non-confrontational approach.
MINUSTAH was ill-prepared for irregular security threats. 17 The mission deployed with
a mindset based on the pretenses of a more traditional peacekeeping operation wherein the
mission attempted to manage a dispute between the main parties to the conflict, the Haitian
IGoH and ex-FAdH. This left the mission unprepared for irregular security threats. Despite a
long history of violence by the Chimères and other gangs in Haiti, MINUSTAH seemingly failed
to anticipate or grasp the nature and extent of the threat that IAGs posed and to apply resources
effectively to address the threat. For example, MINUSTAH initially applied a more ‘traditional’
14 At the time of Aristide’s departure, there were an estimated 5,700 ex-FAdH, many of whom acted as illegal security forces in
the north of the country, occupying some police stations in the absence of the HNP. “A New Chance for Haiti,” International
Crisis Group, Latin America/Caribbean Report #10, 18 November 2004, p. 16.
15 Walter A. Dorn, “Intelligence-led Peacekeeping: The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), 2006-07,”
Intelligence and National Security, 24: 6, 2009, pp. 808 and 812.
16 “A New Chance for Haiti,” International Crisis Group (2004) p. 18.
17 The United Nations Peacekeeping: Principles and Guidelines explain that, “Traditional United Nations peacekeeping operations
are deployed as an interim measure to help manage a conflict and create conditions in which the negotiation of a lasting
settlement can proceed.” United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, United Nations Peacekeeping: Principles and
Guidelines (2008) pp. 20-21.
I. The Haitian Context | 15
disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) program to the IAGs, which failed to
address the incentives and motivations for gang activity and violence against civilians. 18
MINUSTAH’s mandate required them to partner with a corrupt and abusive HNP. The
Security Council mandates that authorized MINUSTAH during this time period tasked
MINUSTAH to partner with HNP — an institution largely understood to be corrupt, politicized,
and abusive. Initially, MINUSTAH allowed the HNP to take the lead on disarmament and the
arrest of individual suspects. 19 This quickly led to accusations against MINUSTAH for blindly
supporting the HNP, who were accused of abuse and extrajudicial killings.
Faced with these challenges, MINUSTAH was criticized as passive and reactive, taking almost
six months from initial deployment to begin patrols in Port-au-Prince and particularly failing
to address insecurity in the most dangerous neighborhood slum Cité Soleil. MINUSTAH never
established a consistent presence in insecure areas and frequently responded late to violence. 20
Once the mission began engaging in periodic, heavily armed operations in Cité Soleil (e.g.
Operation Iron Fist in July 2005), local and international audiences condemned the mission for
collateral damage and heavy-handedness. 21
MINUSTAH’s ability to protect was further constrained by the need to focus resources and assets
on another mandated task — that of supporting national elections originally scheduled for the
fall of 2005. At the same time, a major wave of 434 kidnappings unfolded between September and
December 2005, coinciding with the postponement of the national elections. 22 By the end of 2005,
19 months after MINUSTAH had assumed responsibility from the US-led Multinational Interim
Force, the mission had been unable to bring violence in the nation’s capital under control.
1.2) Critical Changes in the Operating Environment: 2006
Lacking the capacity, support of the IGOH, and appetite to tackle the gangs, MINUSTAH focused
its efforts throughout 2005 on advancing the democratic political process. However, the operating
environment began to shift in 2006.
In February 2006, 60 percent of Haitian voters turned out at the polls. MINUSTAH had stepped
up its security measures ahead of the elections, and only isolated security incidents occurred on
18 Traditional DDR primarily focuses on combatants that are present within military structures, and is a process that is often
tied to the implementation of provisions to a peace process. As will be demonstrated later in this case study, MINUSTAH later
shifted toward a second generation DDR approach. Second Generation DDR programs, “include a number of different types
of activities that can be implemented when the preconditions for traditional DDR are not in place in order to support the
peace process, build trust, contribute to a secure environment, and help build the foundation for longer-term peacebuilding.
Instead of implementing relevant provisions of a peace agreement, Second Generation activities are programmed locally using
an evidence-based approach.” United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, “Second Generation Disarmament,
Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Practices in Peace Operations: A Contribution to the New Horizon Discussion on
Challenges and Opportunities for UN Peacekeeping,” 10 January 2010, p. 3.
19 “A New Chance for Haiti,” International Crisis Group (2004), p 18.
20 “A New Chance for Haiti,” International Crisis Group (2004), p 15.
21 While numerous allegations were leveled against MINUSTAH’s operations, the number of civilians killed and the cause of
casualties remains disputed. Code cables from the US embassy in Port-au-Prince, released later under the freedom of information
act, reflect the uncertainty of the facts and allegations of civilian casualties. See: Cite Soleil Massacre Declassification Project,
http://www.cod.edu/people/faculty/yearman/cite_soleil.htm. Also see “Haiti: Security and the Reintegration of the State,”
International Crisis Group, Latin America/Caribbean Report #12, 30 October 2006, p. 6.
22 James Cockayne, “Winning Haiti’s Protection Competition: Organized Crime and Peace Operations Past, Present and Future,”
International Peacekeeping, 16:1, February 2009, p. 87.
16 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Election Day. 23 On 14 February, the Provisional Electoral Council declared René Préval the winner
of the Haitian Presidential elections with an absolute majority of 51.21 percent of the votes. 24 The
relatively legitimate election of Préval transformed the political landscape.
By June 2006 — with the elections finished and the threat of the ex-FaDH having vanished —
the newly appointed MINUSTAH SRSG, Edmond Mulet, began to shift focus toward the major
security concern, the IAGS of Port-au-Prince. SRSG Mulet was determined to act decisively against
the gangs of Port-au-Prince, but initially did not have the agreement of President Préval. Soon
after taking office, Préval had begun direct negotiations with several armed gangs in Port-au-
Prince, attempting to persuade the IAGs to voluntarily disarm and offer financial compensation in
exchange for cooperation. 25
However the negotiations with the IAGs failed to curb violence. Beginning in the summer of 2006,
gang violence steadily increased throughout the year, as a wave of killings and kidnappings rocked
the capital and triggered popular outrage against the gangs. Such incidents included the death of
22 civilians on 14 July in the Martissant area of Port-au-Prince as a result of a conflict between
rival gangs, 26 and the abduction and subsequent killing of a six-year old boy, after the ransom
had been paid. 27 Furthermore, a security incident on 20 July caught the mission’s attention when
armed groups fired on a MINUSTAH camp and an HNP station, resulting in six dead civilians,
one injured police officer, 80 injured civilians, and an unknown number of people abducted. 28
Frightening levels of violence and mounting press coverage ultimately led to severe public criticism
of the government and the UN mission. 29
By August 2006, Préval hardened his stance against the IAGs, making it clear that dialogue was
reserved for those IAG leaders who would disarm voluntarily, and that he would not hesitate to
use force should the gangs continue hostilities. 30 The negotiations ultimately proved fruitless as the
IAGs’ demands (e.g. political appointments) were deemed unacceptable by the government and
MINUSTAH. 31 At the urgings of SRSG Mulet, President Préval agreed to an enhanced security plan
to address gang violence on 25 August. 32 Further negotiations by the SRSG established a high-level
joint mechanism with the government on 2 October to facilitate the planning of future operations
23 United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, S/2006/592, 28 July 2006,
24 United Nations, S/2006/592, para. 3.
25 United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, S/2007/503, 22 August
2007, para. 22; and Michael Dziedzic and Robert Perito, “Haiti – Confronting the Gangs of Port-au-Prince”, USIP Special
Report 2008, September 2008, p. 3.
26 Cockayne (2009), p. 87; Reed Lindsay, “Massacre of Haiti Innocents,” The Guardian, 16 July 2006, available at: http://www.
27 “Consolidating Stability in Haiti,” International Crisis Group, Latin America/Caribbean Report N° 21, 18 July 2007, p. 2.
28 United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, S/2006/1003, 19 December
2006, para. 11.
29 United Nations, S/2006/592, para. 12.
30 “President Préval, on Radio Kiskeya on 10 August 2006, stated that urban gangs had one choice: ‘Disarm or die’. “Haiti: Security
and the Reintegration of the State,” International Crisis Group, 2006, p. 11.
31 Author interview with mission leadership.
32 United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, S/2006/1003, 19 December
2006, para. 13.
I. The Haitian Context | 17
in Cité Soleil. 33 These efforts were supported at the political level by the UN Security Council,
which stressed the role of MINUSTAH in addressing the gangs of Port-au-Prince. 34
Gang violence against the population continued to build pressure for action by the government
and MINUSTAH. Incidents included the abduction of a girl and the shooting of her father on
their way to school on 11 December, and the abduction of seven children from a school bus on
13 December. 35 Furthermore, in the seven months after Préval’s inauguration (June-December),
379 abductions involving 545 victims were reported. 36 Through November, the mission did not
establish permanent strongholds in the slums, instead abandoning checkpoints overnight in favor
of larger, more secure bases in other areas. 37 As a result, the ability of gangs to intimidate and exploit
the civilian population was largely unaffected despite the increase in UN operations.
With the agreement of Préval, the mission began planning more aggressive security operations
in Port-au-Prince in December – with Mulet and DPKO having to persuade the reluctant Force
Commander to conduct such operations. It was not until late January, with the appointment of a
new Force Commander, that MINUSTAH launched aggressive military-led operations. 38
33 United Nations, S/2006/1003, paras. 10-14.
34 UNSC Resolution 1702 states its support of the mission: “5. Urges Member States to provide enough well-qualified, particularly
francophone, police candidates, to ensure full staffing of MINUSTAH police and, in particular, to provide specific expertise
in anti-gang operations, corrections, and other specializations identified as necessary in the report of the Secretary-General;
[and] 10. Strongly supports in this regard the Secretary-General’s intention to maximize MINUSTAH’s crime prevention role,
particularly with regard to the threat of gang violence and kidnapping.” United Nations, Security Council Resolution 1702, S/
RES/1702, 15 August 2006, paras. 5 and 10.
35 Dziedzic and Perito (2008) p. 3.
36 “Haiti: Security and the Reintegration of the State,” International Crisis Group, 2006, p. 17; and “Reforming Haiti’s Security
Sector,” International Crisis Group, Latin America/Caribbean Report #28, 18 December 2008, p. 30.
