Law in the Time of Cholera: Resolving the Dispute between Haiti and the United Nations

Aston Webb Lecture Theatre WG12
Arts and Law, Lectures Talks and Workshops
Thursday 13th October 2016 (12:00-13:00)
Download the date to your calendar (.ics file)

Bryoney Johnson -

Dr Rosa Freedman, Senior Lecturer in the Birmingham Law School, and Dr. Nicolas Lemay-Herbert, Senior Lecturer in the School of Government and Society will reprise their popular talk from this year’s Hay Festival exclusively for Book to the Future.

UN peacekeepers are bound, at the very least, to do no harm. But what happens when the peacekeepers bring untold suffering to those they are sent to protect? To whom can the victims turn for justice and compensation? A stark example is the Haiti Cholera case.

In 2010 a contingent of Nepalese peacekeepers brought cholera into Haiti - a country where that disease had not existed for more than 100 years. The peacekeepers were not tested for the disease prior to deployment, and their camp had poor sanitation resulting in raw faecal matter flowing into a tributary that connects to Haiti's main river. Most Haitians rely on that river for washing, cooking, and drinking water; and so that contamination was devastating.

More than 800,000 people have been infected and more than 9,000 have died from the disease. Yet no remedies have been made available to the victims, and the UN has relied on immunity to resist any legal claims being brought to court. The modern-day David vs Goliath battle to secure justice has used legal, political and diplomatic avenues but to no avail. Cometh the hour, cometh the academics! In December 2015 the University of Birmingham hosted a high-level summit aimed at resolving the Haiti Cholera case. And the resulting framework and pathway to implementation may be the last chance to secure justice for the Haitian cholera victims. This talk will explore why and how the University team designed a slingshot to fight against the most powerful organisation in the world.