Via the weblog Haiti Justice Aliiance: MINUSTAH’s Deadly Denials. Excerpt:
Consider the structure of the UN’s media strategy:
Downplay Impact: The UN initially suggested the outbreak was geographically contained;
Shift Blame: The UN pointed out that Haiti was “susceptible” due to lack of clean water infrastructure;
Cite Higher Cause: The UN emphasized that despite the regrettable reality of human casualties, it needs to stay to “combat lawlessness.”
While this structure may be standard fare for politicians and public agencies, there’s an insidious element of this formula as utilized by the UN in Haiti. In the case of the Cité Soleil raids, the UN knew it couldn’t admit excessive casualties because it intended to repeat similar raids in the future. Therefore, to own up was to constrain its future options.
In the case of cholera, the UN is faced with an even starker choice. Underpinning its public statements is an awareness that the UN can continue to occupy Haiti, or it can accept responsibility for cholera. But it likely can’t do both. Even if the UN only paid damages to the 5,000 victims represented by the recent cholera lawsuit, the cost would simply be too high to continue funding the Mission.