Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

Subject Area

Political Science

Description

Following the devastating 2010 earthquake, the world’s largest cholera epidemic broke out on the island of Haiti, taking the lives of an estimated 8,500 and continuing to afflict more than 685,000. Scientific analysis undeniably traced the cholera strain to the improper disposal of waste and negligent screening standards of United Nations (UN) Nepalese Peacekeeping troops, garnering calls for the UN to take responsibility and provide reparations for the outbreak. Despite legal attempts on behalf of the victims, the Peacekeeping troops and the UN as a whole have escaped accountability for their crimes. This paper comprehensively evaluates the accountability literature to demonstrate that the interpretation of the UN’s immunity clause directly contradicts the humanitarian norms and international laws the UN was created to uphold, creating a disparity between the intentions of the institution and the actions that result. I argue that the immunity clause has shaped an institutional culture of impunity, one in which the lack of legal recourse for victims allows the UN to shirk basic responsibilities and abuse host populations. This in turn has set a precedent of immunity for today’s international sphere, wherein most IGOs (intergovernmental organizations) and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have modeled their own immunity clauses after the UN’s, leading to a global culture of legal immunity. This paper ultimately demands the reform of the immunity clause before discussing potential accountability mechanisms, including the enforcement of SOFAs (Status of Forces Agreements) and the trial of the UN in national courts, in order to reconcile peacekeeping actions with international law and attain justice for the Haitian people.

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May 16th, 4:30 PM May 16th, 6:00 PM

Accountability, Immunity, & Impunity: How the UN Avoids Justice in Haiti

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

Following the devastating 2010 earthquake, the world’s largest cholera epidemic broke out on the island of Haiti, taking the lives of an estimated 8,500 and continuing to afflict more than 685,000. Scientific analysis undeniably traced the cholera strain to the improper disposal of waste and negligent screening standards of United Nations (UN) Nepalese Peacekeeping troops, garnering calls for the UN to take responsibility and provide reparations for the outbreak. Despite legal attempts on behalf of the victims, the Peacekeeping troops and the UN as a whole have escaped accountability for their crimes. This paper comprehensively evaluates the accountability literature to demonstrate that the interpretation of the UN’s immunity clause directly contradicts the humanitarian norms and international laws the UN was created to uphold, creating a disparity between the intentions of the institution and the actions that result. I argue that the immunity clause has shaped an institutional culture of impunity, one in which the lack of legal recourse for victims allows the UN to shirk basic responsibilities and abuse host populations. This in turn has set a precedent of immunity for today’s international sphere, wherein most IGOs (intergovernmental organizations) and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have modeled their own immunity clauses after the UN’s, leading to a global culture of legal immunity. This paper ultimately demands the reform of the immunity clause before discussing potential accountability mechanisms, including the enforcement of SOFAs (Status of Forces Agreements) and the trial of the UN in national courts, in order to reconcile peacekeeping actions with international law and attain justice for the Haitian people.

 

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