General Assembly Adopts Annual Resolution Calling for End to Embargo on Cuba, Soundly Rejects Amendments by United States

As the General Assembly today adopted its annual resolution to end the United States led embargo against Cuba, speakers urged Washington, D.C. to heed the quarter century long call for an end to its restrictive policies.

The action came on the second day of the Assembly’s debate on the matter, which began on 31 October. (For more information, see Press Release GA/12085.)

By a recorded vote of 189 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, the Assembly adopted the resolution titled Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba (document A/73/L.3).

Through the terms of the text, the Assembly reiterated its call upon all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures of the kind referred to in the text’s preamble, in conformity with their obligations under international law and the Charter of the United Nations, which reaffirm the freedom of trade and navigation. The Assembly also urged States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the steps necessary to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible in accordance with their legal regime.

Cuba’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, who introduced the text, said the human damage caused by the United States led blockade against his country qualifies as an act of genocide and creates obstacles for cultural, academic and scientific engagement throughout the island.

He said the quantifiable damages caused by the almost six decades long blockade amount to $933.678 billion and that over the past year losses in Cuba add up to $4.3 billion. Still, Cuba has managed to achieve economic progress and offer extensive international cooperation. The blockade continues to be the main obstacle to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, also noting that it violates the right of Cubans to self determination. It is an act of oppression and an act of war.

Mr. Rodriguez said there is a ferocious intensification of the extraterritorial implementation of the blockade, particularly the persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions. The embargo goes against the United Nations Charter and international law, he stressed.

Prior to the text’s adoption, the representative of the United States introduced a series of amendments noting that the resolution does not help a single Cuban family. She said that the resolution is one more time that countries feel like they can poke the United States in the eye and the sorry state of liberty and human rights in Cuba is not lost on anyone.

She went on to say that the United Nations does not have the ability nor the authority to end the United States embargo on Cuba. It does, however, have the power to send a moral message to Cuba’s regime. She said that the United States’ proposed amendments are your words. They are the words expressed by delegations on Cuba’s oppression and lack of freedoms.

The Assembly turned down all eight amendments via individual recorded votes, with Mr. Rodriguez saying prior to their rejection that through the proposals the United States manipulates and politicizes the universal aspiration to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights. The United States does not have the moral authority to criticize Cuba when it comes to human rights, he said, adding that that country is responsible for crimes against humanity.

The representative of the United States, speaking again after the text’s adoption, said the United Nations lost and has rejected the opportunity to speak about human rights.

Throughout the morning, speakers regretted that after 27 years of near unanimous support for the yearly resolution in the General Assembly, there is still no indication that Washington, D.C. will lift the embargo.

The representative of Uruguay, who abstained on the amendments and voted in favour of the resolution, said it is not appropriate to incorporate amendments into a text that has been given almost unanimous support for a quarter century. He said the embargo is unjustifiable and called for the resolution to remain a clear document.

Indonesia’s representative said the Assembly has consistently opposed unilateral coercive measures and regretted the continued need for the organ to reject the embargo imposed on Cuba.

The representative of Ecuador said all people are created equal and that it is incomprehensible for a country founded on those values to maintain the embargo against Cuba.

Costa Rica’s delegate said the amendments proposed by the United States would have distorted the ultimate purpose of the resolution.

Prior to acting on the resolution, the Assembly concluded its debate on the matter in which speakers reiterated their unequivocal opposition to the blockade against Cuba. Speakers regretted that progress to normalize Cuba United States relations in 2015 and 2016 have been reversed by Washington, D.C.

We continue to stand firmly against laws and measures that encroach or hinder the sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality of any State, said the representative of Grenada, adding that there is still hope that relations will normalize.

The representative of Myanmar said the embargo causes considerable suffering to Cuba’s people and noted that his country can relate closely as it suffered through 25 years of unilateral sanctions.

The representative of Equatorial Guinea called on the Assembly to launch an appeal to the United States Government to act to lift the embargo against Cuba. We hope the Government of the United States will listen to this appeal and will continue the actions that have already begun, he added, referring to initiative taken by then United States President Barack Obama in 2016.

Also speaking today were representatives of Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Canada, Zambia, Australia, Argentina, Panama and Peru. The representative of Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 2 November, to take up the report of the Human Rights Council.

Statements

KEISHA ANIYA MCGUIRE (Grenada) maintained her unequivocal opposition to the imposition of the embargo against the Government and people of Cuba. Grenada shares the widespread sentiment of the global community in condemning the embargo. She said that in recent years the international community witnessed strides by the United States to re establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. However, there has been a reversal of those measures and both parties must engage in good faith. We continue to stand firmly against laws and measures that encroach or hinder the sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality of any State, she said, adding that there is still hope that United States Cuba relations will normalize. She called for the immediate lifting of the unfair embargo and reiterated Grenada’s unwavering support for the resolution on the matter.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), associating himself with the African Group, Non Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said he wished to add his voice to 191 United Nations Member States who call for an end to the Cuba embargo. In 2016, then United States President Barack Obama, aware of the overwhelming international calls to end the embargo, acted to mend relations between his Government and Havana. The world was filled with optimism. Diplomatic missions in both Cuba and the United States opened, pointing to a hopeful horizon. He called on the Assembly to launch an appeal to the United States Government to act to lift the embargo against Cuba. We hope the Government of the United States will listen to this appeal and will continue the actions that have already begun, he added. Despite this stifling embargo, Cuba has managed to achieve optimal levels in development, education and health care. Without the embargo, Cuba’s impact on the world could be much greater, he added.

HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar), allying himself with the Non Aligned Movement, Group of 77 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), joined the call to end the unilateral embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba which has no justification whatsoever in a multilateral rules based system. Myanmar believes in the fundamental principle of sovereignty and opposes the extraterritorial application of the blockade and the politicization of human rights issues. He said the embargo causes considerable suffering to Cuba’s people and noted that Myanmar can relate closely as it suffered through 25 years of unilateral sanctions. Encouraging Havana and Washington, D.C. to pursue dialogue and negotiations, he said ending the embargo will advance Cuba’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We are convinced that both the United States and Cuba have the wisdom and capacity to overcome this protracted political problem, he concluded.

BRUNO EDUARDO RODRA�GUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, referring to the recent heart surgery of a young boy from his country, said the blockade imposed on his nation prevents children who suffer from certain cardiac conditions from receiving the best possible treatment. Noting that the child was able to recover, he asked how the pain suffered by the boy and his family can be measured. In another incident, a girl born at 37 weeks suffered from several complications that required medication that can only be transported via sea due to its explosive nature. Had there not been a blockade, this medication could have been received expeditiously, he said, adding the girl survived despite the embargo’s cruelty.

The human damage caused by the blockade qualifies it as an act of genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, he assured the Assembly. The blockade is the main obstacle to the flow of information and the broader access to the Internet, he said, adding that these restrictions create obstacles for cultural, academic and scientific engagement throughout the island.

The United States, through the amendments it will present on the draft resolution, manipulates and politicizes the universal aspiration to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights, he continued. In a disgraceful memorandum distributed by the United States Department of State, Washington, D.C. acknowledged that the amendments have the intention to treat the underlying reasons for the embargo. We can see what little respect the United States has for the United Nations and for multilateralism, he said, adding that the memorandum is an insult to the General Assembly. The memorandum uses the text of the amendments to make references to other countries, displaying Washington, D.C.’s lack of morality. The United States intends to create confusion and fatigue in the Assembly, he said.

Only dialogue and cooperation can foster progress in the field of human rights, he said, committing himself to work productively in the Human Rights Council. The United States does not have the moral authority to criticize Cuba when it comes to human rights, he said, adding that that country is responsible for crimes against humanity. The United States has recently launched wars that have claimed millions of innocent lives and led to massive migration flows, he said. The Government of the United States is responsible for human rights violations against its own citizens, particularly Afro Americans and Hispanics, he said, noting that Washington, D.C. also intervenes in the internal affairs of many States.

He said the quantifiable damages caused by the almost six decades long blockade amount to $933.678 billion and that over the past year losses in Cuba add up to $4.3 billion. Still, Cuba has managed to achieve economic progress and offer extensive international cooperation. The blockade continues to be the main obstacle to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, also noting that it violates the right of Cubans to self determination. It is an act of oppression and an act of war.

Noting myriad threats to international security, he said poverty and inequality are increasing and the consumption patterns of capitalism are sharpening. He said there is a ferocious intensification of the extraterritorial implementation of the blockade, particularly the persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions. The embargo goes against the United Nations Charter and international law, he stressed.

Since the military occupation of Cuba in 1898 by the United States, bilateral relations have been marked by Washington, D.C.’s efforts to control his country’s destiny, he said. Some episodes of official dialogue are taking place. However, bilateral relations continue to be dominated by the embargo. Cuba is inclined towards peaceful coexistence with the United States based on mutual respect. The Cuban people will continue to decide freely our internal affairs, he assured the Assembly, adding that there is no room for foreign interference.

Introduction of Draft Resolution

Mr. Rodriguez introduced the draft resolution titled Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba (document A/73/L.3). He thanked all delegations that expressed their rejection of the embargo imposed his nation and called on Member States to vote in favour of the draft on behalf of the heroic and selfless people of Cuba.

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States), introducing her delegation’s amendments to that draft resolution (A/73/L.9 � A/73/L.16), said Cuba and its allies do the same thing every year. This resolution does not help a single Cuban family, she stressed, adding that those who support the resolution have it wrong. The most regrettable fact of this resolution is that it is a waste of everyone’s time. It is one more time that countries feel like they can poke the United States in the eye. You are not hurting the United States, she emphasized, adding that Member States voting in favour of the draft text are only hurting the people of Cuba by telling them that their regime is in the right. The sorry state of liberty and human rights in Cuba is not lost on anyone in the room.

Each year the Assembly adopts a resolution condemning the Iranian regime’s violation of human rights, she continued, adding that the 81 countries that vote in favour of that text help advance the cause of human rights in Iran. She asked Member States: How can you feel strongly about Iran and not on Cuba? The United Nations does not have the ability nor the authority to end the United States embargo on Cuba. It does, however, have the power to send a moral message to Cuba’s regime. She said that the United States’ proposed amendments are your words. They are the words expressed by delegations on Cuba’s oppression and lack of freedoms.

For decades, the Assembly failed to demonstrate leadership to advocate for a better life for Cuba’s people, she said, calling on Member States to vote yes on each amendment proposed by the United States. Her message to the people of Cuba: The United States will continue to stand with you until the day comes when we stand together as a free people in our shared neighbourhood.

Action

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba has damaging impacts on the island’s economy and affects the living standards of its citizens. External trade and foreign investment will play a crucial role in setting the country on a path towards sustainable development, he said. Positive change in Cuba will come about through closer engagement at all levels and through people to people exchanges. The Union regrets the reintroduction of restrictions on Washington, D.C.’s relations with Havana, he said, noting that United States sanctions on Cuba also affect European nations. Such sanctions violate commonly accepted rules of international trade. The bloc is enhancing dialogue through the European Union Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement and calls on Havana to fully grant its country’s citizens internationally recognized rights and freedoms. He said amendments proposed by the United States reflect European Union concerns presented in Cuba’s recent universal periodic review. However, the amendments are not directly related to the draft resolution’s subject matter and thus have no place in the text. He said Union members will unanimously vote in favour of the draft resolution.

The representative of Canada said his delegation will vote in favour of the resolution and against the amendments proposed by the United States. The motivation behind the vote against the amendments is not their context. Rather, he said that Canada believes this resolution is not a suitable platform to consider Cuba’s respect for its international human rights obligations.

The representative of Zambia said the United States should not continue with its collective punishment against Cuba’s people, which have not done anything to deserve such treatment. He called on the United States to live up to the high standards that it has set for itself. The United States is a big and powerful country, he added, also quoting the Bible: To whom much is given, much is expected. His delegation will vote in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Cuba said that it must be crystal clear that proposals presented under the agenda item are important. He said the item has been defined in 2018 as it has for the past 10 years and article 84 of the Rules of Procedure establishes that decisions of the General Assembly on resolutions and amendments related to important questions must be put to the vote separately and require a two thirds majority to be approved. He requested for decisions on his country’s draft resolution and the amendments proposed by the United States to require a two thirds majority for their approval.

The representative of the United States said a simple majority is required for the proposed amendments as they do not ascribe to the requirements for a two thirds majority. She referred to a past resolution on the Republic of Moldova that also qualified for a simple majority and urged all States to vote against the decision that a two thirds majority is required.

The Assembly then decided by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Barbados, Canada, Georgia, Israel, Peru, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, United States), with 52 abstentions to approve the application of a two thirds majority requirement for the adoption of the draft resolution and the proposed amendments.

The Assembly then took up the eight amendments (documents A/73/L.9 through A/73/L.16) proposed by the United States, first voting to reject amendment L.9, by a vote of 113 against to three in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 67 abstentions.

