EU Explanation of Vote on the General Assembly resolution
"Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba"
23 June 2021
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba has a damaging impact on the economic situation of the country and negatively affects the living standards of the Cuban people. External trade and foreign investment can play a crucial role in setting the country on a path towards modernisation, reforms and sustainable growth, and help it overcome the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU considers therefore that lifting the embargo could facilitate the opening of the Cuban economy to the benefit of the Cuban people.
We acknowledge that the human rights situation in Cuba remains worrying, in particular as regards civil and political rights. We are concerned about that. We therefore reiterate our call on the Cuban Government to fully grant its citizens internationally recognised civil, political and economic rights and freedoms, including freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and free access to information, to ratify the UN Covenant for Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and to extend a standing invitation to all UN Special Procedures to visit Cuba. We also believe that empowering civil society is essential for the promotion and protection of all human rights, and call upon the Cuban Government to open spaces for a constructive and inclusive dialogue, without preconditions, with the whole spectrum of civil society actors on the island. A broad spectrum of civil society, both Cuban and European, should also be involved in the implementation of the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA).
The EU believes that positive change in Cuba is best brought about by closer engagement at all levels – government, economy, civil society, but also through people-to-people exchanges. We therefore deeply regret the introduction of additional restrictions on US relations with Cuba by the previous US Administration since the last resolution was passed on 7 November 2019. The measures further restricting travel, such as the elimination of the authorisation for travelling to Cuba for professional meetings, conferences and other public performances, curtail even further the possibility for engagement with the Cuban people. The re-designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism by the previous US Administration without presenting any new facts has introduced obstacles to international financial transactions with the island. Moreover, the embargo has restricted Cuba’s ability to import pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other medical supplies needed for the combat against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond the damaging impact of the embargo on ordinary Cubans, US sanctions and other administrative and judicial measures are also negatively affecting EU economic interests.
We have firmly and continuously opposed any such measures, due to their extraterritorial application and impact on the European Union, in violation of commonly accepted rules of international trade. We cannot accept that such measures impede our economic and commercial relations with Cuba.
The EU strongly rejects the US activation of Title III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act in April 2019. This breaches the commitments made by the US in the US-EU agreements of 1997 and 1998. We will draw on all appropriate measures to address the effects of the Helms-Burton Act, including in relation to our WTO rights and through the use of the EU Blocking Statute, which protects against the extraterritorial application of those US sanctions to EU citizens, businesses and NGOs operating in Cuba.
For the EU, international cooperation, dialogue and closer - even critical - engagement are the way to go with Cuba. The provisional application of the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) is now in its fourth year. The agreement has put our bilateral relationship on a new and solid legal footing and sets out an agenda of critical engagement with Cuba that will also allow us to support and accompany Cuba on its path of reform and modernisation.
We are enhancing dialogue and cooperation also on issues on which we still have fundamental differences. To this end, the PDCA has established a human rights dialogue, as a key pillar of our relationship. The third formal meeting of the dialogue was held in February 2021.
Following the adoption of the country's new Constitution, and to overcome the current economic crisis, we call on Cuba to pursue a comprehensive reform and modernisation agenda, extending economic, judicial and social reforms and implementing them in a manner that will address the key concerns of the Cuban population, as well as meeting the legitimate aspirations of the Cuban people for more opportunities to participate in the shaping of the country's future.
With the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, the EU offers Cuba a consistent and reliable partnership to support it as it seeks to reform its political and economic model, to pursue sustainable development, and to find common solutions to global challenges, while we continue to promote democracy and respect for human rights vigorously.
It is our considered view that the US embargo does not contribute to promoting these aims, but impedes their achievement. Against this background, the Member States of the European Union will vote unanimously in favour of the draft resolution.
STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST
ASIAN NATIONS BY SINGAPORE ON AGENDA ITEM 42:
“NECESSITY OF ENDING THE ECONOMIC, COMMERCIAL AND
FINANCIAL EMBARGO IMPOSED BY THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA AGAINST CUBA”, 23 JUNE 2021
1 I have the honour to address the General Assembly on behalf of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to express our support for the
resolution to end the economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed by
the United States of America against the Republic of Cuba. ASEAN aligns itself
with the statements delivered by Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned
Movement, and by Guinea on behalf of the G77.
2 This is the sixth year that ASEAN is making a statement at the General
Assembly calling for the lifting of the United States’ embargo against Cuba as
soon as possible. ASEAN reaffirms our support for this resolution, which has
been consistently adopted by an overwhelming majority since it was first tabled
3 ASEAN is firmly committed to the principles enshrined in the Charter
of the United Nations, and which underpin the multilateral rules-based order. We
firmly believe that differences between states should be resolved through
engagement and inclusion, not confrontation and isolation. We also believe
strongly that differences between states should be resolved on the basis of the
fundamental principles of sovereign equality, non-interference and nonintervention. ASEAN does not support the imposition of unilateral economic,
commercial and financial measures on other countries.
4 Six years have passed since the restoration of diplomatic relations
between the United States and Cuba in 2015. This was an important step towards
the normalisation of relations between these two countries, and remains key to
building better regional relations in the Americas. But as noted in the latest report
of the Secretary-General, the economic, commercial and financial embargo
continues to affect many sectors of Cuba’s society, including limiting Cuba’s
ability to procure preparedness and response materials for the COVID-19
pandemic in a timely and cost-effective manner. ASEAN continues to believe
that ending the United States’ economic, commercial and financial embargo on
Cuba will contribute significantly to improving the quality of life and living
standards of the Cuban people, and to the economic and social development of Cuba. It would also advance this Assembly’s efforts towards achieving an
inclusive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
5 ASEAN encourages the United States and Cuba to renew their
commitment to an open and constructive dialogue, underpinned by mutual
respect. Once again, ASEAN joins other members of this Assembly in reiterating
our support for the lifting of the unilateral economic, commercial and financial
embargo against Cuba as soon as possible.
6 I thank you, Mr President
presented by the Ambassador of Singapore
CARICOM Ambassador of Haiti for the Caribbean Community
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