The U.N., Cholera and Responsibility

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U.N. Peace Keeping troops in Haiti

An epidemic spread by Nepalese peacekeepers has killed 8,000 Haitians.

Imagine if the United Nations killed thousands on the streets of New York. Or London. Or Paris. And sickened nearly a million more. Would the U.N. claim it was not liable? Of course not. The international community wouldn't allow it.

Yet that is exactly what is happening in Haiti, where the U.N. claims it is immune from lawsuits over its reckless spread of cholera that has killed 8,000 people so far, and sickened more than 800,000. When I was a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, this level of reckless disregard for human life would surely have been prosecuted as an environmental crime.

Despite official denials, several reports—including one by the United Nation's own Independent Panel of Experts in 2011—have made it clear that the U.N. alone brought this scourge upon the Haitian people. Cholera had not been present in Haiti for 150 years until the U.N. sent a contingent of soldiers to the island from Nepal, where there was an outbreak of cholera. It didn't test any of the peacekeeping troops for the disease (people can be infected and remain asymptomatic).

The U.N. planned a proper sewage facility at the troops' base abutting a major Haitian waterway but never followed through. Instead, cholera-infected waste traveled through leaky pipes and piled up next to a tributary of the Artibonite River where millions of Haitians bathe and drink.

The U.N.'s position is that Haitians ought to appreciate everything it has done—that the impoverished Haitians should be happy if the U.N. makes some small and insufficient financial contributions to sanitation in Haiti going forward. As one of the attorneys representing Haitian victims, I don't believe proper sanitation and water are enough. There should be some small measure of justice for these deaths and illnesses.

For the rest of the article please see The Wall Street Journal 

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