It then voted to reject amendment L.10, by a vote of 115 against to three in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 65 abstentions.

The Assembly also voted to reject amendment L.11, by a vote of 114 against to three in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 66 abstentions.

Turning to amendment L.12, the Assembly rejected it by a vote 114 against to four in favour (Israel, Marshall Islands, Ukraine, United States) with 65 abstentions.

It voted to reject amendment L.13 by a vote of 114 against to three in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 65 abstentions.

The Assembly then rejected amendment L.14 by a vote of 114 against to three in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 66 abstentions.

Voting on L.15, the Assembly rejected the amendment by a vote of 114 against to three in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 66 abstentions.

Finally, the Assembly voted to reject amendment L.16 by a vote of 114 against to three in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 66 abstentions.

The Assembly then adopted resolution A/73/L.3 with 189 in favour to two against (Israel, United States) with no abstentions.

The representative of the United States said she was taken aback by the applause that followed the text’s adoption. The United Nations has lost, it has rejected the opportunity to speak about human rights, she said, adding that countries that profess to speak for human rights have now earned a level of doubt. Cuba’s people have been again left to the brutal whims of the Castro dictatorship. She said the United States stands with the Cuban people. While today’s votes were not admirable, they were highly illuminating, she concluded.

The representative of Uruguay said he abstained on the proposed amendments and noted that his Government works actively to promote human rights. He said it is not appropriate to incorporate amendments into a resolution that has been given almost unanimous support for a quarter century. He said the embargo is unjustifiable and called for the resolution to remain a clear document. Uruguay voted in favour of the draft resolution with the understanding that the embargo violates international law and the United Nations Charter. He rejected the extraterritorial application of the laws of a State, including those that seek to impose sanctions on another sovereign nation. Uruguay believes that unilateral sanctions lead to serious consequences for the economic development of Cuba, he said.

The representative of Indonesia said the Assembly has consistently opposed unilateral coercive measures and regretted the continued need for the organ to reject the embargo imposed on Cuba. The blockade runs counter to international law and the United Nations Charter, she said. Indonesia voted in favour of the draft and remains concerned over the lasting effects of the blockade on Cuba’s people. She called for dialogue and cooperation to lift the embargo.

The representative of Ecuador said all people are created equal and that it is incomprehensible for a country founded on those values to maintain the embargo against Cuba. She reiterated her concern that the topic remains on the Assembly agenda with no a sign of the repeal of the embargo. Ecuador has voted consistently in favour of the draft resolution as presented by Cuba.

The representative of Australia agreed that Cuba has human rights issues to address as presented in the recent periodic review of that country. However, the current resolution is not the appropriate way to address those concerns. She said Australia abstained on the amendments and voted in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Costa Rica said his country is committed to multilateralism and peace, reiterating support to Cuba and urging the need to lift the economic embargo imposed on that country. He said the amendments proposed by the United States would have distorted the ultimate purpose of today’s resolution. For that reason, Costa Rica abstained from the vote on the amendments.

The representative of Argentina, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), said his Government opposed coercive and unilateral measures. Argentina has supported resolutions that called for the lifting of the United States embargo on Cuba. He also expressed support for the conducting of constructive dialogue between the United States and Cuba which could lead towards the lifting of the embargo.

The representative of Panama reaffirmed his country’s longstanding support to Cuba and the lifting of the United States embargo on that country. Panama also fully supports the economic modernization of Cuba. That is why it adopted measures to strengthen economic trade and tourism between Panama and Cuba, with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in mind. He underscored the importance of upholding the principle of non interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States. Only the restoration of a bilateral dialogue could contribute to overcoming the impasse that keeps the United States and Cuba apart.

The representative of Peru said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution, adding that this position does not however change his country’s stance on human rights.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, responding to statements by the United States, regretted that the Assembly is used as a platform to distort the realities of States that do not follow Washington, D.C.’s wishes. The United States has withdrawn from international agreements and is failing to implement Security Council resolutions, he said, voicing concern over warmongering policies. Through sanctions on Tehran, the United States is having a detrimental effect on the lives of Iran’s 80 million people. It is unfortunate that abuse of the United Nations is a pathological tendency of the United States. Iran expects that the United States sincerely apologize for its unlawful actions against it and Cuba.

Source: United Nations

You May Also Like