Encouraging Contributions for Victims Trust Fund, General Assembly Adopts Draft Urging Cooperation with International Criminal Court to Arrest Fugitives, Enforce Sentences
Delegates Also Begin Debating United States Embargo on Cuba
The General Assembly, acting without a vote, today adopted a resolution calling on all States which have not yet signed onto the Rome Statute — the international treaty that created the International Criminal Court at a conference in Rome in 1998 — to contemplate joining without delay.
By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly called upon States parties to adopt national legislation that will implement their obligations and work with the Court in the exercise of its functions. Welcoming the assistance provided thus far, the Assembly also called upon those States under the obligation to do so to cooperate in the future, particularly on arrest and surrender, the provision of evidence, the protection and relocation of victims and witnesses, and the enforcement of sentences.
Further, the resolution emphasized the importance of fully carrying out the Rome Statute’s Relationship Agreement, which forms a framework for close cooperation between the Court and the United Nations, and urged all States parties to take into account the Court’s interests, needs for assistance and mandate when relevant matters are being discussed in the United Nations. The text encouraged States to contribute to the Trust Fund for Victims and looked forward to the twenty-second session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, scheduled for 4 to 14 December 2023 in New York.
In the debate on the report prior to the text’s adoption, the representative of Mali spotlighted the Court’s work in relation to crimes committed in the northern regions of his country. Urging States not to obstruct the Court, the observer for the State of Palestine expressed his support for substantive increases in the that body’s budget.
Seven speakers took the rostrum today for the Assembly’s continued review of the International Court of Justice report, which covers the period 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022, with the representatives of Senegal, India and Georgia referencing the diversity of the Court’s cases as a sign of its importance. Agreeing that its cases reflect a high level of trust in the institution, the Russian Federation’s delegate urged the Court to resist political blackmail.
The representative of the Philippines and the observer for the State of Palestine encouraged the Security Council to make greater use of the Court’s advisory function while Bolivia’s speaker expressed his hope that the Court’s ruling will enable a peaceful and amicable coexistence between his country and Chile.
The Assembly also began its debate on the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba, with many delegations calling for an immediate end to the sanctions. Some representatives also raised concerns about the additionally damaging effects of the United States’ inclusion of Cuba on its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
In citing the Secretary-General’s reports on the matter — documents A/76/405 and A/77/358 — Singapore’s representative, speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the embargo continues to cast a long shadow on the well-being, health and development prospects of the Cuban people. It violates the rights of the Cuban people to life and health, inhibits better regional relations and detracts from the Assembly’s efforts to “leave no country behind” in its pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also hampers Cuba’s inclusion in the global economy by restricting concessional financing access, technology transfers, external capital mobilization and direct, foreign investment, the representative of Argentina continued.
Such unilateral coercive measures are not authorized by relevant United Nations organs; are inconsistent with the principles of international law, contravene the basic principles of the multilateral trading system and constitute a tool of political and financial pressure against developing countries in particular, the representative of Azerbaijan pointed out, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
In drawing a comparison to his country, Iran’s speaker said that Cuba was paying for its resistance to and independence from the United States’ colonialist policies.
“It is an act of genocide within the meaning of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” Belarus’ delegate noted. Echoing this description, his counterpart from Bolivia added that the embargo is also an act of economic warfare since it profoundly affects Cuba’s construction, tourism, transport, civil aviation and sugar industries.
Despite the Assembly’s repeated resolutions, the United States has continued to act unilaterally, the representative of Eritrea said, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations. “The rejection of this aggravation of the Cuban people is not a question of sympathies or ideologies. It is a matter of defending justice, international law and the elementary sense of humanity that should prevail,” she insisted. To oppose the blockade is to act on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of families who are victims of a logic of domination that is inconsiderable in the twenty-first century.
If the United States is the bastion of democracy, then it must listen to the Assembly’s overwhelming voices which have unanimously and repeatedly called for the lifting of the embargo, the representative of Equatorial Guinea emphasized.
In other business today, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution introduced by Singapore on the organizational arrangements for plenary meetings devoted to the consideration of “Oceans and the law of the sea” and the commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The organizational arrangements for the plenary meetings on 8 and 9 December are outlined in the annex of the text (document A/77/L.6).
Also delivering statements today were the representatives of the Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Central American Integration System), Argentina (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Pakistan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Bahamas (on behalf of Caribbean Community), Egypt (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Mozambique (on behalf of the African Group), Mexico, Venezuela, Honduras, Russian Federation, China, Namibia, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, Philippines, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Viet Nam, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Syria, Colombia, Guyana, Kenya and Cambodia.
