DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Sent By: michael.darner@mail.house.gov
Date: 11/19/2013

Current Signers: Clarke, Wasserman-Schultz, Lee, Waters, Frederica Wilson, Lewis, Hank Johnson,

Dear Colleague,
In October 2010, UN peacekeepers introduced cholera to Haiti from a UN base camp some 40 kilometers northeast of Port au Prince. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the epidemic resulted from the UN’s use of inadequate and outdated protocols that failed to prevent its peacekeepers from bringing cholera into Haiti, as well as its reckless disposal of waste into Haiti’s largest river system. UN culpability was recently detailed in reports released by Yale University Law School and School of Public Health, and by the UN’s own Panel of Expertson the Haiti cholera epidemic.
The UN’s response to date has been wholly inadequate. The UN continues to refuse to take responsibility for the outbreak, and the fund established by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to provide resources to the Cholera Elimination Plan sits at only 10 percent of the total sought. Secretary-General Ban claimed, in a July 5 letter to eighteen members of Congress who had expressed concern about the UN response, that the UN has built two wastewater treatment facilities in Haiti. But the UN was only one of many donors who contributed to the plants’ construction and both have faced operational difficulties due to a lack of funding.”
Please join me in sending a letter to UN Ambassador Power that urges the U.S. Mission to intensify its efforts to get the UN to accept responsibility for its role in establishing the cholera outbreak in Haiti and to remedy the situation in a timely and comprehensive manner. If you would like to sign the letter, please contact Michael Darner (michael.darner@mail.house.gov) at 5-5126.
Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.
MEMBER OF CONGRESS

November X, 2013

The Honorable Ambassador Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
United States Mission to the United Nations
799 United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017

Dear Ambassador Power,
We write to draw your attention to the United Nations’ response to Haiti’s cholera epidemic – a response that threatens to undermine the UN’s mandate to promote human rights and peace around the globe. In October 2010, UN peacekeepers introduced cholera to Haiti from a UN base camp some 40 kilometers northeast of Port au Prince. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the epidemic resulted from the UN’s use of inadequate and outdated protocols that failed to prevent its peacekeepers from bringing cholera into Haiti, as well as its reckless disposal of waste into Haiti’s largest river system. UN culpability was recently detailed in reports released by Yale University Law School and School of Public Health, and by the UN’s own Panel of Expertson the Haiti cholera epidemic.
The UN’s response to date has been wholly inadequate. The UN continues to refuse to take responsibility for the outbreak, and the fund established by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to provide resources to the Cholera Elimination Plan sits at only 10 percent of the total sought. Secretary-General Ban claimed, in a July 5 letter to eighteen members of Congress who had expressed concern about the UN response, that the UN has built two wastewater treatment facilities in Haiti. But the UN was only one of many donors who contributed to the plants’ construction and both have faced operational difficulties due to a lack of funding.”
We appreciate that the U.S. Mission to the UN has demonstrated its interest in remedying the massive harm caused by the UN cholera epidemic in Haiti. We urge you to continue the Mission’s focus on the issue and to intensify efforts to find a just solution to this outbreak.
The benefits of such a focus and the implementation of just remedies are evident. Most critically, full funding of the Cholera Elimination Plan, along with improved water and sanitation infrastructure in Haiti, will reduce or eliminate cholera on the island of Hispaniola and help to combat a range of other diarrheal diseases and public health concerns. It bears emphasis that the right to clean water and adequate sanitation are rights guaranteed to the Haitian people by the UN General Assembly in July 2010 by Resolution 64/292. Moreover, as the Washington Post Editorial Board noted on August 11, “by refusing to acknowledge responsibility, the United Nations jeopardizes its standing and moral authority in Haiti and in other countries where its personnel are deployed.”
In addition, failure to accept responsibility for its actions will make it significantly more difficult for MINUSTAH to fulfill its mandate to build the rule of law in Haiti. Exhortations to submit to the law, to police officers, judges, government officials and citizens in Haiti will be undermined by the UN’s own actions in regards to accepting legal responsibility for the cholera epidemic. Resources that may continue to be required for peacekeeping operations could instead be used to save lives and allow the Haitian people to realize their basic rights.
The United Nations has a moral and legal obligation to redress the harm resulting from the actions of its peacekeeping operations. It is time for the UN to accept responsibility to prevent needless additional tragic deaths and illness among Haitians. The United States, due its standing as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and its significant financial and diplomatic investments in Haiti, must be a strong voice for justice. We appreciate your support in this noble and urgent endeavor.
Sincerely,