37 Dziedzic and Perito (2008) p. 3.
38 Author interview with mission leadership; Dziedzic and Perito (2008) pp. 3-4.
18 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
II. MINUSTAH’s Revised Analysis and Approach
2.1) MINUSTAH’s Analysis of the Problem
By 2006, MINUSTAH understood insecurity in Haiti as resulting from the confluence of weak
state authority, the proliferation of illegal armed groups (particularly in Port-au-Prince), and slow
and uneven economic development. Recognition of changes in the operating environment and this
analysis would serve as the foundation of MINUSTAH’s new strategy.
Weaknesses of the Haitian National Police
Just before the mission deployed in 2004, the Secretary-General described the HNP as being on the
brink of collapse, “plagued by heavy politicization, corruption, and mismanagement,” and linked to
illegal armed actors. 39 In the recent past, evidence of extrajudicial killings, rape, and other abuses by
the HNP had undermined their reputation and legitimacy in the eyes of the populace. Nonetheless,
under Security Council Resolution 1542, MINUSTAH was mandated to monitor, restructure,
and reform the HNP. 40 Prior to the 2006 elections, MINUSTAH did not have a legitimate local
security partner. This began to change following the 2006 elections, when Prime Minister Alexis
signed the government’s HNP reform plan on 8 August. With the support of MINUSTAH, the plan
envisioned three major processes to achieve basic policing capacity, including vetting, training, and
the “strengthening of institutional capacities, ” recognizing that state security forces were seen as
the necessary long-term security providers, despite their poor track record and lack of legitimacy. 41
Illegal Armed Groups
Although the Chimères and other IAGs had political roots, MINUSTAH understood the IAGs of
2006 to have largely abandoned political objectives — instead motivated mostly by financial gain,
local power, and status, often operating like mercenaries of the private sector or political elites. 42
Highlighting the gangs’ desire and ability to dominate territory, exclude state authority, and threaten
and extort the population, mission leadership characterized the IAGs as apolitical “insurgents”. 43
39 United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, S/2004/300, 16 Apr. 2004,
40 (I)(b) To assist the Transitional Government in monitoring, restructuring, and reforming the Haitian National Police,
consistent with democratic policing standards, including through the vetting and certification of its personnel, advising on its
reorganization and training, including gender training, as well as monitoring/mentoring members of the Haitian National Police.
41 United Nations, S/2006/1003, para. 24-26.
42 Author interview with mission leadership.
43 Author interview with mission leadership. MINUSTAH’s analysis of the IAGs resonates well with the more recent work of John
Sullivan, who defines criminal insurgency as “different from classic terrorism and insurgency because the criminal insurgents’
overarching political motive is to gain autonomous economic control over territory” […] “Not all insurgents seek to take
over the government or have an ideological foundation. Some seek a free-range to develop parallel structures for profit and
power. Nevertheless, they have a political dimension, using political maneuvering and instrumental violence to accomplish
their economic goals. As such they are insurgents—albeit of a criminal variety.” John P. Sullivan, ”Criminal Insurgency in the
Americas,” Small Wars Journal, 2010, p. 1.
20 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
IAGs of Port-au-Prince were organized around the personalities of gang leaders and typically
comprised 40 to 80 members. They generally sought to dominate territory rather than hearts and
minds. Lacking the mobilizing elements of ideology, IAGs used coercion and fear, rather than
incentive, to maintain the obedience of the population. 44 These tactics permitted continuous access
to taxes, status, and recruits. 45
The United Nations Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) country program
lends some insight into the UN’s perspective, describing the IAGs as “complex and often confusing.
There [was] a multiplicity of independent and yet interlinked armed groups that operate[d] in
a dynamic political and economic environment, obeying the tendency of pay master of the day.
Their allegiance, objectives, composition, and strength [were] based on their financial resources
and sponsors.” […] “Few possess[ed] a clear chain of command or a defined political agenda.” 46
The Security-Development Nexus
The mission viewed socio-economic impoverishment and the government’s failure to deliver
basic services as root causes of unrest and instability. Throughout its deployment, MINUSTAH
understood development and the alleviation of deprivation as a necessary component of longterm
recovery and stability. In the first Secretary-General’s report following the 2006 elections, the
S-G identified “economic reactivation” as a major priority of the new government, second only
to modernizing the state administrative, security, and justice sectors. He goes on to explain that
“MINUSTAH can make the best contribution [to economic reactivation] by continuing to ensure
a secure and stable environment, where Haitians, together with international actors, are able to
pursue their activities in safety.” 47
2.2) MINUSTAH’s Strategy to Address Illegal Armed Groups
To address these issues, the UN continued to pursue long-term transition by reforming and building
the capacity of the HNP, as well as promoting an environment conducive to development initiatives.
In the short-term, however, it became clear that the government and MINUSTAH would have to
44 United Nations, S/2006/1003, para. 35.
45 Author interview with mission leadership.
46 “Haiti,” United Nations Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Resource Center. Interestingly the DDR section goes
on to describe characteristics of some of the main IAGs: “The UN DDR section broke down the analysis of different profiles
of major armed groups: 1) The Milices Populaires are the most dangerous of the armed groups because of their high numbers
and the official legitimacy which has been given to their existence by certain Police or Ex Police Officers, and by MINUSTAH
in the capital. Their target is the local population living in the stigmatized area. 2) The Brigades de Vigilance and Brigades
de Quartier, as with the Milices Populaires are composed of adults and adolescents of both sexes. However, they only defend
their own immediate environment in order to keep the armed violence outside their territory/borders. 3) The Organisations
Politiques (OPs) are politically motivated. The position of an OP is dependent upon the role it can play for the political
leader. Girls and women are not targeted and are not considered to be members of their bases. 4) The Groupes de Bandits are
‘predators’, generally strangers to the zone which is however under their control. Girls and women are the principal victims of
these groups through gang rape, rape, and extortion – these activities are used as a means to control the community. Female
bandits equally rape their victims (female or male hostages) following the example of male or mixed groups. 5) Vagabonds are
groups of adolescents which specialize in the gang rape of adolescent girls in their community in order to impose their macho
values upon the girls. They only use firearms upon the moment of aggression, in order to weaken their victims. They are never
seen in public with girls. 6) Modern Rara Groups are specifically associated to a physical space. They can support the Groupes
de Bandits in their area through the diffusion of names of victims through their songs.”
47 United Nations, S/2006/592, para 45.
II. MINUSTAH’s Revised Analysis and Approach (2006-2007) | 21
assume a stronger posture and take action against the IAGs. 48 Seizing the opportunity, MINUSTAH
harnessed the approval of a democratically elected partner to develop a decisive strategy to “defeat”
the gangs — described below in terms of its ends, ways, and means.
Following the urgings of the SRSG, the government and MINUSTAH decided to “defeat” the gangs
as part of the larger campaign to extend state authority, regain legitimacy, and build a sustainable
and accountable police force. The term defeat is used here as it is described in UK doctrine,
meaning “[t]o diminish the effectiveness of the [armed actor], to the extent that [it] is either unable
to participate in combat or at least cannot fulfill [its] intention.” 49
The term “defeat” is sensitive in some UN circles, because it is associated with the application of
force that some Member States feel: (a) is above and beyond what the UN Security Council has
authorized for UN peacekeeping operations, (b) is outside of the principles of peacekeeping, and/
or (c) results in harm to their own troops or to civilians. However, UN peacekeeping doctrine
explains that the use of force is authorized in self-defense and defense of the mandate, and several
examples demonstrate such force being applied in practice by other peacekeeping operations (e.g.
MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo). As will be explored in Section 4, defeating some
armed groups may be the only or most effective way to remove a threat to civilians in the longer
term, even if it has some negative effects (that should be avoided or mitigated) in the short term. 50
The decision to apply offensive force is difficult for UN peacekeeping operations. As explored in
Sections 1 and 3.3, mis-application of force can undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the
peacekeeping operation and can result in the loss of strategic consent of the Host State government
at the strategic level, ending or threatening the scope of the mandate of the operation. In the eyes
of MINUSTAH, it was a politically viable decision to seek the defeat of the IAGs — the IAGs
were neither a signatory to a peace agreement, nor a legitimate political actor in the eyes of the
populace. The fact the host state government, and specifically the newly elected president shared
MINUSTAH’s analysis that the IAGs were roadblocks to sustainable peace and development and
posed a threat to civilians, allowed MINUSTAH to pro-actively pursue the IAGs in ways that have
not been possible in many other operating environments.
Ways — Strategy, Operational Approach, and Tactics
To achieve the end state, MINUSTAH developed a plan that sought to (1) target gang leadership
for capture (disassembling their command and causing infighting); (2) incrementally capture
territory, confining the gangs to a shrinking space; (3) consolidate captured territory by providing
quick impact projects and establishing a more permanent presence; and (4) supplement military
48 Author interview with mission leadership.
49 United Kingdom, Joint Doctrine Publication 0-01.1 Glossary of Joint and Multinational Terms and Definitions (June 2006) p.
50 United Nations Peacekeeping: Principles and Guidelines (2008) and Giffen, Addressing Doctrinal Deficit (2010).
22 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
operations with an alternative to traditional DDR – a community violence reduction program (see
below for more information) – focusing on community-based economic projects.
MINUSTAH intelligence indicated that the gang’s command and control structures were weak,
heavily dependent on the personality and power of each gang leader. Therefore, MINUSTAH
targeted gang leadership as a means to undermine cohesion. Although the gang leadership could
be replaced, MINUSTAH believed that the removal of gang leaders would cause competition and
infighting among remaining members, and ultimately weaken the IAGs sufficiently to cause their
Operational Approach and Tactics
Pursuant to the strategy outlined above, MINUSTAH launched a series of operations against the
gangs of Cité Soleil between December 2006 and February 2007. A partial list of the operations is
detailed in Figure 1.
