While the UN continues to promote justice and the rule of law in countries worldwide, it shirks those same responsibilities in Haiti. Since UN peacekeepers first began a cholera epidemic in Haiti in 2010, they have been dodging the victims’ calls for justice. More and more people, including current and former UN insiders, are demanding that the UN practice what it preaches and give Haitians justice.
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The danger of two-tiered justice: Lessons from the Haiti cholera case
Brenda Kombo, Pambazuka News
November 5, 2014
Haiti may be thousands of kilometres away, but as the country grapples with colonial legacies, neo-colonial infringements, corruption, socio-economic hurdles and democratization challenges, its citizens’ struggle for UN accountability may carry lessons for the African continent as well. Haiti lacks the clout to demand that the UN compensate its citizens. You cannot bite the hand that feeds you. But, by refusing to even establish a commission as stipulated in its agreement with Haiti, the UN is creating a two-tiered justice system—with one tier catering to the countries wielding the political and economic power to negotiate with it and another for those, like Haiti and other countries in the Global South, that do not.
What happens when it is the UN, the global promoter of justice and rule of law, which fails to respect its obligations in the Global South? During a recent visit to Haiti, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told graduating Haitian police cadets, ‘The Haitian State will have to show the people that it can enforce the law and demonstrate that in a democratic nation; no one—including political authorities and the police themselves—is above the law.’ Yet the Haiti cholera case suggests that the UN itself has not abided by this bedrock principle. The immunity that enables the UN to do its important work worldwide should not include impunity to disregard its obligations to any people, regardless of where they reside.
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