Suit against U.N. over cholera in Haiti

Even though its responsibility for introducing and spreading cholera in Haiti has been irrefutably established, the United Nations has refused to take any responsibility for the 8,300 deaths and 650,000 cases due to cholera in Haiti since 2010.

In May 2012, even U.N. special envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton, admitted that a U.N. Nepalese soldier had brought cholera to Haiti, depositing “his waste stream into the waterways of Haiti and into the bodies of Haitians.” (, March 7, 2012)

Lawyers for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the International Lawyers Office in Port-au-Prince filed the suit Oct. 9 for 5,000 Haitian cholera victims and their families. They want class action status, which would let any victim of the U.N.’s actions join the suit.

The U.N. claims that it doesn’t have to respond to suits like this one because it has sovereign immunity. But the lawyers from IJDH and the BAI point to the claim that they filed internally with the U.N. in 2011, which the U.N. took until February 2013 to reject. The U.N. rejected the claims as “not receivable” because considering them would “require a review of political or policy matters.”

‘‘They may have immunity, but they don’t have impunity,’’ said one of the lawyers, Ira Kurzban. (, Oct. 15)

As a matter of justice, the U.N. should not be let off the hook for the damage, the suffering and deaths of hundreds of thousands of Haitians — which it caused — because it doesn’t want to review its policies.

The U.N. forces in Haiti have never really acted as “peacekeepers” interposed between two parties in conflict. They have essentially been a police force keeping the U.S. and French-backed Haitian government in power, a backup for local cops who might not be totally reliable. Their presence allows the U.S. to maintain its occupation of Haiti — which began in 2004 — without its troops being physically present.

Simple Share Buttons

Share this
Simple Share Buttons