Speaking in explanation of their vote were the representatives of the Russian Federation and Israel.
The representative of Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply as did an observer for the State of Palestine.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 3 November, to continue its discussion on the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on Cuba.
United States Embargo against Cuba
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, urged the United States to lift its economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba as soon as possible. Dialogue and engagement in good faith must peacefully resolve differences between States. The alternatives of confrontation and isolation, he pointed out, seldom yield the intended results and weaken the multilateral, rules-based system.
In citing the Secretary-General’s reports, he noted that the embargo continues to cast a long shadow on the well-being, health and development prospects of the Cuban people including their access to humanitarian aid. The embargo violated the right to life and health of all Cubans and hindered the arrival of donations and materials for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. The blockade, he continued, does not augur well for better regional relations and detracts from the Assembly’s efforts to “leave no country behind” in its pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ending the embargo on Cuba will improve the quality of life and living standards of the Cuban people and enable the United States and Cuba to normalize their relations. A “business-as-usual” approach will not do, he emphasized.
JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System, reiterated its deepest desire for the well-being and prosperity of the Cuban people. “Cuba continues to be the object of an unjustified economic, commercial and financial embargo, which in addition to undermining its ability to overcome the current effects of the pandemic, over the last three decades has hindered its national project towards achieving sustainable development,” he said. Despite fighting the embargo, Cuba still had the ability to produce and distribute vaccines against COVID-19.
The crisis brought on by the pandemic made it possible for the world to witness not only the capabilities and solidarity of the Cuban people, but also to see that Cuba “does not give what it has leftover, but it shares what it has”, he said. It is unfortunate that the effects of the multi-dimensional global crisis affecting the energy, food, environmental, economic and financial sectors, in addition to the accumulated impact of two years of the pandemic, have not been sufficient motivation for a change in policy. The unjustified inclusion of Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism has made it impossible to conduct financial operations and has led to contractual losses and loss of relationships with bank entities, he added.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reiterated its strong rejection of the application of laws and measures contrary to international law such as the Helms-Burton Act, including their extraterritorial effects, and the increasing persecution of Cuba’s international financial transactions against the international community’s political will. She disagreed with the unfair inclusion of Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, which, in addition to being an unsubstantiated categorization, has increased the intimidating effect of the restrictions associated with the blockade and has aggravated Cuba's chances of establishing commercial and financial relations with international partners. She urged the United States Government to end these measures. He reiterated the Group’s deepest concern for the tightening of this policy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and rejected the extraterritorial dimension of the blockade, which has severely impacted Cuba's international financial transactions and consequently impaired the Cuban people’s well-being.
Speaking in her national capacity, she noted that the embargo violates international law, stands in the way of basic rights and inhibits the economic and social development of the Cuban people. It further hampers Cuba’s inclusion in the global economy by restricting concessional financing access, technology transfers, external capital mobilization and direct, foreign investment, amongst others. The United States’ inclusion of Cuba on its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, she continued, has increased the intimidatory effect of the restrictions associated with the embargo and further worsens Cuba’s capacity to develop financial and commercial relations with international partners. In calling for the end of such measures, she said Argentina will vote in favour of the resolution to demonstrate its opposition to the embargo, use of universal coercive measures, extra-territorial application of national commercial laws and adoption of commercial discriminatory practices.
AAMIR KHAN (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said he regretted that the embargo imposed by the United States for more than six decades remains in force. Positive steps taken by the United States Government in 2015 and 2016 were a move in the right direction. However, recent United States Administrations’ efforts to enforce the embargo is an obstacle to achieving normal relations between both countries. The Group is committed to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, particularly sovereign equality of States and non-interference in other States.
It is the responsibility of every Member State to comply with these principles, he stressed, calling for the unilateral sanctions to be immediately repealed. He expressed deep concern about the debilitating effect and great hardship the embargo has had on the Cuban people. The blockade is an obstacle to the country’s social reforms and could undermine Cuba’s development potential and ability to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Cuba has contributed to the international community through South-South cooperation, he said, stressing the urgency of lifting the embargo.
STAN ODUMA SMITH (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the “Group of 77” and China, CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, for more than three decades, the General Assembly has overwhelmingly called for the lifting of the unilateral economic, commercial and financial embargo of Cuba. Yet, the embargo persists in defiance of international law and 29 General Assembly resolutions. He reiterated concern regarding the profound negative impact that the measures have had on the socioeconomic development of Cuba and on the livelihoods and well-being of the Cuban people. The embargo must end, he stressed.
