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.

 

UN Immunity and Its Implications for Cholera (In)Justice

In a speech originally planned to focus on UN immunity in cases of sexual violence, former UN insider Stephen Lewis was compelled to look at immunity in light of the cholera epidemic in Haiti. Despite causing the first cholera epidemic in Haiti in over a century, the UN has continually dodged responsibility and remained unaccountable for four years. Meanwhile, deaths from cholera continue. Now that cholera victims had a chance to argue in court (on October 23), Lewis and countless others hope that UN immunity will finally stop being impunity and the victims will have justice. Click HERE for the pdf. The 2014 Raoul Wallenberg Lecture in Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, McGill University delivered by Stephen Lewis, Professor of Practice in Global Governance at the Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University Montreal November 12, 2014 Allow … Continue reading

Lack of Cholera Accountability Puts UN at Risk

At the core of the United Nations’ values are human rights and the rule of law. When it comes to the cholera epidemic in Haiti, however, Attorney Tim Howard argues that the UN has completely ignored those values. Although mounds of scientific evidence prove UN peacekeepers’ responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti in 2010, the UN has remained unaccountable ever since.  Many believe that this lack of accountability greatly undermines the UN’s ability to hold others accountable in the future. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text. In denying Haiti cholera deaths, UN risks violating its core purpose Tim Howard, Global Post November 9, 2014 CAMBRIDGE, England — Late last month, attorneys argued before the US Federal District Court in Manhattan that the United Nations is not immune from liability for the spread of cholera throughout Haiti. The medical … Continue reading

Does the UN have double standards for justice?

While the UN continues to promote justice and the rule of law in countries worldwide, it shirks those same responsibilities in Haiti. Since UN peacekeepers first began a cholera epidemic in Haiti in 2010, they have been dodging the victims’ calls for justice. More and more people, including current and former UN insiders, are demanding that the UN practice what it preaches and give Haitians justice. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text. The danger of two-tiered justice: Lessons from the Haiti cholera case Brenda Kombo, Pambazuka News November 5, 2014 … Haiti may be thousands of kilometres away, but as the country grapples with colonial legacies, neo-colonial infringements, corruption, socio-economic hurdles and democratization challenges, its citizens’ struggle for UN accountability may carry lessons for the African continent as well. Haiti lacks the clout to demand … Continue reading

Haitian Cholera Victims Need Access to Justice

This article describes in detail the origin of the cholera epidemic in Haiti, the UN’s failure to provide the victims justice since the epidemic began in 2010, and the litigation that is trying to force the UN to be accountable for its (in)actions. At the center of all this is the demand that UN immunity not be treated as impunity. An excerpt is below. Click HERE for the full text. Access to Justice for Victims of Cholera in Haiti: Accountability for U.N. Torts in U.S. Court Beatrice Lindstrom, Shannon Jonsson, and Gillian Stoddard Leatherberry; Boston University’s International Law Journal November 3, 2014 … As the human costs of a lack of U.N. accountability grow, the international community, including U.N. insiders, is beginning to recognize that in some cases immunity should give way to the need for accountability from an otherwise … Continue reading

Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Comes to US Court

This article describes the cholera epidemic in Haiti, as well as the October 23 oral arguments on the question of UN immunity. It also compares the cholera epidemic to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, both of which are exacerbated (or even allowed) by poverty. Ebola is very difficult to combat but cholera is, fortunately, easy to fight and prevent. What would help most is the UN taking responsibility for the epidemic it caused and helping Haiti build the water and sanitation infrastructure it needs to be cholera-free. An excerpt is below. Click HERE for the full text. There’s an Epidemic on Trial in New York — But It’s Not Ebola Lauren Carasik, VICE News October 27, 2014 … The UN has declined to appear in court on its own behalf. Instead, Assistant US Attorney Ellen Blain argued that as both … Continue reading

Oral Arguments in the UN Cholera Case

Thursday October 23, 2014, Judge J. Paul Oetken heard oral arguments on the question of UN immunity in the cholera case. This was the first opportunity the plaintiffs had to argue their case and Judge Oetken seemed well-informed and very engaged. This article describes some of the plaintiffs’ and the US attorney’s arguments, as well as issues that were not discussed. Judge Oetken’s decision is pending. Part of the post is below. Click HERE for the full text. Privileges and Immunities Hearing in The Haiti Cholera Case against the UN Kristen Boon, Opinio Juris October 27, 2014 An interesting and significant hearing on the UN’s Privileges and Immunities in the Haiti Cholera case took place on Thursday morning, October 23, in the Southern District of New York.   For plaintiffs, the hearing was a milestone because it represented the first time that … Continue reading