For 5 years, the UN has refused to engage with claims that peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti in 2010. Despite numerous advocacy efforts to hold the UN accountable and even lawsuits brought against the organization, the UN has hidden behind immunity. Although UN treaties obligate the UN to establish claims commissions for individuals harmed by UN actions, the organization has not done so.
The UN’s most recent response however, signals a potential breakthrough in attempts to hold the UN accountable for its actions. Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson, wrote that both the Secretary General and he are committed to fulfilling the UN’s human rights obligations. He also wrote that he was willing to engage further to assist the victims of cholera and their communities. This letter is a response to a group of the UN’s own human rights experts, and shows a significant change in attitude by Ban Ki-Moon. In the final few months of Ban’s term, he will hopefully open up a dialogue on how justice can finally be achieved.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full article.
UN response to Haiti cholera epidemic critics signals ‘potential breakthrough’
Ed Pilkington, The Guardian
June 1st, 2016
The United Nations is showing the first signs of compromise over the Haiti cholera epidemic, after more than five years in which it has consistently refused to accept responsibility for a disaster that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Groups working with Haitian victims have greeted the apparent shift in the UN’s position as a potential breakthrough in a crisis that has devastated one of the poorest countries in the world and sapped the credibility of the very organization that was supposed to be helping it.
The deadly bacterium was imported into the country in 2010 by infected UN peacekeepers who dumped contaminated sewerage directly into local rivers. Latest studies suggest that at least 30,000 people have died, with more than two million survivors of the illness.
In his letter, Eliasson replies: “The secretary-general and I are fully committed to ensuring that the organization fulfills its human rights obligations.” Though he does not mention the vexed question of responsibility for the catastrophe, he does say he is willing to “engage further” in discussing ways in which the UN could do more to “assist the victims of cholera and their communities”.
He even holds out the vague, though significant, promise that resources “could be fine-tuned or expanded as needed”.
Click HERE for the full article.