Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Advocacy helped win cholera justice, but more needs to be done

This article outlines the cholera epidemic in Haiti in terms of the advocacy around justice for the victims and our accompanying lawsuit in U.S. courts. After years of downplaying its responsibility for causing the epidemic and dodging accountability, then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally apologized to Haitians on December 1, 2016. The UN also promised a new $400 million plan to address the epidemic and provide material assistance to the victims but more remains to be done: The money needs to truly be made available while consultations with the victims occur to ensure that their needs are finally met. The UN must take better precautions to ensure that something similar doesn’t happen again in the future. And the UN must accept legal responsibility for the epidemic, as a means to ensure that justice will finally be served. Part of the article is […]

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 […]

How UN Immunity Can Endanger Global Health

When unusual diseases like Ebola or cholera emerge, vaccines can be crucial but companies often worry about the risk of liability for adverse side effects. Organizations like the WHO and UN are protected against such liability but when they fail to live up to the obligations tied with their immunity, like the UN has done in the Haiti cholera case, that rightly increases people’s concerns and hesitation. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text. The Ebola Vaccine, Iatrogenic Injuries, and Legal Liability Amir Attaran and Kumanan Wilson, PLoS Medicine December 1, 2015 Summary Points The development and eventual deployment of an Ebola vaccine was delayed for various technical and financial reasons, but with the apparent success of a vaccine candidate in a recently reported clinical trial, an urgent problem is the lack of any system to […]

Legal Analysis of UN Immunity in the Haiti Cholera Case

The United States recently filed an amicus brief in support of absolute immunity for the United Nations (UN) in our cholera case against the organization. This article outlines some major counterarguments to what the US posits in its brief, including the initial intentions behind UN immunity. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text. How Broad is the UN’s Immunity? More on The Haiti Cholera Case Kristen Boon, Opinio Juris September 22, 2015 If you haven’t seen it yet, the US recently filed its amicus brief in the Haiti Cholera appeal – it is available here: Haiti US amicus 2nd Circ. Predictably, the brief makes the case for absolute external UN immunity, and advances largely the same arguments put forward in prior filings. And yet, there are a number of powerful counterarguments to the position put forward by the US government. […]

BAI/IJDH and Cholera Victims Appeal Court’s Dismissal of Their Case

In October 2010, United Nations (UN) peacekeepers caused a deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti. Although over 8,000 Haitians have died of the disease and over 700,000 have been sickened, the UN has provided no method for cholera victims and their families to make claims and seek redress. Cholera victims and their lawyers had a hearing of their case against the UN in October 2014 but the judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the UN can’t be sued. In the brief below (just the intro is included), cholera victims and their lawyers appeal the judge’s decision. Click HERE for the full document. Principal Appellate Brief of Plaintiffs May 27, 2015 INTRODUCTION This case presents an issue of first impression for U.S. courts: whether the United Nations (“UN”) may benefit from immunity under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities […]

Cholera Victims Dismissed but Not Defeated

On January 9, 2015, a US judge ruled that UN Immunity is absolute in the case of Haitian cholera victims. Since the UN hasn’t provided an alternate method of seeking justice, this implies there is nowhere in the world where cholera victims can find justice. As this author reminds us, many cases of human rights violations were dismissed at first, until public pressure caused justice to be served. The cholera victims and their lawyers will appeal this decision and keep fighting until they get justice. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text. Haga clic AQUÍ para leer la versión española. Haitian Cholera Victims Undaunted by Court Ruling of UN Immunity Fran Quigley, Common Dreams January 20, 2015 Earlier this month, on the eve of the 5th anniversary of Haiti’s tragic earthquake, a U.S. District Court judge ruled […]

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