Jun 11, 2014
12:30pm - 2:00pm    |    Wilf 5th Floor Conference Room, 139 MacDougal Street, New York, NY

About the Talk:

The outbreak of cholera in Haiti in 2010 has resulted in tens of thousands of individuals being denied their human right to health. Under the right to health, states or other sovereign powers are under the duties to protect, promote, and fulfill individuals’ rights to a healthy life. Those duties give rise to different obligations, many of which have been violated through the introduction of cholera into Haiti for the first time in more than a century. In particular, there has been a failure to provide remedies to individuals affected by the outbreak, and a further failure to prevent further violations by taking adequate steps to contain or eradicate the disease.

Since 2004, Haiti has been governed by a hybrid sovereign power shared at various points by different actors including the Multinational Interim Force, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), an Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, and national governments. Among many, the questions that arise today include the following: Which actors in this context are bound by international human rights laws? What duties they owe? How have those obligations been breached in terms of the cholera outbreak?

This lecture—based on a paper by the author and presenter—addresses these and related legal questions. It first explores the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, setting out the different actors involved in governing the country; the events surrounding the introduction of cholera and the impact of the disease; and the current legal attempts to bring private legal claims against the UN on behalf of individuals affected by the outbreak. The lecture then turns to human rights and international organizations, looking generally at the UN’s obligations under international human rights law and the circumstances under which it is bound. Next it explores the extent to which the UN is bound by international human rights law when acting as a sovereign power or hybrid sovereign power, applying those arguments to the situation in Haiti. Having established that the UN is bound by international human rights law, it sets out the parameters of the right to health, demonstrating its fundamental nature and the duties that arise under that right. In order to assess whether the UN has violated its obligations under the right to health, the lecture details the three duties stemming from that right: the duty to respect, the duty to protect, and the duty to fulfill—and sets out how the UN is bound by those obligations. Finally, it examines the violations that have occurred in respect of the cholera outbreak in Haiti and discusses the UN’s duties both in terms of remedies for the individuals affected and preventing future violations.

About our Speaker:

Dr. Rosa Freedman is a lecturer of law at the University of Birmingham in England. She received her LL.M. in Public International Law at University College London and her PhD at Queen Mary University of London. Freedman’s research focuses on the UN and human rights, in particular the impact of politics, international relations, the media, and civil society on the work and proceedings of UN human rights bodies. She has published extensively on the Human Rights Council and is currently undertaking a British Academy funded project on Special Procedures. Freedman has published two books, Failing to Protect: The UN and Politicisation of Human Rights (Hurst; OUP, 2014) and The United Nations Human Right Council: A Critique and Early Assessment (Routledge, 2013). Her other more recent publications include: ‘UN Immunity or Impunity?: A human rights based challenge’ (European Journal of International Law, 2014), and ‘Third Generation Rights: Is there room for hybrid constructs within International Human Rights Law?’ (Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2013).



Your information has been sent successfully!