Cuba is contending with the global fuel, food and financial crises, the lingering impact of the pandemic, the climate emergency and recovery from the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Ian. The multiplicity of crises faced by Cuba, the full application of the Helms-Burton Act, including the designation of Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, and the pernicious media campaign, have combined to exact a devastating and inhumane toll on Cuba and its people. Despite all that, Cuba was the first to deploy health-care personnel to several Caribbean countries in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States, CARICOM and Cuba all have a shared interest in a peaceful Caribbean underpinned by friendly relations amongst the states of the region on the basis of mutual respect and respect for international law
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDEL KHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that it is particularly concerning that despite the overwhelming call year after year to end the embargo, the blockade has not ceased and is stronger than ever. The embargo has not only affected Cuba’s commercial sector and national economic activities; it has also had disastrous humanitarian consequences on the Cuban population. The embargo has hindered countries’ abilities to invest and trade with Cuba.
Cuba’s success in halting the spread of COVID-19 risks being jeopardized, he warned, underscoring the embargo’s impact on Cuba’s national health system. That is reflected in the difficulties encountered by the national industry in purchasing materials needed to preserve food and to produce medicines and other products, given the existing restriction for Cuba to procure goods containing more than 10 per cent of the United States components. The embargo against Cuba also represents an obstacle to its people in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. He said he was once again joining the calls of the overwhelming majority of Member States to put an end to the embargo.
SOPHIA TESFAMARIAM YOHANNES (Eritrea), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said the unjust and abusive blockade constitutes one of the most serious, prolonged and systematic violations of both international law and the Charter. In addition to being morally and politically shameful in its attempt to subjugate a small, peaceful and supportive country, the embargo transgresses Article 1 of the Charter by violating the rights of Cubans to conduct their internal affairs in a sovereign manner without interference. It also restricts other States from freely developing commercial ties with Cuba. The blockade further contravenes Article 2 by threatening Cuba’s political independence, she noted.
Despite the Assembly’s repeated resolutions calling for the embargo’s end, the United Sates has continued to act unilaterally and punish the Cuban people by hindering Cuba’s relations with the world. “The rejection of this aggravation of the Cuban people is not a question of sympathies or ideologies. It is a matter of defending justice, international law and the elementary sense of humanity that should prevail,” she emphasized. To oppose the blockade is to act on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of families who are victims of a logic of domination that is inconsiderable in the twenty-first century. The Assembly will continue to fail in its Article 13 promotion of international cooperation until this harmful policy is eliminated, she stressed.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it has historically held a principled position of rejecting unilateral coercive measures that are not authorized by relevant United Nations organs; inconsistent with the principles of international law or the Charter or contravene the basic principles of the multilateral trading system; and are used as a tool of political or economic and financial pressure against States, particularly developing countries. This position was reaffirmed at the XVIII Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Movement, held in Baku, Azerbaijan. The embargo on Cuba is an example of the adverse effects of unilateral coercive measures on the well-being of people, preventing them from fully enjoying and realizing their human rights, including the right to development.
Over the past five years, there has been a progressive and systematic increase in the aggressiveness of United States policy against Cuba and all sovereign States that maintain or attempt to establish economic, commercial and financial relations with this country, he said. Over 240 measures were implemented during the last United States Administration, with more than 50 of them adopted in 2020 alone, in the middle of the pandemic. The majority of these additional measures still stand today. The international community must keep working together to reverse and eliminate the blockade, he stressed.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO (Mozambique), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that, for the thirteenth time, Heads of State and Government at the Group’s Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in February, reiterated their position and called for the lifting of sanctions on Cuba’s Government and people. He reiterated the Group’s position that the illegal sanctions, particularly the Helms-Burton Law, Title III, are the main obstacles to Cuba's achievement of the 2030 Agenda. The annual resolution on ending Cuba’s blockade by the United States represents a call to all countries for the past 30 years, he said, expressing continued full support. The Group regrets the setback in the bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States. “We call on the United States Government to work towards restoring positive relations and lifting this long-standing blockade imposed on the Government and people of Cuba,” he said, adding that the Group will remain firm in its principled position of total solidarity with Cuba, its people and Government.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said the blockade for six decades against Cuba and the rejection of the numerous Assembly resolutions by a permanent member of the Security Council are simple unacceptable, in light of international law and the principles of Mexico’s foreign policy. No State may apply or encourage the use of economic and political measures to coerce another State into subordination. Doing so contravenes the principles of the Charter. He condemned the blockade and the United States Government’s decision to apply the Helms-Burton Act, which affects the rights of third countries. The embargo’s effect during the pandemicand other natural disasters has impacted the delivery of medical supplies, creating additional hardships for the Cuban people. There should not be sanctions of any kind, other than those the Council decides to adopt, he said. To put Cuba on a list of terrorist countries is absurd and impacts of the delivery of financial aid.
