Why a rights-based UN response to cholera matters for COVID-19

Originally published in OpenGlobalRights and authored by IJDH’s Beatrice Lindstrom, BAI’s Mario Joseph, and IJDH’s Brian Concannon.

“If UN Secretary-General António Guterres is serious about his clarion call for “a strong, coordinated and coherent multilateral response” to COVID-19 that is based on solidarity, he should start by keeping his promises to victims of the UN-caused cholera epidemic in Haiti. Providing cholera victims the justice they have sought for a decade would restore the credibility the UN needs to lead the fight against COVID-19, and set an example of an effective human rights-based response to global health threats.


“Earlier this year, our organizations filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Council’s special procedures, asking the Organization’s independent experts to investigate the inadequacies and broken promises in the UN’s response to cholera that amount to violations of the right to effective remedy. Seeing the clear injustice, fourteen UN experts issued a highly critical letter that denounced the UN’s continued violation of the victims’ rights and insisted that the Organization respect its obligations. The experts stressed that “effective remedies is even more urgent in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” which could deal a double blow to the victims and their families. They acknowledged the challenges that the Coronavirus virus poses to the UN but insisted that “this new threat cannot mask past failures and ongoing violations.”

Read the full article here.