Voice

The UN's cholera problem

Writing in the Guardian, Mark Weisbrot isn't inclined to let the story of the United Nations' role in Haiti's cholera epidemic disappear. After surveying the evidence, he finds that the UN is still in denial:

How much more evidence could we possibly need? You can bet that any impartial jury or judge in the world would find that the UN brought this epidemic to Haiti. And according to most countries' laws, they would have to pay for what they did. Indeed there might even be criminal responsibility, since this action was so incredibly reckless in its disregard for the life and health of the victims. 

UN officials had to be aware of the dangers that troops coming from an area where there was cholera could pose to a country like Haiti, where so many people do not have access to clean water or sanitation facilities. They had to know how important it was not to let that bacteria pollute the country's water supply.

Where are all the human rights organizations on this issue? Is the UN so sacrosanct, or perhaps influential, that nobody can state the obvious when an abuse of this horrific magnitude has been committed? So far one small, brave, and independent NGO – the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti – has announced it will pursue legal action to force the UN to pay for the damages.

The Multilateralist

Russia snipes back at Ban Ki-moon

I noted last week that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had made some surprisingly pointed remarks insisting that NATO's air campaign in Libya conformed fully to its UN Security Council mandate. Russia's ambasssador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, was apparently not pleased. "We expect the (U.N.) secretariat to be more careful when it passes its judgement on very important issues which the Security Council is dealing with," he told reporters yesterday.