Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

US Ambassador to UN Responds to Ban Ki-moon Cholera Apology

On December 1, 2016 a United Nations General Assembly met to discuss the UN’s new cholera elimination plan for Haiti. At that session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also apologized to the Haitian people and admitted that the UN hadn’t done enough to stop the epidemic. Below is the response to Ban’s statement from the US Representative, Ambassador Isobel Coleman.

Ambassador Isobel Coleman
U.S. Representative to the UN for UN Management and Reform
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
December 1, 2016
Thank you so much. As the Secretary-General has movingly noted, cholera has had a devastating effect on the Haitian people since it was introduced in Haiti in 2010. Families have lost loved ones, caregivers, and breadwinners. No community has been untouched. There is a clear humanitarian imperative to respond to the epidemic in a robust and sustained manner.The United States has been dedicated first and foremost to a response that will leave Haitian communities stronger, healthier, and more resilient. Over the last six years, the U.S. has provided more than $100 million for cholera treatment and prevention efforts in Haiti. And this assistance is complemented by a substantial U.S. assistance package for Haiti’s overall health system, which prioritizes hygiene, household water treatment, monitoring and evaluation, and rural sanitation.

We’ve also been working intensively with the UN to support and amplify its efforts in Haiti to contain the disease, including providing aggressive prevention measures, vaccinating the population, and facilitating an emergency response. These efforts, as well as the efforts of other bilateral and multilateral partners, have had a positive impact, and we continue to seek additional means of providing support to this important initiative.

There is also a clear ethical duty to respond to the cholera epidemic in Haiti. Not a single one of these cases should have occurred. For this reason, the United States welcomes the Secretary-General’s acceptance of the UN’s moral responsibility for the cholera outbreak and his statement last month in Haiti expressing regret for the resulting loss of life. While the UN and the international community have made strides in containing and preventing the further spread of the disease, the U.S. recognizes that more must be done and supports the UN’s ongoing efforts to design an assistance package for those most affected by cholera.

Looking forward, it is of vital importance that the UN’s New Approach to cholera in Haiti is credible, sustainable, and delivers concrete results to the people of Haiti. Designing and implementing a package of financial assistance is a complex challenge in Haiti and your report makes plain the difficulties associated with ensuring a fair, just, and transparent individual payment mechanism. While there are also many questions still to be worked through regarding a community-based approach, we believe that this is the more practical way ahead.

We look for greater clarity on the New Approach so that Member States can take sound financial decisions that will result in tangible benefits for the people of Haiti and the credibility of the United Nations.

For maximum, long-term impact, we encourage you to ensure Track 2 programing complements those activities undertaken under Track 1, such as community-related programs related to the water, sanitation, and hygiene programs. Those activities undertaken under Track 1 and Track 2 should also be coordinated with the wider humanitarian assistance being provided to Haiti.

We welcome the Secretary-General’s apology today and the proposed new approach as meaningful symbols of atonement to the Haitian people, and important steps in restoring the credibility of the United Nations. And we look forward to working with the Secretary-General and his successor to ensure that this initiative has a positive and lasting impact for those most affected.

Thank you.


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