Cholera Epidemic in Haiti is Clearly a Human Rights Issue

The director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University's McKinney School of Law, makes a sharp criticism of both the U.S. and U.N policy in Haiti. In this recent piece at the Nation, attorney Fran Quigley also reminds us that the future of human rights is threatened by the U.N.'s "craven abdication of justice in Haiti" because in doing so, the U.N. has lost its moral right to speak out about other human rights or democracy issues in other parts of the world.  

Quigley also makes it clear that although the earthquake of 2010 was a natural disaster, the cholera epidemic was completely man-made and the responses made in the aftermath have been shaped by long-held political biases against Haiti and its people. From the first Bush administration that blocked funds that would have updated the water system to the current Obama administration that has sided with the U.N. position that it be immune from legal accountability for bringing the epidemic to Haiti, Quigley runs through the list of how the response has exasperated the issue and further victimized an already vulnerable nation.  


[quote]While the earthquake originated as a natural disaster, albeit one made worse by generations of international exploitation, the cholera epidemic was a fully human-made phenomenon. It demonstrates that the world's most powerful nation – the United States – and its most respected international organization – the United Nations – have no intention of treating the Haitian people as fully human beings, deserving of even the most basic of rights."[/quote]

- Fran Quigley, human rights attorney


Read the full piece at the Nation here. To find out how to become more involved, see this related issues page and our community-building efforts in Haiti here


Above: People walk across an overpass as raw sewage flows beneath in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, September 2012.
Photo Credit: Rueters / Swoan Parker