Seventy-eighth Session,
26th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Concludes Consideration of Cuba Embargo with Adoption of Resolution Urging States to Repeal Laws Impeding Trade, Navigation

The General Assembly today adopted its annual resolution calling for an end to the United States-led embargo on Cuba, with speakers stressing the urgency of that action, including in the global economic insecurity following the COVID‑19 pandemic, and the need to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

The action came on the second day of the Assembly’s debate on the matter, which began on 1 November.  (For more information, see Press Release GA/12552.)

By a recorded vote of 187 in favour to 2 against (United States, Israel), with 1 abstention (Ukraine), 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/77/L.5).  It was the thirty-first time the United Nations voted to end the embargo.

Through the terms of the text, the Assembly reiterated its call on 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 the UN Charter and international law.  It urged States that continue to apply such laws and measures to take the steps necessary to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible in line with their legal regimes.

Introducing the text, “L.5”, Cuba’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, said that, in last year alone, the economic damage from the blockade amounted to $4.867 billion and has meant a dearth of goods, long lines, high prices and devalued salaries, causing suffering among Cuban families, including, sometimes, devastating blackouts. 

Sick people, including children and pregnant women, are damaged by the choppy supply of medicines, the Foreign Minister said, adding that people have difficulties acquiring insulin, antibiotics, pain killers and other medication, as Cuba is forced to buy medical supplies at exorbitant prices or replace them with less effective treatments.  “The US Government is lying when it asserts that the blockade does not prevent access to medicines or medical equipment,” he said. 

During the most difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba could not import ventilators, he noted, adding that the US Government “opportunistically used COVID-19 as an ally in its hostile policy against Cuba”.  It is neither legal nor ethical for the Government of a major Power to subject a small nation for decades to ceaseless “economic warfare”.  Also, the United States’ inclusion of Cuba on the list of State sponsors of terrorism extracts an economic toll on his country.

During the two-day debate, several Member States pointed out that there is broad and long-standing international opposition to the United States’ economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, with many saying it runs counter to the UN Charter and undermines faith in multilateralism.

Stressing his country’s firm opposition to the embargo, the Brazilian delegate said the opposition comes close to an international consensus.  “The only legitimate sanctions are those adopted by the Security Council,” he said, adding that the sanctions on Cuba have generated significant losses in monetary terms and have also affected the rights of Cubans, especially the poorest.  Inclusion of Cuba on the list of State sponsors of terrorism worsens the impact of the economic embargo, and he urged its removal from that list. 

Similarly, the delegate of Barbados, aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said the UN was founded on the respect of sovereign equality of States, non-interference in internal affairs and the rights of peoples to self-determination.  For these reasons, Barbados opposes the imposition of unilateral punitive measures, which runs counter to the Charter.  He echoed the call to remove Cuba from the list of State sponsors of terrorism. 

Chile’s representative said that the embargo continues to create shortages, hardship and suffering for all Cuban people.  She was convinced that only through dialogue, multilateral mechanisms, and international law can differences between States be addressed.  She joined the call for taking Cuba off the list of State sponsors of terrorism, which exacerbates the blockade’s impacts.  “The economic embargo is an anachronism from a bygone age and must be ended now, once and for all,” she said. 

The representative of Iran, associating with the Group of Friends in Defense of the UN Charter, the Group of 77 and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country has been subjected to similar measures.  “Iran has been the target of the United States’ unlawful and inhuman sanctions since 1977.”  Despite repeated calls by the General Assembly, Cuba is still subjected to an illegitimate and immoral embargo that violates its right to development.  “The world must find solutions to counter such disruptive interventions and unilateralism,” he emphasized.

Some delegates noted with approval the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States in 2015.  The Jamaican delegate, aligning with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Group of 77 and China, also noted, however, that no measures will be a substitute for the end to the embargo, which hampers Cuba’s ability to respond to health crises, natural disasters, and food insecurity.  For far too long, the people of Cuba have suffered in an unjustified and undignified manner as a result. 

Some delegates highlighted Cuba’s role in supporting health care in other countries.  The representative of Timor-Leste, speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, said Cuba has been playing a fundamental role in developing Timor-Leste’s health sector by facilitating students to study in Cuba and sending doctors and specialists to work in Timor-Leste. 

The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote after the vote, said his country opposed the resolution but that “the United States stands resolutely with the Cuban people and strongly supports their pursuit of a future with human rights and fundamental freedoms”.  He added, however, that approximately 1,000 political prisoners remain behind bars in Cuba, more than at any point in Cuba’s recent history, and nearly 700 of those detentions are from the historic 11 July 2021 protests. 

“We share the Cuban people’s dream of democracy in Cuba,” he said, calling also for the release of those unjustly detained.  He added that sanctions include exemptions related to exports of food, medicines and other humanitarian goods to Cuba.  “Sanctions are one set of tools in our broader effort towards Cuba to advance democracy and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba,” he said.

For information media. Not an official record.