This article explores the US government’s interest in the case against the United Nations for bringing cholera to Haiti. At yesterday’s oral arguments on the question of UN immunity, a US attorney argued in favor of absolute immunity for the UN, though the US isn’t a party to the litigation. The US has also submitted two statements in support of UN immunity in 2014.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
The U.N. Caused Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic. Now the Obama Administration Is Fighting the Victims.
Jonathan Katz, New Republic
October 24, 2014
Four years ago this month a battalion of United Nations soldiers, fresh from a cholera outbreak in Nepal, allowed their sewage to flow into Haiti’s biggest river and, scientists say, sparked the deadliest acute epidemic of the century. An estimated 9,000 people have died—nearly double the death toll of the current Ebola outbreak—and an estimated 700,000 people have been infected. On Thursday, embattled victims finally got a day in court. What was most remarkable about the hearing in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan was not the lawyers’ arguments or Judge J. Paul Oetken’s pointed questions, but who was doing the arguing. The opposition to the thousands of Haitian cholera victims did not come from the U.N., which did not send a representative, but the United States government.
In private conversations with U.N. officials, there seems to be a grudging acceptance—and even more pervasive sense of shame—that the peacekeepers were responsible for the massive epidemic, which not only caused tremendous loss of life but set back the Haitian economy and civil society that so many at the U.N. have pledged to help build. (Cholera’s corrosive power on Haiti’s medical infrastructure and society has been echoed in reports from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. In a coincidence, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in New York City was admitted to nearby Bellevue Hospital Center hours after the hearing.) Ban traveled to Haiti this summer for the first time since the outbreak, where he affirmed a“moral responsibility” to end the cholera epidemic. As the U.S. takes the lead fighting the case in the courts, time will tell if the U.N. leader has the power or will to accept actual responsibility as well.
Click HERE for the full text.