[Blackstudies-l] NYT Editorial: Dodging Accountability at the United Nations

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Wed Aug 24 06:44:34 EDT 2016


lisaparavisini posted: " An editorial from The New York Times. It shouldn’t
have taken five years and a scathing report by an internal human rights
watchdog for the United Nations to acknowledge that it bears responsibility
for the cholera epidemic in Haiti sparked by its peace"
Respond to this post by replying above this line
New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> NYT Editorial: Dodging
Accountability at the United Nations
<http://repeatingislands.com/2016/08/23/nyt-editorial-dodging-accountability-at-the-united-nations/>
by
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 9.50.06 PM.png]

An editorial from *The New York Times*.
<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/opinion/dodging-accountability-at-the-united-nations.html?emc=edit_th_20160822&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=41473240>

It shouldn’t have taken five years and a scathing report by an internal
human rights watchdog for the United Nations
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/u/united_nations/index.html?inline=nyt-org>
to acknowledge that it bears responsibility for the cholera epidemic in
Haiti
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/haiti/index.html?inline=nyt-geo>
sparked by its peacekeepers deployed after the 2010 earthquake.

And yet, the yearslong effort to dodge accountability in an emblematic case
of institutional failure was predictable. A string of recent scandals has
shown that the United Nations has been unwilling to police itself, learn
from its errors, correct course and make amends. When a new secretary
general takes over next year, she or he should make it a priority to revamp
the organization’s oversight entities and create a culture of
accountability.

For years, the United Nations asserted that there was no conclusive proof
that peacekeepers were the source of an outbreak of cholera that has killed
more than 10,000 people. News accounts
<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/world/americas/haitis-cholera-outraced-the-experts-and-tainted-the-un.html>
and experts offered substantial evidence to the contrary. The
organization’s denial is one of the main reasons the international
community has not mustered an effective response to the epidemic, which
spread to other countries. New cases of cholera, which is transmitted
through water and food contaminated by sewage, have increased annually
since 2014. The country’s wastewater and sanitation systems remain
rudimentary.

In a draft report to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Philip Alston
<http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/PhilipAlston.aspx>, one of
the United Nations’s rapporteurs for human rights, condemned the response
as “morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically
self-defeating.” The report, which was described in an article in The New
York Times
<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/world/americas/united-nations-haiti-cholera.html>
by Jonathan Katz, said the United Nations “upholds a double standard
according to which the U.N. insists that member states respect human
rights, while rejecting any such responsibility.”

United Nations auditors found that peacekeepers in Haiti were dumping waste
into public canals as of 2014, according to a report
<https://oios.un.org/page/download/id/329> that is dated June 30, 2015, but
was released publicly only in recent days. The organization has chosen not
to publicly disclose an earlier audit
<https://oios.un.org/resources/ga_report/a-68-337-ar-parti-add.pdf>, issued
in May 2013, that examined waste management at missions, including in
Haiti, and made 18 critical recommendations.

Mr. Ban’s office said last week that within two months it would announce a
reinvigorated plan to fight Haiti’s cholera epidemic.

The Haiti debacle is reminiscent of the handling of a 2014 sex abuse scandal
<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/08/world/africa/central-african-republic-united-nations.html>
by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. In that case,
Anders Kompass, the official who brought the allegations to light, was
suspended for leaking the information to the news media. After an
international outcry, Mr. Kompass, a veteran United Nations official, was
reinstated. Mr. Ban commissioned an independent review
<http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/centafricrepub/Independent-Review-Report.pdf>
that characterized the response by United Nations agencies to the
allegations as “seriously flawed.” Mr. Kompass resigned this year,explaining
in a statement
<http://www.irinnews.org/opinion/2016/06/17/exclusive-ethical-failure-%E2%80%93-why-i-resigned-un>that
he had lost faith in the United Nations, where, he said, “the benefit to
the individual of not behaving ethically is perceived as greater than the
cost of taking an ethical stance.”

The United Nations’s internal watchdog, the Office of Internal Oversight
Services <https://oios.un.org/>, has been hobbled by institutional and
political constraints since it was created in 1994. In its most recent
yearly report <https://oios.un.org/resources/2015/09/9rnCCY3U.pdf>, which
was issued in August 2015, Carman Lapointe, then the head of the office,
lamented that efforts to prosecute people who committed fraud had been
unsuccessful. She also bemoaned “the frequency with which staff members in
the organization avoid responding to allegations of misconduct, and
ultimately avoid accountability altogether by taking paid sick leave.”

Investigating misconduct involving peacekeepers will continue to be a
challenge because nations that contribute troops demand to have primary
oversight over their soldiers. But the next secretary general could set a
new tone on accountability by strengthening whistle-blower protection
policies and shielding the Office of Internal Oversight Services from the
pressures it has traditionally faced from power brokers inside the
sprawling bureaucracy.

In the meantime, when Mr. Ban unveils a new plan to curb the spread of
cholera in Haiti, he should offer a formal apology, create a mechanism to
compensate victims and provide a detailed explanation of why it has taken
the United Nations so long to confront inconvenient truths.
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
August 23, 2016 at 9:53 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/?cat=103> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-qwo

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