Haiti Cholera Lawsuit Against the UN: Recommendations for U.S. Policy

20119811180145734_20Ten months after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was ravaged by cholera for the first time in over a century. Approximately 8,300 Haitians have died and 680,000 more have been sickened from cholera.[5]

Infections first occurred in the vicinity of an outpost of U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal—where cholera is widespread—and quickly spread across Haiti. A U.N. investigation concluded that the cholera cases involved a single strain of the disease, indicating a single source, and that the strain was closely related to strains contemporaneously circulating in South Asia.[6] Subsequent studies and reports, including one by the scientists that originally conducted the U.N. report, confirmed these conclusions and identified the Nepalese peacekeepers as almost certainly the source of the cholera outbreak.[7]

Nonetheless, the U.N. has repeatedly refused to admit responsibility. Earlier this year, the U.N. dismissed claims for compensation for the Haitian victims of cholera, stating: “[T]he claims are not receivable pursuant to Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.”[8]

The rejection by the U.N. led the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) to file a lawsuit on October 9, 2013, in Manhattan’s Federal District Court on behalf of victims of cholera in Haiti.[9] The suit alleges that U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal introduced the disease in 2010, which had not been present on the island in over 100 years. The lawsuit blames the U.N. for failure to adequately test the peacekeepers for the disease, negligence in constructing and maintaining sanitation equipment, and failure to observe procedures that allowed the disease to spread to the Haitian population. via Haiti Cholera Lawsuit Against the U.N


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