Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez told reporters at a press conference in Havana this week that the U.S. amendments were “a political maneuver,” that he said was trying to erode the strong international support Cuba has received over the years during the vote on the US embargo.

GENEVA, October 28, 2018 – Cuba’s foreign minister was outraged to discover that the U.S. has moved to  complicate the UN’s annual Cuban-led condemnation of America, through a series of eight amendments (see in full below) tabled by Washington that would turn the tables on the regime by spotlighting Havana’s human rights abuses.

Every year Cuba initiates a UN resolution condemning the U.S. for its embargo on Cuba, and generating a lengthy report with submissions by numerous states and UN agencies.

This year, however, the UN will be obliged to also consider new language redirecting the focus to Cuba’s “complete absence of judicial independence,” “arbitrary arrests and detentions,” “the absence of women from the most powerful decision-making bodies,” as well as its “prohibition on the right to strike,” and denial of “civil, political and economic rights and freedoms, including freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and free access to information.”

UN Watch welcomed the new language. “For the first time in more than a decade, the United Nations will now consider a draft resolution focusing on the oppression of the Cuban people by its own dictatorial regime,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights group that has been a leading voice at the world body for Cuban dissidents.

“The old Commission on Human Rights had a special monitor on Cuba’s rights abuses, but that annual mandate was scrapped in 2006 with the advent of its supposedly improved successor, the Human Rights Council. Ever since, there has been neither a monitor nor a resolution on Cuba, and not even any attempts to adopt them. Therefore, these new amendments mark an important moment, and we hope a majority of member states will rise to the occasion. Failure to adopt the provisions for human rights victims in Cuba will cast a shadow on the UN’s credibility,” said Neuer.

In 2006, an Australian bid to introduce a similar change to the text,  was killed by a Cuban “no action” motion, in a 126-51 vote against the amendment (see voting record below). This year’s U.S. bid may well meet the same fate.

However, if the U.S. amendments are adopted, the Cuban-sponsored resolution would also call on Havana to “end widespread and serious restrictions” on “the right to freedom of expression, opinion, associations and peaceful assembly,” including by “ending the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents, human rights defenders, women’s and minority rights activists, labour leaders, students’ rights activists, journalists, bloggers, social media users, social media page administrators, media workers, religious leaders and lawyers.”

Moreover, the U.S. amendments would have the resolution strongly urge Cuba to “release persons arbitrarily detained for the legitimate exercise of their human rights, to consider rescinding unduly harsh sentences for exercising such fundamental freedoms and to end reprisals against individuals, including for cooperating with the United Nations human rights mechanisms.”

Finally, the resolution would call upon Cuba to “launch a comprehensive accountability process in response to all cases of serious human rights violations,” including those involving the Cuban judiciary and security branches, and it would call upon the Government of Cuba to “end impunity for such violations.”

In 2006, Australia’s delegate submitted the first-ever amendment, which would have added an operative paragraph noting that U.S. laws and measures on the embargo “were motivated by valid concerns about the continued lack of democracy and political freedom in Cuba”.  The additional provision would have had the Assembly call on the Cuban Government to release, unconditionally, all political prisoners, cooperate fully with international human rights bodies, respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and comply fully with its obligations under all human rights treaties to which it was a party.

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TEXT OF U.S. AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1 (A/73/L.9):

Insert the following new preambular paragraph immediately after the last preambular paragraph:

Expressing serious concern that in Cuba the severe lack of access to information and freedom of expression, the complete absence of judicial independence, and arbitrary arrests and detentions are undermining the collective efforts to implement Sustainable Development Goal 16 meant to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels,

Amendment 2 (A/73/L.10):

Insert the following new preambular paragraph immediately after the last preambular paragraph:

Expressing serious concern that in Cuba the absence of women from the most powerful decision-making bodies, including the executive committee of the Council of Ministers and senior military leadership, severely undermines the collective efforts to implement Sustainable Development Goal 5 meant to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by countering the deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms,

Amendment 3 (A/73/L.11):

Insert the following new preambular paragraph immediately after the last preambular paragraph:

Expressing serious concern that in Cuba the trade union monopoly of the Central Union of Cuban Workers, the prohibition on the right to strike, and restrictions on collective bargaining and agreements, including that government authorities and Central Union officials have the final say on all such agreements, severely undermine the collective efforts to implement Sustainable Development Goal 8 meant to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth and full and productive employment and decent work for all,

Amendment 4 (A/73/L.12):

Insert the following new operative paragraph immediately after operative paragraph 3:

Calls upon Cuba to fully grant its citizens internationally recognized civil, political, and economic rights and freedoms, including freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and free access to information;

Amendment 5 (A/73/L.13):

Insert the following new operative paragraph immediately after operative paragraph 3:

Calls upon Cuba, including the judicial and security branches, to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment in which an independent, diverse, and pluralistic civil society can operate free from undue hindrance and insecurity;

Amendment 6 (A/73/L.14):

Insert the following new operative paragraph immediately after operative paragraph 3:

Urges Cuba to end widespread and serious restrictions, in law and in practice, on the right to freedom of expression, opinion, associations and peaceful assembly, both online and offline, including by ending the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents, human rights defenders, women’s and minority rights activists, labour leaders, students’ rights activists, journalists, bloggers, social media users, social media page administrators, media workers, religious leaders and lawyers;

Amendment 7 (A/73/L.15):

Insert the following new operative paragraph immediately after operative paragraph 3:

Strongly urges Cuba to release persons arbitrarily detained for the legitimate exercise of their human rights, to consider rescinding unduly harsh sentences for exercising such fundamental freedoms and to end reprisals against individuals, including for cooperating with the United Nations human rights mechanisms;

Amendment 8 (A/73/L.16):

Insert the following new operative paragraph immediately after operative paragraph 3:

Calls upon Cuba to launch a comprehensive accountability process in response to all cases of serious human rights violations, including those involving the Cuban judiciary and security branches, and calls upon the Government of Cuba to end impunity for such violations;

 

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2006 Vote on ‘No Action Motion’ on Australian Amendment to Draft Resolution on Cuba Embargo

8 November 2006

The ‘No Action Motion’ on the proposed amendment (document A/61/L.19) to the operative section of the draft resolution on the necessity to end the economic embargo on Cuba (document A/61/L.10) was adopted by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 51 against, with 5 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:  Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Samoa, Switzerland, Tonga.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Liberia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu.

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unwatch

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