JOAQUIN PEREZ AYESTARAN (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Non-Aligned Movement, CELAC and the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, called the embargo against Cuba criminal because it generates death and inhumane because it systematically violates the rights of 11 million Cubans. Despite all of that, the imperial policy of the United States has not succeeded and will never succeed in changing the goals of the socialist and revolutionary Cuba. “We cannot forget that, less than two years ago when humanity was facing the worst onslaught of the coronavirus, tens of medical brigades from Cuba were deployed in more than 35 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe, in order to save the lives of millions of people,” he said. Unilateral, coercive measures seem to have become the preferred tool of the United States Government to expand its perpetual war against more than a third of humanity. He urged the United States to respect the United Nations Charter and international law. Venezuela will not be able to vote in favour of the draft text on the Cuban embargo “precisely because of the criminal embargo illegally imposed against Venezuela by the United States”. Nevertheless, Venezuela decisively supports this draft resolution, he said.
NOEMÍ RUTH ESPINOZA MADRID (Honduras), aligning herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, CELAC, Central American Integration System and the Group of 77 and China, rejected the United States’ economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba. In calling for discussions for a new world order which is decolonized, multipolar, anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-patriarchal, feminist and profoundly human, she voiced her concern over the broadening of the embargo’s extraterritorial nature and other measures which include Cuba’s inclusion on a list by the United States. She then spotlighted Cuba’s contributions to the international community through its technical support, humanitarian assistance, scholarships and cooperation on sports and culture. Last October, she noted, Honduras signed three conventions in the areas of education, sports and health regulations. As each Member State must respect sovereign equality among States, non-interference in internal affairs and the freedom of international trade and navigation, any policies or actions which do not recognize such principles — especially the embargo — must be rescinded, she said.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), aligning himself with the Group of the Friends in Defense of the Charter, joined other States in calling for an immediate lifting of the blockade and rejected the anti-Cuban sanctions policy. This is a long‑standing violation of international law and an illegal strategy of suppression of Governments around the world, he said. The United States Government is trying to give the Monroe Doctrine an illegal reach and its treatment of Cuba is an example of that pernicious policy. In September, Washington, D.C., approved an annual extension of the anti-Cuban sanctions. This challenges international law and undermines global stability and imposes restrictions on normal inter-State relations. “This is economic terrorism,” he said. The decision in January to place Cuba on the United States list of terrorist organizations is absurd. The losses Cuba suffered during the first 14 months of United States President Joseph R. Biden’s Administration because of the embargo total $6.3 billion, or $15 million a day. The real victims are the Cuban people, he stressed.
DAI BING (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said that the continued imposition of a series of unilateral coercive measures by the United States against Cuba and other countries in grave violation of the 2030 Agenda severely undermines the right to subsistence and the right to development of all people. “They are incompatible with the international trend of peaceful development and win-win cooperation and the recovery and development efforts of all countries, and therefore must be put to an end immediately,” he stressed. Following the outbreak of the pandemic, the United States imposed dozens of sanctions against Cuba, which gravely violates the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and severely restricts the Cuban people's access to medicines, vaccines and other supplies needed to fight and recover from the pandemic. The international community should speak with one voice to condemn such an act. China has always advocated respecting the rights of countries to choose their own social systems and development paths, he said, urging the United States to immediately lift its embargo on Cuba.
DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77 and China, CELAC and the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter, said that the embargo qualifies as an act of genocide and economic warfare since it profoundly affects Cuba’s construction, tourism, transport, civil aviation and sugar industries. In condemning and repudiating the unilateral, immoral and criminal embargo, he noted that it undermines the right of the Cuban people to self-determination and inhibits Cuba’s efforts to fight poverty and inequality. Aggressively extraterritorial in nature, the embargo violates international law, threatens multilateralism and transgresses international trade laws and the freedom of navigation. He then expressed his regret over the United States’ inclusion of Cuba on its list of State sponsors of terrorism. This, he pointed out, has incalculable human consequences for Cuba’s economy and its people. As unilateral coercive measures affect the full enjoyment of all human rights, independence, sovereignty and the self-determination of peoples, the embargo must be lifted immediately, he urged.
NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the coercive measures imposed during the former United States Administration pose severe challenges to the realization of human rights in Cuba, the advancement of Cuba's social and economic infrastructure, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. “Men, women and children all pay a high price for this arbitrary blockade,” he said, adding that the aggressive actions go directly against the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter. Despite the loosening of some of the restrictive embargoes by the Biden Administration against Cuba in May, Namibia remains concerned over the escalation of actions taken by the United States, such as the continued implementation of the Helms-Burton Act and Title III, which continue to cripple Cuba's attempts to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “As we work towards our shared goals and commitments for shared growth, prosperity and sustainable development, we strongly urge a review of the enforcement of unilateral coercive measures,” he said.
KELVER DWIGHT DARROUX (Dominica) aligning himself with CARICOM, the Group of 77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement, opposed the United States embargo, which has had a significant negative effect on Cuba’s economy and citizens. Local Cuban businesses and people cannot obtain goods and services and finances. The embargo is a violation of the human rights of the Cuban people, he stressed. This unilateral coercive measure has increased economic and social hardship on the Cuban people and restricted the country’s access to science and technology, such as broadband Internet access. The embargo is the most protracted and severe sanction applied by any country, he said, urging States that still support it to reverse course so the Cuban people can be fully integrated into the international system. He called for the immediate removal of Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Efforts should be made to combat the real threats to global peace and security, he said, adding that the effects of the embargo have been made more severe by the energy, pandemic and food crises. The 11 million people of Cuba need to see this embargo discontinued, he stressed.
DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, Non-Aligned Movement, CELAC and CARICOM, recalled how at the height of the uncertainty posed by the pandemic in May 2020, his country received a team of Cuban nurses to assist with its COVID-19 efforts. “Throughout our history, Cuba has been, and will no doubt continue to be a reliable partner to many, especially those in the Global South,” he added. The economic, commercial and financial embargo unjustly imposed against Cuba continues to impede its potential. Opposition to this anachronistic policy is now almost universal in nature with the General Assembly having passed this resolution every year since 1992, he recalled. The unconvincing designation of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism in January 2021 “only serves to deepen the chasm of mistrust” and further frustrates any possibility for the normalization of diplomatic relations. Cuba is a Caribbean State, and its future is inextricably tied to that of other Caribbean nations, he said, reaffirming Trinidad and Tobago’s unceasing call for the cessation of the embargo against Cuba.
ANTONIO MANUEL REVILLA LAGDAMEO fbamy(Philippines), associating himself with the ASEAN, Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China, commended the international community for its continued and clear expressions of solidarity with the Cuban people. For its part, the Philippines has, for 30 consecutive years, supported the resolution calling for an end to the Cuban embargo. And yet, the extra-territorial nature of the blockade continues to intensify, exacerbated by the United States decision to include Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. The blockade presents a main obstacle for Cuba’s socioeconomic development and poses serious challenges to its implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The embargo violates international law and is contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter. “The United States should lift the embargo against Cuba, unconditionally, once and for all,” he said.
KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) condemned the embargo on Cuba as an infringement upon sovereignty, as crimes against humanity and as a violation of human rights. The United States must immediately lift its unilateral and extraterritorial embargo against Cuba in line with the relevant Assembly resolutions which have been adopted by consensus. It must also abandon its anachronistic illusion that sanctions and pressures can disrupt the Cuban socialist system and bring the Cuban people to their knees, he said. In noting that the embargo is doomed to failure and frustration, he reiterated his country’s support and solidarity for Cuba and called on all Member States to support the resolution.
PAVEL EVSEENKO (Belarus), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said his country is categorically opposed to the use of any unilateral restrictive measures against sovereign Member States. The aim of States illegally using restrictive measures is to inflict maximum economic harm on another State for the purpose of overthrowing their existing Government. Recourse to unilateral restrictions represents a direct interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States, grossly violating provisions of the United Nations Charter and international law. The economic embargo against Cuba by the United States is a flagrant violation of human rights of all inhabitants of the island. “It is an act of genocide within the meaning of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” he added. Its effects continue to limit the possibilities for the country's economic growth. And the extraterritorial extension of these restrictive measures is in direct violation of the legitimate rights of other States to fully cooperate with Havana, he added.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Non-aligned Movement, Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, said the embargo against Cuba is a violation of international law and the fundamental principles of the Charter. It runs counter to the common desire of nations to develop equal international relations, regardless of political systems and based on respect for each nation’s right to choose its own path of development. “It is the most unjust and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions ever imposed against a country in our modern world history,” he said, adding the embargo has inflicted enormous damages on all sectors of the Cuban economy and created untold hardship for generations of Cubans. This suffering was exacerbated with the COVID-19 pandemic, a major fire at a crucial oil storage facility in August and Hurricane Ian in late September this year. Viet Nam has first-hand experience with the tremendous suffering created by a trade embargo. Yet, having established a comprehensive partnership with the United States, Viet Nam also fully recognizes that only constructive dialogue and engagement can foster mutual trust and bring positive change, he said.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), aligning herself with CARICOM, CELAC, Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77 and China and the Group of Friends, reiterated her support for the resolution calling for the immediate end of the United States’ blockade. Cuba’s permanence on the United States’ unilaterally constructed list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, she continued, is objectionable, improper and absurd as there is no legitimate supporting evidence. In calling for the removal of Cuba from said list, she rejected the enforcement of unilateral legislation with extraterritorial effects and expressed concern over the blockade’s widening. While the United States has taken steps to reverse previously instituted policies regarding travel and remittances, only the embargo’s complete lifting will demonstrate respect for the fundamental human rights of the Cuban people. Overwhelming support for the draft resolution should encourage the United States to finally case aside its harmful policy, unshackle the Cuban people and work towards building a new and positive relationship with Cuba, she said.
