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Immunity of the UN in the Case of Haitian Cholera Victims

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This article will analyze the issue of UN’s absolute immunity, in particular in the case of the complaint that has been brought against the UN by the victims of the cholera outbreak in Haiti. It will argue that under certain circumstances domestic courts should not automatically accept that the UN has absolute immunity with regard to all damages that are caused by UN Peacekeeping Forces. Instead courts should draw a careful balance between the interest of upholding UN’s absolute immunity and the interest of guaranteeing due process rights to individuals adversely affected by UN’s actions. The aim of this article is to provide an analysis that may assist in striking such balance. To that end, it will explore the rationale underlying the immunity of international organizations, and it will examine relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights and several domestic courts. Some of the cases considered concern the issue of targeted sanctions, in which a similar conflict emerges between two opposing international obligations. In addition, the present article will draw a parallel with the distinction used in the field of State immunity between iure imperii and iure gestionis.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law, Department of International and European Law, Oudemanhuispoort 4–6, 1012 cn, The Netherlands,


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