Phuong N Pham | Niamh Gibbons | Patrick Vinck
Date of Publication:
In August 2016, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General acknowledged the UN’s role in the cholera epidemic that has beset Haiti since 2010. Two months later, the Secretary General issued a historic apology to the Haitian people before the UN General Assembly, for the organization’s insufficient response to the cholera outbreak. These steps are part of the UN’s “new approach” to cholera in Haiti, which also includes launching a material assistance package for those most affected by cholera. The assistance package program is an opportunity to rebuild the relationship between the victims and the UN. This can only be achieved if victims are informed and engaged in the process. This consultation effort is also an opportunity to answer a set of key questions related to the nature, structure, and implementation of the victims’ assistance program, but also how the program may be designed to contribute to rebuilding Haitians’ confidence in the UN as an institution that promotes peace, human rights, and development. We recommend that the consultations must be accompanied by an outreach effort that provides clear, accurate information on the assistance program, so that it begins to establish a dialogue between the UN and cholera victims. Finally, we conclude by offering a number of concrete next steps that the UN can take to kick start the consultation process.