Juliette Kayyem presented dubious reasons as to why the United Nations was right to claim immunity against a lawsuit filed on behalf of cholera victims in Haiti (“UN’s cold, but correct, call on Haiti,” Op-ed, Feb. 28). The UN effectively is claiming impunity, attempting to cut off all legal venues for redress and justice for causing an epidemic that has killed more than 8,000 people. This threatens to undermine the UN’s mandate itself.
Impunity never leads to reform; it leads to more abuses because there are no consequences for wrongdoing. In fact, according to Al Jazeera, an investigation has revealed that the UN previously covered up another cholera outbreak in 2008 in Zimbabwe that killed more than 4,000 people.
There were no consequences for the UN in that case. Had there been, the organization might not have carelessly allowed Nepalese troops to go to Haiti without proper cholera screening, leading to the epidemic that continues to kill. If the UN is not given an incentive to prevent recurrence of such negligence in the future, it is likely to happen again.