Figure 1: MINUSTAH Security Operations in Port-au-Prince (Dec 2006-Mar 2007) 52
Date Operation (Location) Troops and Resources Duration and Comments
21-22 Dec NEW FOREST (Bois Neuf) 335 troops, 37 APCs,
HAPPY NEW YEAR
275 troops, 21 APCs,
5-Jan ZULU (Drouillard) 183 troops, 11 APCs,
3 vehicles, 1 helicopter
24-Jan BLUE HOUSE 500 troops, 28 APCs,
13 vehicles, 1 helicopter
31-Jan HUMAITA (Bois Neuf) 343 troops, 28 APCs,
5 hrs (21 Dec); 9 hrs (22 Dec)
1 hour; 2 arrested
6 hrs; ‘Blue House’ seized
6 hrs; New strong point
717 troops, 44 APCs,
11 vehicles, 1 helicopter
13 hrs; 8 suspects arrested;
‘Jamaica Base’ seized and Boston
district purged of Evans gang
15-Feb SANTA CRUZ (Brooklyn) 200 troops, 12 APCs,
2 hrs; ‘Ti Bazile’ arrested
5 vehicles, 1 helicopter
17-Feb PARINTINS (Bois Neuf) 434 troops, 38 APCs,
17 vehicles, 1 helicopter
2 hrs; Rue Impasse
20-Feb NAZCA (Belecour) 700 troops, 38 APCS,
17 vehicles, 1 helicopter
8 hrs; Amaral’s base seized;
21 suspects arrested (14
confirmed gang members)
22-Feb CAJADO (Drouillard) 1 company Night reconnaissance operation
28-Mar LOT NIVO (Bois Neuf) 434 troops, 38 APCs,
2 hrs; 6 suspects arrested
5-Mar CAIMAN (Boston 234 troops, 17 APCs 3 hrs
11-Mar LAUTARO (Bois Neuf) 314 troops, 25 APCs 5 hrs; 32 gang members arrested
30-Mar CADENAS (Drouillard) 3 belony gang members arrested
51 Author interview with mission leadership. N.B. Gang infighting can also lead to significant civilian casualties, a third order
effect that must be taken into account.
52 Dorn (2009) p. 818.
II. MINUSTAH’s Revised Analysis and Approach (2006-2007) | 23
Literature and interviews revealed several signature elements of the MINUSTAH operational
Intelligence-driven operations. According to mission leadership and experts, accurate and
real-time intelligence was a principal guide for operational success in Haiti. The Joint Mission
Analysis Center (JMAC) 53 was established in 2005 at the request of the UN Security Council.
The JMAC was established to provide strategic level analysis, but took on a key operational role.
It gathered and analyzed tactical intelligence for use by police and military components, and
supported operations by generating weekly intelligence briefings, forecasts, and “target packages
with the required information for precision operations and quick arrests.” 54 MINUSTAH
prioritized targets based upon: the level of threat posed to the mission and government forces
by certain gangs, the threat posed to civilians by specific gang leaders known to be responsible
for the majority of violent crimes and kidnapping, the rank of the insurgent/gang member, the
level of detailed intelligence available to the JMAC, and opportunity.
The JMAC collected and analyzed information such as: the size of the gangs, gang leadership,
locations, movements, defensive measures, photographs of gang members and their vehicles,
and type, amount and location of stockpiled weapons. 55 The mission was able to leverage the
population’s general disaffection with the gangs to gather operational human intelligence
(HUMINT). 56 The mission took advantage of this early on by setting up a toll-free hotline 57
in 2005 for anonymous tips on the location and activities of gang members. MINUSTAH also
offered monetary incentives to informants, a unique practice that has not been replicated in
most United Nations peacekeeping operations, and for which MINUSTAH had a small budget.
By 2006, the mission had developed an extensive informant network managed on a rewardbased
system. Using a database, the mission was able to track the quality and frequency of
intelligence offered by the informants. 58
The mission used imagery intelligence (IMINT) 59 to focus on the collection of photographs
of gang members and vehicles, which allowed search operations to identify and arrest gang
members. Aerial imagery was useful for creating maps, and for identifying locations and
53 Since 2006, DPKO has required all new missions to establish monitoring, reporting, and information analysis hubs at mission
headquarters to support mission-wide situational awareness and support senior management decision-making. The Joint
Operations Centre is supposed to support senior decision-making by ensuring situational awareness of current operations, dayto-day
situations, and crisis management. The Joint Mission Analysis Center supports senior decision-makers by providing
medium and longer term integrated analysis. United Nations, “DPKO Policy Directive: Joint Operations Centres and Joint
Mission Analysis Centres,” Ref: Pol/2006/3000/04, 1 July 2006, pp. 3-4.
54 Dorn (2009) pp. 826 and 829.
55 Dorn (2009) pp. 819-821.
56 Human Intelligence (HUMINT) refers to “A category of Intelligence derived from information provided by, or collected on,
human sources and individuals of intelligence interest, as well as the systematic and controlled exploitation, by interaction with,
or surveillance of, those sources or individuals.” United Kingdom, Joint Doctrine Publication (JDP) 2-00: Understanding and
Intelligence Support to Joint Operations (3rd Edition), August 2011, p. 2-11.
57 MINUSTAH created a confidential hotline in June 2005, entitled “Je Wé Bouch Pale” (You see, you let us know). “Consolidating
Stability in Haiti,” International Crisis Group (2007), p. 3. Original source: United Nations, “La MINUSTAH met en service
une ligne téléphonique ‘Je Wé Bouch Pale,’” PIO/PR/133/2005, available at: http://www.un.org/fr/peacekeeping/missions/
58 Dorn (2009) pp. 821-822.
59 Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) refers to “Intelligence derived from imagery acquired by sensors which can be ground based, sea
borne, or carried by air or space platforms.” UK JDP 2-00 (2011) p. 2-11.
24 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
storage sites. The mission lacked signals intelligence (SIGINT) 60 reflecting the hesitancy of UN
headquarters to allow the interception of local communications – a historically controversial
practice due to issues with sovereignty and local laws. 61
Leading operations ahead of the HNP. MINUSTAH viewed its main role as supporting the
Haitian government and HNP, however earlier HNP operations had been plagued by poor
execution and excessive use of force. To address this, MINUSTAH took steps to identify “bad
apples” within the HNP, moving to isolate, arrest, or fire those with histories of corruption or
abuse and to build the capacity of others. 62 MINUSTAH also faced an operational security
challenge: information shared with the HNP was frequently leaked to IAGs, resulting in
unsuccessful operations. During the operations of 2006-2007, MINUSTAH managed this
tension by taking the lead on operations against the gangs and limiting information sharing
with HNP officials until just before the operation. After the operation, MINUSTAH would
reintroduce an HNP presence into areas recaptured from gangs. 63
Seizing and maintaining the initiative. Prior to December 2006, MINUSTAH and HNP
took a largely defensive posture, only occasionally conducting strike or sweep operations. By
undertaking sustained offensive operations into gang held territory in 2006-2007, the mission
controlled the circumstances of the fight and kept opponents off balance. This was accomplished
by carrying out operations at a high tempo (rate of military action) but irregular intervals
(ranging from a few days to weeks between operations in certain areas), using diversionary
tactics, and capitalizing on superior logistics.
Avoidance and immediate repair of collateral damage. MINUSTAH applied tactics that
sought to avoid collateral damage while also maximizing force protection. The UN often
operated by night to reduce the presence of bystanders and take advantage of night vision
technology. In addition to a strict policy limiting the use of force, the mission utilized snipers to
limit indiscriminate fire and maximize force protection. In instances where damage was done
to civilian assets, efforts were made to make repairs as quickly as possible. The level of training
of the Brazilian contingent was credited for their ability to undertake operations in the slums
of Port-au-Prince with minimal collateral damage. Despite these efforts, MINUSTAH was not
always successful at avoiding all civilian casualties as will be explored in Section 3.3.
Concentration of forces and application of overwhelming force. Following the February
2006 elections, MINUSTAH was able to concentrate its forces and effort in Port-au-Prince,
a relatively small area. The tightly crowded streets of an urban slum proved a difficult
operating environment that required restraint in the use of force. Unable to saturate entire
slums, MINUSTAH concentrated its forces in small areas, at most about four blocks, to achieve
60 Signals intelligence is a generic term used to describe communications intelligence (COMINT) — intelligence ”derived from
electronic communications and communication systems by other than intended recipients or users” — and electronic intelligence
— intelligence “derived from electromagnetic non-communications transmissions by other than intended recipients or user” —
when there is no requirement to differentiate between these two types of intelligence, or to represent fusion of the two. UK JDP
2-00 (3rd Edition) (2011) pp. 2-12 and 2-13.
61 Dorn (2009), p 821-824.
62 Author interview with mission leadership.
63 Author interview with mission leadership.
II. MINUSTAH’s Revised Analysis and Approach (2006-2007) | 25
sufficient troop density to overwhelm and deter the gang’s resolve to resist. 64 This approach not
only helped secure the populace but also discouraged attacks against MINUSTAH. For higher
intensity operations, Formed Police Units (FPUs) 65 were used to cordon an area, while the
military led search operations. The concentration of forces also allowed for follow-up stability
operations and patrols to establish presence and prevent gangs from conducting retaliatory
attacks against civilians.
Information operations. As early as 2004, the Secretary General emphasized the strategic
importance of information operations and the role of MINUSTAH’s public information office’s
(PIO) in building trust with and galvanizing support from the Haitian public. 66 Following
criticism of civilian casualties resulting from the July 2005 Operation Iron Fist, and from SEA
scandals in 2004-2005, the July 2006 Secretary-General’s report called for the enhancement
of MINUSTAH’s PIO capabilities to keep the Haitian public informed and fully engaged, and
updated with real time information. 67 (See also Section 3.3)
MINUSTAH applied three main efforts in using information operations to influence
stakeholders: the official mission website engaged the international community; mission
leadership held press conferences and radio addresses to influence domestic audiences and
respond to their criticisms; and the mission’s military component delivered messages (via
leaflets and loudspeakers) encouraging disarmament of the gangs’ rank and file, discouraging
attacks against mission personnel, and informing civilians of planned military operations and
appropriate safety precautions.
Community Violence Reduction (CVR). From deployment in 2004, it took MINUSTAH
roughly two years to realize that the illegal armed groups “–lacking clear political or territorial
claims, clear member-ship boundaries and reciprocal relationships– were not susceptible to
traditional DDR.” 68 Recognizing the flaws in its approach and with the encouragement of the
UN Security Council, 69 the mission adapted. MINUSTAH began emphasizing a more holistic
approach based around five pillars: the DDR of gang members, the development of the capacity
of communities to address violence, the development of a legal framework to control small arms,
a concentration on youth, and a focus on women. 70 The pilot program combined top-down
64 Author interview with mission leadership. In other environments against different opponents, concentrating forces at the
tactical level may be an inappropriate approach that further invites the targeting of one’s forces.
