Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

UN Special Rapporteur Joins Fight for Cholera Justice

Another UN human rights expert has joined the fight for justice for Haiti’s cholera victims! In a report on common violations of the right to water and sanitation worldwide, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation stressed the UN’s obligation to investigate, provide remedies, and establish accountability mechanisms. The report will be presented at the 27th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and comes at the heels of strong statements by the Independent Expert on Human Rights in Haiti and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Both UN experts have called for compensation for victims of cholera in Haiti. The Special Rapporteur’s statement is below.

Click HERE to read the full report, on common violations of the human rights to water and sanitation.


The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti has come under scrutiny for its role in the cholera epidemic in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. The epidemic killed over 8,500 people, sickened more than 700,000 and is still ongoing. It has been alleged that the cholera was brought in by peacekeepers and that it spread because of haphazardly constructed sanitation facilities that leaked sewage into a river that was an important source of drinking water.[1] The United Nations has rejected the accusations and claimed immunity based on the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, but United Nations human rights representatives are increasingly calling on the United Nations to establish responsibility. The Independent Expert on Haiti has stressed the need “to assure the Haitian people that the epidemic will be halted as soon as possible and that full reparation for damages will be provided”. He called for clarification of the facts and for realization of the right to a remedy, arguing that the “United Nations should be the first to honour these principles”[2] and that “silence is the worst response”.[3] The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an investigation by the United Nations and the country concerned, and called for “those who suffered as a result of that cholera be provided with compensation”.[4] The Special Rapporteur wishes to emphasize the obligation to investigate the allegations in order to establish responsibility for any violations and to ensure the alleged victims’ right to a remedy, including compensation, if warranted. She welcomes the commitment by the United Nations to eradicate the disease in Haiti and urges it to meet that commitment by providing adequate resources. She further calls on the United Nations to establish appropriate accountability mechanisms for ongoing and future missions as well as to review and reinforce measures for adequate sanitation and preventive measures.

                     [1]   A/HRC/25/71, para. 76.

                     [2]   Ibid., para. 77.

                     [3]   Ibid., para. 77, quoting A/HRC/22/65, para. 89.

                     [4]   Quoted in Trenton Daniel, UN Official Makes Rare Case For Compensation For Haiti Cholera Victims, Huffington Post, 10/08/13.


Click HERE to read the full report.

Also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish HERE.

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