Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

How UN Immunity is Allowing Human Rights Violations

United Nations peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti in 2010 and have used “absolute immunity as a bureaucratic tactic to avoid responsibility” since then, despite over 9000 deaths from and over 770,000 cases of cholera in Haiti. This article discusses how the UN’s self-protective ducking behind immunity is actually self-destructive for an organization purported to stand for human rights.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

No Immunity from Cholera: the UN’s Role in the 2010 Haitian Outbreak

Madlen Nash, McGill Blog

July 22, 2016

The United Nations cannot claim to address and prevent human rights violations while simultaneously failing to acknowledge the culture of impunity and alarming lack of accountability within the organization. Immunity should exist solely to ensure the security of UN peacekeepers during their missions. Instead, the UN uses absolute immunity as a bureaucratic tactic to avoid responsibility when their soldiers violate the human rights of the citizens they are mandated to protect. The UN continues to hide behind its shield of impunity despite its recent unequivocal violation of human rights in the case of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.


In October 2010, an outbreak of cholera appeared in Haiti for the first time in nearly a century(1). As of February 2016, there have been 770,000 reported cholera cases and 9,200 deaths (2). The first reported cases coincided directly with the arrival of peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The troops were deployed from an area of Nepal, a cholera endemic country, which had just experienced a major outbreak in the month prior to their departure (3). Evidence overwhelmingly confirmed that the source of the Haitian cholera outbreak was due to “contamination of the Méyè Tributary of the Artibonite River with a pathogenic strain of South Asian type Vibrio cholerae as a result of human activity” (4). The evidence not only confirms that the UN was responsible for bringing cholera into Haiti, but that it did so recklessly, allowing human waste from the peacekeeping base to be discharged into the tributary leading to Haiti’s principle water source (5). Despite the knowledge of the recent cholera outbreak in Nepal, the organization only tested symptomatic soldiers for cholera, even though 75% of cholera cases present as asymptomatic (6).


Click HERE for the full text.

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