Après la série de crises liées à Haïti l'année dernière - un assassinat présidentiel, un tremblement de terre, une urgence migratoire a la frontière entre Mexique et des États-Unis et une consolidation dramatique de la violence des gangs - les décideurs internationaux ont été confrontés à la possibilité qu'Haïti se trouve dans les premières étapes d'une crise humanitaire à grande échelle. La nouvelle détérioration de la politique haïtienne au cours des premiers mois de 2022 n'a fait que confirmer que le pays a franchi cette sombre étape.
Following last year’s streak of Haiti-related crises — a presidential assassination, earthquake, a migrant emergency at the Mexico-U.S. border and a dramatic consolidation of gang violence — international policymakers were left grappling with the possibility that Haiti was in the initial stages of a full-scale humanitarian crisis. The further deterioration of the Haitian polity in the early months of 2022 has only confirmed that the country has passed that grim milestone.
Policymakers are urgently seeking ways to reverse the erosion of democracy in fragile states exemplified by the past year’s surge in military coups in and around Africa’s Sahel region. To halt this decline, it’s vital to listen to African voices urging that international partners make the most of a powerful pro-democracy tool: increased foreign investment built upon the rule of law.
Amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the Biden-Harris administration has quietly released a new policy that commits the United States to do more to “interrupt potential pathways to conflict” and reduce threats before they arrive on our shores. This new initiative comes at a difficult time for the United States and the world, given the full-blown crises that require the international community’s urgent attention, from COVID-19 to the climate crisis. Still, it represents an unprecedented and promising commitment at the highest levels of our government to apply the important lessons learned from decades of U.S. involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
The United States is setting a new priority on building peace in five West African nations threatened by domestic crises and by violence that is spreading from the neighboring Sahel region. The White House named those countries among others in which to launch a new U.S. strategy to prevent violent conflicts in unstable regions. This choice signaled that stability in coastal West Africa is a vital U.S. interest — and that these five countries, while in varied stages of building democracies, can strengthen democracy and stability with more focused, long-term U.S. support. A broad consultation of scholarly and policy experts on coastal West Africa is buttressing that idea.
Almost 11 years after ousting the dictatorship of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya remains a largely ungoverned land divided among warlord-led factions that fight with support from rival foreign countries. Libya’s instability resonates widely, permitting the trafficking of weapons to the Sahel and migrants to Europe. Repeated peace efforts have failed to help Libyans form a unified national government, yet Libyans continue to show the capacity to overcome communal divisions and build peace at local levels. That demonstrated capacity offers an opportunity that can be expanded by the U.S. government’s decision, under its Global Fragility Strategy, to direct a new peacebuilding effort toward Libya.
Haiti represents the very definition of fragility. The country’s socioeconomic indicators are dire, with stresses on a battered economy reeling from COVID now exacerbated by fuel price spikes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and last year’s earthquake and tropical storm. The country’s health care system is in shambles. Gang violence restricts economic activity and instills fear. At its core, the economic and security collapse reflects a deep crisis of politics, where a staggering void of governance prevails. Given Haiti’s intersecting crises, the State Department’s announcement last week that the country would be designated as a priority under the Global Fragility Act is both welcome and logical.
In terms of geographical size and population, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is by far the biggest country among the Pacific Islands, a region increasingly central to U.S. strategic interests. Along with neighboring Solomon Islands, PNG is at the center of a growing geopolitical contest involving the United States and its allies and China. PNG has also long been wracked by domestic instability, which has depressed equitable economic growth and limited the country’s ability to play its natural role as regional leader and a bridge between the Pacific Islands region and East Asia. Despite PNG’s potential importance, the United States has a light political footprint in the country, particularly when compared to Australia, making PNG’s designation as a focus country under the Global Fragility Action (GFA) an opportunity to dramatically scale up engagement.
Since 2017, an Islamist insurgency has terrorized Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. Known locally as al-Shabaab, the group has committed heinous acts like beheadings, abducting children and destroying schools and hospitals, leading to a humanitarian disaster and over a million displaced Mozambicans. The violence has also threatened the development of natural gas fields that would strengthen the country’s suffering economy. Fortunately, the militants are now on their back foot after Mozambique’s neighbors sent troops in July 2021 to counter the ISIS-linked group. But the region’s problems are deep-seated and will require sustained engagement to stave off further violence and advance peace. Last Friday, the United States signaled it was prepared for such a commitment to Mozambique.
As the world enters its third year fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, health care professionals have administered 10 billion-plus vaccine doses worldwide, protecting large majorities of people in rich countries. Yet few doses have reached those living in war zones or places affected by conflict or violence, who remain largely unvaccinated and vulnerable to the disease. Preventing those countries from falling further behind will require increasing the supply of vaccines, improving delivery and overcoming barriers to vaccine acceptance. It will also necessitate doing more to navigate the politics of vaccine administration, including through peacebuilding strategies that promote dialogue and trust with marginalized communities.