Thursday, June 24, 2021

Speeches at the UN During Embargo Debate

European Union


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 


Mr. President,  

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.  

Mr President, 

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. 







Mr President, 

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 

in 1992. 

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

United States

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
New York, New York
June 23, 2021

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, members of the General Assembly.

The United States stands with the Cuban people and seeks to support their pursuit of freedom, prosperity, and a future of greater dignity.

As with other Member States, the United States determines its conduct of economic relationships with other countries in accordance with its national interests. Sanctions are a legitimate way to achieve foreign policy, national security, and other national and international objectives, and the United States is not alone in this view or in this practice.

Sanctions are one set of tools in our broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy, promote respect for human rights, and help the Cuban people exercise the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We therefore oppose this resolution.

We recognize the challenges the Cuban people face. That is why the United States is a significant supplier of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people and one of Cuba’s principal trading partners. Every year, we authorize billions of dollars worth of exports to Cuba, including food and other agricultural commodities, medicines, medical devices, telecommunications equipment, consumer goods, and other items to support the Cuban people.

Advancing democracy and human rights remain at the core of our policy efforts toward Cuba. We are engaging directly with a large swath of Cuban civil society, empowering the Cuban people to determine their own futures. We are also engaging directly with the Cuban government to denounce abuses and push for reform. The United States stands with all who defend freedom in Cuba.

Cubans, as all people, deserve the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and culture. No government should silence its critics through violations of their human rights. We celebrate the diverse backgrounds and ideas of Cuban artists, entrepreneurs, religious leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, and environmental activists – just a few of the many people in Cuba with a strong voice and a desire to be heard.

The United States opposes this resolution. We encourage this body to support the Cuban people in their quest to determine their own future.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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