General Assembly: Embargo against Cuba, 85th plenary meeting
23 Jun 2021
Adopting annual resolution, delegates in General Assembly urge immediate repeal of embargo on Cuba, especially amid global efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic.Adopting annual resolution, delegates in General Assembly urge immediate repeal of embargo on Cuba, especially amid global efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
The General Assembly today adopted a resolution addressing the decades-long United States embargo against Cuba, as delegates called for an immediate end to the sanctions, particularly amid global efforts to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In adopting the draft resolution “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” (document A/75/L.97), by a recorded vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (Colombia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates), the Assembly reiterated its call upon all States to refrain from promulgating and applying such laws and measures as the United States Helms-Burton Act, in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which, inter alia, reaffirm the freedom of trade and navigation. By the terms of the draft, the Assembly once again 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. The world body further requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report on the implementation of the present resolution in the light of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law and to submit it to the Assembly at its seventy-sixth session. Many delegates highlighted the incalculable damage of the sanctions, in place since 1962, including restrictions that have prevented critical medicine and supplies from reaching Cuba during the pandemic. Some representatives raised concerns about the additionally damaging effects of the United States recent decision to add Cuba to its list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Recalling that the Assembly has, since 1992, annually voted in favour of resolutions calling for an end to the embargo, many delegates said that failing to fully implement “L.97” and its previous versions will only undermine multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations. Delegates speaking on behalf of groups of countries resoundingly called for swift action. Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, introduced the resolution, saying that nobody can overlook the fact that the blockade is the primary obstacle to his country’s quest for prosperity and well‑being. It is unacceptable for the Government of the United States to ignore successive Assembly resolutions on this issue, he continued, adding that it is neither legal nor ethical for the Government of one Power to subject a small nation to a decades-long economic war aimed at imposing a political system of its own design. Delegates expressed support for Cuba, with many commending its rich contributions to the international community. But, the embargo continues to take its toll, many declared. The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the United States alone pursues its illegal policy while more than 190 nations engage with Cuba. Indeed, the United States sanctions are a prime example of how such policies undermine people’s well-being and their human rights, he said, voicing strong opposition to unilateral coercive measures unauthorized by relevant United Nations organs or inconsistent with international law. The embargo denies Cuba access to markets, remains the main impediment to Internet access and has caused more than $147.8 billion in damages since it was imposed, including $9.1 billion in the last year. The sanctions represent an obstacle to advancing development plans and fighting against pandemic, said the representative of Haiti, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and Niger’s representative, speaking for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In a similar vein, Eritrea’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the illegal sanctions represent the main barrier to Cuba’s realization of the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The representative of Guinea, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, called on the international community to step up efforts to end the embargo. Echoing a common view voiced during the debate, he said that, despite the sanctions, Cuba continues to demonstrate its solidarity with the international community, most recently with contributions to other nations in tackling the pandemic. The representative of Singapore, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said lifting the embargo would do much to improve the living standards of the Cuban people and the country’s economic and social development. Encouraging the United States and Cuba to renew their commitment to open and constructive dialogue, she reiterated support for ending the embargo as soon as possible. In explaining his delegation’s vote against the resolution, the United States representative said sanctions are a legitimate way to achieve foreign policy goals, representing one set of tools to advance democracy for the Cuban people. Also delivering general statements were representatives of Viet Nam, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Mexico, Algeria, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, China, South Africa, Antigua and Barbuda, Philippines, Namibia, Egypt, India, Bolivia and Nicaragua. The representative of Cuba spoke in exercise of the right to reply. The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 25 June, to conclude its debate on protracted conflicts in the Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova area and their implications for international peace, security and development, and take up its agenda item on follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit.