- News & Reports
- Take action
- Donate to CHAN Site
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 3 hours 3 min ago
After Haiti’s Parliament rejected the interim president’s pick for Prime Minister on Sunday, it seemed impossible for Haiti to hold elections by April 24 and swear in a president by May 14 as stipulated in a February 2016 accord. Now, Haiti may be back on track to hold those elections, as Parliament gets ready to vote on the next pick for interim Prime Minister, Enex Jean-Charles. But will there be time for a verification of the past rounds of elections and a financial audit of the Martelly government as many have been demanding?
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.After parliament’s rejection, Haiti names a new prime minister
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
March 23, 2016
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Days after Haitian lawmakers rejected a notable economist to help lead a caretaker government, interim President Jocelerme Privert is now placing his bets on a seasoned lawyer and presidential adviser to take the country to elections.
Enex Jean-Charles was tapped to be the next prime minister after meetings between Privert and parliamentarians Tuesday to find a consensus over his nomination. A university professor who has been behind the scenes in the National Palace for years, Jean-Charles is considered to be a well-read and experienced lawyer.
He has served as a presidential adviser to former presidents Boniface Alexandre, who headed the U.S.-backed transitional government from 2004-06, and most recently René Préval and Michel Martelly. He was in Préval’s private cabinet and served as executive director of the council of ministers under Martelly.
Click HERE for the full text.
PAID INTERNSHIPS: Part-time Community Outreach Internship
The City of Cambridge wants to hear from you and your community!
The City’s Community Development Department has an immediate need for community outreach interns to reach Haitian, Ethiopian, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish speaking residents (6 positions) of Cambridge as part of the citywide plan, Envision Cambridge.
Hours: 5 hours per week through December 2016 (with an option to continue)
• Assist with creating a strategy to reach underserved communities in Cambridge and engage them in the citywide planning process. This could include placing flyers around the community, posting to social media, or attending community events.
• Assist with creating and distributing surveys to members of underserved communities.
• Attend monthly meetings and training sessions including being mentored by Community Engagement Team outreach workers.
• Must be a Cambridge resident
• Must speak language of underserved community
• ESOL Levels 4, 5, or ABE
• Sincere desire to reach underserved Cambridge communities
• High motivation and willingness to learn
• No experience necessary. All training provided.
• $14.95 per hour
Review of resumes March 2016. Positions open until filled.
Après que le Parlement ait bloqué le choix du chef de gouvernment, Mr. Privert, pour le poste de Premier ministre, beaucoup de gens stipule qu’Haïti ne peut pas avoir des élections avant le 24 avril, comme l’accord du fevrier 2016 suggere. Maintenant, il semble que le Parlement est prêt à ratifier rapidement le choix de Mr. Privert en occurrence, Mr. Enex Jean-Charles, comme Premier ministre. Plusieurs membres du Parlement ont indiqué qu’ils voteront pour Jean-Charles. Peut-être maintenant les élections auront lieu avant le 24 avril. Mais est-ce qu’il y aura du temps pour la vérification dont le peuple réclame?
Partie de l’article est ci-dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.Pour Enex Jean-Charles, tous les députés disent oui
Robenson Geffrard, Le Nouvelliste
22 mars 2016
La Chambre des députés n’attend que le dossier de Enex J. JeanCharles pour confirmer son éligibilité et l’inviter à présenter l’énoncé de sa politique générale. Le président de la Chambre des députés a confié au Nouvelliste qu’il va demander le bénéfice de l’urgence à la commission qui sera formée pour étudier les pièces de Enex JeanCharles.
Le parlementaire, joint au téléphone mardi soir, a indiqué au journal que lors des consultations mardi avec les députés, le chef de l’Etat leur a demandé leur avis sur Enex J. JeanCharles. « Je lui ai dit qu’à ma connaissance je ne crois pas qu’il y a trop d’opposition à Enex JeanCharles. Comme je l’ai toujours dit, s’il y a consensus, 48 heures suffisent pour faire passer un Premier ministre. Automatiquement qu’il m’informe de son choix demain matin (mercredi), je vais faire une procédure célère, j’inviterai le Premier ministre nommé à faire le dépôt de ses pièces séance tenante, je formerai une commission à laquelle je demanderai le bénéfice de l’urgence dans le traitement de ses documents », a annoncé Cholzer Chancy.
Le député souligne qu’une fois que la commission lui aura remis son rapport, il invitera immédiatement Enex J. JeanCharles à venir faire l’énoncé de sa politique générale à la Chambre des députés. Selon Cholzer Chancy, avant la fin de cette semaine, le pays devrait avoir un gouvernement fonctionnel pour que la semaine prochaine le chef de l’Etat puisse nommer les membres du CEP et avancer avec le processus électoral. Il a toutefois reconnu que la réalisation des élections est impossible pour le 24 avril. Mais, atil précisé, il reste encore du temps dans les 120 jours de l’accord du 5 février.
Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.
Sunday March 20, Haiti’s Parliament rejected the interim president’s pick for Prime Minister, Fritz Jean. While this was expected based on the pro-Martelly parliamentarians’ immediate rejection of Jean, it means that Haiti’s elections can’t possibly be held in time for the agreed-upon April 24 deadline. This article analyzes the reasons for Jean’s rejection, the political maneuvering that has been going on surrounding the interim government, and what can be expected next in Haiti’s political crisis.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haitian Prime Minister Rejected by Parliament, Why and What Comes Next?
Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch, Center for Economic and Policy Research
March 21, 2016
On Sunday, in what had increasingly become inevitable, Fritz Jean, the provisional president’s choice for prime minister, was rejected by Haiti’s chamber of deputies. Needing 60 votes to gain approval of his governmental program, only 38 voted in favor; 36 voted against, one abstained and more than a dozen stayed home. 60 votes would be an absolute majority in the Chamber, but more than 20 seats are empty, awaiting reruns of flawed elections.
Appointed by Haiti’s temporary leader, Jocelerme Privert over three weeks ago, Jean’s rejection has all but eliminated any chance that elections can be held next month. Privert, who came to office on February 14 with a mandate of 120 days, has yet to form a new government or a new electoral council.
Why was Jean’s platform rejected and where do things go from here? It’s as much about political control as it is about elections.
Click HERE for the full text.
Since October 2010, Haitians have been dying from a cholera epidemic brought to the island by United Nations peacekeepers. Victims have been calling for justice since then, and some recent developments provide signs of hope: On March 1, IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom argued on behalf of cholera victims before a panel of three judges who indicated some concern about how the victims could access justice if UN immunity continues to be upheld in this case. On March 15, a letter from five UN experts was presented to the Human Rights Council, arguing that UN immunity in this case challenges its credibility in promoting human rights. In more concerning news, a recent study by Doctors Without Borders shows that the death toll from cholera could be at least three times higher than official figures say. Many hope that this revelation will put even more pressure on the UN to finally be accountable to Haiti’s cholera victims.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Why The U.N. Is Being Sued Over Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic
Richard Knox, NPR
March 21, 2016
It was 11 on a Tuesday night nearly six years ago when Jean-Clair Desir’s mother fell ill with cholera in the Boucan-Carre district of Haiti’s central highlands.
“She started vomiting with diarrhea,” Desir recalls. “I made oral rehydration for her, nothing worked. She died at 3 in the morning.” She never made it to a hospital or clinic and so probably wasn’t counted as a cholera victim.
After burying his mother, Desir, a third-year student at Haiti’s University of Agronomy Sciences, nearly died of cholera himself.
Desir and his mother are among at least 770,000 Haitians struck down by cholera since late 2010 — almost 8 percent of the population. More than 9,200 have died. It’s the largest and most explosive cholera epidemic in modern times.
Click HERE for the full text.
Global refugee rights leader Asylum Access seeks an experienced fund development professional to join its senior leadership team. Together with other top leadership, the Development Director will design and implement strategies to help Asylum Access transform the human rights landscape in Africa, Asia and Latin America so refugees can live safely, move freely, work, attend school, and rebuild their lives.
The leading global organization dedicated to making human rights a reality for refugees, Asylum Access achieves its mission through legislative and policy change, legal services and strategic litigation, and facilitation of refugee-led community engagement and advocacy. Our proven track record of global and national-level policy change, coupled with individualized legal assistance and community support, has directly impacted more than a million refugees worldwide. Asylum Access celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2015, and currently maintains 15 offices across seven countries.
The Development Director will join a global team committed to cultivating a culture dedicated to resource-development. With the help of an external fundraising consultant, Asylum Access spent the last year building existing and new development systems and growing the capacity of Asylum Access’s global leaders to act as ambassadors for the organization. Improved systems include the use of benchmarking methodology that helps identify progress to fundraising goal, a dynamic, real-time Salesforce forecasting system that tracks both cash in as well as movement along pipeline, and the use of strictly defined discounted percentages to ensure objective understanding of likelihood of giving.
With the support of a dedicated four-person fundraising team, the Development Director will manage Asylum Access’s currently successful fundraising strategies and develop new, growth-focused fundraising strategies. The Development Director will report to the Executive Director, sit on the global leadership team, and collaborate closely with the Board of Directors to achieve these goals.
This position was created to support the organization’s new 5-year strategic plan, to be approved by the Board of Directors this spring.
Click HERE for more information.
Application Deadline: April 30, 2016Just Neighbors (www.justneighbors.org), a nonprofit organization providing immigration legal services to low-income immigrants in Northern Virginia, is seeking an Executive Director. The ideal candidate will be a mission-driven and compassionate individual with a strong passion for serving immigrants and refugees of all faiths and nationalities. Just Neighbors is seeking a person who is committed to the values of helping others, hospitality, integrity and inclusiveness. They are also seeking a person who is — or is on the way to becoming — an accomplished nonprofit manager, with skills in managing people, finances and operations, fundraising from individuals and institutional donors, and representing the organization in a wide range of public settings.…Salary is commensurate with experience. Position will remain open until filled. Please submit cover letter and resume to: firstname.lastname@example.orgClick HERE for more information on the position.
Officially, a devastating 9,200 Haitians have died from the cholera brought to Haiti in 2010 by United Nations peacekeepers. A recent study by Doctors Without Borders confirms suspicions that the true number of cholera deaths is higher. By projecting the results of the study to the entire country, the death toll could be as much as ten times higher in parts of Haiti! When the epidemic first started, the Haitian government lacked a proper surveillance system to monitor cholera deaths.Cholera Deaths in Haiti Could Far Exceed Official Count
Rick Gladstone, The New York Times
March 18, 2016
Deaths from the cholera epidemic that ravaged Haiti after the 2010 earthquake could be much higher than the 9,200 officially tallied so far because of underreporting during the initial outbreak, a new study suggests.
The study, by Doctors Without Borders, found that incomplete surveillance and data collection, overwhelmed health clinics, the rapid spread of the disease and cholera’s ability to kill quickly contributed to what appears to have been a drastic understating of the death toll.
Haiti was still deeply traumatized from the January 2010 quake when it was hit 10 months later by the cholera epidemic. Studies have traced the outbreak to faulty sanitation practices by a United Nations peacekeeping force.
It was the first time in a century that Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, was infected with cholera, which spreads through water contaminated by feces. Victims die from severe diarrhea and dehydration.
The Doctors Without Borders study, published in the March edition of Emerging Infections Diseases, a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal, is not the first to suggest that Haiti’s cholera victims have been underreported.
But it provided a basis for calculating some new estimates that if applied nationally could multiply the known death toll by roughly a factor of three, at least in the first six months of the epidemic, when it was most intense.
In some areas, the number of deaths may have been as much as 10 times as high as that reported to the Haitian government, which derived its statistics largely from mortality information supplied by clinics and hospitals.
“The results suggest that relying on surveillance based primarily in health care facilities provides a biased picture of an epidemic and underestimates illness and death from the disease,” the study said. The risks of underreporting, it said, increase when, as in Haiti’s case, “the surveillance system has weaknesses and requires adaptation during the first phase of the epidemic.”
Doctors Without Borders was among the first medical aid groups to assist the government in assessing and treating the epidemic, which spread nationwide within a month. By April 2011, the government had improved its surveillance system and had reported nearly 4,900 deaths. Although large, the number implied only a small statistical increase when compared with the normal mortality rate for the country.
Concerned about underreporting, Doctors Without Borders’ researchers undertook their own study, with the Haitian government’s permission. They conducted surveys of nearly 71,000 people at four areas in northern Haiti — Gonaïves, Cap-Haïtien, North Department, and Gaspard and Zabricots, during the spring of 2011. Based on those surveys, which covered 4.4 percent of the population, the researchers found a nearly threefold increase in deaths, “suggesting a substantially higher cholera mortality rate than previously reported.”
The study stops short of projecting what Haiti’s cholera death toll might be today, but said that “if the estimates presented here are correct, then many deaths in Haiti were never counted in the official statistics during the first wave of the cholera epidemic, despite commendable efforts to promptly implement a national cholera surveillance system.”
Other doctors who worked in the country during the outbreak’s initial phase said the study validated their own anecdotal impressions.
“In the first days and weeks, we saw more people dead than those in facilities,” said Dr. Louise Ivers, a senior health and policy adviser at Partners in Health, a nonprofit medical organization that works in impoverished countries. “This is a very important study that highlights the impact of this epidemic.”
More than five years later, cholera remains entrenched in parts of Haiti, and the infection rate appeared to worsen in 2015. The Associated Press reported on March 3 from Port-au-Prince, the capital, that cholera had sickened more than 6,000 people so far this year and was killing about 37 a month.
Click HERE for the original article.
In this passionate op-ed, former UN Assistant Secretary General Banbury explains why he decided to resign from his position at the United Nations, even though he believes in the organization. Banbury describes the many ways the UN has failed all over the world due to bureaucracy and a lack of accountability when wrongs are discovered. He mentions the fact that MINUSTAH has been in Haiti since 2004 although the country hasn’t been at war, and has done nothing to help with Haiti’s current political crisis. Banbury expresses particular frustration over rapes and sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, which could have been avoided to begin with and were ignored for a long time once reported.I Love the U.N., but It Is Failing
Anthony Banbury, The New York Times
March 18, 2016
I HAVE worked for the United Nations for most of the last three decades. I was a human rights officer in Haiti in the 1990s and served in the former Yugoslavia during the Srebrenica genocide. I helped lead the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haitian earthquake, planned the mission to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons, and most recently led the Ebola mission in West Africa. I care deeply for the principles the United Nations is designed to uphold.
And that’s why I have decided to leave.
The world faces a range of terrifying crises, from the threat of climate change to terrorist breeding grounds in places like Syria, Iraq and Somalia. The United Nations is uniquely placed to meet these challenges, and it is doing invaluable work, like protecting civilians and delivering humanitarian aid in South Sudan and elsewhere. But in terms of its overall mission, thanks to colossal mismanagement, the United Nations is failing.
Six years ago, I became an assistant secretary general, posted to the headquarters in New York. I was no stranger to red tape, but I was unprepared for the blur of Orwellian admonitions and Carrollian logic that govern the place. If you locked a team of evil geniuses in a laboratory, they could not design a bureaucracy so maddeningly complex, requiring so much effort but in the end incapable of delivering the intended result. The system is a black hole into which disappear countless tax dollars and human aspirations, never to be seen again.
The first major problem is a sclerotic personnel system. The United Nations needs to be able to attract and quickly deploy the world’s best talent. And yet, it takes on average 213 days to recruit someone. In January, to the horror of many, the Department of Management imposed a new recruitment system that is likely to increase the delay to over a year.
During the Ebola epidemic, I was desperate to get qualified people on the ground, and yet I was told that a staff member working in South Sudan could not travel to our headquarters in Accra, Ghana, until she received a new medical clearance. We were fighting a disease that killed many thousands and risked spinning out of control and yet we spent weeks waiting for a healthy colleague to get her forms processed.
Too often, the only way to speed things up is to break the rules. That’s what I did in Accra when I hired an anthropologist as an independent contractor. She turned out to be worth her weight in gold. Unsafe burial practices were responsible for about half of new Ebola cases in some areas. We had to understand these traditions before we could persuade people to change them. As far as I know, no United Nations mission had ever had an anthropologist on staff before; shortly after I left the mission, she was let go.
