Responsibility failure or too high expectations? : From humanitarian crisis to legal dispute in cholera-struck Haiti
Abstract: In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti 2010 a second disaster hit the small Caribbean country. This time in the shape of a cholera epidemic, imported by Nepalese UN soldiers. The disease outbreak culminated in a previously unpresented lawsuit against the United Nations in which their principle of absolute immunity was questioned. This study highlights the complex causal paths that preceded the legal dispute, by investigating three hypotheses on why the controversy with the UN got out of hand and could not be resolved through other means. The findings imply that the framing of the Haitian state as fragile and corrupt led to a shift in the perception of responsibilities. As the government was rendered incapable, international organizations were expected to provide health and well-being to the Haitian people. This however proved to be an expectation they could not live up to. The case of Haiti illustrates a good example of the difficulties in the delivery of large-scale humanitarian aid and how this can undermine existing institutions if implemented unwisely.
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