JUAN MBOMIO NDONG MANGUE (Equatorial Guinea), associating himself with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations and the Group of 77 and China, called on the United States to end the embargo and Cuba’s economic isolation. This imperative need has now become urgent in light of the devastating consequences on Cuba’s economy and its general development, he pointed out before urging the United States to think about the suffering being imposed on young people, older persons and the vulnerable. “How can we accept or say that the young people of Cuba are the future of the country if they are living through so many limitations?”, he wondered. He then expressed concern over Cuba’s continued presence on the United States’ list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and its subsequent effects and consequences on Cuba’s people and economy. If the United States is the bastion of democracy, then it must listen to the overwhelming voices of the Assembly which have unanimously and repeatedly called for the lifting of the embargo, he said.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, reiterated his delegation’s unwavering support to the Cuban people against the illegal and unjust embargo. Supporting United Nations resolutions that call for the blockade’s immediate end, he said the embargo is a serious breach and violation of human rights and international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions and of the Charter. It violates the human rights of the Cuban people and is an obstacle to Cuba’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said, demanding that the United States lift it and cease policies that restrict delivery of supplies to Cuba. The unjustified listing of Cuba on the United States list of State sponsored terrorists is part of the United States strategy to cause Cuba’s downfall. Cuban missions around the world have been affected. Syria, Cuba and other countries are the target of numerous unilateral measures imposed by the United States that are illegal and do not conform to international law. They represent economic terrorism against his country, he said. These measures deprive Syrians from meeting their daily needs and prevent the Government from providing basic services. The pretexts used for these measures are part of the United States hypocrisy and use of double standards, he stressed.
LEONOR ZALABATA TORRES (Colombia), associating herself with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China, said that the embargo against Cuba is one of the measures rejected most often in the General Assembly. And yet, recommendations of the Assembly have not been respected. The embargo causes substantial and unjustifiable damage to the welfare of the Cuban people. It should be remembered that Cuba was the cradle of the final peace agreement of 2016 with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People's Army (FARC-EP), which is today considered an example of building and bolstering peace, she said. Consequently, Colombia rejects the categorization of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism. To categorize Cuba in this way disregards its commitment to peace in Colombia and the world, she said.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES BIRKETT (Guyana), aligning herself with CARICOM, the Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77 and China, and OIC, said her Government strongly respects the principles of the sovereign equality of States and of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States. It also respects international humanitarian law, the Charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States. Noting the Secretary-General’s report that highlights the embargo’s profoundly negative impact on Cuba’s socioeconomic development, she expressed alarm that the blockade has hindered the implementation of the United Nations development system’s programmes and initiatives in the country, especially during the complex period of the COVID‑19 pandemic. She reaffirmed that the blockade against Cuba has no place in modern international relations and runs counter to the international community’s commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda and leaving no one behind.
LILY MWANJILA (Kenya), aligning herself with the African Group, Group of 77 and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated her country’s support for Cuba and its people. The embargo against Cuba, she noted, has deeply perturbed development for 60 years as the longest trade embargo in modern history with an estimated cost at over $130 billion. Generalized sanctions and embargos are counter to the collective objectives of development, peace and human rights; are an affront to sovereignty and self-determination; and should be regarded as tools from an unfortunate bygone era, she emphasized while calling for the embargo’s immediate lifting.
