The UN has taken the rare step of invoking its legal immunity to rebuff claims for compensation from 5,000 victims of the Haiti cholera epidemic, the worst outbreak of the disease in modern times
Oddly enough any lesser country lacks that legal immunity that is only assigned to morally superior transnational organizations.
The UN has taken the rare step of invoking its legal immunity to rebuff claims for compensation from 5,000 victims of the Haiti cholera epidemic, the worst outbreak of the disease in modern times and widely believed to have been caused by UN peacekeepers importing the infection into the country.
More than 8,000 Haitians have died from the epidemic and 500,000 people, some 5 per cent of the population, have fallen sick since the disease entered the impoverished Caribbean nation’s water system in October 2010.
The UN says it is immune from such claims under the UN’s Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN.
Citing a convention laid down in 1946, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, telephoned President Michel Martelly of Haiti to tell him that the UN was not willing to compensate any of the claimants.
For the UN to claim immunity for a crisis that most experts are convinced it unwittingly caused through its own disaster relief mission is highly contentious.
The UN has never acknowledged responsibility for the outbreak – which has infected more than 600,000 people – saying it is impossible to pinpoint the exact source of the disease, despite the mounting evidence the epidemic was caused by poor sanitation at a camp housing infected Nepalese peacekeepers.
It's fitting that UN peacekeepers not only can't clean up the messes in other countries, but can't even clean up their own messes. But here's an interesting approach. What about working to end the UN's immunity?