65 Formed Police Units are defined by UN policy as “cohesive mobile police units, providing support to United Nations operations
and ensuring safety and security of United Nations missions, primarily in public order management.” […] “The primary
objective in assigning tasks to FPUs is to make the best possible use of their added value, which is derived from their ability
to act as a cohesive unit and their special weapons and equipment which givens them heightened robustness compared to
[individual police officers]. FPUs have three core tasks: (i) public order management; (ii) protection of UN personnel and
facilities; (iii) supporting police operations that require a formed response and may involve a higher risk […]” United Nations
DPKO/DFS, “Formed Police Units in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations,” Ref. 2009.32, 1 March 2010, paras. 8 and 12.
66 United Nations, S/2004/300, para. 87.
67 United Nations, S/2006/592, para. 49.
68 Cockayne (2009) p. 85.
69 UN Security Council Resolution 1702 “11. Requests MINUSTAH to reorient its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration
efforts, to further that goal, towards a comprehensive community violence reduction programme adapted to local conditions,
including assistance for initiatives to strengthen local governance and the rule of law and to provide employment opportunities
to former gang members, and at-risk youth, in close coordination with the Government of Haiti and other relevant actors,
including the donor community”. United Nations, S/RES/1702 (2006).
70 Desmond Molloy, “DDR: A Shifting Paradigm and the Scholar/Practitioner Gap,” Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, Occasional
Paper 1, 2008.
26 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
approaches (building the capacity of the state to prevent violence), and bottom-up approaches
(to engage communities in building a more secure environment through social activities and
economic revitalization). 71 The CVR program struggled to gain momentum, however, due to
turnover in staff and differing opinions on national ownership of the process. 72
Means — Application of Resources
As of 10 December 2006, MINUSTAH consisted of 101 military staff officers, 6,561 troops total, and
1,742 police (including eight Formed Police Units and 747 individual police) deployed throughout
the country. In Port-au-Prince, the major nexus of instability, MINUSTAH concentrated the
Mission HQ and staff;
Two infantry battalions (Brazil, Jordan);
Two infantry companies (Philippines, Peru);
Two mechanized infantry companies (Uruguay, Bolivia);
One mechanized infantry platoon (Chile);
Two aviation units (Chile, Argentina);
Two engineering companies (Brazil, Chile/Ecuador);
One medical unit (Argentina);
One military police unit (Guatemala). 73
In the operations in Cité Soleil, a slum of roughly 300,000 inhabitants, the mission relied heavily
on the performance of the Brazilian battalion, which was credited for its training and ability to
execute operations with minimal collateral damage. Other essential human resources included
snipers and Formed Police Units trained and equipped for special weapons and tactics (SWAT).
Units conducted tactical rehearsals to prepare for operations. In addition, the mission used
superior technology and vehicles to gain an advantage over the gangs, including night vision,
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, armored personnel carriers (APCs) (44 APCs were used in operation
Jauru Sudamericana), and helicopters equipped with forward looking infrared (FLIR) to allow
operations in low-light or at night. 74
71 Part of the CVR program included a partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to engage the grass
roots community, organized through democratically elected Committees for the Prevention of Violence and for Development
(CPVD). The concept of CPVD was that “[r]epresentatives from youth, women, elders, and adult men are empowered to
become active and efficient partners to the National Police and Local Authorities in the fight against armed violence,” a
comprehensive effort coordinated by the Haitian National Commission for Disarmament, Dismantlement, and Reintegration
(CNDDR). United Nations Development Program, “The Integrated DDR Section: UNDP - MINUSTAH 3rd Quarterly Report,”
July-August-September, 2006, pp. 3-4. The CVR program struggled to gain momentum due to turnover in staff and differing
opinions on national ownership of the process.
72 Desmond Molloy, “DDR: A Shifting Paradigm and the Scholar/Practitioner Gap,” Occasional Paper 1, Pearson Peacekeeping
73 This list does not include MINUSTAH police and Formed Police Units deployed in Port-au-Prince. United Nations Cartographic
Section, Map of MINUSTAH Deployment as of December 2006, No. 4224 Rev. 15, December 2006, available at: http://www.
74 Helicopters were not equipped with weapons to avoid collateral damage. Dorn (2009) p. 824.
II. MINUSTAH’s Revised Analysis and Approach (2006-2007) | 27
The effective application of these resources would not have been possible without the JMAC.
MINUSTAH’s development and extensive use of the Joint Mission Analysis Center “represented an
important departure from the traditional approach to ‘peacekeeping’, toward models of information
gathering, covert surveillance, and intelligence-led policing.” 75 Mission leadership praised the
essential role of the JMAC.
Figure 2: Timeline of Events
75 Cockayne (2009) p. 87.
28 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
III. Cumulative Effects on Security for Civilians
This section briefly expounds upon (i) the improved levels of physical security in Port-au-Prince
as a result of MINUSTAH operations; (ii) the favorable external variables that undoubtedly
contributed to MINUSTAH’s success; and (iii) the shortcomings of the mission in relation to the
protection of civilians.
3.1) Improved Levels of Security
Once MINUSTAH made clear that it was willing to use decisive force to establish a presence in
Cité Soleil and elsewhere, the gangs quickly dispersed. Within the first few months of 2007, all
but one of the major gang leaders had been arrested: Ti Bazile (formerly controlled Brooklyn
neighborhood – arrested 18 February), Evens Jeune (formerly controlled Boston neighborhood –
arrested 13 March); Belony (formerly controlled Bois Neuf neighborhood – arrested 21 April), and
Ti Will (formerly controlled Gonaïves – arrested 26 May). 76 Once the gangs were ousted from their
strongholds, MINUSTAH, with the support of the HNP, conducted police-led security operations,
leading to more than 800 arrests of gang members by the end of the summer. 77 It is interesting to note
that the improvement in security is not immediately attributable to the theory that MINUSTAH
had proposed and planned around — that operations would cause gang infighting. Rather, it
appears that success was achieved at least in part, because the IAGs were unable to replace effective
leadership and the gangs were “broken”.
According to mission leadership, by late 2007 the threat-level to civilians and MINUSTAH had
diminished. Following the operations, remnants of the gangs operated in smaller numbers with
smaller sanctuaries and less access to resources. 78 This limited their ability to operate as paramilitary
organizations, maintaining large numbers and controlling territory. With the reduction of the
threat to dispersed criminal activities, the mission shifted from military- and FPU-led operations
against gang strongholds to an emphasis on community policing by MINUSTAH civilian police
and the HNP.
76 Dorn (2009) pp. 812 and 833. Amaral Duclona of the Belecour region of Cité Soleil was still at large in 2007.
77 It is interesting to note that the improvement in security is not immediately attributable to the theory that MINUSTAH
operations would cause gang infighting. Rather, it appears that success was achieved at least in part, because the IAGs were
unable to replace effective leadership. United Nations, S/2007/503, para. 22.
78 Author interview with mission leadership.
30 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Figure 3: Reported Kidnappings May 2005 – July 2008 79
In the absence of credible, documented mortality rates during this time period, this figure instead displays systematically
collected data on one of the most high-profile type of crime in Port-au-Prince during this time period — kidnappings.
This is just one indicator of an improved security environment following operations to root out the gangs.
A number of surveys carried out by independent, third parties shed light on public perceptions of
MINUSTAH and the government. According to a survey conducted by Group Croissance in early
2008, many Haitians in Port-au-Prince had been affected by the battles between MINUSTAH and
the gangs, and damage to their homes and shops had not yet been repaired. Nonetheless, 97 percent
of respondents relayed that action taken by MINUSTAH was justified, and 67 percent attributed the
increase in security to MINUSTAH. The US State Department Haiti Stabilization Initiative’s survey,
conducted in November 2007, demonstrated that 98 percent of Cité Soleil residents felt safer, with
85 percent reporting that they could now carry out everyday functions without fear of harassment
and intimidation. 80 “[When] asked if their living conditions had improved (i.e., education, health,
water, sanitation, trash collection) since the crackdown on the gangs, 78 percent of Cité Soleil
residents said that they had.” 81 Moreover, the survey found that 89 percent of residents thought
that the government was doing all that it could to provide basic services to neighborhoods. Such
confidence in MINUSTAH and the government would pave the way for sustained engagement
with the population, facilitated access to information, and further enhanced an environment less
conducive to gang reorganization. 82
3.2) External Variables that Contributed to MINUSTAH’s Success
While the analysis above convincingly suggests that MINUSTAH had a direct and positive impact
on the security environment, it is important to recognize the additional external variables that likely
contributed to MINUSTAH’s success, and may not exist in other contexts where UN peacekeepers
are deployed. These enabling factors included:
79 The data was compiled using two International Crisis Group reports, and based on official kidnap reporting to MINUSTAH.
“Haiti: Security and the Reintegration of the State,” International Crisis Group, 2006, p. 17; and “Reforming Haiti’s Security
Sector,” International Crisis Group, 2008, p. 30.
80 Dziedzic and Perito (2008) pp. 5-6.
81 Dziedzic and Perito (2008) p. 6.
82 Dziedzic and Perito (2008) pp. 5-6.
III. Cumulative Effects on Security for Civilians | 31
The agency and cooperation of the Préval government;
The support and “political cover” offered by the United Nations Security Council;
Population exhaustion from gang violence;
The relatively small Area of Responsibility (AOR). Haiti is a fraction of the size of Sudan or the DRC;
A formal peace agreement did not exist in Haiti upon MINUSTAH’s deployment, and the IAGs
never gained political legitimacy; and
The size and military capabilities of the spoiler (in this case the IAGs). The IAGs were neither a
trained military unit, nor would they be characterized as an insurgency capable of coordinating
3.3) The Mission’s Shortcomings in Relation to the Protection of Civilians
Despite broad successes in creating a more secure environment, research showed two areas where
MINUSTAH fell short of its rhetorical aspirations of protecting civilians and limiting harm to
civilians: (a) substantiated allegations of abuse by MINUSTAH personnel, and (b) acknowledged
collateral damage caused by anti-gang operations. It is important to note that avoiding and
minimizing harm to civilians is the responsibility of any military operation in concordance with
IHL, but it is particularly relevant and important in operations that claim to pursue the protection
of the population.