The heads of billion-dollar peace operations, with enormous responsibilities for ending wars, are not able to hire their immediate staff, or to reassign non-performers away from critical roles. It is a sign of how perversely twisted the bureaucracy is that personnel decisions are considered more dangerous than the responsibility to lead a mission on which the fate of a country depends.
One result of this dysfunction is minimal accountability. There is today a chief of staff in a large peacekeeping mission who is manifestly incompetent. Many have tried to get rid of him, but short of a serious crime, it is virtually impossible to fire someone in the United Nations. In the past six years, I am not aware of a single international field staff member’s being fired, or even sanctioned, for poor performance.
The second serious problem is that too many decisions are driven by political expediency instead of by the values of the United Nations or the facts on the ground.
Peacekeeping forces often lumber along for years without clear goals or exit plans, crowding out governments, diverting attention from deeper socioeconomic problems and costing billions of dollars. My first peacekeeping mission was in Cambodia in 1992. We left after less than two years. Now it’s a rare exception when a mission lasts fewer than 10.
Look at Haiti: There has been no armed conflict for more than a decade, and yet a United Nations force of more than 4,500 remains. Meanwhile, we are failing at what should be our most important task: assisting in the creation of stable, democratic institutions. Elections have been postponed amid allegations of fraud, and the interim prime minister has said that “the country is facing serious social and economic difficulties.” The military deployment makes no contribution at all to solving these problems.
Our most grievous blunder is in Mali. In early 2013, the United Nations decided to send 10,000 soldiers and police officers to Mali in response to a terrorist takeover of parts of the north. Inexplicably, we sent a force that was unprepared for counterterrorism and explicitly told not to engage in it. More than 80 percent of the force’s resources are spent on logistics and self-protection. Already 56 people in the United Nations contingent have been killed, and more are certain to die. The United Nations in Mali is day by day marching deeper into its first quagmire.
BUT the thing that has upset me most is what the United Nations has done in the Central African Republic. When we took over peacekeeping responsibilities from the African Union there in 2014, we had the choice of which troops to accept. Without appropriate debate, and for cynical political reasons, a decision was made to include soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and from the Republic of Congo, despite reports of serious human rights violations by these soldiers. Since then, troops from these countries have engaged in a persistent pattern of rape and abuse of the people — often young girls — the United Nations was sent there to protect.
Last year, peacekeepers from the Republic of Congo arrested a group of civilians, with no legal basis whatsoever, and beat them so badly that one died in custody and the other shortly after in a hospital. In response there was hardly a murmur, and certainly no outrage, from the responsible officials in New York.
As the abuse cases piled up, impassioned pleas were made to send the troops home. These were ignored, and more cases of child rape came to light. Last month, we finally kicked out the Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers, but the ones from the Republic of Congo remain.
In 1988, my first job with the United Nations was as a human rights officer in Cambodian refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian border, investigating rapes and murders of the poor and helpless. Never could I have imagined that I would one day have to deal with members of my own organization committing the same crimes or, worse, senior officials tolerating them for reasons of cynical expediency.
I am hardly the first to warn that the United Nations bureaucracy is getting in the way of its peacekeeping efforts. But too often, these criticisms come from people who think the United Nations is doomed to fail. I come at it from a different angle: I believe that for the world’s sake we must make the United Nations succeed.
In the run-up to the election of a new secretary general this year, it is essential that governments, and especially the permanent members of the Security Council, think carefully about what they want out of the United Nations. The organization is a Remington typewriter in a smartphone world. If it is going to advance the causes of peace, human rights, development and the climate, it needs a leader genuinely committed to reform.
The bureaucracy needs to work for the missions; not the other way around. The starting point should be the overhaul of our personnel system. We need an outside panel to examine the system and recommend changes. Second, all administrative expenses should be capped at a fixed percentage of operations costs. Third, decisions on budget allocations should be removed from the Department of Management and placed in the hands of an independent controller reporting to the secretary general. Finally, we need rigorous performance audits of all parts of headquarters operations.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is a man of great integrity, and the United Nations is filled with smart, brave and selfless people. Unfortunately, far too many others lack the moral aptitude and professional abilities to serve. We need a United Nations led by people for whom “doing the right thing” is normal and expected.
Anthony Banbury was a United Nations assistant secretary general for field support until this month.
Click HERE for the original article.
L’Organisation pour la défense des Droits des personnes LGBTI en Hati “KOURAJ” cherche un(e) Coordonnateur/trice national(e) du Projet “Consolider le mouvement de lutte contre l’homophobie et pour le respect des droits des personnes LGBTI en Haïti.” La coordonnatrice ou le coordonnateur se rapporte à Equitas et travaille en étroite consultation avec les partenaires Kouraj Pou Pwoteje Dwa Moun (KOURAJ), l’Union des Personnes Luttant Contre la Discrimination et la Stigmatisation (UPLCDS), et l’American Jewish World Service (AJWS) afin de coordonner le projet qui s’intitule Consolider le mouvement de lutte contre l’homophobie et pour le respect des droits des personnes LGBTI en Haïti (2016-2019).
La coordonnatrice ou le coordonnateur assure :
-La bonne gestion administrative et financière du projet ;
-La coordination avec les diverses contreparties impliquées dans le projet (Comité aviseur, groupes LGBTI, groupes de la société civile, institutions de l’état, participantes et participants aux activités, leaders locaux et communautaires) ;
-La coordination de la mise en œuvre des activités de collecte de données, de renforcement de capacités organisationnelles et d’éducation aux droits humains, des campagnes de sensibilisation et d’observation et du monitoring ;
-L’évaluation et le reportage des activités ;
-La traduction en Créole haïtien des outils développés pendant la durée du projet.
Il/elle travaillera dans les bureaux de KOURAJ et sera supervisé (e) par Equitas – Centre international d’éducation aux droits humains (Canada) afin d’assurer la réalisation du projet.
Date limite : Veuillez postuler jusqu’au 31 mars 2016 à 16h00
Pour plus d’informations sur la position, cliquez ICI.
On March 17, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting on MINUSTAH, the peacekeeping force in Haiti. Malaysia made an outstanding statement, calling attention to a number of issues that were otherwise glossed over, including the need for the Secretary-General’s leadership on cholera justice, stronger representation of women in the Haitian government, and the irregularities and climate of insecurity that marred Haiti’s electoral process in 2015. All of these issues are critical to long-term stability, democracy and rule of law in Haiti.
Part of the statement is below. Click HERE for the full text.
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR RAMLAN IBRAHIM,
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF MALAYSIA TO THE UNITED NATIONS
SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE ON MINUSTAH
NEW YORK, 17 MARCH 2016
As commented by earlier speakers, Haiti had seen significant political developments in recent months most notably the holding of legislative, presidential and municipal elections in August and October.
- I wish to express my appreciation to SRSG Honoré for her briefing which we listened to intently, and to the Secretary-General for his report.
- Malaysia believes that Council’s discussion today is important in taking stock of developments in Haiti with a view of assisting the country to chart its future.
- While welcoming the holding of elections in Haiti recently, my delegation notes that it was beset by a number of challenges, including the repeated postponement of presidential elections and allegations of fraud and vote manipulation.
Click HERE for the full statement.
Jocelerme Privert, Haiti’s interim president announced that he’s chosen the new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) that will be in charge of the elections. Privert and the interim government have until April 24 to organize elections, based on an agreement made with Michel Martelly before he left office. So far though, Parliament is opposing Privert’s actions. Privert calls on Parliament to work together with him to keep the electoral process moving.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
For background on Haiti’s elections, click HERE.Haiti’s interim president names new Electoral Council
March 15, 2016
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — Haiti’s Interim President Jocelerme Privert has named a new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) as the French-speaking Caribbean Community country moves towards staging presidential elections.
In a television broadcast on Sunday night, he said that “the nine members of the electoral council have already been chosen”.
“Revival of the electoral process is essential for a definitive resolution to the institutional and electoral crisis,” he added.
Opposition parties had called for the establishment of an interim administration to oversee fresh elections in the country and had taken to the streets, protesting the outcome of the first round of balloting on August 24 last year as well as preventing the staging of the second round of the presidential elections on January 24 this year.
