In January 2010, an earthquake struck Haiti killing 230, 000 people. In response, the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed resolutions increasing the number of MINUSTAH (an existing Stabilization Mission in Haiti) forces to support recovery, reconstruction, and stability efforts (Lantagne ,2014). In early October 2010, Nepalese soldiers working for the UN arrived in Haiti. By mid-November 2010, 900+ people had died from Cholera in Haiti; a new disease there. Since October 2010, 812,586 cases of Cholera in Haiti have been reported, killing 9,606 people (which is likely an underestimate due to rural communities not reporting deaths) (PAHO 2018). The Cholera in Haiti matched the strain of Cholera from Nepal, with only 1 base pair mutation of 4 million; an exact genetic match. Based on the geography of the outbreak, there is indisputable evidence that the UN soldiers brought Cholera into Haiti from Nepal. The sanitation conditions at the MINUSTAH camp were not sufficient to prevent contamination of the Meye Tributary System (Lantagne 2014), with human fecal waste entering the river due to waste flooding. The water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure in Haiti facilitated the transmission of Cholera leading to an epidemic. The UN did not apologize until 2016 and has yet to take action in response to their wrongdoing to Haitians (Ivers 2017).
UN legal frameworks did not provide any guidance for how to navigate the humanitarian emergency from the Cholera outbreak in Haiti. The legal framework of the UN was outdated and no longer relevant at the time of this outbreak. As a result, the UN was not mandated to take action to mitigate the effects of Cholera that they brought to Haiti. Today there remains no clear legal outcome, and Haitians advocating for themselves are not being heard in court. The Haitian’s will not likely be compensated for the devastating impact Cholera had and continues to have on their lives. Nonetheless, they will win in the court of public opinion, to hopefully change the legal frameworks of NGOs and recreate how humanitarian relief is delivered. Since laws failed to support Haitians claims of mistreatment by the UN, ethical frameworks, such as the fundamental humanitarian principles will be used in this essay to demonstrate that the UN failed to respect its international Human Rights obligations (Hunt 2014). By exploring the ways in which the UN violated the fundamental humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality, the legal foundations that mandate the actions of large NGOs in humanitarian emergencies will be shown to be immoral, and evidence will be provided to show that the UN is responsible to pay reparations to the people of Haiti.
How did this happen? Find out here: UN Brings Cholera to Haiti