Abuses by Peacekeepers
Upon the recommendation of the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, and
endorsed by the General Assembly Resolution 59/300, 22 June 2005, Conduct and Discipline
Units (CDU) at Department of Field Support (DFS) headquarters and in all missions were to be
established. The CDU became operational in MINUSTAH in September 2005, from which time
the unit began collecting statistics on allegations of misconduct which are classified into Category
I offenses (e.g. serious criminal acts, SEA) and Category II offenses (e.g. simple theft, infraction
of rules). The figure below displays Category I and II allegations received and substantiated from
mid-2005 through mid-2008.
32 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Figure 4: Trend of Category I and II Allegations Received and Substantiated 83
According to the Conflict and Discipline Unit at headquarters, which now offers publicly available
statistics of SEA allegations and investigations online, there were 133 investigations of SEA in
2007 alone (29 of which were substantiated, 90 found to be unsubstantiated, and 14 pending
investigation). 84 During that year 111 soldiers and three officers of the Sri Lankan battalion were
repatriated due to allegations of SEA. 85
Efforts to prevent and combat SEA by UN missions gained more prominence and direction following
the report presented to the general assembly in March 2005 entitled, A Comprehensive Strategy
to Eliminate Future Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. 86
The report presented recommendations relating to definitions, rules, training, accountability, and
disciplinary and criminal actions. Within MINUSTAH, the mission directly addressed SEA by
issuing instructions and guidelines to mission personnel emphasizing a zero-tolerance policy,
and advertised a public telephone number available to Haitians to report abuses. 87 Despite the
introduction of Conduct and Discipline Units in missions in 2005, the number of SEA cases reached
a peak in MINUSTAH in 2007.
Civilian Casualties and Harm
Accusations that MINUSTAH caused civilian casualties had dogged the mission since its
deployment in 2004. Allegations began to tarnish the image of MINUSTAH in July 2005 following
operation Iron Fist. During the anti-gang operations of 2006 and 2007, MINUSTAH’s leadership
acknowledged harm to civilians, but emphasized MINUSTAH’s strict Rules of Engagement as well
83 This graph was slightly modified to improve clarity. United Nations, Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), “Audit
Report: Conduct and Discipline Unit in MINUSTAH,” Assignment No. AP2009/683/08, 28 August 2009, available at: http://
usun.state.gov/documents/organization/141058.pdf. Mission personnel attributed the significant rise in Category II allegations
as a result of “increased awareness of actions that constitute misconduct”.
84 Statistics were found on the website of the United Nations Conduct and Discipline Unit, available here: http://cdu.unlb.org/
85 Carol J. Williams, “U.N. Confronts Another Sex Scandal,” Los Angeles Times, 15 December 2007.
86 United Nations, General Assembly Resolution, A/59/710, 24 March 2005.
87 Author interview with mission leadership.
III. Cumulative Effects on Security for Civilians | 33
as the extreme threat that the IAG’s posed to the population and the mission. 88 Unfortunately,
reliable data on civilian casualties were unavailable or non-existent, and research did not reveal
any systematic attempts by MINUSTAH to assess civilian casualties, which could have served to
refute or substantiate claims. However, MINUSTAH’s leadership interviewed for this case study
asserted that they placed great emphasis on gathering operational intelligence to enable planning
that minimized harm to civilians. Interviewees also generally agreed that the Brazilian battalion
was better prepared for successfully undertaking such operations in the Haitian environment than
other national contingents, likely a result of better training and greater familiarity with dense urban
neighborhoods in their home country.
3.4) Lessons for Other Contexts
Transferable Lessons Related to the Protection of Civilians
Despite the uniqueness of the MINUSTAH case, lessons can be drawn for future operations.
The protection of civilians will undoubtedly be a primary operational-level consideration
for any peacekeeping or stability operation deployed. If unaddressed, violence against
civilians will inevitably have political ramifications, and affect the legitimacy of an international
The mission and UN system must be geared toward preventing abuses by UN personnel
and minimizing civilian harm; including proper investigations and follow-up. Abuses
committed by UN forces have clear ramifications against the legitimacy of the UN presence,
and impact the support of the mission by the local populace and international community.
For these reasons, it is imperative that the mission both systematically track instances of harm
(including civilian casualties and SEA), and take steps to minimize harm. While both improved
training and oversight can contribute to harm mitigation, a fundamental challenge for UN
peacekeeping operations lies in the responsibility of troop and police contributors to prosecute
Mission planning must not only account for threats to the peace agreement and to UN mission
personnel, but also must be founded in a thorough analysis of the belligerents’ motivations
and capacity to harm civilians. Understanding the motivations and capacity of belligerents
is essential to the design of force requirements and a campaign to counteract violence against
civilians. In addition, planning assumptions must be carefully scrutinized, taking account of
potential unconventional security threats and as a means for preparing for worst case scenarios.
Any operation deployed to protect civilian populations must establish an all-source
intelligence collection and analysis capacity. In order to identify the intentions, plans, supply
lines, financing, location, and equipment of belligerents, missions deployed to protect civilians
must be able to gather imagery, signals, and human intelligence, as well as conduct an analysis of
88 “Roundtable Discussion with Ambassador Edmond Mulet, United Nations Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH),” Center for
Strategic and International Studies, (transcript by Federal News Service, Washington DC), 27 January 2007, Available at:
http://csis.org/files/media/csis/events/070131_haiti_transcript.pdf. Research for this study revealed suggestions by mission
leadership that the Brazilian battalion was better prepared for the Haitian environment than other national contingents, and
as a result did a better job at minimizing opportunities for collateral damage. This is likely due to better training and greater
familiarity with military operations in urban terrain in their home country.
34 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
the belligerents’ actions and network analysis. The mission should engage every possible source
of intelligence including member states, government agencies, NGOs and humanitarians, civil
society organizations, and especially civilians. Analysis of collected intelligence should be
conducted at each level of the mission including at the Force, Brigade, and Battalion HQs, and
should send information up the chain to the JMAC and JOC. 89
The mission must regularly revise strategy and contingency plans related to the protection
of civilians. Conflict and post-conflict environments are dynamic; therefore, plans and strategy
must be revisited.
The mission and UN system must be geared toward preparing leadership and mission
personnel for hostile environments where the mission may have to use force in self-defense
or defense of the mandate. Following Préval agreement to the enhanced security plan in
August 2008, SRSG Mulet still lacked the willingness and commitment of MINUSTAH’s Police
Comissioner and Force Commander. It was not until January 2007, after two appointments
had been made in leadership positions, that MINUSTAH was able to take decisive military and
police action against the gangs. Appropriate training and policy guidance will better prepare
contingents for complex intra-state conflict environments.
89 For more information, see Kelly with Giffen, Military Planning to Protect Civilians: Proposed Guidance for United Nations
Peacekeeping Operations (2011) pp. 90-94.
IV. Comparison: MINUSTAH’s Analysis and Action and
Stimson’s Proposed Principles of Protection
As discussed in the introduction, the Stimson Center developed the Proposed Principles for
Military Operations attempting to prevent, mitigate, or respond to violence against civilians. This
section offers excerpts of insights from the Proposed Principles, and then considers whether they
correspond to or diverge from MINUSTAH’s analysis and strategy. Please visit the publication,
Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations, for a full description of the
4.1) Understand the Strategic Logic Behind Attacks on Civilians
The Proposed Principles assert that those planning and executing operations to protect civilians
must understand both the recent operational patterns of belligerent groups as well as the “strategic
logic” that underlies the attacks in order to successfully prevent or mitigate the violence. The
Proposed Principles offer three possible strategic logics of armed groups who attack civilians
deliberately. These include: (a) where violence against civilians is intrinsic to the goals or ideology
of the armed group; (b) where groups use violence against civilians instrumentally to achieve their
goals; and (c) where violence against civilians is intrinsic to the groups’ existence or perpetuation.
As the Proposed Principles explain, multiple logics may be at play at different levels, and will
undoubtedly impact which approach may be most successful in preventing or mitigating attacks.
“Where violence against civilians is used instrumentally, strategies that seek to raise the costs of
such violence may induce belligerents to seek alternative means to achieving their goals. Where
such violence is intrinsic to a belligerent’s goals, it is not only their choice of strategy that must
be altered, but their fundamental framing of the situation and understanding of interests—a
significant challenge requiring a wider spectrum of action.” […] “Finally, where attacks on civilians
are intrinsic to the belligerent group itself […] the outright defeat and dismantling of the belligerent
group may be required to secure the civilian populace.” 91
As demonstrated above in Section 2, MINUSTAH’s analysis recognized the various logics of
violence at play. MINUSTAH leadership recognized the IAGs as the major security threat, but
acknowledged that some Haitian political officials and businessmen manipulated the IAGs as a way
to vie for political power. At that level, gang violence could be understood as an instrumental tool
of the Haitian elite.
With respect to the IAGs, MINUSTAH’s leadership understood the gangs to be operating without
a political agenda, and characterized as essentially criminal in nature. The IAGs lacked popular
support and instead used intimidation and violence to (i) control the population and territory, (ii)
90 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010).
91 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-5 and 3-6, p. 20.
36 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
protect criminal enterprises and extract resources — in this case money and/or recruits — and
(iii) promote group cohesion. 92 The IAGs would not have been able to hold territory and derive
profit without committing violence against civilians. In this way, the IAGs operated akin to urban
warlords, where the control of territory and populations equals access to resources that sustains the
MINUSTAH’s analysis of the IAGs closely aligns with the Proposed Principles’ third category of logic
or rationale — where violence is intrinsic to the groups’ existence or perpetuation. The proposed
principles posit that “For this type of armed actor, violence against civilians is a requirement for its
continued existence, and commitments to halt attacks generally prove hollow. The outright defeat and
dismantling of the belligerent group may be required to secure the civilian populace.” 94 This wisdom
corresponds to the Haitian case, where negotiations failed to convince the IAGs to (a) voluntarily
disarm and (b) stem violence in the slums, and as a result the UN mission and Haitian government
resolved to take armed action to defeat the IAGs.
Interviews conducted for this study revealed that MINUSTAH’s leadership also identified other
instrumental, rather than intrinsic, uses of violence against civilians by IAGs. The mission reported
instances where IAGs employed propagandistic violence, such as the killing civilians and attributing
their deaths to MINUSTAH. Furthermore, IAGs sometimes committed gratuitous violence and
revenge killings against suspected MINUSTAH informants and collaborators. This suggests that
IAGs attacked civilians as a means to undermine MINUSTAH and inhibit its ability to collect
While MINUSTAH leadership acknowledged the role of the Haitian elite in steering violence, the
mission emphasized the IAGs as the greatest security threat to the government, the mission, and
the civilian population. 95 Ultimately, in 2006/2007 MINUSTAH sought to address the most direct
cause of insecurity — the IAGs. Although IAGs could have been viewed as simply a symptom of
a corrupt Haitian political system, MINUSTAH recognized that any efforts to address the deeper
structural issues would take years, and would likely still require action against the gangs. While
recognizing the multiple logics at play, the analysis and actions of MINUSTAH, as described in
Section 2 largely correspond with the proposed principles.
