U.S. Court Upholds United Nations’ Immunity in Cholera Suit

Friday, August 19, 2016

A United States federal appeals panel has upheld that the United Nations cannot be sued in American courts, dealing a setback in a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of thousands of cholera victims in Haiti.

The ruling by the three-judge panel in New York was released on Thursday, a day after a spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged for the first time that the United Nations played a role in the outbreak, which killed thousands of people.

In the decision for the panel, Judge José A. Cabranes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit wrote that the United Nations did not lose its legal immunity even if it failed to give the plaintiffs a chance to seek a settlement, as required by an international convention.

The decision slammed the door on a day of muted celebration by the plaintiffs and many people in Haiti who had greeted a statement by Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for Mr. Ban, that the United Nations had “become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak” of cholera and that officials were considering a “significant new set of U.N. actions” to be presented publicly within two months.

Source: New York Times (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases, public policy