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What’s Next with the UN’s New Cholera Plan?

December 14, 2016 - 13:37

Partners in Health, which has been treating Haiti’s cholera victims since the epidemic began in 2010, sat down with its senior health and policy advisor to answer some key questions after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s apology and promise of further action. Dr. Ivers answers questions like: “What does the UN mean by material assistance?” and “How much did public pressure play a role in forcing the U.N.’s hand?”

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Dr. Louise Ivers on U.N.‘s Apology for Role in Cholera Epidemic

Partners in Health

December 14, 2016

One month before leaving office, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized publicly for the United Nations’ role in the cholera outbreak that has killed 10,000 and sickened 800,000 in Haiti since 2010. Most important to Haitians and their allies, he also promised to right its past wrongs.

“On behalf of the United Nations, I want to say very clearly: we apologize to the Haitian people,” Ban read from a prepared statement, translated into French and Haitian Creole. “We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti. We are profoundly sorry for our role.”

“We have a moral responsibility to act,” he continued. “And we have a collective responsibility to deliver.”

Click HERE for the full text.

New UN Approach to Cholera in Haiti

December 12, 2016 - 16:03

The United Nations has issued a General Assembly resolution on its new approach to fighting the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

December 12, 2016

Argentina, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, France, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Ireland, Jamaica, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Spain, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of): draft resolution

The new United Nations approach to cholera in Haiti

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 65/135 and 65/136 of 15 December 2010,

Expressing concern at the recurrent outbreaks of cholera in Haiti, which have affected nearly 800,000 people and caused over 9,000 deaths to date,

Deeply concerned that there has been an increase in the number of persons affected by cases of cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases as a result of Hurricane Matthew, which struck Haiti on 4 October 2016, and about the continued vulnerability of Haitians as a result thereof,

Recognizing the considerable national, regional and international efforts deployed in the fight against cholera in Haiti since 2010, and acknowledging that, while important progress has been made in combating cholera, Haiti continues to face significant challenges,

Underscoring the need to address this prolonged public health crisis owing to its grave humanitarian, economic and social consequences, and stressing the importance of strengthening the Haitian national health institutions,

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Editorial: What Comes Next for UN & Haiti Cholera

December 12, 2016 - 13:44

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s apology to the Haitian people for the UN’s involvement in the spread of cholera has been long awaited and was long overdue.  Now that he has apologized, a long road lies ahead for the UN to truly help end the epidemic in Haiti.

The United Nations comes clean(ish) on cholera in Haiti

The Editorial Board, The Washington Post

December 12, 2016

MORE THAN six years after a brigade of U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal introduced cholera in Haiti, triggering an epidemic that has killed at least 10,000 and sickened many more, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has finally uttered the word “sorry.” Mr. Ban’s tortuously worded apology, delivered recently in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, must be the beginning, not the end, of official contrition and accountability by the United Nations in Haiti.

The glacial rate at which the United Nations grasped its moral responsibility for having wreaked a public-health disaster in the Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished nation has tarnished the institution. Cowed by its lawyers, jealously guarding its prestige, the United Nations averted its gaze from the victims, ignored incontrovertible scientific evidence and trembled at its potential legal liability.

Only when it became clear that its credibility was in tatters, and its authority to insist that member states adhere to international norms was in jeopardy, did the United Nations finally come to terms publicly with its culpability in the cholera outbreak. “We simply didn’t do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti,” Mr. Ban said. “We are profoundly sorry about our role.”

His statement, coming just a month before his term as the United Nations’ eighth secretary general expires, painstakingly avoided an overt admission of what is already known: that the outbreak began when Nepalese peacekeepers, failing to use basic protocols of sanitation at their base when they arrived in 2010, contaminated a nearby river that provided drinking water for Haitians. Cholera was rampant in Nepal at the time; it had been unknown in Haiti for decades.

What is critical now, as U.N. officials have acknowledged, is that the organization take concrete steps to make amends, namely by leading a public health blitzkrieg to eradicate the disease in Haiti and by making reparations, to victims’ families, their communities or both.

Legal accountability is not the point; a federal appeals panel ruled this summer that the United Nations enjoys diplomatic immunity from the victims’ claims. But moral accountability demands a sustained effort to wipe out a disease that has caused so much suffering in that country.

It won’t be easy. U.N. officials say they have nearly raised the $200 million they sought to overhaul water and sanitation infrastructure in Haiti, and to treat cholera’s steady flow of fresh patients there. That’s a first step toward what is likely to be a long struggle for eradication. Unfortunately, they have made little progress in raising from member states what they hope will be an identical amount of money to provide payouts, scholarships and other benefits to the relatives and communities of the dead.

