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The United Nations in Haiti


On 6 January 2011, the Secretary-General appointed an Independent Panel, consisting of four top international medical experts, to determine the source of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

The report Avalaible in English was issued on 4 May 2011 and the Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to the Independent Panel of Experts, stating he will carefully consider its findings and recommendations. To that end, the Secretary-General intends to convene a task force within the UN system, to study the findings and to ensure prompt and appropriate follow-up.

“The Second Circuit’s decision in Brzak v. United Nations requires that Plaintiffs’ suit against the UN be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3). In Brzak, the Second Circuit unequivocally held that “[a]s the CPIUN makes clear, the United Nations enjoys absolute immunity from suit unless ‘it has expressly waived its immunity.’” 597 F.3d at 112 (quoting CPIUN art. II, § 2). Here, no party contends that the UN has expressly waived its immunity. (Statement of Interest at 6 (“In this case, there has been no express waiver. To the contrary, the UN has repeatedly asserted its immunity.”).); (Dkt. No. 43, at 1 (“Waiver is not at issue here.”).) Accordingly, under the clear holding of Brzak, the UN is immune from Plaintiffs’ suit. In addition, MINUSTAH, as a subsidiary body of the UN, is also immune from suit.   … …. “nothing in the text of the CPIUN suggests that the absolute immunity of section 2 is conditioned on the UN’s providing the alternative modes of settlement contemplated by section 29. See Tachiona v. United States, 386 F.3d 205, 216 (2d Cir. 2004) (“When interpreting a treaty, we begin with the text of the treaty and the context in which the written words are used.” (internal quotation marks omitted) (interpreting the CPIUN)). As the Second Circuit held in Brzak, the language of section 2 of the CPIUN is clear, absolute, and does not refer to section 29: the UN is immune from suit unless it expressly waives its immunity.”

The Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, frequently referred to as the “CPIUN”.  The United States has ratified the CPIUN [the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, Feb. 13, 1946.  Backed by the International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945,22 U.S.C. § 288a(b) (the “IOIA”), which provides that international organizations designated by the President should receive the “same immunity from suit and every form of judicial process as is enjoyed by foreign governments.”

September 23, 2016 – At the General Assembly of the United Nations, the President of Haiti Acting Jocelerme Privert, said Friday that the success of the presidential and parliamentary elections in two weeks would guarantee the stability necessary for the achievement of sustainable development goals (ODD).

“The Republic of Haiti chooses to be among the States of the frontrunners in this march towards the construction sites of sustainable development,” said Mr. Privert, who announced the integration of ODD in national policies and strategies of its country. “Taking the dimension of the challenge, my Government has bravely decided to lay the foundation for a dedicated involvement in the global implementation of the Programme in 2030 and put the country back on track and inclusive development sustainable, “he added.

Paying particular attention to the migration dimension of ODD, Haitian President expressed the hope that concrete decisions are taken to protect the displaced at the height of the tragedy and the risks faced by these people.

“We are aware of the resurgence of many of our compatriots who leave the country in search of wellness. Our delegation understands and takes note of the legitimate concerns expressed at this rostrum by representatives of some host countries or transit, “said he said. “This human tragedy calls for concrete decisions and actions, to give the Haitian people to new opportunities and better living conditions.”

Elected head of state provisionally by parliament following the election crisis of late 2015, Mr. Privert recognized the importance for Haiti to hold credible presidential and legislative elections.

“This smooth transition remains the prerequisite and base for political stability, consolidation of the rule of law, economic modernization and development,” said Mr. Privert. “In keeping with my commitment to the Haitian people, I have spared and I will spare no effort to create the conditions and atmosphere necessary for the proper conduct of the elections,” he added.

Mr. Privert for the UN recognition of moral responsibility in the introduction of cholera in Haiti opens the way to real discussions about the obligation to eliminate the epidemic in the country permanently.

“We want to hope that the urgent appeal of the Secretary-General for the implementation of a program substantially reinforced fight against cholera and assistance to victims and their families will be heard and fully meet the expectations of the Haitian people” , he concluded.

23 September 2016 – Warning of a “significant humanitarian deterioration” following fresh outbreaks of cholera in his country, Haitian President Jocelerme Privert took to the podium of the United Nations General Assembly today to call for swift implementation of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s urgent appeal for redoubled efforts to fight the scourge and aid its victims.

