United Nations caused #cholera outbreak in #Haiti: Its response violates international law. - Slate Magazine
Last week, a team of researchers (including myself) from the Transnational Development Clinic at Yale Law School and the Global Health Justice Partnership between the law school and Yale School of Public Health published a report concluding not only that the U.N. brought cholera to Haiti, but that by failing to take responsibility for its role in the outbreak, the United Nations violates both its contractual commitments to Haiti as well as its obligations under international law.
However, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, the U.N. continues to deny its role. Previously, the organization rejected claims for relief from more than 5,000 cholera victims, simply declaring that the claims were “not receivable.” This week, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky responded to renewed calls for accountability by asking the international community to donate money to help Haiti recover from the “double tragedy of earthquake and cholera” while saying nothing about the part the U.N. played in visiting this tragedy upon the country in the first place.
This response is shameful. The cholera epidemic is undoubtedly a tragedy of massive proportions. But by painting the earthquake and the epidemic with the same brushstroke, the U.N. plays into a dangerous conception of Haiti as pathology: a country that brings disease upon itself. This rhetoric is rooted in notions of disaster’s inevitability in Haiti, as though the cholera epidemic is just another manifestation of the ancient curse that has purportedly gripped the country since the days of Toussaint L’Ouverture.