April 12, 2012
Haiti: Law in the Time of Cholera. UN Peacekeeping, Cholera and Human Rights
On April 9, 2012 at the UN Church Center, N-Map premiered “Fight the Outbreak,” our new film on cholera in Haiti and UN accountability for the Institute and Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). The screening opened a panel discussion organized by IJDH and the Global Policy Forum called, “Haiti: Law in the Time of Cholera. UN Peacekeeping, Cholera & Human Rights.” N-Map shared the podium with two of the film’s stars: Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney at the BAI in Port Au Prince, and Evan Lyon, an MD who has worked in Haiti for more than 15 years. More than 70 representatives of UN country missions, an array of NGOs, reporters from various outlets, and others were in attendance.
The film, produced on behalf of the IJDH and other partners, is part of a broader advocacy strategy seeking 1) compensatory damages for victims and their families; 2) investment in water infrastructure, and 3) formal recognition of responsibility for the epidemic in Haiti.
The undisputed facts are astonishing:
+ Independent expert reports and biological studies have confirmed that cholera was introduced to Haiti by Nepalese peacekeepers.
+Haiti has not seen cholera in more than 100 years.
+500,000 people have been infected with cholera since it appeared in Haiti in October 2010.
+7,050 Haitian victims have died.
+The ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti is the largest in the world.
+1 in 10 global peacekeepers is stationed in Haiti, a country that has not seen war in 65 years, and costs approximately $700 – $800 million per year.
+The total cost of rebuilding the Nation’s water systems would be approximately equivalent of one year of peacekeeping operations.
+ The UN has not accepted responsibility or invested in any long term solutions to the cholera epidemic since the outbreak began more than 18 months ago.
Fortunately, we are beginning to see the impact of our partners’ efforts, our work, and your help. Just last week the New York Times ran a major Front Page feature on “Global Failures on a Cholera Epidemic” and the mainstream press is now covering the issue regularly. The UN Security Council, in a departure from all previous assessments of peacekeeping operations, traveled to Haiti in February and focused largely on the major cause of unrest: the peacekeepers themselves and the damage they have brought to Haiti. Most recently, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, has called on the UN to do more to reverse the epidemic and promote greater accountability and responsiveness by the global community.
In addition to the panel, IJDH lawyers have held multiple meetings with country missions this week at the UN, many of whom are expressing great concern about cholera in Haiti as well as its impact on the UN’s reputation worldwide. Unless the UN accepts responsibility and reforms its current practices, Haitians will not be the sole victims of disease introduced by the UN. Many countries – especially less developed places – will continue to be at great risk.
There is division within the UN over how to respond. Let’s encourage them to do what is right by showing that we care about Fighting the Outbreak!
What you can do:
+Watch “Fight the Outbreak” and share widely.
+ Sign petition asking the UN to respond justly for cholera in Haiti: www.UNDENY.com.
+ Visit www.haitijustice.org for more information.
+ Tweet: #Fighttheoutbreak.