Click HERE for the full text.
For background on Haiti’s elections, click HERE.
The cholera epidemic brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers has killed at least 9000 people since its introduction in 2010. Since then, the UN has continually dodged accountability, aided by the U.S. government representing the UN’s interests in court. Why is the U.S. government helping the UN deny justice for the victims of cholera?
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
For background on cholera in Haiti, click HERE.Blame for Haiti’s cholera epidemic
Kertch Conze, Miami Herald
March 14, 2016There is no question that U.N. peacekeepers caused the deadly cholera epidemic that has killed 9,000 people in Haiti by leaking untreated sewage into Haiti’s largest river.Even the United Nations no longer contests this, but argues that it cannot be held accountable.This question reached new levels recently when a federal appeals court heard arguments on whether the U.N. can claim immunity from a lawsuit seeking remedies for the victims.For Haitian Americans who have supported the victims’ rights for years, this was a milestone.
Click HERE for the full text.
For background on cholera in Haiti, click HERE.
So far in 2016, Haiti has had more cholera cases than last year. It has been over five years since UN peacekeepers first brought cholera to Haiti and the epidemic continues to infect and kill Haitians. Meanwhile, the UN continues to dodge responsibility for these lives by claiming immunity in court.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
For background info on cholera in Haiti, click HERE.Haiti records nearly 100 cholera deaths in first two months of 2016
March 14, 2016
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — Haiti says it has recorded 96 people have died from cholera during the first two months of this year.
The Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) said there were also 7, 782 cases of the disease during the period January 1 to February 27.
But it said that the trend is towards a decrease in the number of cases following the outbreak US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention described as the worst epidemic of cholera in recent history.
Click HERE for the full text.
For background info on cholera in Haiti, click HERE.
Particularly in Florida, which is home to the largest Haitian population in the US, the Haitian community is split on whether or not to support Hillary Clinton as president. In Haiti, Clinton has had a less-than-stellar track record–from pressuring a past administration to change the election results, to missing earthquake recovery money, to possible insider deals for her brother, Tony Rodham. Some in the Haitian community feel that Clinton might have a better impact on Haitians in the U.S. than in Haiti or, at the very least, put Haiti on the map in U.S. policies.High Hopes for Hillary Clinton, Then Disappointment in Haiti
Yamiche Alcindor, The New York Times
March 14, 2016
Carrying horns, handwritten signs and bottles of gasoline to set tires on fire, a group of men marched into one of the many protests that have paralyzed parts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, this year.
They were angry with their president, who let Parliament collapse and failed to hold scheduled elections. They were angry with the United Nations for not ensuring a fair vote for his successor. And they were angry with the former American secretary of state who had helped put him in power.
“You see all these people here?” said one of the Haitian-flag-draped protesters, Jean Renold Cenatus, 32, who said he was unemployed. “It’s because of what Mrs. Clinton did five years ago that we are facing this situation.”
In their post-2000 lives as global citizens, Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton have been tied to no country more closely than Haiti. As a United Nations special envoy, Mr. Clinton helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the country after its devastating 2010 earthquake. Mrs. Clinton traveled there four times as secretary of state and shepherded billions of dollars in American aid.
They often speak fondly of Haiti, one of the first places they visited as newlyweds in 1975.
“We came here for the first time together, just after we were married, and fell in love with Haiti,” Mrs. Clinton said in 2012, standing near her husband at the opening of a Haitian industrial park she helped to finance. “We have had a deep connection to and with Haiti ever since.”
But as she seeks the world’s most powerful job and Haiti plunges into another political abyss, a loud segment of Haitians and Haitian-Americans is speaking of the Clintons with the same contempt they reserve for some of their past leaders.
In widely read blogs, in protests in Port-au-Prince and outside Mrs. Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, and on popular call-in radio shows in Florida, where primaries will be held on Tuesday, the Clintons have become prime targets of blame for the country’s woes.
Among the litany of complaints being laid at their feet: Fewer than half the jobs promised at the industrial park, built after 366 farmers were evicted from their lands, have materialized. Many millions of dollars earmarked for relief efforts have yet to be spent. Mrs. Clinton’s brother Tony Rodham has turned up in business ventures on the island, setting off speculation about insider deals.
“A vote for Hillary Clinton means further corruption, further death and destruction for our people,” said Dahoud Andre, a radio show host in New York who has helped organize protests against the Clintons. “It means more Haitians leaving Haiti and not being able to live in our country.”
And now, Michel Martelly, a president whom Mrs. Clinton helped get elected, has turned out to be another in a long line of troubling leaders.
Tony Jeanthenor, 55, a member of the Miami-based Haitian human rights group Veye-Yo as well as Lavalas Family, a Haitian political party, said he was voting for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont because of the senator’s distaste for involvement in other countries’ affairs.
“Nothing good for Haiti can come out of Hillary because of her past behavior,” Mr. Jeanthenor said.
The dismay over Mrs. Clinton in South Florida’s Haitian community is not likely to affect her fortunes on Tuesday, as she holds a comfortable lead over Mr. Sanders in state polls. Whether it could damage her in a general election is unclear. An estimated 150,000 Haitian-American voters live in Florida, the state where 537 votes decided the 2000 election. But they have also overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, according to Fernand R. Amandi, a principal partner of Bendixen & Amandi International, a public opinion research firm in Miami that has polled Haitian-Americans extensively.
Jean Monestime, a Haitian-American who is the chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission as well as a chairman of Caribbean Americans for Hillary, said he had spoken to the Clinton campaign about the criticisms. But many Haitian-Americans in South Florida still appreciate her efforts on the country’s behalf, he said, and intended to vote for her.
The others should not “keep whining and complaining,” he said, because if another candidate wins, one who is less interested in Haiti, “we are going to be marginalized by the change.”
Indeed, the Clintons have been involved extensively in Haiti for years. Mr. Clinton won the praise of many Haitians by sending in 20,000 American troops to return Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the country’s former president, to power in 1994, three years after he was ousted in a military coup.
The Clintons had large roles in the earthquake recovery effort, Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state and Mr. Clinton as co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. Along with his predecessor in the White House, the elder George Bush, Mr. Clinton raised tens of millions of dollars through the Clinton Foundation to promote development, schools and farming in Haiti, while also helping draw hundreds of millions in private investments.
Officials at the Clinton Foundation said they were not surprised by some of the disappointment, given that even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the world’s poorest countries. Now, the average family gets by on $1.25 a day.
Jake Sullivan, Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff for policy at the State Department and now the senior policy adviser for her campaign, said the United States’ work under Mrs. Clinton’s leadership “certainly had a significant impact in support of Haiti’s recovery.”
“Our commitment of more than $4 billion since 2010 has helped provide shelter for more than 300,000 Haitians; health care for more than half the country in U.S.-supported facilities; train a new national police force; and raise the average incomes of tens of thousands of farmers,” Mr. Sullivan said in an email. “Secretary Clinton is extremely proud of the work she and her team have done since the earthquake.”
But to many Haitians, the most significant moment of Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state was in 2011, when she flew to Haiti to pressure President René Préval to admit Mr. Martelly, a popular recording artist,into a two-person runoff for president. Mr. Martelly was third in initial voting, but the Organization of American States believed that the man who was second, Mr. Préval’s pick, had benefited from vote fraud.
The night of the runoff, which Mr. Martelly won, Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl D. Mills, wrote a congratulatory note to top American diplomats in Haiti.
“You do great elections,” Ms. Mills wrote in a message released by the State Department among a batch of Mrs. Clinton’s emails. She wrote that she would buy dinner the next time she visited: “We can discuss how the counting is going! Just kidding. Kinda. :)”
Ms. Mills’s email may have been intended as tongue in cheek, but it has fed a suspicion among Haitians, if lacking in proof, that the United States rigged the election to install a puppet president.
And as Mr. Martelly slowly concentrated power around him and gave important jobs to friends with criminal pasts, the woman who had helped put him in the runoff began to come under attack. (Mr. Martelly left office last month, as scheduled, but without a successor in place.)
