Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Cholera in Haiti: The Legal Case Against the UN

Since the devastating cholera outbreak in Haiti, IJDH has filed a lawsuit against the United Nations, asking them to take responsibility for their actions and to provide reparations to victims. The case is built upon the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which were drafted at the instruction of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights after the international community found glaring gaps in international protection mechanisms. These Guiding Principles recognize the rights of the internally displaced, as many people living in Haiti are classified to be: those who were displaced by the earthquake, drought, or even the cholera epidemic itself. These principles recognized rights such as an adequate standard of living, basic shelter and housing, adequate amount of water, medical care, authorities to prevent diseases, etc. Cholera directly posed a threat to all of these rights, to name only a few. The UN promotes compliance with these Guiding Principles both inside and outside of the organization. Yet when it comes to Haiti, the organization still refuses to acknowledge its legal responsibility.

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Cholera in Haiti: UN Accountability Under The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

Kathleen Bergin The Disaster Law Page 

July 5th, 2016 

Uncontrolled vomiting hits first, along with profuse, watery diarrhea.  Within minutes, your body begins to dehydrate, your muscles will clench and cripple.  Your kidneys will fail next.  Then your brain goes into a coma, and your body goes into shock.  You’ll come out of it though, eventually, if you find treatment right away.  But if you can’t find treatment, you could die.  If treatment comes too late, you could die.  If the symptoms strike so fast that you have no idea what hit, it’s likely you will die.

This is cholera, a disease that has infected close to a million people in Haiti, and depending on which numbers you credit, has killed between 10,000 and 30,000.  Though easily prevented and treated, its onset is sometimes so sudden and severe that victims can die of systemic shock within an hour of the first stomach cramp.
Not a trace of cholera in Haiti had been reported in more than a century worth of health data.  But it exploded upon arrival in October, 2010.  One hospital near the epicenter of the outbreak admitted more than 400 cholera patients in a single day – just three days after the first reported fatality.  Forty-four of those patients were dead by nightfall.

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