UN Gets Mixed Review for Tackling of Haiti Cholera Crisis

An advocate for Haiti gave sour and sweet reviews of the United Nations last week for not taking responsibility for the nation’s cholera crisis (sour), while the world body announced a $400 million trust fund (sweet) to aid victims and get rid of the disease.

The criticism and praise came from UN Special Rapporteur Phillip Alston, an Australian-born New York University law professor who is the U.N.’s independent expert on extreme poverty and human rights. He presented his report on Haiti’s cholera dilemma to the General Assembly’s human rights committee on Tuesday, reported the Associated Press.

“The bad news is that the U.N. has still not admitted factual or legal responsibility, and has not offered a legal settlement as required by international law,” said Alston. “The U.N.’s explicit and unqualified denial of anything other than a moral responsibility is a disgrace. If the United Nations bluntly refuses to hold itself accountable for human rights violations, it makes a mockery of its efforts to hold governments and others to account.”

Investigators say cholera was first detected in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley and note evidence that it was introduced to the country’s biggest river from base of U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal, where cholera is endemic.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for a trust fund of at least $400 million to help victims and eradicate cholera was praised by Alston, who urged UN-member countries to contribute to the effort.

Last week, the New York Times reported that the outgoing UN Secretary-General is working to create a $400 million cholera response package for Haiti’s cholera victims and start an effort to eradicate cholera from the nation.