After Mrs. Clinton declared her candidacy for president of the United States, calls began coming in to Mr. Andre’s radio show, like one in June in which a woman lamented that she and her late father had been supporters of The Clintons and had donated money to help elect each to office. “When they did good things, we should applaud,” the woman said in Haitian Creole. “But when they do bad things, we should denounce them because it is not good. And Hillary Clinton is not good.”
The activities of Mr. Rodham, Mrs. Clinton’s brother, are frequently mentioned on the shows. Last year a book, “Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer, revealed that in 2013, Mr. Rodham was added to the advisory board of a company that owns a gold mine in Haiti. He and the company’s chief executive both told The Washington Post that they had been introduced at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, an arm of the Clinton Foundation. Officials at the foundation said they had not played a part in Mr. Rodham’s joining the mining company.
Mr. Rodham and several partners also sought a $22 million deal to rebuild homes in the country while Mr. Clinton was leading the recovery commission. They were not successful.
While there is no evidence that Mr. Rodham got preferential treatment, his ventures were quickly inflated into rumors, heard often on the streets and airwaves, that the Clintons had been busy buying land in Haiti for profit.
Outspoken activists like Ezili Dantò, a human rights lawyer who founded the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, say they cannot help believing that Mrs. Clinton gave her brother a hand.
“She is looked upon as a liberal and someone who respects human rights, workers’ rights and so forth,” Ms. Dantò said. “But we haven’t had that experience with her in Haiti.”
The Rev. Philius Nicolas, 85, of Brooklyn, an elder statesman of the Haitian community in New York, said he had heard all the complaints and understood the frustration.
But Mr. Nicolas, who proudly displays in his church office a photo of him and other Haitian-Americans standing with Mrs. Clinton during her 2000 Senate campaign, said he was going to vote for her again. He said he thought she would be the best leader for the United States, Haiti’s biggest benefactor.
“We can’t vote for a president because of Haiti only,” Mr. Nicolas said. “If things go bad in the United States, we are the first ones who are going to get hurt. First and foremost, we need something good for us and then for back home.”
Frances Robles contributed reporting.
Click HERE for the original article.
For background info on Haiti’s elections, click HERE.
Tensions between Dominican Republic and Haiti have historically been quite high, even though Haitian workers make significant contributions to DR’s economy. Following a 2013 Constitutional Court ruling which retroactively stripped citizenship from descendants of immigrants, thousands of people of Haitian descent were deported or fled to Haiti. Now, those people are trying to make a life in camps on the Haitian side of the border. Many of them have no job prospects and no significant ties to a country they haven’t been in for years, if ever.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
For background info on what’s happening in DR, click HERE.Deported From Their Own Country
Jacob Kushner, TakePart
March 11, 2016
FOND BAYARD, Haiti—On April 28, 2009, Julia Antoine gave birth to a girl in a hospital in the town of Los Mina, in the Dominican Republic. Her husband, Fritz Charles, couldn’t be there—he was busy working his job at a chicken farm.
In the coming days, the couple named the girl Kimberly. When the family went home, Antoine was given a document from the hospital noting the birth, the date, and the word hembra, or female. They didn’t bother trying to get Kimberly an official birth certificate. Although Antoine and Charles had spent many years living and working in the Dominican Republic, they were Haitian citizens, and it was well known that Dominican officials routinely denied birth certificates to children born to Haitian parents if, like Antoine and Charles, the parents couldn’t furnish passports or other legal documents.
Still, Kimberly was, by law, entitled to Dominican citizenship. Yet in 2015, she was deported along with her mother.
Click HERE for the full text.
For background info on what’s happening in DR, click HERE.
Haiti is currently facing an electoral crisis that can largely be attributed to Hillary Clinton. In 2010, Clinton pressured the Haitian president and electoral commission to change the election results in favor of now-ex-president Martelly. In today’s US elections, Clinton has managed to avoid any questions on her support of un-democratic governments in both Haiti and Honduras though both countries are still enduring the repercussions of her actions. Perhaps bringing such issues to light could help Haiti avoid repeating history, and help Haiti on the path of fair and democratic elections.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Hillary Clinton needs to answer for her actions in Honduras and Haiti
Karen Attiah, The Washington Post
March 10, 2016
If there was anything refreshing about Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Miami, it was that for once, questions on foreign affairs centered on a region other than the Middle East, China or Russia. Debate moderators asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Hillary Clinton tough questions on child deportations, as well as their policies on Cuba and Puerto Rico. Referring to the influx of unaccompanied minors, Sanders had this to say:
Honduras and that region of the world may be the most violent region in our hemisphere. Gang lords, vicious people torturing people, doing horrible things to families. Children fled that part of the world to try, try, try, try, maybe, to meet up with their family members in this country, taking a route that was horrific, trying to start a new life. Secretary Clinton did not support those children coming into this country. I did.
Sanders has a point — Clinton is on record saying deporting children would send a “responsible message” to families to deter them from coming into the United States. But when it comes to Honduras, Sanders as well as the moderators missed a key opportunity to bring up Clinton’s record in Central America and the Caribbean, and specifically how her State Department’s role in undemocratic regime changes has contributed to violence and political instability in Honduras and Haiti today.
Click HERE for the full text.
2016 Haiti’s Future Leadership Fellowship
The Embassy of Haiti in Washington, D.C. is now accepting applications for the 2016 Haiti’s Future Leaders Fellowship, Class of Dantès Bellegarde. An initiative of the Embassy of Haiti to the United States, the fellowship is part of the Haitian Government’s commitment to the involvement of its diaspora in the country’s development process.
For the Haiti-bound fellows, the program is an eight-week assignment in Port-au-Prince, from June to August 2016, at key Government institutions. For the 2016 class, the Embassy will select up to five individuals, each with a demonstrated commitment to the development of Haiti. Fellows will be given the opportunity to work with government officials and gain experience in public administration and policy making, while applying their qualifications to the benefit of Haiti.
Interested candidates should send their application via email to the Embassy of Haiti at email@example.com NO LATER THAN March 15, 2016 and include “Haiti’s Fellowship” in the subject line.
Unofficial transcript of hearing based on official audio recording: http://www.ijdh.org/2016/03/topics/law-justice/unofficial-transcript-from-oral-argument-in-georges-v-united-nations-312016/
For additional information on the circumstances prior to the hearing, visit: http://www.ijdh.org/cholera/cholera-l…
NY Times article on the hearing: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/world/americas/court-hears-suit-against-un-on-haiti-cholera-outbreak.html?ref=world&_r=1
For further inquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unofficial Transcript produced by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti based on official audio recording.
Official Recording of Oral Argument in Georges v. United Nations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wlVN5vWIn4&feature=youtu.be
For additional information on the circumstances prior to the hearing, visit: http://www.ijdh.org/advocacies/our-work/cholera-advocacy/
For NY Times article on the hearing: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/world/americas/court-hears-suit-against-un-on-haiti-cholera-outbreak.html?ref=world&_r=1
For further inquiries, email: email@example.comUnofficial Transcript from Oral Argument in Georges v. United Nations, 15- 455, before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, March 1, 2016
•Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq., Staff Attorney, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, representing Plaintiffs-Appellants
•Ellen Blain, Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of New York, representing United States Government as amicus curiae.
Before Hon. José A. Cabranes, presiding; Hon. Gerard E. Lynch; Hon. Barrington D. Parker
J. Cabranes: Good Afternoon. The Clerk has reported that everyone has signed in who should be signing in and we can therefore dispense with the call of the calendar and we will begin argument with the first of the cases on the calendar, Georges against United Nations.
Lindstrom: May it please the Court. I’m Beatrice Lindstrom with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and I represent the Appellants. I would like to reserve two minutes for rebuttal please. Your honors, Appellants are Haitian and American victims of a devastating cholera epidemic caused by the UN through gross mismanagement of sewage.
J. Parker: Let me ask you this. Has anything been, can, I don’t know if the record reflects this but can you just briefly let us know has anything been done to remediate this situation, has compensation been paid to these victims? How do things now stand?