HAMID TAVOLI (Iran), aligning himself with the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China, underlined the United States’ expansionism and arrogant approach as the greatest threat and challenge to global peace and security. Unilateral coercive measures have severely impacted peace at the regional and international level; are contrary to the goals and principles of the Charter; and weaken the rule of law, world order, international solidarity, multilateralism and the overall authority of the United Nations. Despite the Assembly’s repeated calls, the embargo continues to inflict tremendous hardship and suffering the Cuban people, violates their rights to conduct their affairs in a sovereign matter and restricts other States from freely developing commercial relations. He then spotlighted the sanctions imposed on his country to note that Iran and Cuba are paying for their resistance to and independence from the United States’ colonialist policies. The international community, he emphasized, must counter such destructive interventions. For its part, the United States must immediately and fully comply with its international obligations and cease the application and imposition of all unilateral coercive measures, he said.
SOVANN KE (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN, the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, Group of 77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the embargo has prevented Cuba from realizing its 2030 Agenda. As the blockage paradigm has not benefited anyone, the United States has failed to achieve its ultimate goals and continues to cause chronic shortages which have adverse impacts on the lives of more than 11 million people. Cuba’s people deserve to live with peace and stability and enjoy social development, he emphasized. The United States must immediately lift this imposition, he urged.
Report of International Court of Justice
The Assembly then continued its debate on the report of the International Court of Justice. (For background, see Press Release GA/12461 of 27 October.)
ABDOU NDOYE (Senegal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the International Court of Justice experienced a high level of activities over the last 12 months. The greater number of decisions on merit during the reporting period demonstrates its important work. The disputes envelope cases from a wide geographic area and diverse subject matters, including maritime, human rights, protection of the environment and the application of international treaties. He welcomed that the report overview indicates Member States have chosen to resolve disputes through peaceful means. The Court’s efficiency rests with Member States accepting the Court’s authority and he urged all States that have not done so to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court to safeguard justice. He also welcomed the Court’s Judicial Fellowship Programme, which gives people from developing countries an opportunity to gain legal training. “The force of law must replace the law of force,” he said.
Mr. PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia) recognized the Court’s contribution to international peace through the settlement of disputes. Bolivia closely follows all the initiatives and jurisdictional activities undertaken by the Court, “a body that we consider acts with impartiality and independence”. Bolivia has continued to accept the Court’s jurisdiction, he said, turning to the dispute over the status and use of the waters of the Silala, a case presented by Chile against Bolivia. “We hope that the ruling of the Court will help guide us to a definitive solution that will enable both parties to return to peaceful and amicable coexistence,” he said. Water is one of the most significant issues the world faces, he said, adding that Bolivia is a country that respects international law.
SOPIO KUPRADZE (Georgia), highlighting the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, unjustified and premeditated aggression against Ukraine as a violation of international law, emphasized the Court’s legal importance. The Russian Federation must comply with the Court’s provisional orders which compel it to suspend the military operations it commenced in February, she said. For its part, the international community must stand united, defend the principles of the Charter and ensure that justice is served through available, international legal instruments. The Court’s universal and general character, she pointed out, is well reflected in the geographical and topical diversity of its cases. States which have not yet accepted the Court’s jurisdiction should do so, she urged. She then recalled the dire humanitarian situation and grave human rights violations in her country as a result of the Russian Federation’s occupation.
GENNADY V. KUZMIN (Russian Federation) said he valued the Court’s work and the numerous cases demonstrate the high level of trust placed in the institution interpretation of cases serves as guidelines for national and international legal standards. He noted that many orders were issued during the reporting period, including its 16 March provisional measure concerning the Ukraine and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The main task for the Convention on Genocide is to ensure criminal prosecution of those guilty in cases involving genocide, yet none of this is part of the Kyiv lawsuit. The main demand is to declare the invalidity of the Russian Federation statement, which goes beyond the scope of the Convention and has the backing of Kyiv’s allies. It could set a dangerous precedent, he said, warning that this type of proceeding could be launched against any country that is a party to the treaty. The Court’s support to this approach has grave consequences for the Convention. Lawyers could not build a case based on articles of the Convention, so they based a case on what was not there. Such contortions have never been seen in the Court’s history. It is unprecedented for 47 States, including members of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to intervene and provide political support for Kyiv. It is a brazen abuse of article 63 of the international Court Statute and places political pressure on the international body. His delegation sent its objections to the Court, he said, expressing hope the Court will not give in to political blackmail.