92 In reference to group cohesion, violence served as a unifying mechanism to initiate recruits, using homicide and rape as a right
of passage. For more examples of instances where violence serves to reinforce unity amongst small armed groups, see Elizabeth
Jean Wood, “Armed Groups and Sexual Violence: When Is Wartime Rape Rare?” Politics Society, 37;131, 2009.
93 A demonstrative example is that the highest profile problem faced by civilians in PAP was the kidnapping of merchants and
ordinary civilians, rather than elected officials or police or their relatives. The profit-driven motive, rather than an incentive
to manipulate public officials, demonstrates how violence served the perpetuation of the group as it allowed the gangs to
compensate members, buy weapons, etc.
94 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-6, p. 20.
95 Despite evidence of the Haitian elite encouraging gang violence, MINUSTAH sought to address the most direct cause of
insecurity — the IAGs of Port-au-Prince. This is unsurprising given that action against the gangs could produce more
immediately peace dividends, and arguably with relative ease, than compared to addressing what was essentially an ingrained
political and economic culture of corruption and patronage networks.
IV. Comparison: MINUSTAH’s Analysis and Action and Stimson’s Proposed Principles of Protection | 37
4.2) Develop a Counter-Strategy that Reduces Threats to and
Vulnerabilities of Civilians
Once planners and implementers understand the logic of violence, the Proposed Principles posit that
they must then seek to understand the intent and capacity of the belligerent in order to determine
whether and how to employ military force to protect civilians. This is the next step in developing a
counter-strategy that reduces the threat posed by the belligerent as well as the vulnerability of the
civilian population. The Proposed Principles offer six axioms of an effective counter-strategy:
Identify the relationship between violence against civilians and centers of gravity (explained below);
Use integrated lines of effort to achieve the objective;
Reduce the vulnerability of civilians;
Reduce the threat to civilians by targeting the intent and capacity of belligerents;
Balance between defense and offense; and
Manage constraints and tradeoffs.
Identify the Relationship Between Violence Against Civilians and Centers of Gravity
A Center of Gravity (CG) analysis is a common element of a military planning process, in which
planners seek to determine the strengths, capabilities, requirements, and vulnerabilities of enemy
and friendly forces. 96 The Proposed Principles assert that this analysis is important to understand
how best to reduce the threat of violence to civilians as well as the vulnerability of civilians.
Interviews and desk research revealed that MINUSTAH’s leadership undertook evaluation of the
IAGs’ motives, patterns of operations, sources of strength, and requirements for survival. If adapted
to a CG analysis, MINUSTAH’s evaluation of the IAGs might look like the following.
“Centers of Gravity (CG) are physical or moral entities that are the primary components of
physical or moral strength, power, and resistance” 97 for actors or belligerents in a conflict. For
example, physical CG’s are “active agents such as individual units or the main fighting force […]
that counters/destroys adversary capabilities and undermine the will to resist.” 98 As explored
above, MINUSTAH viewed the gang leadership as the IAG’s primary source of strength, without
which the gangs would not survive.
Critical Capabilities (CC) are understood to be the primary abilities or conditions that allow
for the CG and/or give it its strength. According to MINUSTAH leadership, IAGs were thriving
on the exploitation and abuse of the urban civilian population. They were also able to (initially)
directly threaten HNP and MINUSTAH forces.
96 The framework of a center of gravity used in this piece is based on the work of Dr. Joseph Strange and Col. Richard Iron’s
“Understanding Centers of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities. Part 2: The CG-CC-CR-CV Construct: A Useful Tool to
Understand and Analyze the Relationship between Centers of Gravity and their Critical Vulnerabilities,” December 2010.
97 Strange and Iron (2010).
98 Kelly with Giffen, Military Planning to Protect Civilians: Proposed Guidance for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (2011)
38 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
“Critical Requirements (CR) are conditions, resources and means that are essential for a
center of gravity to achieve its critical capability.” 99 According to MINUSTAH leadership, the
IAGs required a lack of state presence and control of neighborhoods and territory, to facilitate
extraction from the populace and perform criminal activities. The IAG’s also benefitted from
corrupt HNP and/or other government officials and elite who would leak tactical information
“Critical Vulnerabilities (CV) are those critical requirements […] vulnerable to neutralization
or defeat in a way that will contribute to a center of gravity failing to achieve its critical
capability.” 100 According to MINUSTAH leadership, the IAGs were vulnerable in that they
possessed weak military capabilities and were not politically or ideologically motivated. For
these reasons it was easier for the mission to capture territory and garner the support of the
Use integrated lines of effort to achieve the objective
MINUSTAH employed several lines of effort —military, diplomatic, legal, and economic—to
undermine the IAG’s CG, CC, and CR and to exploit their vulnerabilities. For example:
MINUSTAH used military and police operations to capture IAG leadership and territory.
MINUSTAH also developed a Community Violence Reduction (CVR) program which, in
cooperation with the host state government, sought to provide alternative opportunities, means
of subsistence, and purpose to potential and current gang members. Through MINUSTAH’s
CVR program, the mission engaged civil society in an effort to bridge the security, governance,
and development divide.
MINUSTAH also tried to use Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) and other economic interventions
to break the economic nexus between the civilian community and the IAG’s.
MINUSTAH continued efforts to reform the HNP through monitoring, advising, and
cooperation in order to provide credible and legitimate state security presence in areas that
were previously run by gangs.
MINUSTAH applied information operations (as described below) as a way to undermine the
intent and capacity of belligerents and to engage the population.
Reduce the Threat to Civilians by Targeting the Intent and Capacity of Belligerents
Reducing the intent of belligerents requires an approach that changes the opponent’s calculus — in
other words, the goal is to lessen the appeal and benefit of attacking civilians. MINUSTAH used a
number of tactics to achieve a psychological advantage, primarily through information operations
and action (as discussed in Section 4.6).
99 Strange and Iron (2010).
100 Strange and Iron (2010).
IV. Comparison: MINUSTAH’s Analysis and Action and Stimson’s Proposed Principles of Protection | 39
The targeting of an armed group’s capacity to harm civilians can be divided into two objectives
focused on: (a) diminishing the belligerent’s access to, and control of, civilians; 101 and (b) diminishing
the armed group’s ability to function as a unit.
To diminish the IAGs’ access to and control of civilians, MINUSTAH targeted the IAGs’ critical
requirement — namely the control of geographic urban terrain. By capturing and holding
territory, the mission increasingly minimized the IAGs’ freedom of movement thereby successfully
diminishing access to the population and resources.
To diminish the IAG’s effectiveness as an armed group, MINUSTAH:
Applied superior military, logistic, and intelligence capacities against a Critical Vulnerability of
the IAGs — their overall weakness as (para)military organizations.
Attacked the IAGs’ command and control (C2) structure directly by targeting gang leadership
Used information operations to offer disarmament in an effort to reduce gang strength.
Reduce the Vulnerability of Civilians
Undermining the threat to civilians is often insufficient to protect civilians. The Proposed Principles
assert that the vulnerability of civilians should also be reduced to effectively protect civilians.
International and domestic humanitarian and human rights law place a number of obligations and
responsibilities on military actors. However, militaries that seek to protect civilians have a particular
burden to identify whether and how lines of effort might exacerbate the vulnerability of civilians. In
2006-2007, MINUSTAH worked to reduce the vulnerability of populations by minimizing the risk
to civilians during military operations, and diminishing the populations’ exposure to retaliatory
gang violence that might result from military operations.
MINUSTAH followed-up on its operations and consolidated territory by establishing a
permanent presence through robust patrols and through the provision of Quick Impact Projects
(QIPs), food, medical services, and other goods. The consolidation of territory protected the
population from retaliation from the gangs and built public confidence in the mission, which
in turn provided the mission with opportunities to gather more information about potential
When conducting military operations, MINUSTAH minimized risk to civilians by:
Using Information Operations to notify the populace of operations and proper precautions;
Offering anonymous ways to submit intelligence;
Avoiding and repairing collateral damage;
Conducting night operations
101 In this context, access refers to physical proximity to civilians or freedom of contact with a population. Control should be
understood in a broad sense including examples such as the decisions related to administering or denying the provision of
resources, and maintaining collaboration or cooperation through the use of violence.
102 Author interview with mission leadership.
40 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Balance Between Defense and Offense
When MINUSTAH arrived in Port-au-Prince in 2004, Illegal Armed Groups controlled entire
neighborhoods, successfully excluding state authority. Throughout 2004-2005, MINUSTAH
and the HNP failed to maintain a continuous presence in gang-controlled territory and by some
accounts largely avoided patrolling these slums. Similarly, the mission could not effectively deal
with the threat of kidnapping within or beyond the slums, as the mission’s kidnapping cell was too
small and reactive. As a result, the population was forced to endure abuse within the geographically
defined gang-held territory. To achieve the objective of the protection of civilians, MINUSTAH had
no choice but to undertake offensive operations to capture territory and detain or disperse the IAGs.
Constraints and Tradeoffs
Mission leaders argued that robust action against the IAGs was not viable prior to 2006 without
the legitimacy of a nationally accepted government and with a proliferation of security problems
throughout the entire country. The mission was politically and operationally constrained to the
point where robust operations by MINUSTAH could have alienated the host-state, or reinforced
propaganda that the UN mission was a foreign occupation force.
4.3) Target the Desired Outcome
The Proposed Principles assert that “developing criteria for success is critical to developing coherent
operational approaches.” They also divide the objective of protecting civilians into two tiers: the
first “involves preventing or halting extreme forms of violence against civilians. Such ‘extreme’
violence is recognizable by the numbers of civilians directly and indirectly affected, and/or the
political impact of such attacks. The second tier is more general, and involves addressing forms of
insecurity that impede the progress of both military and nonmilitary lines of effort.” The Proposed
Principles argue that the intended operational effect should be the improvement of the security of
all civilians under threat and that “the targeting of behavior rather than designated “enemies” may
avert unintended or unforeseen escalations of the conflict.” This may be particularly important in
contexts such as UN operations where the force that seeks to protect civilians needs to appear that
it is not “taking sides.” 103
MINUSTAH’s approach in 2006-2007 aligns very closely with the first tier objective identified by
the ‘proposed principles’ — that of halting extreme forms of violence that are recognized by either
the number of people affected or the political impact of the violence. As discussed in Section 1.2,
violence intensified during the summer and fall of 2006 (illustrated by the school bus kidnapping)
and spurred public outcry with clear political ramifications for the government and UN mission.