Under Mr. Ban’s successor, former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres, who takes office Jan. 1, the United Nations has every incentive to press ahead both to heal Haiti to the extent possible and to restore its own moral standing.

Click HERE for the original article.

As Haitians observe International Human Rights Day, lawyers concerned that low turnout and voter exclusion indicate threats to Haitians’ right to vote

December 10, 2016 - 10:31

 

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (in Haïti), mario@ijdh.org +509-3701-9879 (French, Kreyol)

Nicole Phillips, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (in US), nicole@ijdh.org +1-510-715-2855 (English, French, Kreyol)

As Haitians observe International Human Rights Day, lawyers concerned that low turnout and voter exclusion indicate threats to Haitians’ right to vote

(Port-au-Prince, December 10, 2016) – Following the November 28 announcement of preliminary results for Haiti’s presidential elections, human rights lawyers are concerned by the extremely low turnout, and the potentially massive exclusion of voters and allegations of fraud during the vote tabulation process. “Many Haitians faced serious obstacles to voting on November 20,” said Mario Joseph, managing attorney of the Port-au-Prince-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). “Fixing problems that excluded voters from casting their ballots is crucial for the integrity of Haiti’s electoral system,” Joseph said.

On election day, many voters could not find their names on the electoral list of their voting center, while others discovered that they had been assigned to voting centers far away from their place of residence. Problems with the electoral list were compounded by difficulties Haitians had obtaining their Carte d’identification nationale (CIN) from the Office Nationale de l’Indentification (ONI). In hurricane-affected areas of the south-west, Haitians who lost their CIN cards were unable to vote, even if they had an attestation form issued by the ONI.

International and national observers indicate that voter exclusion was a common problem on election day. According to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)’s preliminary results, only 21 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the election, though the turnout declines to 17.3 percent in counting only the valid votes. Unfortunately, election workers did not document the number of voters turned away due to errors in the electoral list or unavailability of identification.

“Voter exclusion has been a problem in every election I’ve observed since 2010, as voter turnout continues to plummet. More efforts need to be made by the Haitian government and the international community to update voter registration lists and issue national identity cards so that everyone can vote,” said Nicole Phillips, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti who observed the elections. “The failure to do so violates Haitians’ fundamental human right to vote under Haitian and international law.” The scope of voter exclusion must be investigated and the electoral lists corrected before the next round of elections in 2017, Phillips added.

Election observers with a delegation from the U.S.-based National Lawyers Guild witnessed encouraging improvements to Haiti’s electoral system on November 20, in particular the professionalism of polling station workers. Election day was calmer and had reduced instances of fraud, due to the pre-registration of political party monitors (mandataires), the usage of indelible ink and better-trained security agents at polling places. Voting booths were larger and better designed, providing voters with greater secrecy when filling out their ballots. The CEP also released its procedures manual for the vote tabulation process, a demand of Haitian civil society.

Despite these advances, three challenges were filed by presidential candidates and 27 challenges were filed by legislative candidates objecting to the integrity of operations at the Vote Tabulation Center, which resulted in a high proportion (10.4 percent) of polling stations’ vote tallies being excluded due to irregularities. Decisions on the challenges are expected any day. Three members of the CEP did not sign the council’s declaration of the preliminary results, citing concerns over how irregularities were dealt with.

The CEP must investigate the allegations, clarify its decisions and address other serious incidents, such as reports of bags of discarded ballots found in the Nord Department, the BAI’s Joseph insisted, before finalizing the results. “These elections will not produce a legitimate government unless the challenges are fully investigated and publicly explained.”

Whether due to exclusion or discouragement or both, November 20’s low voter turnout is a worrying sign for Haiti’s fragile democracy. In the presidential race, PHTK candidate Jovenel Moïse finished first with 595,430 votes. If the preliminary results stand, Jovenel Moïse will have won presidency with the support of less than 10 percent of Haiti’s 6.2 million registered voters. Voter turnout has declined steadily since 2000, when the winning candidate won over twice as many votes (2.63 million) as the top four finishers in the 2016 official results combined (1.02 million).

“The U.S. and its allies in the international community bear some of the blame for Haitians’ political disengagement,” said Brian Concannon Jr., executive director of IJDH.  “After more than a decade of foreign-backed coups d’état, military occupation and interference by outside powers, Haitians have well-founded concerns about whether their votes will be respected or their elections can truly change anything.” UN troops have occupied Haiti since 2004, after a U.S.-backed regime change overthrew the elected government.

For more information, see the National Lawyers Guild and International Association of Democratic Lawyers’ November 2015 report calling for an independent investigation to address widespread allegations of fraud in Haiti’s October 25 elections and their September 2016 report calling on neutrality and independence of international electoral observers in Haiti.

