UN Security Council Resolution 940

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UN Security Council resolution 940 was issued on July 31st, 1994, forming a US-led multinational force under unified command and control to restore the legitimately elected leftist President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and authorities of the Government of Haiti and extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Haiti.

The Security Council voted 12-0 in favour of Resolution 940. The People's Republic of China and Brazil opposed the resolution during debate, but chose to abstain rather than vote against it. Permanent Security Council members the United Kingdom, France, Russia and the United States voted for the resolution. The other non-permanent members of the Security Council, Spain,Argentina, the Czech Republic, Djibouti, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, and Pakistan, also voted in favour of the resolution. (Rwanda was not present.)

The vote was the first time the UN sanctioned the use of an invading force to “restore democracy”. It is also the first time the US has sought and gained UN approval for a military intervention in the Americas.

Many Latin American countries were opposed to the resolution. Mexico's UN ambassador, Victor Flores Olea, spoke out against the resolution, saying that “it sets an extremely dangerous precedent in the field of international relations” because the crisis “does not constitute a threat to peace and international security”. Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina said that the resolution furthers “the repeated attempts by the Security Council to amplify its powers beyond those which were granted it by the Charter”.

Brazilian President Itamar Franco strongly opposed the UN decision, saying “The Security Council's special powers should not be invoked in an indiscriminate manner in the name of a `search for more rapid means' to respond to attacks on democracy, because it violates the basic principles of peaceful co-existence between nations and normal UN legal procedures.” After a visit to Brazil from US Undersecretary of State Peter Tarnoff the week before the vote, Brazil's decision to abstain instead of oppose the resolution can clearly be seen to be the result of enormous US pressure.

Pointing out that the situation in Haiti posed no threat to world peace and security, Uruguay's UN representative Ramiro Piriz Ballon said his country “will not support any military intervention, unilateral or multilateral”.

Argentina initially offered to send four marine and infantry companies to join the US-led invasion forces. However, after popular discontent over the decision, President Carlos Menem was forced to back down on the offer.

On January 17th, 1995, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali issued a 17-page report on the result of the intervention: the report noted the ongoing repression in Haiti, the complete lack of justice for victims of the September 1991 coup d'etat, the deteriorating economic situation, and the growing impatience of the Haitian people. It also pointed out however that Haiti was as a consequence a much safer place and that the President now controlled the island with the assistance of US troops.

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