Towards an Alternative Interpretation of UN Immunity: A Human Rights-Based Approach to the Haiti Cholera Case
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Questions of International Law
Rosa Freedman and Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, ‘Towards an Alternative Interpretation of UN Immunity: A Human Rights-Based Approach to the Haiti Cholera Case’, Questions of International Law, 8(19) 2015: 507-27.
The Haiti CholeraCase has rightfully received significant attention from practitioners, scholars, the media, and the wider public. The facts lend themselves to a thorough examination of issues arising from UN immunity, not only in relation to the case but more broadly in relation to UN peacekeeping operations. At the outset of the case scholars provided useful and well-needed explanations of the legal issues, exposing the gaps that the UN has exploited in order to avoid its responsibilities to the cholera victims. Two central issues are the distinction between public and private acts for the purposes of dispute settlement, and also the discussion about whether UN immunity under Section 2 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (CPIUN) is dependent upon the Organisation upholding its Section 29 obligations to provide alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Academic writings on those matters have been crucial for practitioners, academics, and indeed the media, drawing upon cases and scholarship from various jurisdictions that had addressed similar or related questions in order to provide explanations of the law. Our thesis is that UN immunity ought not only to be dealt with by reference to the CPIUN but that it needs to be interpreted within the broader context of international human rights law.