UN finally admits it caused cholera in Haiti – and immediately claims immunity

The UN introduced cholera to Haiti which has killed some 10,000 (and perhaps up to 30,000). This was apparent over 5 years ago.

It is not just UN incompetence – mistakes happen – which increases my level of bile. It is partly because the UN actions amounted to gross negligence and could have been prevented with trivial amounts of money. It is the knee-jerk denial of responsibility and – always – the claim of immunity (just in case they are found to be responsible). It applies as well to cholera in Haiti as to the sexual exploitation of poor African children by UN troops. And Ban Ki Moon – may his name be forever exalted – has been the Denier-In-Chief. There ought to be a public dismissal of the irresponsible incompetents. But that will never happen.

The UN and its agencies has more than its fair share of incompetents. Many countries appoint UN officials as a political reward. That gives us incompetent doctors, engineers, economists and administrators in many key positions, who are there either as a sinecure and/or a political reward. Of course these are just a few “bad apples”, but when they are bad they are horrid. That’s bad enough but what is obscene is that they are immune from any consequences of their incompetence.

I would have thought that these highly-paid, privileged and protected officials, particularly in such institutions (UN, EU, EC, WB, IMF, WHO, ADB …..), rather than being granted immunity, should be held to much higher standards of performance and accountability than any other bureaucrats.

A special rapporteur has slammed the UN in a confidential report to the UN. The epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations.” The United Nations’ Haiti cholera policy “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating.”

NYT:

For the first time since a cholera epidemic believed to be imported by United Nations peacekeepers began killing thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago, the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the United Nations played a role in the initial outbreak and that a “significant new set of U.N. actions” will be needed to respond to the crisis.

The deputy spokesman for the secretary general, Farhan Haq, said in an email this week that “over the past year, the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.” He added that a “new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”

The statement comes on the heels of a confidential report sent to Mr. Ban by a longtime United Nations adviser on Aug. 8. Written by Philip Alston, a New York University law professor who serves as one of a few dozen experts, known as special rapporteurs, who advise the organization on human rights issues, the draft language stated plainly that the epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations.

The secretary general’s acknowledgment, by contrast, stopped short of saying that the United Nations specifically caused the epidemic. Nor does it indicate a change in the organization’s legal position that it is absolutely immune from legal actions, including a federal lawsuit brought in the United States on behalf of cholera victims seeking billions in damages stemming from the Haiti crisis.

But it represents a significant shift after more than five years of high-level denial of any involvement or responsibility of the United Nations in the outbreak, which has killed at least 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands. Cholera victims suffer from dehydration caused by severe diarrhea or vomiting. …. 

Special rapporteurs’ reports are technically independent guidance, which the United Nations can accept or reject. United Nations officials have until the end of this week to respond to the report, which will then go through revisions, but the statement suggests a new receptivity to its criticism.

In the 19-page report, obtained from an official who had access to it, Mr. Alston took issue with the United Nations’ public handling of the outbreak, which was first documented in mid-October 2010, shortly after people living along the Meille River began dying from the disease. ……. 

….. Mr. Alston wrote that the United Nations’ Haiti cholera policy “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating.” He added, “It is also entirely unnecessary.” The organization’s continuing denial and refusal to make reparations to the victims, he argued, “upholds a double standard according to which the U.N. insists that member states respect human rights, while rejecting any such responsibility for itself.”

He said, “It provides highly combustible fuel for those who claim that U.N. peacekeeping operations trample on the rights of those being protected, and it undermines both the U.N.’s overall credibility and the integrity of the Office of the Secretary-General.”

UN Cholera


Advertisements

Tags: ,


%d bloggers like this: