An excellent, very comprehensive op-ed on cholera in Haiti. It discusses everything from UN responsibility to the epidemic, to poor water and sanitation infrastructure in Haiti, to the legal claims against the UN for cholera.
Part of it is below. Click HERE for the full version.
The UN is not above the law
Lauren Carasik, Al Jazeera America
March 6, 2014
Few people dispute that the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH, is culpable for introducing the devastating cholera epidemic to that country. Yet the U.N. continues to evade responsibility. The U.S. government must decide Friday whether to support the victims’ right to their day in court or bolster the U.N.’s impunity. The U.S. is authorized by law to file a statement of interest with the court outlining its position, as it has done in previous cases.
The deadly outbreak first hit Haiti in October 2010, ten months after a calamitous earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and ravaged the country’s already crumbling infrastructure. The diarrheal disease, which had not been seen in Haiti in at least a century, infected hundreds of thousands within months. Haiti now hosts the world’s largest cholera epidemic: Between 2010 and 2012, cholera cases there represented half of the total reported to the World Health Organization. To date, 8,500 people have died and more than 700,000 have been sickened by the waterborne pathogen. By the U.N.’s own estimate, another 2,000 Haitians may die from cholera in 2014.
The U.N.’s liability has been independently verified. At least 10 studies, including a comprehensive report by Yale University’s Law School and School of Public Health, have confirmed the U.N.’s responsibility for the outbreak. “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,” the Yale report said.
A host of voices have demanded that the U.N. take responsibility for the tragedy. U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti and former U.S. President Bill Clinton identified U.N. peacekeepers from South Asia as “the proximate cause of cholera” in Haiti. More than 100 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives have called on the U.N. to take responsibility for bringing the cholera bacteria to Haiti. The U.N.’s independent expert on human rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallon, has called for compensation for the victims, decrying the world body’s refusal to respect the victims’ right to a remedy. Even the U.N.’s own high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, expressed support for compensating those harmed by the illness.
Yet the U.N. has consistently refused to accept responsibility…
Click HERE for full version.