Lindstrom: There has not been any compensation paid to the victims. There is a plan that has been launched by the United Nations that was referred to in the brief by the government to eliminate cholera in Haiti through water and sanitation. That plan is drastically underfunded and has not yet really begun implementation and the office to coordinate water and sanitation in Haiti which I believe was also referred to in the government’s brief has now unfortunately been closed down. The Appellants come to this Court as a last resort because unlike the Appellants in Brzak they have been denied access to any mode of settlement. Now the United Nations, an entity created by international human rights law to promote human rights, to respect treaty obligations asks this Court to selectively enforce the Convention on Privileges and Immunities, to grant it privileges, while, at the same time, absolving it of its own duties under that same treaty. This is an unprecedented interpretation of the Convention. It violates the plain text of the treaty, of international law, and emerging consensus among foreign courts that the UN’s conditional immunity does not authorize impunity. At the center of this appeal, your honors, is a narrow question of first impression that is not controlled by Brzak v. United Nations. In Brzak, the UN complied with its obligation under Section 29 to provide plaintiffs with a process to settle claims and, therefore, it satisfied a condition precedent to its invocation of immunity pursuant to Article II in the Convention.
J. Lynch: Assuming that it is the condition precedent to the immunity, who has the right to enforce the provisions of Section 29?
Lindstrom: Well, your honor, I think that this is not a pure question of enforcement, rather it’s a question of whether Section 2 comes into play in the first place.
J. Lynch: Well, that happens if Section 29 has not been complied with.
Lindstrom: Right, so where Section –
J. Lynch: On your interpretation, right. So what, what, why would individual citizens of Haiti have the right to invoke Section 29 and get a domestic United States Court to decide whether the United Nations has breached that obligation and what would follow if they did?
Lindstrom: Your honor, this is not a case where the plaintiffs have filed suit to seek enforcement of Section 29. This is a case that arises in tort. It’s a case over which the District Court would have jurisdiction but for the US government essentially asserting an affirmative defense of immunity. And so the Court in assessing the question –
J. Lynch: The US government isn’t asserting it. They’re here as amicus. The United Nations, we have to decide and I take it you agree that this is analogous to sovereign immunity and is, therefore, something that is treated as jurisdictional?
Lindstrom: Right, it’s a question of jurisdiction and in assessing whether Section 29 applies to this case to bar the District Court from asserting jurisdiction, the Court would read the treaty as a whole and assess whether the conditions precedent to immunity under Section 2 has been met. So in Brzak v. –
J. Lynch: Wouldn’t it normally be for the state parties to the treaty to invoke Section 29 and serve notice on the United Nations that it’s not complying with its side of the treaty and, therefore, the treaty is abrogated or some other provision of the treaty is abrogated. Why isn’t that something for the United States or Haiti or some other country to invoke?
Lindstrom: Because this is fundamentally a question of the Court’s jurisdiction and so the Court has the power and regularly does assess its jurisdiction the same way that it would if this case raised other types of questions around immunity. There is nothing different about the fact that this immunity comes from treaty as opposed to statute, for example, because plaintiffs are not bringing suit, they’re not seeking to enforce a cause of action under the treaty. The Convention on Privileges & Immunities is not something that at all has any weight in our lawsuit. The lawsuit is one that arises in tort and the Convention only comes up in the context of the government’s brief where they put forth the argument that because of the Convention the Court does not have jurisdiction.
J. Cabranes: So absent the Convention it’s your view that you could bring a tort action in New York?
Lindstrom: Yes, your honor, this is the correct forum for this claim. It is, New York is the place where the United Nations is headquartered, it is where both defendants, Mr. Ban and Mr. Mulet, reside. We have, there are two US plaintiffs in this case and so they are bringing the suit in their home country against defendants who are also located here and who are based here.
J. Lynch: And the substantive law would be Haitian law or New York law or something else?
Lindstrom: I believe it would be New York law, but that is also a question that could be determined at a later point.
J. Lynch: Later on.
Lindstrom: So Brzak v. United Nations of course a case that was decided by this Court is an example of how Section 29 works when Section 29 is complied with. The plaintiffs in that case, they filed claims. Those claims were considered. They were decided on the merits and the plaintiffs were given remedies and they also had access to an appeals process. And so in that situation, breach of Section 29 was not at issue before this Court in deciding that case.
J. Lynch: But wasn’t the argument of the plaintiff in that case that the remedies provided were inadequate to really comply with Section 29?
Lindstrom: One of the seven arguments that the plaintiffs in that case made before the Court was that the remedies were inadequate, but that is a very different question from the one that’s before the Court today. And, if I may explain why, –
J. Lynch: Would you draw a bright line around cases where there is simply no remedy available?
Lindstrom: We would, your honor,
J. Lynch: If the UN created an arbitration forum in which Mr. Ban, for example, got to decide his own case and decided that there was really no liability that would be good enough.
Lindstrom: Well, reasonable people may disagree about what constitutes adequate process in any given case, but the situation here –
J. Lynch: I thought you were drawing a bright line. I thought I just asked you that whether you were drawing a bright line around no remedy or whether you were suggesting that a court like this one would have the power to decide whether the remedies are adequate. Are you now suggesting that we would and that the real explanation of Brzak is that in that case we correctly thought that there were adequate remedies? But if we had thought there were inadequate remedies, it would come out the other way?
Lindstrom: No, your honor, we do draw a bright line between cases where there has been no process and cases where there are allegations that that process wasn’t adequate. This is a case where on the face of what the United Nations has responded with to the plaintiffs makes it clear that the processes that were promised, the Convention of Privileges and Immunities and other legal documents coming from the United Nations have established a minimum floor of the process that must be given.
J. Lynch: What is that minimum floor?
Lindstrom: So in the Convention –
J. Lynch: If the UN said we don’t think we did anything wrong and we’ve looked at it and there’s nothing wrong, so goodbye.
Lindstrom: Well in this case the United Nations has not said that. They have not said, they’ve not made a merits determination. They simply said in one conclusory line that the claims are not receivable because they involve a review of political and policy matters. That is not an exception that is recognized under any of the laws that the UN relies on to make Section 29 decisions and so on its face it’s a statement that’s invalid and that does not present any legitimate reasons for rejecting the claims.
J. Lynch: If this had been the United States Army and a claim were brought against the United States, there would be immunity for that would there not?
Lindstrom: That would be decided under a different framework and is –
J. Lynch: Well maybe some, just asking you do you know the answer, would it not be the case that if these were American rather than Nepali soldiers serving under the American flag rather than under the United Nations flag there would be immunity. I think that’s right but I’m asking you if you know the answer.
Lindstrom: I believe that that would be decided under the Foreign Tort Claims Act which is restrictive immunity that makes distinctions between immunities that go to the core functions of the United States government and other types of tort acts.
J. Lynch: But doesn’t this go to the core functions of the United Nations? This isn’t, I mean the cases that you cite from European courts are things like routine employment disputes and things of that sort where, in fact, some of the cases explicitly talk about the fact that these are not core functions. And the most isn’t the most analogous case the Srebrenica case.
Lindstrom: That case has very different facts from this case, your honor, in that –
J. Lynch: Isn’t that also a case, isn’t that the only case of any of the ones that at least I’ve seen in briefs of the parties who are making, that deals with immunity or not for a peacekeeping force?
Lindstrom: There is also the case of Stravinou v. United Nations that arose in Cyprus, but I think that the situation can be very well distinguished here in that when the United Nations leaked its waste into Haiti’s central river there was nothing about management of waste systems that goes to the heart of the UN’s mandate. The UN’s mandate in Haiti is to promote the rule of law and management of waste is an ancillary activity to that. It is not anything that goes to the public functions of the United Nations, even private actors regularly, on a day-to-day basis have to be responsible for proper waste management. So there’s nothing about that that’s unique to the United Nations, or that goes to the heart of its peacekeeping functions. In Srebrenica the case was about whether the UN had properly used its troops to provide protection for vulnerable populations. If that was the case here then it probably would not be a private law claim and so it would not fall within Section 29.
J. Parker: Would you concede that there is nothing in the treaty, in the text of the treaty itself that makes Section 29 an exception to Section 2?