The logic that guided the UN mission’s prioritization of targets among different gang leaders is also
revealing. As stated above, interviews revealed prioritization based on force protection, threat to
the population, significance of the gang member, and ability/opportunity. This aligns closely with
the guidance offered by the principles of choosing targets based on behavior, in order to reduce
violence against civilians, rather than based simply upon their identity. A strategy based on wider
simultaneous operations against entire gangs, rather than phased operations narrowly targeting
103 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-25, 3-26, 3-27.
IV. Comparison: MINUSTAH’s Analysis and Action and Stimson’s Proposed Principles of Protection | 41
leaders, may have overstretched MINUSTAH’s limited capacity to dominate the complex urban
geography of the slums, and resulted in larger fire-fights, putting the population at greater risk.
4.4) Act Quickly to Address Crises
The Proposed Principles posit that “Regardless, where civilians are at risk of mass violence or where
attacks have already begun, there is frequently a high degree of urgency from both strategic and
operational standpoints. […] At the strategic/political level, the urgency arises from the relatively
brief window of opportunity that exists when the broadest range of policy options is viable. Public
pressure can spur the political consensus—however fleeting—necessary to permit the dedication
of national or international resources to address the problem.” 104
As discussed in Section 1, MINUSTAH was facing a strategic loss of legitimacy in the eyes of
local civilians and international actors by late 2006. MINUSTAH’s new leadership noted an urgent
requirement to tame the level of gratuitous and frequent violence that had stirred such a public
outcry (Section 2.1). A number of features of the operational environment changed during that
period (Section 1.2), creating a window of opportunity for MINUSTAH to take robust action
against the gangs. These factors included:
Once Préval entered office, the new SRSG used the opportunity to reshape MINUSTAH’s
relationship with the new government. This would ultimately bear fruit as an agreed enhanced
security framework with a legitimate local partner. This was buttressed by a new Force
Commander who was willing to take forceful but discriminate action.
The public support of the United Nations Security Council.
The demand by the Haitian population for action against the gangs suggested tolerance for
potential civilian casualties or damage to property resulting from robust operations, as long as
those operations were regarded as likely to produce long-term security dividends.
In hindsight, the focus on the Haitian political process and elections during the first two years of
deployment can be considered in some ways to be a shaping operation 105 for later action against
4.5) Engage the Full Range of Actors at Each Step
The Proposed Principles recommend that planners and commanders be prepared to engage a full
range of actors at all levels in order to bring all available resources to bear. Various actors including the
host state and communities under threat could contribute to or undermine the security of civilians,
and the operation’s efforts to protect civilians. For example, “Engaging with civilians themselves is
consistently an important aspect of operations to prevent or halt systematic or mass violence, in
large part because of their ability to provide detailed tactical information.” 106 […] “Civil security
104 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-29, 3-30.
105 “A shaping operation is an operation at any echelon that creates and preserves conditions for the success of the decisive operation.
Shaping operations establish conditions for the decisive operation through effects on the enemy, population (including local
leaders), and terrain.” United States Army Field Manual 3-0 Operations, Headquarters Department of the Army, 27 February
2008, p. 5-11.
106 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-36, p. 28.
42 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
and the flow of information from civilians is mutually interdependent. Generally speaking, civilians
provide information to the force in control of their area if they believe that they will be protected
from reprisals for cooperating.” 107 Choosing which local partners and institutions to empower, and
the way in which that empowerment is executed in association with other state-building efforts is
an extremely challenging endeavor. Often intervening forces must provide sufficient security to
temporarily ‘solve’ the security dilemma before such processes can make significant progress.” 108 In
line with the Proposed Principles, MINUSTAH’s leadership did engage a number of actors in the
Engaging the Government and HNP
In the case of UN peacekeeping operations, maintaining the Host Nation’s strategic consent — and
permission to operate on the sovereign soil — is of paramount importance to operational success.
In the case of MINUSTAH, maintaining Host Nation consent involved a number of challenges,
particularly in securing the permission to carry out robust operations, and managing the tenuous
relationship with the HNP.
From the start, MINUSTAH leadership viewed the reestablishment of state authority and
administration as its primary mandate and role. An important element of this mandate included
advising, monitoring, reforming, and restructuring the HNP. 109 MINUSTAH viewed the Haitian
government and HNP as necessary partners to achieve and sustain a stable environment; however,
the relationship was complicated by the weakness of the Interim Government. Following the
elections in 2006, the SRSG emphasized the importance of engaging the newly elected government,
and immediately began the process of “softening the ground” to foster a strong working relationship
with Préval. Without cooperation between the SRSG and Préval, any robust action against the IAGs
likely would have been unsuccessful and problematic.
The relationship between MINUSTAH and the HNP was strained by the latter’s abuses, corruption,
and resultant loss of legitimacy as a police force. MINUSTAH managed this during the anti-gang
operations of 2006-2007 by having the military component lead operations not only to overpower
the heavily armed gangs and avoid collateral damage, but also to ensure operational security.
Following operations, the HNP and MINUSTAH police were used to establish a presence through
Engaging the Populace
MINUSTAH, and in particular the SRSG and the Brazilian infantry battalion, appear to have
understood that the relationship with the Haitian population would prove crucial to longer-term
security and the prevention of the gang reorganization. As the mission began offensive and stability
operations within Cité Soleil, Martissant, and Gonaïves, troops and police made sure to engage
with civilians as a means to gather information and spur popular confidence. This was done not
107 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-39.
108 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-41, p 29.
109 A discussion on UN efforts to reform the HNP is beyond the scope of this paper. For more information on the subject, see
United Nations, “Letter dated 31 August 2006 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council
(Enclosed Annex: Letter dated 18 August 2006 from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Haiti to the Secretary-General - Haitian
National Police Reform Plan),” S/2006/726, 12 September 2006.
IV. Comparison: MINUSTAH’s Analysis and Action and Stimson’s Proposed Principles of Protection | 43
only through patrols, but also through QIPs, and delivery of goods (e.g. basic medical services,
food, and soccer balls). MINUSTAH attempted to engage civil society through the CVR program –
part of which included a partnership with UNDP to engage the grass roots community, organized
through democratically elected Committees for the Prevention of Violence and for Development
(CPVD). The concept of CPVD was that “[r]epresentatives from youth, women, elders, and
adult men are empowered to become active and efficient partners to the National Police and
Local Authorities in the fight against armed violence,” a comprehensive effort coordinated by the
National Commission for Disarmament, Dismantlement, and Reintegration. 110 The success of the
CVR program, and its specific contributions to overall reduction in violence is difficult to assess.
However according to MINUSTAH, the CVR program produced positive results from 2007-2009,
including for example allowing “325 former gang members and their families to benefit from social
and economic reintegration packages, and 200 at-risk youth in four urban neighborhoods have
received vocational training.” 111
Engaging Other Actors
MINUSTAH requested and tried to engage humanitarian organizations and other NGOs in its
efforts to consolidate and provide services in captured territory following operations. However,
according to mission leadership, humanitarians, and other NGOs largely avoided being associated
with MINUSTAH security operations, so as to avoid compromising humanitarian principles of
aid delivery. 112 It is not uncommon for aid agencies to avoid association with political and military
operations, particularly when the operations are using assistance in ways that diverge from
humanitarian principles and may change the perception of humanitarian assistance in the area.
To manage this, there was some evidence that MINUSTAH would on occasion temporarily pause
security operations to allow humanitarian aid delivery.
According to one source, “developmental agencies lacked the agility to respond in a timely manner
to the immediate operational requirements” 113 to follow-up security operations. In recognition of
the lacking civilian capacity and willingness to deliver basic goods and services in concert with
security operations, and the relative importance of doing so in the context of stability operations,
the Government of Norway stepped in offering the mission $200,000 to provide basic goods to the
population. 114 Leadership emphasized the importance of that money and its use in fully engaging
the population and garnering support.
It is of note that desk research and interviews revealed little attempt by the mission to engage the
Haitian Diaspora, a community that has historically provided millions in remittances but with
whom criminal linkages persist. Moreover, it is necessary to point out that there is no evidence that
MINUSTAH made any attempt to talk directly with the IAGs themselves. That said, recognition of
armed factions can be politically risky and complicated, especially when the armed group has not
been recognized by either the government or a peace agreement.
110 United Nations Development Program, “DDR Quarterly Report” (2006) pp. 3-4.
111 United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, “Fact Sheet MINUSTAH: Community Violence Reduction Section,” available at
112 Author interview with mission leadership.
113 Dziedzic and Perito (2008) p. 10.
114 Author interview with mission leadership.
44 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
4.6) Use Information Operations to Shape the Environment
The Proposed Principles emphasize, “the contemporary security environment is characterized by
rapid and global information dissemination.” 115 Information and perceptions, within theatre and
globally, play a critical role in determining the credibility of the operation and its outcome. For
an operation tasked with protecting the populace, the principles recommend that planners and
commanders shape the information environment in a way that (a) builds credibility and trust with
local, national, and international audiences; (b) manages the expectations of the local population;
and (c) consistently matches words with deeds. These ideas are expressed in the Proposed Principles
with the following guidance:
Be first with the truth – “A key role of the intervening force will be to undermine the belligerent
by providing accurate information, reassuring the populace, reducing the uncertainty and fear
the belligerent is attempting to foster, and discrediting it as a source.” 116
Under-promise and over-deliver – “Thus managing the expectations of the population
regarding the force’s actions to provide security is critical, and should be pursued through
continuous and convincing public information campaigns and key leader engagement.” 117
Match words with deeds – “A key component of managing expectations, building and
maintaining legitimacy and credibility, and defeating the belligerent is to consistently match
words with deeds. This applies to threats against belligerents as much as to promises to the
populace; an intervening force that issues an ultimatum or draws a line in the sand and fails to
follow through with decisive force will be thoroughly discredited.” 118
In Haiti, the information environment was undoubtedly a battleground for the UN mission, the
government, and the IAGs – while the international community (neighboring states, Diaspora, etc.)
can be considered a participating audience. From 2004 to mid-2006, MINUSTAH was besieged by
criticism from many quarters:
Critics, opponents, and IAGs who actively sought to undermine and discredit the UN mission
and government, calling the mission ‘foreign occupiers’ 119 and accusing MINUSTAH and the
HNP of causing civilian casualties. 120
The local population and media who expressed anger that MINUSTAH and the government
failed to meet their expectations in terms of providing basic security.
