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China is asking the UN Security Council to ban small arms for Haiti

#China #Security #Council #ban #small #arms #Haiti

China has asked the UN Security Council to vote on a small arms ban for Haiti, settling a potential standoff on Friday with the United States, whose revised draft resolution does not reflect Beijing’s proposal.

Council members are considering renewing a United Nations political mission in Haiti that expires Friday night, but whether Chinese diplomats will go so far as to veto the latest resolution remains to be seen.

Beijing has assumed an increasingly prominent role in Haiti-related matters at the UN in recent years — most notably in relation to Port-au-Prince’s recognition of self-governing Taiwan, which China regards as its own territory.

“The situation in Haiti cannot be worse. As we negotiate here, gang violence is escalating in Port-au-Prince,” a spokeswoman for China’s UN mission said.

“An arms embargo on criminal gangs is the least the Council should do in response to the appalling situation,” she added, echoing China’s proposal for Security Council member states to ban small arms.

But the revised text from the United States and Mexico, finalized late Thursday and seen by AFP, falls short of an embargo and instead calls on “member states to prohibit the transfer of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to non-state actors involved in or supporting gang violence.”

Gang violence in the Caribbean nation has risen sharply – alongside fuel shortages and soaring food prices – with at least 89 people killed in Port-au-Prince alone this week. Aid organizations said access to the region is dangerous.

Diplomatic sources said Thursday China has also asked the council to vote on sanctions against Haiti’s gang leaders and even deploy a regional police force to the violence-plagued island.

The individual sanctions would include travel bans and asset freezes, according to a draft text that is also available to AFP.

Countries that maintain diplomatic relations with China generally refrain from official exchanges with Taiwan.

However, Beijing denies any connection between its stance towards the United Nations and the Taiwan issue.

A Chinese diplomatic source told AFP it was necessary to urge Haiti’s political authorities to act and notify those responsible for the violence with legal sanctions.

The United States is not necessarily opposed to such sanctions, but they must pass, an American diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

There would be little point in overseeing an arms embargo without a sanctions committee or group of UN experts, the diplomat said, adding that more information on the proposed sanctions against individuals is needed to discuss the idea.

It would all “need more work,” the source said.

Cracking poverty and widespread violence are driving many Haitians to flee to the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti, or to the United States.

The Security Council is debating whether to extend the United Nations special political mission to Haiti, known by the acronym BINUH, until 2023.

A vote was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but as council members debated China’s proposal, it was pushed back to Friday.

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