Lindstrom: Well, your honor, I think when you read the treaty as a whole as the rules of treaty interpretation require, it is clear that Section 29 is linked to Section 2. They cover the same content. They govern the rights and obligations that attach when a claim is filed that alleges that the United Nations is responsible for injury. Section 29 refers back to Section 2 in discussing, making it clear that it is for the types of claims over which the UN has immunity, that it also incurs this obligation. Now conditions precedent do not have to be established clearly in the text, it’s a question of the parties intent and so to assess that intent it’s proper for the Court to look at the drafting history. And as we spelled out in detail in our briefs, the drafting history throughout makes it clear that immunity was never intended to amount to impunity. It was always counterbalanced with the obligation to provide a settlement.
J. Lynch: Well maybe counterbalanced, but that’s a little different that a condition precedent, right? Is there any indication, any explicit indication in the drafting history that says anyone thought that the immunity would dissipate if the remedies required by Section 29 did not materialize?
Lindstrom: The Study of Privileges and Immunities which lay the groundwork for the Convention has language that I think is particularly instructive. The drafting committee there instructed the UN to provide alternative dispute resolution if – and it uses the word if – the UN does not want to appear in court. And so they understood that it was a necessary precondition to immunity and so they wrote in a non-discretionary obligation in every draft of the treaty that followed. And to the extent that there is ambiguity in the precise nature of the relationship between Section 29 and Section 2, this Court should resolve that ambiguity in a way that is consistent with background principles of international law, of the UN Charter, and of human rights law which all make it very clear that the right to a remedy is an established right which has been explicitly worked into the Convention in Section 29 with the purpose of ensuring that individuals are not left without access to any kind of process.
J. Parker: Thank you, Ms. Lindstrom. I’ve given you some extra time, of course, but you have reserved two minutes.
Lindstrom: Thank you, your honor.
Blain: May it please the Court. My name is Ellen Blain. I’m an Assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York and I represent the United States which, as Judge Lynch just mentioned, is not a party to this action. The US is appearing here today because it is a party to the treaties governing the affairs of the United Nations. And to Judge Parker’s point, I’d like to first acknowledge that the United States understands that this case concerns humanitarian tragedy and the US is sympathetic to the victims of the cholera epidemic in Haiti. And to that point, the United Nations itself has spent more than 140 million dollars since the outbreak in trying to eradicate cholera. The United States itself has spent almost 95 million dollars trying to eradicate cholera in Haiti. There are many multi-national organizations there on the ground working to eradicate cholera in Haiti and so while these plaintiffs in this Court may not have recourse to sue the United Nations is not the fact that the international community has turned a blind eye to the cholera epidemic. As the District Court correctly concluded, Section 2 –
J. Lynch: Tort law does something different, right. I mean if somebody is injured through the negligence of a commercial enterprise, we don’t say, oh, look how well the company has done about seeing to it that this doesn’t happen again. We look to giving compensation to the person who is injured by negligence and that’s what they’re asking for, right?
Blain: Yes, your honor.
J. Lynch: Nothing has happened on that front.
Blain: That’s correct, your honor. And that’s because the general Convention means what it says. And Section 2 provides as this Court ruled in Brzak that the UN is absolutely immune subject only to one thing, and that is express waiver.
J. Lynch: Does Section 29 mean what it says?
Blain: Section 29 does, but Section –
J. Lynch: So is the United States doing anything in its role as party to the treaty to insist that the United Nations create these mechanisms? Again, it’s not a question of insisting that they get compensation, I have no idea whether there really was negligence or whether anyone deserves compensation. It’s a question of whether there is some adjudicatory mechanism created by the United Nations itself to assess the claim.
Blain: The United States could well under Section 30 of the Convention request that the ICJ, International Court of Justice, issue an advisory opinion. We do not, the United States has not done that here, the government of Haiti has not done that here, nor has any other member of the treaties governing –
J. Lynch: So the sympathy that you mentioned that the United States has for these victims does not extend that far.
Blain: Well, your honor, the –
J. Lynch: Nor does it extend so, I wasn’t even thinking about in effect suing the United Nations in the International Court of Justice, what about just bringing to bear diplomatic pressure of some kind within the United Nations structure where we are, I take it, an important player to ask the United Nations to do something.
Blain: Your honor, that’s a separate question from what the treaties provide here in terms of the plaintiffs.
J. Lynch: I understand, but you are the one who said the treaty means what it says.
J. Lynch: I respect that argument, but if you’re here to come to this Court to help us to make sure that the treaty is interpreted in accordance with its language with respect to Section 2, I’m just wondering whether you’re anywhere else making the same argument with respect to Section 29.
Blain: Your honor, the government does believe that Section 29 may well be enforceable and there are two things that flow from that. One is, as your honor already pointed out, who gets to enforce that, who gets to argue that the UN has breached that. And that is only the signatories to the Convention. The second answer is the United States right now has not asked for an advisory opinion from the ICJ. That does not mean, however, that courts are not, rather that member states are not exercising their rights in the diplomatic realm or elsewhere to address the actual problem separate from the tort claim.
J. Parker: What would an enforcement action under Section 29 be?
Blain: If the questions, your honor, is how would a member state argue
J. Lynch: First of all, is it your position that it’s only available to a member state?
Blain: That’s correct, your honor.
J. Lynch: So how would it get, for example, an issue?
Blain: Under Section 30 of the General Convention a member via an organ of the UN would request the ICJ to issue an advisory opinion. And the ICJ was formed at the same time as the UN Charter.
J. Lynch: And the advisory opinion would say let’s say if your adversaries were, your adversaries wanted to
Blain: Well, I’m not sure that there would necessarily be any adversary in the ICJ, but assuming for the sake of argument that one member state argues that the UN’s interpretation is incorrect and the UN or some other member of the UN argues that the interpretation is, in fact, correct in that the UN does not need to provide an alternative method of dispute resolution in order for Section 2 immunity to attach. The ICJ would evaluate that argument and issue an opinion and that’s what the ICJ is explicitly created for. The members, the treaties, the parties to the treaty in 1945 and 1946 evaluated this question and evaluated how disputes can be resolved among sovereign nations and they specifically granted that right to the International Court of Justice in 1946 so any dispute about whether or not the UN’s interpretation of Section 29 is incorrect, any dispute about whether or not the UN has breached Section 29 and any dispute about whether or not that breach, in any way, affects Section 2’s immunity belongs to the member states and it belongs in the forum of the ICJ.
J. Parker: But the ICJ can’t give any relief to these individuals, these Haitian victims, is that right?
Blain: Well, your honor, these individuals would not be parties to the ICJ –
J. Parker: That’s my point.
Blain: Right, so playing this out if the ICJ were to, down the line, issue an opinion that either well first that the UN must establish this Standing Claims Commission or anything else under Section 29, then presumably the government of Haiti and in every other portion of the UN affected by the ruling would then establish a Standing Claims Commission.
J. Lynch: Could you tell me if I’m right about this? Is it the case that the United Nations has created some standing alternative dispute resolution procedure and that the issue in this case is whether the claims made by the plaintiffs in this case are disputes of a private law character?
Blain: Yes, your honor, there is currently two ways for disputes concerning the UN to be evaluated and resolved. One is the United Nations has an internal dispute resolution mechanism for its own employees. It’s not at issue here. The second way is in every mission that I’m aware of the United Nations has created a “Board of Inquiry” and the Board of Inquiry resolves these tort claims at a local level within the mission and that’s reflected in the record at A-265, 266 and 277. So the UN has always acknowledged that it needs to provide tort compensation in effect and does so in this way in the missions themselves, but has never, sorry, your honor –
J. Lynch: No, go on, finish, I’m sorry.
Blain: And has never, however, established a “Standing Claims Commission” under the Status of Forces Agreement because as the Secretary General has said, specifically Secretary General Annan, in these places in the record, the Secretary General has always concluded that such a thing was not necessary because of these boards of inquiry.
J. Lynch: In terms of the Board of Inquiry process, does that mean that if I were visiting Haiti and got run over by a jeep operated by the, someone wearing a blue helmet of the United Nations, I would have some ability to seek compensation under this to this Board of Inquiry?
Blain: Presumably, your honor, but as to why that potentially was not available to the plaintiffs – – you know, I’m not here as the United Nations’ lawyer so I can’t –
J. Lynch: I understand. I’m just trying to understand, you know, what is the scope of the Board of Inquiry and what kind of claims, because to the extent that the issue is not, we’re not just going to set anything up, but is instead we have set something up but this particular claim doesn’t fall under private law character. I’m just trying to get a sense of the scope of that argument. Does that mean, for example, that anything done by troops in the mission is not really a private law character as opposed to somebody, I don’t know what, has a contract to provide services to the mission and they claim they weren’t paid.
