FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Seeking Justice From the UN for Haiti’s 700,000 Cholera Victims

The announcement by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti was only a slight exaggeration: “Everyone Tells UN to Fulfill Its Legal Obligations to Haiti Cholera Victims.”

The statement referred to those who signed on to amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs asking the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals to allow a class action claim by Haiti cholera victims to go forward. And the list does seem to encompass nearly “everyone” that has an interest in justice and the rule of law, in Haiti and beyond: human rights experts, Haitian-American leaders, constitutional law scholars, and even a line-up of former UN officials.

All are calling for justice for victims of the 2010 epidemic triggered by human waste recklessly discharged from a UN base in rural Haiti. The death toll stands at a shocking 9,000; over 700,000 more have been sickened.

I should note that I am happy to be included as part of “everyone” in this case. On behalf of our law school Health and Human Rights Clinic, I helped draft and signed on to the brief submitted by international law scholars and attorneys.

In another brief, Haitian-Americans pointed out the tragic irony of this case, where the world’s foremost promoter of the rule of law is ducking responsibility like a 1960’s tobacco company. “Haitians are determined to keep fighting to hold the UN to its principles,” says Marleine Bastien of Haitian Women of Miami. “We will stop fighting for justice when the UN cholera stops killing Haitians unjustly.”

Perhaps the support from Haitian-Americans or even advocates like me does not come as a surprise. But in a move that should make UN leadership sit up and take notice, our ranks were joined by six former senior UN officials. They are concerned not only about the Haitian victims, but about the UN’s legitimacy in the face of a denial of justice for those who are so grievously harmed.

“The UN calls the Haiti cholera victims’ fight for justice a threat”, said Stephen Lewis, a former Deputy Director of UNICEF and current Co-Director of AIDS Free World, who signed one of the briefs. “But the real threat to the UN here is its misguided refusal to comply with its own principles.”

These briefs represented the latest in several years’ worth of demands for the UN to be accountable for its actions. Beginning with street-level protests in Haiti shortly after the outbreak, the campaign has included an online petition, multiple award-winning documentary films, editorials in major newspapers, and letters to the U.N. from over 100 members of the U.S. Congress. Yet the U.N. has continued to avoid responsibility, forcing the cholera victims to pursue justice in court.

One of their lawyers, Beatrice Lindstrom of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, said the latest collection of arguments boils down to a fundamental truth. “No person is so disempowered as to fall below the law’s protections; no organization is so prestigious as to rise above the law’s obligations.”

It is a message that “everyone” should embrace, including the courts and the leadership of the United Nations.

More articles by:

Fran Quigley is a professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where he directs the Health and Human Rights Clinic. He is the author of How Human Rights Can Build Haiti (Vanderbilt University Press).

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail