Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Peacekeeping Without Accountability- The United Nations’ Responsibility for the Haitian Cholera Epidemic

Transnational Development Clinic, Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization Yale Law School, Global Health Justice Partnership of the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Public Health and Association Haitienne de Droit de L’Environnment, August 6, 2013

This report addresses the responsibility of the United Nations (U.N.) for the cholera epidemic in Haiti—one of the largest cholera epidemics in modern history. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the evidence that the U.N. brought cholera to Haiti, relevant international legal and humanitarian standards necessary to understand U.N. accountability, and steps that the U.N. and other key national and international actors must take to rectify this harm. Despite overwhelming evidence linking the U.N. Mission for the Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH)1 to the outbreak, the U.N. has denied responsibility for causing the epidemic. The organization has refused to adjudicate legal claims from cholera victims or to otherwise remedy the harms they have suffered. By causing the epidemic and then refusing to provide redress to those affected, the U.N. has breached its commitments to the Government of Haiti, its obligations under international law, and principles of humanitarian relief. Now, nearly four years after the epidemic began, the U.N. is leading efforts to eliminate cholera but has still not taken responsibility for its own actions. As new infections continue to mount, accountability for the U.N.’s failures in Haiti is as important as ever.

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