On Monday, the United Nations Security Council began a four-day mission in Haiti to evaluate their peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts. Part of their trip will include a visit to a treatment center for victims of cholera. A visit is a good start, but not enough. The UN must take affirmative action to fight the outbreak that they caused.
After the 2010 earthquake, a contingent of UN peacekeepers arrived in Haiti carrying a virulent strain of cholera. The New Media Advocacy Project (N-Map) just returned from Haiti where they produced a film in support of a broader campaign led by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) seeking justice and remedies from the UN for more than 5000 victims of cholera who are plaintiffs in the legal case, and formal acknowledgement of the UN's responsibility for the epidemic in Haiti. If successful, this would be the first case in history to successfully challenge UN immunity and it has the potential both to provide justice for Haitian victims and create groundbreaking precedent that can protect people worldwide.
Since October 2010, more than 500,000 people have been infected with cholera in Haiti; more than 7000 have died and still, 200 or more new cases are reported daily. The UN acknowledges that it introduced cholera into Haiti but claims it is not responsible for the epidemic because of Haiti's weak infrastructure. As IJDH executive director Brian Concannon explains, "It is as if the UN dropped a lit match on a dry field and when a fire began to rage, claimed it was not responsible for the fire." It simply doesn't make sense.
The IJDH and BAI petition is a powerful and persuasive document, but it will never be read by the masses. Most people don't even know that the UN is responsible for cholera's introduction to Haiti at all. As long as that remains true, the UN is less inclined to remedy its devastating actions. People, however, hold the power to hold the UN accountable in the court of public opinion.
Please view the video and share widely. Knowledge is power.