What I’ve never understood about the ‘UN Immunity Convention’ claims is that, while there is such an instrument, and it does provide for immunity on par with that of diplomats, it also places several requirements on the UN:
Section 21 of the document “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 regulations and prevent any abuse in connection with the privileges, immunities, and facilities mentioned in this Article.”
Perhaps more importantly, Article 7, sections 29 and 30:
“The United Nations shall make provisions for appropriate modes of settlement of:
(a) disputes arising out of contracts or other disputes of a private law character to which the United Nations is a party;
(b) disputes involving any official of the United Nations who by reason of his official position enjoys immunity, if immunity has not been waived by the Scretary-General.”
“All differences arising out of the interpretation or application of the present convention shall be referred to the International Court of Justice, unless in any case it is agreed by the parties to have recourse to another mode of settlement. If a difference arises between the United Nations on the one hand and a Member on the other hand, a request shall be made for an advisory opinion on any legal question involved in accordance with Article 96 of the Charter and Article 65 of the Statute of the Court. The opinion given by the Court shall be accepted as decisive by the parties.”
Even the UN’s own pet commentary on the Convention includes the note:
"The de facto “absolute” immunity of the United Nations is mitigated by the fact that article VIII, section 29, of the Convention requires the United Nations to “make provisions for appropriate modes of settlement of: (a) disputes arising out of contracts or other disputes of a private law character to which the United Nations is a party”. The General Convention’s obligation to provide for alternative dispute settlement in case of the Organization’s immunity from legal process can be regarded as an acknowledgment of the right of access to court as contained in all major human rights instruments.
Private law contracts entered into by the United Nations regularly contain arbitration clauses. In the case of tort claims, such as those resulting from harm suffered as a result of peacekeeping operations or vehicular accidents, the United Nations usually agrees on similar forms of dispute resolution. Staff disputes within the United Nations are settled by an internal mechanism in the form of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal, established in 1949 (General Assembly resolution 351 A (IV) of 9 December 1949). In 2009, this system will undergo a major reform leading to the establishment of a two-tier judicial system with a United Nations Dispute Tribunal and a United Nations Appeals Tribunal."
That certainly isn’t your standard private actor; but it isn’t impunity, especially when the UN’s ‘provisions for appropriate modes of settlement’ currently appear to be 'Haha, fuck you, can’t touch us. Now, why aren’t you showing the proper gratitude for our limited ameliorative efforts in the face of the epidemic we created, you filthy savages?".
Maybe the Haitians can sue the barely-wealthier country the Cholera-ridden UN soldiers came from.
Our Wolfram Alpha overlords say that Nepal has a higher GDP; but actually a slightly lower GDP per capita(though slightly higher if you look at GDP PPP).
Probably not the guys worth suing.
I was being sarcastic. Of course the U.N. should pony up.
But more importantly, they should set some minimum standards for camp hygiene and vaccinations and health checkups for its peacekeepers / disaster workers.
You have to wonder if they are more competent at public health and basic epidemiology when dealing with the locals, and are blinded by a ‘we are clean; because we are here to save the benighted’ complex, or whether they just have competence issues all around… It’s not as though ‘public health’ and ‘sanitation’ are out-of-scope for anybody planning on doing a bit of humanitarian aid work.
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