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UN Accountability for Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic

  • Ira Kurzban (a1), Beatrice Lindstrom (a2) and Shannon Jonsson (a3)

Extract

A lawsuit pending in U.S. courts against the United Nations for its responsibility for Haiti’s cholera out-break is the largest challenge yet to the impunity of the organization, which has thus far refused to comply with its legal obligations to provide a settlement mechanism to the victims. With no such avenue of redress available to them, those affected by the epidemic have been left in the bizarre situation where in order to obtain justice they must file lawsuits against the United Nations, whose mandate is to defend the rule of law and promote human rights. If successful, the suit would improve accountability for the organization and underscore the need for it to comply with international law.

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References

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1 Remedies for Harm Caused by UN Peacekeepers, ASIL (2014).

2 Class Action Complaint & Demand for Jury Trial, Georges v. United Nations, No. 13-CV-7146 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 9, 2013).

3 Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la Population (MSPP), Rapport de Cas (Mar. 10, 2014).

4 Independent Panel of Experts on the Cholera Outbreak in Haiti, Final Report of the Independent Panel of Experts on the Cholera Outbreak in Haiti (2010).

5 Agreement Between the United Nations and the Government of Haiti Concerning the Status of the UN Operation in Haiti, 227.1,1-40460 (July 9, 2004).

6 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities on the United Nations, Feb. 13, 1946, 1 UNTS 15.

7 The Transnational Development Clinicet Al., Peacekeeping Without Accountability: The United Nations’ Responsibility For The Haitian Cholera Epidemic 33 (2013).

8 Chief of Claims Unit Minustah Log Base, Petition for Relief dated Nov. 3, 2011 from the Chief of Claims Unit Minustah Log Base to the Office of the UN Secretary-General (Nov. 3, 2011).

9 Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Letter dated Dec. 21, 2011 from the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs ad dressed to Mr. Concannon (Dec. 21, 2011).

10 Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Letter dated Feb. 21, 2013 from the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs ad dressed to Mr. Concannon (Feb. 21, 2013).

11 Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Letter dated May 7, 2013 from Joesph, Concannon, Kurzan Attorneys for Petitioners to UN Under-Secretary-General O’Brien (May 7, 2013).

12 Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Letter dated July 5, 2013 from the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs ad dressed to Mr. Concannon (July 5, 2013).

13 Annis, Roger, Stephen Lewis Says United Nations Must be Held Accountable for Cholera in Haiti, Haiti-Canadablog (Oct. 14, 2013).

14 Lewis, Stephen: Curtail the U.N.’s Legal Immunity, CBC Radio Day 6 (Oct. 11, 2013).

15 UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallón, UN Doc. A/HRC/25/71 (Feb. 7, 2014).

16 Daniel, Trenton, UN Official Makes Rare Case for Compensation for Haiti Cholera Victims, Huffington Post, Oct. 8, 2013.

17 See The Transnational Development Clinicet al., supra note 7.

18 N.Y. Times Editorial Board, Haiti’s Imported Disaster, N.Y. Times, Oct. 12, 2013, at SR10.

19 Members of U.S. Congress, Letter dated Jan. 10, 2014 from Members of U.S. Congress to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN (Jan. 10, 2014).

20 Witcher, Tim & Andrade, Mariano, UN Warns of Surge in Haiti Cholera Deaths, Agence France-Presse (Jan. 22, 2014).

21 Wash. Post Editorial Board, United Nations Must Admit its Role in Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak, Wash. Post (Aug. 16, 2013).

UN Accountability for Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic

  • Ira Kurzban (a1), Beatrice Lindstrom (a2) and Shannon Jonsson (a3)

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