Haiti is the world’s first Black republic, and it is the only country to establish independence through a successful revolt of enslaved peoples. Liberty and self-determination are core to Haiti’s history and identity, but these values have also spurred backlash from world powers wanting to quash any spirit of revolution spreading. Geopolitics and international intervention have since shaped Haiti’s economy and politics in significant ways. Today, political instability and extreme poverty result in a range of severe human rights violations, and international actors continue to play an outsized role.
The Clinic’s work in Haiti focuses on holding international actors accountable for human rights violations following a 2010 earthquake that devastated the capital and resulting in a wave of new human rights violations and international attention. Ten months later, the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti’s (MINUSTAH) reckless disposal of waste into a principal river triggered a cholera epidemic that has killed 10,000 and sickened 1 million. UN accountability for the outbreak has become a touchpoint for debates on the human rights obligations of international organizations.
In 2019, the Clinic began work to support advocacy for remedies for victims of cholera in Haiti. Clinical Instructor Beatrice Lindstrom joined the Clinic after nine years working on human rights issues in Haiti, first with the Haiti-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, and then with its U.S.-based sister organization Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Lindstrom has been leading litigation and advocacy efforts to secure remedies for cholera victims.
In January 2020, the Clinic filed a submission with the UN human rights system, documenting violations of the right to effective remedy and requesting UN rights experts to take action. In response, a vast coalition of UN rights experts sent allegation letters to the Secretary-General and Haitian Government, imploring further action to protect cholera victims’ rights.
Expert: Beatrice Lindstrom