U.N. ‘Disregards Haitians’ Humanity’ By Refusing Responsibility For Cholera Outbreak

Despite multiple reports confirming the U.N. is responsible for the cholera outbreak in Haiti — including a report (.pdf) published last week by the Transnational Development Clinic at Yale Law School and the Global Health Justice Partnership between the law school and the Yale School of Public Health that concluded “not only that the U.N. brought cholera to Haiti, but that by failing to take responsibility for its role in the outbreak, the United Nations violates both its contractual commitments to Haiti as well as its obligations under international law” — “the U.N. continues to deny its role,” Charanya Krishnaswami, a co-author of the Yale report, writes in a Slate opinion piece. “Previously, the organization rejected claims for relief from more than 5,000 cholera victims, simply declaring that the claims were ‘not receivable,'” she writes, adding, “This week, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky responded to renewed calls for accountability by asking the international community to donate money to help Haiti recover from the ‘double tragedy of earthquake and cholera’ while saying nothing about the part the U.N. played in visiting this tragedy upon the country in the first place.”

Though the recovery “plan will, critically, prevent future harm … it will not address the harm that has already befallen so many victims — the men, women, and children who died or lost loved ones in a profoundly senseless tragedy,” Krishnaswami writes. “The U.N. should accept responsibility, and it can, in a variety of ways,” including issuing a formal apology, establishing a claims commission, “and ensuring internal change so that such preventable tragedy will not happen again,” she says. She concludes, “It is now abundantly clear that the U.N. brought cholera to Haiti. By failing to accept responsibility for this wrong, the U.N. continues to disregard Haitians’ humanity” (8/19).