Failing to live up to the rules you hold over others

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon claims diplomatic immunity for the UN against the charge that it caused the cholera outbreak in Haiti & will therefore not answer to the case against it. 

They’re not following the very convention they’re invoking.

Article V, Section 20 of the Convention he’s using to shield the UN from answering to it says its his duty to waive immunity in any case where the immunity would impede the course of justice.

And Section 21 reads: “The United Nations shall co-operate at all times with the appropriate authorities of Members to facilitate the proper administration of justice, secure the observance of police regula- tions and prevent the occurrence of any abuse in connection with the privileges, immunities and facilities mentioned in this Article.”

Here’s the convention:

A plight that’s unfortunately only talked about on painful anniversaries

TV news may have a short attention span, but we shouldn’t. Three years ago Haiti lost 200,000 lives needlessly, exposing the danger poverty, cronyism, corruption & graft pose on people to the public mindshare who had pretty much always turned a blind eye to the poorest nation in our hemisphere. 

In the aftermath where people believed a bright future was possible those same problems were allowed to fester & grow, the involvement of the people of Haiti continued to be ignored & the UN who went there to “help” callously caused an epidemic of cholera with lazy disposal of waste in the river that gives life to the fragile country’s agriculture, a disease so easily treated in the first world has taken thousands of additional lives in agony & become so endemic there now given the floodplain that most of the country calls home & the lengthy rainy seasons. 

It goes to show unfortunately that lack of respect for the sanctity of all lives & cultures by governments, builders, aid organizations, & the public at large can make life so much tougher for some while the rest of us just look away.

Everyone has it in them to help others, & that starts by learning about where others are coming from, what the underlying causes of issues are, & offering your expertise with the collaboration and consideration of the other. You don’t have to be rich, or have a lengthy educational background or have all the time in the world, it can be as simple as lending an ear to someone in trouble or upset, or spending time with people in a new environment or volunteer situation. But give of yourself, your time & respect are the most valuable assets you have, & we’re all going through this together, it’d be a shame if we didn’t use the time we had to make it easier for someone else.


Haiti is very near & dear to my heart (in fact I’ll be there in a few weeks) & is a country made up of resilient people, resilient in the face of so much pain following a burst of promise. But despite that spirit it seems Haiti is always in a position to be kicked harder when it’s already down. It took an earthquake that claimed 100,000 lives to get the world (including the US, its next door neighbor) to pay attention to the island nation & from the outpouring of both care & opportunism careless lead to an epidemic of cholera, a bacterial infection that’s simple to prevent with proper sanitation and to cure with fast hydration, can be quickly lethal in a country without clean water and much of its population living on a flood plain the fans out from the source of the contamination. In October of 2010 Nepalese peacekeepers for the United Nations tasked with relief following the earthquake carelessly let their sewage into the Artibonite River, Nepal had just been through its own terrible cholera epidemic & microbiolgical studies have confirmed the strain in Haiti is identical to the one from Nepal & since then 100’s of thousands have been infected and thousands of people have died. The UN & Nepal refuse to acknowledge respsonsibility for something that could have so easily been prevented & each rain storm brings a new surge in infections almost 2 years later.

It’s hard to convey this to people who are not already wired into the situation, nor should any aid campaign use guilt as a motivator, so that’s why it’s a great blessing that these filmmakers have put together a short documentary (it appeared in April’s Tribeca Film Festival) that conveys the sadness of the scenario and the hope instilled by those fighting for justice through the intimacy of one boy’s story. 

It promotes action that can be taken even by the busiest people, to petition the UN to take responsibility.

Please take some time to watch the film, or at the very least visit

It’s synergistic for me because this film will do a lot to help a cause I care greatly about, and helped reinvigorate my drive to use short form and alternate media documentary to awaken people to issues & work for change with actionable requests.