Blain: Your honor, I can answer it as a practical matter, torts on a smaller scale have been compensated generally by the United Nations. In addition, mass torts I will call it, lump sum payments to specific countries have been made by United Nations, but as to what the United Nations’ legal analysis was as to these plaintiffs’ claims –
J. Lynch: You’re not able to speak because that’s not your, is that what you’re telling me, that’s not your, you’re not privy to it.
Blain: Correct, your honor, and, of course, the government’s position is even if the UN’s reading and conclusion were incorrect that still does not eviscerate the immunity in Section 2.
J. Cabranes: Ms. Blain, up to now my colleagues have been going for the jugular as it were dealing with the UN Charter and the Convention of Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, maybe I can go for the capillaries. What happens if we decide in favor of the Appellant? I’m just trying to understand what the posture would be of this case. Is there any recourse for the United Nations at this stage and, for example, taking an adverse decision in this case to the Supreme Court? They are not here as a party, right?
Blain: That’s correct, your honor.
J. Cabranes: They never entered an appearance?
Blain: That’s right, your honor.
J. Cabranes: So what would be the procedural posture of this case if your adversaries were to prevail?
Blain: Well, your honor, obviously first the government’s response is we do not believe our adversary should –
J. Cabranes: Of course, of course.
Blain: Assuming that –
J. Cabranes: You’re an amicus, you’re not a party.
Blain: Yes, assuming that, I’m not sure procedurally exactly how the United States, as an amicus, can seek a petition for, you know, seek cert. from the Supreme Court. I’m not sure procedurally how that would work, but if the Court would like, I’m happy to provide additional briefing on that.
J. Lynch: Or whether it would work. I guess the first question is do you have any standing to do that?
Blain: That’s a question I’ve honestly never thought of, but we can certainly submit a brief if that would be of use to the Court.
J. Cabranes: Thank you very much.
J. Parker: In the other, you adverted to specific and individual specific torts and mass torts. Can you just tell us a little bit more about those procedurally. How would those tort judgments be obtained?
Blain: Well, there’s never been a tort judgment obtained so a court has never evaluated the UN’s liability under any common law or treaty or otherwise for a tort, but the UN does set up these boards of inquiry and the individuals on the ground do an investigation as far as I understand and evaluate whether or not the UN has, you know, hurt somebody with a jeep to use Judge Lynch’s example and therefore is entitled to some sort of compensation. That’s sort of one set of claims and then another set of claims, and I think this happened twice, the UN has given a lump sum payment to a country for, you know, I think it was 13 million dollars in one case, you know, a substantial amount for a larger problem that doesn’t just affect one individual within that country.
J. Parker: And how is the payment effectuated? Who is the paying entity and who is the claimant?
Blain: Your honor, I think it was just a diplomatic settlement so there wasn’t actually a tribunal that overlooked this or decided this –
J. Parker: This is presumably the Haitian Ambassador pressing the UN.
Blain: Well this was never given to Haiti.
J. Parker: Not to Haiti, but the country’s ambassador.
Blain: Yes, and I don’t have a window into that particular procedure but I know that the outcome of the procedure, the procedure was diplomatic and the outcome was some sort of negotiated payment between the parties, and by the parties I’m using that term loosely.
J. Parker: I take it that that’s publicly reported somewhere.
Blain: Yes, your honor. It’s actually in the record as well, specifically in those pages I’ve mentioned because in A-266 is an evaluation that the Secretary General provided to the Security Council about how the UN goes about resolving third party claims.
J. Cabranes: Your bottom line, your basic position is that there’s absolute immunity here? And if the UN did nothing or cared to do nothing, none of the things that we’ve been discussing in the large, if it did nothing and indeed said that it would do nothing, it has absolute immunity.
Blain: Yes, your honor, and that’s based on several things, just briefly, the text of the Convention, the drafting history of the Convention, this Court’s ruling in Brzak, which unfortunately, the plaintiff’s claims here cannot be brought here and they cannot be brought by these plaintiffs.
J. Lynch: Anywhere?
Blain: It would be up to the members of the signatory, the signatory countries of the General Convention. So it would only be if it’s a dispute between the UN and Haiti it would go to the ICJ under Section 30 of the Convention, if it’s a dispute between MINUSTAH and the UN, it goes to tribunal arbitrators and that’s under the Status of Forces Agreement at Section 58.
J. Parker: Would the United States government concede that that was a, this is a, the result that you urge is a very, very bad result.
Blain: The result that the United States urges is a bad result?
J. Parker: Would the United States government concede that if you’re right and these people are completely remedyless, that that is a very bad result?
Blain: Well, I think the United States certainly recognizes that this is an unfortunate and tragic humanitarian catastrophe, but again, at the end of the day, the United States is here to urge one interpretation of the treaty that the member states have always held so, yes, we would say that it would be unfortunate for these particular plaintiffs. On the other hand, it is not necessarily a “bad result” as your honor is suggesting because the member states of the UN has conferred absolute immunity on the UN for a very important reason.
J. Lynch: Sovereign immunity like absolute immunity for judges, like absolute immunity for prosecutors, like qualified immunity for police officers? There are lots of situations where people are left without a remedy even though they were wronged.
Blain: That’s right. And those immunities are vital and particularly for the United Nations to carry on its peacekeeping mission around the world.
Cabranes: Thank you.
Blain: Thank you, your honors.
J. Cabranes: Ms. Lindstrom, you have reserved two minutes.
J. Lynch: May I just ask you, Ms. Lindstrom, you started by saying that what the UN is asking is unprecedented. Is there any precedent for a domestic court in any country awarding tort damages against the United Nations?
Lindstrom: Your honor, there are in other countries. In the United States –
J. Lynch: No, in other countries as well for awarding tort damages against the United Nations, not UNESCO under the Paris Court’s interpretation of a treaty between UNESCO specifically and France and I might make it even narrower, for tort damages arising out of the peacekeeping mission. You mentioned the Cyprus case, that went against the plaintiffs. The Srebrenica case essentially goes against the plaintiffs. Is there any case that has gone in favor of the plaintiffs that is remotely analogous to this one? That’s not saying anything about the substance of your argument, it’s just about what is precedented and what is unprecedented.
Lindstrom: Sure, cases against the United Nations headquarters itself arise almost exclusively in the United States because that is where the United Nations headquarters are found and so that is why you see cases against UNESCO arising in France, you see cases against the Food and Agricultural Organization arising in Italy. And so it’s not that courts have sat in judgment of this question have decided on the merits that or as a matter of a jurisdictional inquiry that it could not issue, it could not hold the UN liable in tort, it’s simply that those questions are –
J. Lynch: I’m not suggesting there’s necessarily a square precedent against you, I’m just trying to figure out if there is any case in which any court in any country has awarded tort damages against the United Nations (a) at all and (b) specifically out of a peacekeeping mission’s activities?
Lindstrom: This is a sui generis case, your honor, and I think that that’s partly going back to Ms. Blain’s point that the UN settles claims every day. It settles claims for tort disputes and for contract disputes, including in peacekeeping operations. If the UN contracts to have somebody supply paper to its mission and it breaches that contract, it would settle that claim. And the way that it does that is by engaging in amicable attempts to settle with claimants. With individual claimants, it is not dependent on a government raising those claims and, importantly, in the Status of Forces Agreement, the Standing Claims Commission is a Commission of last resort. In A-266, the document that was referenced by Ms. Blain earlier, it is, the Secretary General also assessed that provision and said, in fact, that there is a reason to retain it because otherwise the UN could be seen as acting as a judge in its own case. And it also, the Secretary General also noted that one of the reasons why the Standing Claims Commissions have not been invoked previously is because the victims have not asked for it. And, your honors, in this case, victims have asked extensively for a standing claims commission and that has been rejected.
J. Parker: Thank you, Ms. Lindstrom, very much.
Lindstrom: Thank you.
J. Parker: We reserve decision and we’ll hear the second case on the calendar.
Click HERE for a pdf of this transcript.