Concannon runs the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, an advocacy group for legal rights for Haitians. The institute’s current fight, one that is garnering worldwide attention, is for the UN to take responsibility for the scourge of cholera unleashed in Haiti after the earthquake of January 2010.
The cholera epidemic has claimed more than 8,200 lives so far. The facts of how a nation that had eliminated cholera came to be in throes of an epidemic are not in dispute. Tragic, but not disputed.
Among the peacekeepers dispatched in the wake of the Haiti earthquake was a team from Nepal, a country that was then suffering an outbreak of cholera. They brought the disease with them, and it spread when raw sewage from their camp found its way to a major river. By late October, the first cases were being reported. A few months after that, tests confirmed that it matched the strain afflicting the Nepalese.
Concannon’s group is part of a legal team that is seeking action against the UN. It argues that it inadequately screened their personnel. The UN, in turn, has declared that a series of international agreements render its policies immune from legal action.