Interpretation of Article VIII, Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN

Legal Basis and Limits of a Human Rights-based Approach to the Haiti Cholera Case

In: International Organizations Law Review

In 2013, a suit was lodged before the US District Court in NY, invoking UN responsibility for the outbreak of cholera in Haiti. The outbreak is a tragedy not only because of its catastrophic consequences but because it was caused by the UN peacekeeping operation. To date, however, the merits of the claims have never been examined due to UN immunity. While the UN Charter provides for this immunity in an equivocal manner, the specification by the CPIUN allows for a straightforward determination of its content and scope. In contrast, section 29 of the CPIUN, which stipulates the UN’s obligation to provide alternative means for dispute settlement as a counterpart of its immunity, is an interpretative puzzle. Due to discrepancies over the interpretation of the provision, the Haiti cholera case has resulted in a stalemate. Against this backdrop, the present study aims to clarify the content and scope of the obligation.