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Questions of Fraud in Haiti’s November 20 Elections

December 9, 2016 - 14:21

Reports of problems on Haiti’s election fay continue to surface, calling into question the legitimacy of the preliminary results that named Jovenel Moise, protégé of former president Martelly, as the new president. The problems include many voters not finding their names on the lists, voters being told to go even 147 miles from their homes to vote, ballots for other candidates found in the streets, and a nationwide blackout after the polls closed. Thousands of Haitians have been protesting in the streets and the three candidates named second, third and fourth have officially contested the preliminary election results. Three members of the 9-member Electoral Council also refused to sign off on the preliminary results.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections

Pierre Labossiere and Margaret Prescod, Counterpunch

December 9, 2016

Lead Up to Election Day

Friday, November 18th was the last day of campaigning for Haiti’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections which were to be held on Sunday, November 20th.  On Friday we visited Delmas 2 where we met with activists on the ground including women and men.  Preparations were underway for the get-out-the vote campaign.  In Delmas 2 there were banners and other materials for the Lavalas Presidential candidate Dr. Maryse Narcisse.  Several people expressed to us the widespread concern that the election maybe stolen, nevertheless the people we spoke to felt it was nevertheless important to vote.

Later on Friday, we visited Cite Soleil where a massive march was taking place.  The March preceded and followed a motorcade with former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide and Dr. Maryse Narcisse.  Tens of thousands took part in the march.  The atmosphere was festive with music and dancing. The mood in the crowd was determined, although some we spoke to also expressed concerns about a stolen election, people generally seemed enthusiastic about voting.  A popular song poking fun at Jovenal Moise the candidate endorsed by former President Michel Martelly entitled “Banann” was often played and all seemed to know the words and sang along.

Early that evening there was a massive Lavalas rally at the old airfield in Delmas 2.  The crowd grew to tens of thousands. There was a notable lack of western media present at that rally.  The mood was joyful and enthusiastic, many there said, including some of the speakers, that if the election was not fraudulent, Dr. Narcisse would win on the first round.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Center for Economic & Policy Research Seeks a Research Assistant

December 9, 2016 - 10:50

CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESEARCH

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. CEPR conducts both professional research and public education so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options. The professional research is oriented towards filling important gaps in the understanding of particular economic and social problems, or the impact of specific policies, both domestically and globally. The public education portion of CEPR’s mission is to present the findings of professional research, both by CEPR and others, in a manner that allows broad segments of the public to know exactly what is at stake in major policy debates. As part of its public education initiative, CEPR utilizes research findings and analysis to challenge the myths, assumptions, policies and institutions that perpetuate economic and social inequality.

RESPONSIBILITIES

CEPR has an immediate opening for a full-time Research Assistant (International). The focus of this work will be international economic policy issues. Responsibilities include collection and analysis of data, preparation of charts and graphs, research literature and summarization of relevant background material. This position will include original research with original data sources and writing or cowriting research papers. This position has designated funding for two years, after which point it may be extended.

Successful candidates will possess a B.A. or B.S. in economics or related field, with working knowledge of statistics and international economics; several months of experience as a research assistant or performing similar work; knowledge of Microsoft Office, spreadsheets, and graphics software. Spanish language skills are not required but would be very useful.

HIRING PROCESS

January 9, 2017. In rare, extenuating circumstances, the application period may be extended or curtailed. In the event that the application period is curtailed, CEPR will update this posting to notify candidates that they have 7 days to apply. Send application packet to jobscepr2016[at]cepr.net and include: Cover letter with salary requirement, Resume, Recent writing sample showing your analytic and research skills.

No telephone calls or faxes please.

 

 

Click HERE for the full job posting.

Ban Ki-moon’s “half apology” to Haiti

December 8, 2016 - 12:49

Following the UN Secretary General’s apology to Haiti on December 1st, there have been many critiques of what is being dubbed Ban Ki-moon’s “incomplete apology.” Many condemn the UN’s continued refusal to admit legal responsibility for the introduction of cholera into Haiti, and many more are openly challenging the UN to show its commitment to Haiti by quickly and effectively raising the necessary money for Ban’s plan.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

The UN’s Incomplete Apology To Haiti

Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte

December 8, 2016

The United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. (Photo from original article)

 

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who will step down at the end of this month, made his most explicit apology yet for the UN’s role and responsibility in Haiti’s cholera epidemic, the world’s worst.

However, in his ballyhooed Dec. 1 address to the UN General Assembly, Ban stopped short of admitting that UN soldiers militarily occupying Haiti since 2004 introduced the deadly bacterial disease into the country in 2010…

 

Click HERE for the full article.