“The Government of Haiti has noted with the greatest interest the Secretary-General’s statements with regard to two issues which make the (UN) Organization uncomfortable, the multiple cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by the ‘blue helmets’ and the introduction of cholera into Haiti,” he told the Assembly’s annual general debate.

“The UN’s acknowledgement of its responsibility in the second issue opens the way for real discussions on the obligation to definitively eliminate cholera from Haiti,” he stated.

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which currently numbers nearly 5,000 uniformed personnel, was set up 12 years ago to help restore peace and stability and took on added functions following the devastating earthquake in 2010.

The cholera outbreak has affected an estimated 780,000 people and claimed the lives of over 9,100 people. The disease is typically contracted through contaminated food or water.

“We want to hope that the Secretary-General’s urgent appeal for a substantially reinforced battle plan against cholera and to aid the victims and their near ones will be heard and fully meet the expectations of the Haitian people,” Mr. Privert said.

Last month, noting that a United States Federal appeals court upheld the UNs’ immunity from a damage claim filed on behalf of the cholera victims, Mr. Ban said he deeply regretted the “terrible suffering” of the Haitian people and the UN had a moral responsibility to the support the victims and the country in overcoming the epidemic.

He added that he is actively working to develop a package to provide material aid and support to those most directly affected, improve access to care and treatment and address the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems and urged Member States to make the severe funding shortfalls hobbling these efforts despite repeated appeals.

Mr. Privert also called for UN reforms, including enlargement of the 15-member Security Council, and declared his country’s support for the Organization’s efforts to improve its peacekeeping operations, fight pandemics and other health crises, and promote democracy and human rights while also economic, social and cultural rights.

In the rural Haitian village of Los Palmas, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the country’s “Total Sanitation Campaign”, which aims to scale up sanitation and hygiene interventions in rural areas. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras


19 August 2016 – Noting that a United States federal appeals court has upheld the United Nations’ immunity from a damage claim filed on behalf cholera victims in Haiti, the Organization today said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deeply regrets the “terrible suffering” of the Haitian people and that the UN has a moral responsibility to the support the victims and the country in overcoming the epidemic.

“The Secretary-General notes yesterday’s decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which upheld the immunity of the Organization from legal proceedings in the case of Georges et al v. United Nations et. al, in accordance with the UN Charter and other international treaties,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson in New York.

The class action lawsuit was filed in October 2013 in US Federal Court in New York in connection with the cholera outbreak in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. The suit called on the UN to compensate victims of the epidemic.

The cholera outbreak has affected an estimated 780,000 people and claimed the lives of over 9,100 people. The disease is typically contracted through contaminated food or water.

“The Secretary-General deeply regrets the terrible suffering the people of Haiti have endured as a result of the cholera epidemic,” said the statement issued today, which added: “The United Nations has a moral responsibility to the victims of the cholera epidemic and for supporting Haiti in overcoming the epidemic and building sound water, sanitation and health systems.”

Sustained efforts by national authorities and the international community have contributed to a 90 per cent reduction in the number of cases since the peak in 2011. “However, eliminating cholera from Haiti will take the full commitment of the Haitian Government and the international community and, crucially, the resources to fulfil our shared duty,” the statement explained.

According to the statement, Mr. Ban is actively working to develop a package that would provide material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by cholera. These efforts must include, as a central focus, the victims of the disease and their families.

Further, the UN intends to intensify its support to reduce, and ultimately end, the transmission of cholera, improve access to care and treatment and address the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems in Haiti.

“Despite repeated appeals, these efforts have been seriously underfunded, and severe and persistent funding shortfalls remain. The Secretary-General urges Member States to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Haiti by increasing their contributions to eliminate cholera and provide assistance to those affected,” said the statement.

For decades, the UN has stood by the Haitian people, supporting them in their quest for democracy and the strengthening of their institutions and helping to rebuild the nation after the tragic earthquake of 2010, the statement said and added: “The Secretary-General and the United Nations as a whole are determined to continue this support, honour the people of Haiti and help them usher in a more peaceful and prosperous future.”