International media who transmitted and magnified the voices of local critics of MINUSTAH.
The mission attracted much international negative press for substantiated allegations of SEA
and collateral damage. 121
115 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-47, p. 31.
116 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-48, p. 30.
117 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-50, p. 31.
118 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-51, p. 31.
119 Dorn (2009) p. 813.
120 Example of such a website – (N.B. graphic images displayed) – UN in Haiti Accused of Second Massacre, 21 January 2007,
121 MINUSTAH faced numerous allegations of SEA over the years, the most high profile of which occurred in 2007 resulting in
the expulsion of 114 Sri Lankan troops, Williams (2007).
IV. Comparison: MINUSTAH’s Analysis and Action and Stimson’s Proposed Principles of Protection | 45
To meet these challenges, the SRSG engaged both local and international press, and the Public
Information Office sought to address criticism of security operations by MINUSTAH military
and police. Interviews revealed a critical role for media relations and information operations in
combating misperceptions and unfounded allegations. This corresponds well to the Proposed
Principles guidance to “be first with the truth.”
However, a more recent audit of MINUSTAH’s Conduct and Discipline Unit conducted by OIOS
sheds some light on the shortcomings of the MINUSTAH’s information strategy. The report
The Mission had not developed a comprehensive strategy/procedure to raise awareness of
its conduct and discipline activities among the host country population. The absence of
visible accountability gives rise to the perception that those accused may not be held liable
for their crimes. For example, in 2008, Save the Children Fund carried out a study on child
sexual exploitation and abuse in three countries, including Haiti, and concluded that the
host country population perceived that they have no one to turn to if an incident occurs,
leading to under-reporting of sexual exploitation and abuse. 122
In relation to the axiom “match words with deeds”, MINUSTAH applied Information Operations
in a way that targeted the intent of the IAGs to attack civilians. The mission consistently warned
that attacks on civilians would not be tolerated. Where IAGs ignored the warnings, MINUSTAH
launched robust operations against them. For example, MINUSTAH purposefully targeted for
capture IAG leadership that had previously demonstrated harmful actions against the mission or
civilians. By targeting these actors, the mission sought to send a message to all IAGs that they
were willing to use force. Furthermore, the mission sought to cripple the resolve of the IAG rank
and file by offering gang members an option to disarm, while making it clear that those who had
committed a serious crime would be arrested and prosecuted.
The dividends of a properly shaped information environment — one that fosters trust and credibility
in the mission — manifest themselves in a variety of ways. In the case of Haiti, perceptions of the
UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti ultimately dictated (a) the amount of cooperation and intelligence
gleaned from the local community; and (b) the amount of support received from the international
community and member states.
4.7) Continuously Assess the Impact of Operations
The Proposed Principles emphasize that “developing and using appropriate metrics is critical to
ensuring that operations are achieving the intended effect, and are furthering progress towards the
force’s objectives.” 123 They go on to explain that “While measuring success on the battlefield against
a conventional force is relatively straightforward, measuring the impact of operations on civil
security often proves challenging for intervening forces.” 124 The guidance recommends combining
objective and subjective metrics to improve the quality and utility of the assessment.
122 United Nations, OIOS Audit Report (2009).
123 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-52, p. 32.
124 Kelly, Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military Operations (2010) 3-52, p. 32.
46 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Our research was unable to find examples of MINUSTAH’s attempt to comprehensively assess the
security for civilians in Haiti. Nonetheless, interviews and research shed some light on some of the
indicators used by the mission to objectively and subjectively assess the level of civil (in)security.
The metrics used can be divided into those indicators that describe strength and capacity of the
IAGs, and those indicators that illustrated the level of violence committed and the level of public
confidence in the UN mission.
Indicators of the first category were gleaned from the mission’s preparation for operation, largely
spearheaded by the JMAC. This assessed the size of the gangs, gang leadership, locations, movements,
defensive measures, photographs of gang members and vehicles, and type, amount, and location of
stockpiled weapons. In addition, mission leadership alluded to the use of less traditional indicators
including the number of rounds expended by MINUSTAH contingents versus the number of
attacks and bullets received from IAGs – all good indicators of who held the initiative.
For the second category, the mission used several objective measurements including the monitoring
of day-to-day criminal statistics gathered primarily by police officers. 125 Progress was measured
based on two indicators: (1) a decrease in the number of murders, kidnappings, or criminal activities
accounted for in a given time period; and (2) an increase in the number of reports of violence or
tips offered to UN forces (an indicator of confidence in the UN). The mission also used an annual
public opinion poll to gauge perceptions of the population. Subjective measures included the type
and quality of intelligence offered by the population, the presence of civilians in street markets
and roads, and the presence of civilians out at night. 126 According to leadership, as well as publicly
available crime statistics and opinion polls, indicators of improved security and public confidence
increased drastically following the anti-gang operation in 2006-2007 (See Section 3.1).
125 Author interview with mission leadership.
126 Author interview with mission leadership.
V. Findings and Recommendations | 47
V. Findings and Recommendations
5.1) Alignment with the Proposed Principles
Military doctrine is defined by the 2010 NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions as “fundamental
principles by which the military forces guide their actions in support of objectives. It is authoritative
but requires judgment in application.” 127 In general, doctrine provides a conceptual framework of
understanding a problem, a goal, or a type of operation and subsequently offers a guide to action
that should be adapted to contextual circumstances.
Stimson’s Proposed Principles provide a useful framework for analyzing the decision-making
processes of MINUSTAH leadership in relation to the protection of civilians, because they begin
with an analysis of violence against civilians and propose a method for aligning ends, ways and
means. This is not unlike most military planning processes, but the emphasis on the protection of
civilians is an important focus that is often dismissed or under-analyzed.
MINUSTAH’s analysis and priorities aligned well with the prescriptions of the principles. This
was particularly true in comparing MINUSTAH’s analysis and actions to the logic applied by the
Understand the strategic logic behind attacks on civilians;
Develop a counter-strategy that reduces threats to and vulnerabilities of civilians;
Target the desired outcome; and
Act quickly to address crises
While multiple logics of violence were at play in the Haitian environment, MINUSTAH chose to
address the most direct threat to the population, government, and mission — the IAGs. While the
mission’s analysis and approach seemed appropriate more research should be done to tease out
the complexities of curbing the intent of profit-driven armed groups that do not necessarily have
a clear political rationale for violence against civilians. Narco-traffickers in Mexico and Guatemala
would be good examples.
MINUSTAH’s prioritization of Information Operations reflect the importance placed on them
in the Proposed Principles, however MINUSTAH’s attempt to carry out a comprehensive IO
campaign fell short in some ways, as indicated by the 2009 OIOS audit. In terms of metrics, there
was insufficient evidence of MINUSTAH’s efforts to thoroughly assess the mission’s impact on the
protection of civilians. This may be a reflection of the difficulty of devising measures of impact and
the relatively recent emphasis on metrics within policy and military realms.
127 North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions,” NATO Standardization Agency, AAP-6, 22
48 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
This case study reinforces the principles as a conceptual framework and guide for approaching
a problem where civilians are under threat and vulnerable. As the United Nations, regional
organizations, and national militaries continue to develop and revise institutional doctrine, this
case study and the proposed principles could serve to offer valuable lessons and insights for future
missions where protection is an operational objective.
Two other areas of further consideration should include:
Mechanisms, guidance, and training should exist to focus on the prevention of abuses like
SEA as well as the avoidance of civilian casualties. The Proposed Principles primarily focus on
proactive methods for protecting civilians. While this is certainly an important element of the
protection of civilians, future guidance developed by multilateral institutions and national militaries
should include prescriptions for preventing and managing harm caused by one’s own forces.
› › In the context of UN peacekeeping, future guidance should recognize and recommend how
to address diverging interests between the UN mission, the host nation government (which
maintains the right of strategic consent), other signatories of a peace agreement, and/or other
armed actors that pose a formidable challenge. Recognition of these diverging interests should
be included in analysis from the earliest stages of mission planning and training of senior
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52 | Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007
Annex 3: About the Project and Author
About the Project
For a number of years, Stimson research identified a lack of adequate guidance, planning, and
training on the protection of civilians as a critical liability for national militaries and peacekeepers
around the world. For this reason, the Stimson Center launched the project “Addressing the
Doctrinal Deficit,” which began with a workshop in September 2009 at the UK Defence Academy
in Shrivenham, gathering current and former military and civilian experts with experience in field
operations deployed in the context of protection crises. The workshop was designed to capture
insights that could be distilled into guidance for future missions mandated to protect. The project
resulted in four products:
A workshop report entitled Addressing the Doctrinal Deficit: Developing Guidance to Prevent
and Respond to Widespread or Systematic Attacks Against Civilians;
A set of proposed guidance entitled Protecting Civilians: Proposed Principles for Military
Military Planning to Protect Civilians: Proposed Guidance for United Nations Peacekeeping
Saving Port-au-Prince: United Nations Efforts to Protect Civilians in Haiti in 2006-2007.
Alison Giffen is the lead author of the workshop report. Max Kelly is the lead author on the
corresponding draft doctrinal principles and planning guidance. Guy Hammond is the lead
author on the case study. All three authors worked collaboratively to develop this project and the
About the Author
At the time this was written, Guy Hammond was a research associate with the Future of Peace
Operations Program (FOPO) at the Stimson Center. Guy joined FOPO in 2009 to work on issues
relating to the prevention of mass atrocities and the protection of civilians in peace operations.
Before coming to Stimson, Guy spent time working with the Genocide Intervention Network
(GI-NET). He holds a BA in International Studies from Miami University and spent a semester
abroad in Buenos Aires studying genocide and human rights.
For questions and/or comments relating to this publication, feel free to contact the author at
1111 19 th Street NW, 12 th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
p 202.223.5956 | f 202.238.9604
Photo credits: United Nations