The UN has admitted it played a role in an outbreak of cholera in Haiti in 2010 that has since killed about 10,000 people in the country.
According to scientific studies, Nepalese UN troops were the source of the disease – but the UN repeatedly denied responsibility until now.
An internal report seen by the New York Times is said to have led to the shift.
However, the UN still says it is protected by diplomatic immunity from claims for compensation from victims’ families.
On August 18, Farhan Haq, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said that “over the past year the UN has become convinced it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera”.
However, Farhan Haq reiterated that the UN’s legal position in on diplomatic immunity and possible compensation “has not changed”.
His comments came after the confidential internal report stated that the epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations,” according to the New York Times.
The New York Times says the report was sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week by long-time UN adviser Philip Alston, a New York University law professor who consults the world body on human rights issues.
The cholera outbreak has been blamed on leaking sewage pipes at a UN base.
The US courts have rejected claims for compensation filed by victims’ families.
No cases of the bacterial infection, which causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps, had been recorded in Haiti for a century until the outbreak in late 2010.
Cholera is spread through infected faeces. Once it enters the water supply it is difficult to stop – especially in a country like Haiti which has almost no effective sewage disposal systems.
Pharrell Williams addressed local New York students at an UN event on the International Day of Happiness on March 20.
The singer discussed the importance of addressing climate change.
Pharrell Williams took the stage of the General Assembly Hall and greeted teen attendees with: “I’m staring at the future right now. Hello to the future.”
“Music brought me happiness. And when you find out what makes you happy – and it can be something as detailed as a long-term goal or it can be something as simple as the way I feel when my son smiles – you should know that happiness is your birthright,” the singer said.
“It’s a reaction to something.”
“We have to move from climate change to climate action,” Pharrell Williams said.
“We’re in trouble but we can change.”
In partnership with the UN Foundation, Pharrell Williams launched a global online “Happy Party”. The online campaign’s aim is to have supporters sign the Live Earth Petition, which will urge global leaders to tackle climate change and make it a priority at the December summit. He invited fans to upload personal photos on globalhappyparty.com that will be transformed into a gif to the Happy song.
On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) designated October 1st as the International Day of Older Persons.
This was preceded by initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing – which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing – and endorsed later that year by the UN General Assembly.
The International Day of Older Persons is celebrated each year on October 1st
In 1991, the UNGA adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.
In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.
The theme of the 2014 commemoration is Leaving No One Behind: Promoting a Society for All.
The population over 60 is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030.
UNESCO has suspended US voting rights after Washington skipped a deadline for paying its dues.
The US stopped its contributions – which made up about a fifth of the agency’s funding- when UNESCO gave the Palestinians membership in 2011.
Israel, which halted its dues at the same time, has also had its UNESCO voting rights suspended.
The US and Israel said admitting the Palestinians was a misguided attempt to bypass the Middle East peace process.
UNESCO’s loss of $80 million a year in US funding has forced it to pare back American-led initiatives, including Holocaust education and a project to restore water facilities in Iraq.
Paris-based UNESCO is charged with designating World Heritage sites, promoting education and supporting press freedom, as well as countering extremism.
UNESCO has suspended US voting rights after Washington skipped a deadline for paying its dues
The American ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, told Reuters news agency: “We intend to continue our engagement with UNESCO in every possible way.”
The US, however, has said it cannot legally contribute to a UN agency that implies recognition of a Palestinian state.
Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, told the Associated Press news agency that his country supported the US decision, “objecting to the politicization of UNESCO, or any international organization, with the accession of a non-existing country like Palestine”.
The Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO, Elias Sanbar, said other countries were beginning to make up for the funding vacuum left by the US.
But he added: “Is this in the interest of the US, to be replaced?”
The US suspension comes amid attempts by Washington to broker peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The talks have hit a stumbling block in the last week over the continued Israeli expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The United Nations has formally rejected compensation claims by victims of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed almost 8,000 people.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Haitian President Michel Martelly to inform him of the decision.
The UN says it is immune from such claims under the UN’s Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN.
Evidence suggests cholera was introduced to Haiti through a UN base’s leaking sewage pipes.
The UN has never acknowledged responsibility for the outbreak – which has infected more than 600,000 people – saying it is impossible to pinpoint the exact source of the disease, despite the mounting evidence the epidemic was caused by poor sanitation at a camp housing infected Nepalese peacekeepers.
In a terse statement, Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said damages claims for millions of dollars filed by lawyers for cholera victims was “not receivable” under the 1947 convention that grants the UN immunity for its actions.
But a lawyer for the cholera victims said that UN immunity could not mean impunity, and said the case would now be pursued in a national court.
The UN has formally rejected compensation claims by victims of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed almost 8,000 people
The lawyer, Brian Concannon, said the victims’ legal team would challenge the UN’s right to immunity from Haitian courts, on the grounds that it had not established an alternative mechanism for dealing with accountability issues, as stipulated in its agreement with the government.
Brian Concannon also said lifting immunity would not challenge UN policy, which is protected by the convention, but its practice, such as how to test troops for disease and properly dispose of sewage.
In December the UN launched a $2 billion appeal to fight the cholera epidemic, which is currently the worst outbreak in the world, and Ban Ki-moon reiterated to Michel Martelly the UN’s commitment to the elimination of cholera in Haiti.
Cholera is a disease of poverty, analysts say. It is spread through infected faeces and, once it enters the water supply, it is difficult to stop – especially in a country like Haiti which has almost no effective sewage disposal systems.