Cholera

Overview

4701209630_bf8fcd2b8c_zCholera broke out in Haiti in Octo­ber 2010, and continues to constitute a grave medical emergency. Over­whelm­ing evi­dence has estab­lished that reck­less dis­posal of human waste by a United Nations (UN) peace­keep­ing base in Mire­bal­ais poi­soned Haiti’s rivers with a par­tic­u­larly deadly strain of cholera bac­te­ria and cre­ated the epi­demic. Now, despite even UN Spe­cial Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton’s acknowl­edg­ment that the UN was the “prox­i­mate cause” of the epi­demic, the UN continues to refuse to accept respon­si­bil­ity and con­trol cholera in Haiti.

BAI and IJDH rep­re­sent Hait­ian vic­tims of cholera in their quest for jus­tice from the UN.

In Novem­ber 2011, we filed 5,000 claims with the UN, seeking:

A) The instal­la­tion of a national water and san­i­ta­tion sys­tem that will con­trol the epidemic,
B) Com­pen­sa­tion for indi­vid­ual vic­tims of cholera for their losses,
C) A pub­lic apol­ogy from the United Nations for its wrong­ful acts

    

In February 2013, after 15 months of silence, the UN tersely dismissed the claims in a two-line decision deeming the claims “not receivable.”  Since then, their strategy continues to be denial and stonewalling the media.

On October 9, 2013, BAI, IJDH, and law firm Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzelli & Pratt (KKWT) filed a lawsuit against the UN in NY Federal Court.  Click here for a full timeline of the events that led up to this.

The Cholera Account­abil­ity Project (CAP) works with Hait­ian grass­roots groups and inter­na­tional advo­cates in a broad-based cam­paign to force the UN to take action to stop the cholera’s killing. Diar­rheal dis­ease and lack of safe water are the worst pub­lic health prob­lems in Haiti. Our case demands the instal­la­tion of water and san­i­ta­tion infra­struc­ture that will con­trol the epi­demic and save more than 5,000 lives each year.

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 Get involved today by:
Making your voice heard on Twitter by tweeting this.
Petition to the UN to provide clean water & sanitation in Haiti.
Donating  to support the case.
Watching and sharing Baseball in the Time of Cholera.

 

Transcript of Cholera Litigation Oral Arguments

October 23, 2014 Part of the transcript is below. Click HERE for the full text. Good morning, everyone, and welcome. We are here for oral argument on the pending motions in this case. As you know, the complaint in the case was filed in October 2013, just a little over a year ago. Plaintiffs allege that the United Nations and entities affiliated with the United Nations caused a cholera epidemic, beginning in October of 2010, in Haiti, and they bring claims for negligence and related claims against the United Nations and associated entities and individuals of the United Nations. They have sought to serve those entities, the defendants. The United Nations defendants have resisted service, and we are here for oral argument really on just the issue of whether this Court should deem service to have been made and the related … Continue reading

Why is US Arguing for UN Absolute Immunity?

This article explores the US government’s interest in the case against the United Nations for bringing cholera to Haiti. At yesterday’s oral arguments on the question of UN immunity, a US attorney argued in favor of absolute immunity for the UN, though the US isn’t a party to the litigation. The US has also submitted two statements in support of UN immunity in 2014. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text. The U.N. Caused Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic. Now the Obama Administration Is Fighting the Victims. Jonathan Katz, New Republic October 24, 2014 Four years ago this month a battalion of United Nations soldiers, fresh from a cholera outbreak in Nepal, allowed their sewage to flow into Haiti’s biggest river and, scientists say, sparked the deadliest acute epidemic of the century. An estimated 9,000 people have … Continue reading

Reflections from the Bolt Bus: Cholera, Collaboration and Justice

Brian Concannon October 23, 2014 Three years ago next week I was on a nighttime Fung Wah Bus from New York back to Boston, feeling exhilarated and terrified.  That morning we had announced the filing of a claim with the United Nations on behalf of 5,000 victims of the UN cholera in Haiti. I was exhilarated because we had taken an important first step towards justice for those killed and sickened by the epidemic, and the installation of the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to stop cholera’s killing. I was terrified because I feared that a small organization—without even a paid staff lawyer besides the Director—could not contend with the United Nations that boasted some of the best international lawyers in the world and millions of dollars for outside lawyers and public relations work. Three years later I am on a … Continue reading

Cholera Plaintiffs and US Attorney Debate UN Immunity

This article provides a great description of the October 2014 hearing on the question of UN immunity in the case of Georges et al. vs. United Nations et al. Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom, arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs, contended that the UN cannot enjoy immunity when it has violated its obligations to provide alternate remedies to the victims. The US attorney, Ellen Blain, argued that the UN enjoys immunity regardless of any violations. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text and video. US Court Hears Pleas for Justice over UN Role in Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Makini Brice, PanAm Post October 24, 2014 Haitian cholera victims finally had their day in court on Thursday: a hearing at the US District Court in the Southern District of New York on a gray, rainy New York morning. About 50 official observers and other … Continue reading

Will UN Be Granted Immunity in Cholera Case?

France24 describes the scene outside the Manhattan Federal Courthouse on Thursday, October 23, 2014, when Haitians and Haitian-Americans gathered in driving rain to continue discussing the ongoing case against the United Nations. Oral arguments had just taken place on the issue of UN immunity between the Plaintiffs and the US Government, which has intervened in the case and argued for dismissal on immunity grounds. Judge J. Paul Oetken has deferred a decision on whether that immunity will be granted in this case, where the UN has refused to provide cholera victims any access to a remedy despite their many attempts to engage the organization. Mario Joseph, a lead attorney for Plaintiffs, pointed out the UN’s double standards in addressing this crisis, noting how different things would have been had the outbreak occurred in the US. Part of the article is … Continue reading

US Foreign Policy vs UN Cholera Epidemic

This article examines the US Government’s involvement in the ongoing case against the United Nations on behalf of Haiti cholera victims. It argues that the decision by the US to intervene on the UN’s behalf and assert the organization’s immunity to suit is not in line its stated foreign policy goals. Supporting the UN’s evasion from the judicial system altogether, they suggest, is constitutionally problematic and allows the UN to hide behind empty promises. Importantly, they note how UN immunity in this case would violate the fundamental principles of justice and human rights, which were ironically the very principles on which the UN’s immunity was built. Part of the post is below. Click HERE for the full text. Foreign Policy in the Time of Cholera Adam Houston, Peggy Chateauneuf, Beatrice Lindstrom; The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs October 23, 2014 The … Continue reading