Just one month ago, the UN acknowledged its responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti in 2010. In the six years of the epidemic, 10,000 Haitians have died and 800,000 have been affected, and with the public health response underfunded many more could fall ill in the coming years.
Seeking to remind the UN of its moral and legal responsibilities to the Haitian people as the UN General Assembly opens in New York, over 40 international law, public health, and human rights experts have issued a letter (here) urging the United Nations to create and implement an adequate, transparent remedy for the Haitian people. Any remedy must include restitution for victims of cholera, a comprehensive public health response to eliminate the disease in Haiti, and an apology for the UN’s role in the epidemic. The process by which the remedy develops is as important as its content: Haitian victims and civil society must play a key role in designing and approving it. As his tenure as Secretary-General comes to an end, the signatories hope Ban Ki-moon will set in motion a concrete plan for a restitution process that can make the Haitian people whole while while respecting and incorporating their voices and values.