Haiti, Cholera and the UN


A very informative and revealing story about the lawsuit against the United Nations over cholera in Haiti was broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s national evening news program, The World At Six, on November 13. The report began, “The United Nations is among those leading the effort to get aid to the Philippines. But even as it helps out with this natural disaster, it is haunted by the ghosts of another.”

It is the most comprehensive news report to date by the CBC on the Haiti cholera story. The report broke some new ground by looking at the implications worldwide for UN operations as a result of the world body’s conduct in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, including its stonewalling of the victims of the cholera epidemic. Those implications, says the CBC report, are playing out in the Philippines in the wake of the Typhoon Haiyan tragedy.

Reporter Laura Lynch said the UN’s responsibility for the cholera outbreak in October 2010 is now established beyond dispute. In the broadcast, she speaks to one of the victims who is suing the UN.

She also speaks to former Canadian ambassador to the UN, Stephen Lewis. He says the UN should own up for its conduct and compensate the victims. When asked if that could harm the UN or compromise future UN operations, he replies, “No, I don’t think it would compromise the UN. In fact, I think it would do the UN a lot of good to be seen as principled in the face of having caused so much devastation.”

Lewis says the lawsuit is already affecting UN operations. He cites the fact that the world body has dispatched its top emergency relief official to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Valerie Amos is the UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and is now in the Philippines to help lead the relief effort. Lewis told the CBC, “That says to me that they’ve learned from Haiti. That says to me, ‘We made a profound mistake. We didn’t have the … gravitas at the top in Haiti to be able to govern what the Nepalese soldiers did, but, by God, we’re not going to make that mistake again.’”

Lewis pronounced his support to the Haiti cholera lawsuit on CBC’s national newsmagazine program Day 6 on October 12. The suit was presented to a U.S. court in New York City on October 9.

Still, Lynch reports, the UN has so far refused to discuss or negotiate the Haiti case. A staff attorney of one of the legal offices directing the suit, Nicole Phillips of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, tells the broadcast that this could have serious consequences for future UN operations. “Countries won’t want the UN to enter [their territories] and there is going to be a big crisis of relevance and credibility of the UN,” she said. “Unfortunately, we think that is already happening.”

Following the earthquake, the lead humanitarian coordinator of the UN in Haiti was a Canadian, Nigel Fisher. After the cholera epidemic struck in October 2010, Fisher acted as the point man for UN denial. In February of this year, he became the lead civilian official of the UN’s MINUSTAH mission in Haiti on an interim basis. He left his UN posting in Haiti altogether in May.

The cholera outbreak in Haiti has infected more than 690,000 people and the death total is nearly 8,500, and rising. Haiti’s population is nearly ten million.

Roger Annis is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network. 


Roger Annis is an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. On June 12, he gave a talk in Vancouver, Canada reporting on his visit to Donetsk, eastern Ukraine in April 2015 as part of a media tour group. A video broadcast of that talk is here: The NATO offensive in eastern Europe and the class and the national dynamics of the war in eastern Ukraine.

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?