UMA SEKHER (India) said the Court’s activities are directly aimed at promoting and reinforcing the rule of law through its judgments and advisory opinions. The Court has remained sensitive to the political realities and sentiments of States, while acting in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Charter, the Rome Statute and other rules of international law, she said. The continuous flow of cases submitted to the Court and the number of judgments and orders it has delivered during the reporting period reflect the institution’s vitality. The Court has also not lost sight of adapting its working methods including by holding public hearings in a hybrid format post-COVID-19 pandemic. India noted the Court’s efforts towards ensuring the greatest possible global awareness of its decisions through its publications, multimedia offerings and website. All of these tools provide useful information for States wishing to invoke the Court’s jurisdiction, she said.
Mr. LAGDAMEO (Philippines), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes holds a special regard for the Court. The Court’s increasing workload, the importance, complexity and variety of subject matter of the cases brought before it, as well as the geographical diversity of States bringing cases before the Court, illustrate its vitality and universal character. The international community’s trust and confidence for the Court must be accompanied by the provision of commensurate budget and funds necessary for its proper functioning. The Philippines also calls on Security Council to make greater use of the Court as a source of advisory opinions and of interpretation of relevant norms of international law.
Mr. BAMYA, observer for the State of Palestine, said the founders of the Court fell short in ensuring that body was able to exercise its jurisdiction in all places and situations. States, he explained, cannot be left to stretch their interpretation of the law beyond reason to extend their rights and shrink it beyond understanding to deny their obligations. Anyone who believes in justice cannot be satisfied by selective or voluntary justice, he emphasized. Turning to the Court’s advisory capacity, he noted that its advisory opinions rely on binding international law which includes peremptory norms. Since the Court is capable of determining the law with authority and credibility, all States and international organizations must conform to what that body states. For its part, the United Nations — including the Security Council — must make use of the Court’s advisory function whenever possible to ensure its actions are guided by the law, he encouraged. “The International Court of Justice is our first line of defence. The more we empower it, the safer we are,” he stressed.
Report of International Criminal Court
The Assembly then continued its debate on the report of the International Criminal Court. (For background, see Press Release GA/12462 of 31 October.)
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the African Group, said his country ratified the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over Mali was established in 2002. It is within the framework of this cooperation that the Government of Mali referred to the International Criminal Court the crimes committed mainly in the northern regions, Bamako and Sévaré in the context of the security and political crisis of 2012. He expressed appreciation to the Court for issuing the reparation order and the fund for the benefit of victims for individual and collective reparations to be paid to the community of Timbuktu. In the framework of tackling extremism and obscurantism, the Court sent another strong signal to criminals by issuing on 27 March 2018, an arrest warrant against Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, former commissioner of the Islamic police in Timbuktu, for crimes against humanity and war crimes, followed by a trial in 2020.
Mr. BAMYA, observer for the State of Palestine, said the establishment of the Court is a watershed moment in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. The Court’s importance lies primarily in its intention to convey to victims everywhere that these crimes shall not be tolerated. It also tells perpetrators anywhere that they shall be held accountable, by national jurisdictions or by an international Court. Yet, the Court’s actions are proportional to the political will and financial support it receives. He supported substantive increases in the Court’s regular budget to benefit all situations, especially where crimes are ongoing and where there is a protracted impunity crisis. He urged all States to not obstruct the Court’s work and cooperate with it by acceding to the Rome Statute.
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution “Report of the International Criminal Court” (document A/77/L.7) without a vote.
In explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation has already stated its comments on the incompetent judiciary body and will not repeat what was said. His delegation’s support is undeserved and the resolution does not reflect the reality of the situation. Rather, the text creates a false picture concerning the Court and States that are not party to the Rome Statute. He distanced himself from the consensus on the resolution and the report of the Court.
The representative of Israel said that, as a democratic, justice-seeking State and as the nation State of the Jewish people, her country remains committed to ensuring that the perpetrators of mass atrocities are held accountable. As in previous years, Israel has decided to disassociate itself from this resolution for the reasons it has expressed in the past.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, expressed regret over the decision of some to side-track the debate in service of their own narrow goals and political aspirations. Justice, she noted, is not achieved by turning to the Court while financing and executing terrorist attacks, glorifying murder and hiding behind civilian populations. She urged the observer for the State of Palestine to stand behind the principles he preached and recognize the importance of protecting civilians. Discussing matters at the heart of this conflict can only be done in an extensive peace process and not in a courtroom, she said.
The observer for the State of Palestine said it was disrespectful to refer to the fight and struggle for freedom from all forms of oppression as “narrow political goals”. The purpose of the United Nations, he reminded, is to achieve self-determination for all, including the Palestinian people. As justice is the way to peace, he called on Israel to read the Rome Statute. The State of Palestine stands for the protection of all civilians and the rule of international law; it wants what others have enjoyed: freedom and dignity in its land, he stressed.