9 November 2005
General Assembly, for Fourteenth Straight Year, Adopts Text on Ending Decades-Old United States Embargo against Cuba
Also Hears from President of International Criminal Court on Significant Developments During Past Year
NEW YORK, 8 November (UN Headquarters) -- For the fourteenth straight year, Cuba received the resounding support of the United Nations, as nearly all of the world body's 191 Member States today passed a resolution calling on the United States Government to immediately end its four-decade economic and commercial blockade of the island nation.
By a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 1 abstention (Federated States of Micronesia), the Assembly expressed its concern that, since its earliest resolution on the issue in 1992, further measures had been taken by the United States to strengthen and extend the restrictions, which adversely affected the Cuban people and Cuban nationals living in other countries. (See Annex.)
Chiefly concerned by the application of laws and regulations, such as the 1996 United States Helms-Burton Act, "the extraterritorial effects of which affect the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interest of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation", the Assembly, once again, urged States to take the necessary steps to repeal or invalidate such measures as soon as possible.
Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of the United States said his country's trade embargo against Cuba was a bilateral issue that should not come before the Assembly. But since Cuba had raised the issue, his delegation would like to discuss the root of the problems the Cuban people faced everyday -- the failed policies of President Fidel Castro. As his economic policies harmed the Cuban people, Mr. Castro tried to blame the United States for the failures of the Government he led. "If the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry or without medical care, as Mr. Castro admits, it is because of his economic mismanagement, not because of the embargo," he said.
Introducing the resolution, Cuba's Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez Roque, said that during the decades-long blockade, the measures had not been enforced with such brutality as in the last 18 months. Since May 2004, when President Bush signed his "plan for Cuba's annexation", there had been a "hysterical attitude" surrounding the embargo's enforcement. As a result, for the first time, an American would be barred from smoking a Cuban cigar even when travelling to another country. "Such insanity should go into the Guinness Book of World Records," he said. The United States must cease its aggression against Cuba, and that country's Government was "delusional" if it believed that it could overthrow the Cuban revolution.
In other business, the Assembly took up the report of the International Criminal Court, the world's only permanent, treaty-based criminal tribunal established to promote the rule of law and ensure that the gravest international crimes do not go unpunished. The Rome Statute sets out the Court's jurisdiction, structure and functions, and provides for its entry into force 60 days after 60 States have ratified or acceded to it.
Judge Philippe Kirsch, the Court's President, told the Assembly that during the past year, there had been two significant developments. First, Mexico had deposited its instrument of ratification, becoming the 100th State party to the Rome Statute. The second important event was that the Court had issued its first arrest warrants this year, for five members of the Lord's Resistance Army for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes. Subject to the necessary cooperation in the arrest and surrender of persons, the first trials were expected to begin next year.
Highlighting some significant aspects of the judicial phase of the Court's activities, he said that four situations had been referred to the Prosecutor: three States parties had referred situations in their territories, and the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, had referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan. In addition, Cote d'Ivoire, a non-State party, had declared its acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction over crimes on its territory. He said that the Prosecutor had opened and was conducting investigations into the grave situations in Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur.
He stressed that the Court's investigations were underway in situations of ongoing conflict and that the security of its staff, the victims and witnesses were a major concern. Field operations were challenging in terms of establishing reliable and secure logistics, transportation and communication, protecting the rights of defence and conducting outreach. With no police force of its own, the Court relied on the support of States and other actors to carry out many essential functions, he said, stressing that without such cooperation in the arrest and surrender of persons charged with grave crimes, there would be no trials.
Nigeria's representative, speaking on behalf of the African States parties to the Rome Statute, said the Court should be guided by a strategic vision to assure its future relevance. The benefits and obligations of all stakeholders should be spelled out. Strategic goals based on a five-year cycle should be defined according to a resource-based strategy rather than a demand-based one.
He also said the Court's schedule should not be overburdened and the overall strategy should ensure that justice was actually brought about, including by holding trials in the region where the crimes had been committed, when possible. The question of the Court's permanent premises should be linked to the strategic planning, which should also address the need for the Court to leave a legacy of lasting jurisprudence, particularly in affected countries. Finally, future meetings of States parties should alternate between New York and The Hague.
The indictment of the perpetrators of crimes against Ugandans would serve as a strong deterrent and would strengthen the Court, said Uganda's representative. It was clear that the Court was gaining increasing credibility and respect in the international community. But, it was important for it to adhere to the principle of fair geographical distribution in the hiring of top- and mid-level managers. Currently, the West was overly represented and Africa and Asia were underrepresented.
He welcomed many procedural steps the Court had taken, including the development of a legal aid scheme to ensure the rights of the accused. Its efforts with regard to the inclusion of victims in the Court's proceedings were also commendable. Uganda also welcomed the establishment of the Victim's Trust Fund but was dismayed by delays in the distribution of funds to victims. While it understood concerns that convictions against perpetrators be obtained prior to the dispersal of funds, it appealed for recognition of the immediate needs of victims.
Stressing that States had nothing to fear from the Court, Canada's representative said the body had rigorous safeguards against frivolous investigations and prosecutions. States had a right to choose not to be members, but equal respect should be accorded to States which had chosen to nurture the Court and ensure it continued to be a responsible and effective judicial mechanism. All States should help strengthen the institution at the forefront of the campaign against impunity, to entrench a culture of accountability for the world's most serious crimes, along with universal respect for the common humanity of all, he said.
Addressing the Assembly today on lifting the United States embargo against Cuba were the representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Saint Lucia (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Mexico, China, United Republic of Tanzania, Malaysia, South Africa, Viet Nam, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Sudan, India, Indonesia, Zambia, Iran, Belarus, Namibia, Syria, Venezuela, Myanmar and Libya.
Speaking in explanation of vote were the representatives of the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe, Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)) and Australia.
Cuba's representative spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The representatives of the following countries spoke on the International Criminal Court: United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Argentina, Switzerland, Peru, Japan, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Brazil, Jordan, Serbia and Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liechtenstein, Australia, Kenya, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 November, to take up matters related to equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council.
The General Assembly met today to take up the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba. It was also expected to consider the report of the International Criminal Court.
The Assembly had before it a report by the Secretary-General on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba (document A/60/213), for which 85 Governments from across the globe submitted responses. Organs and agencies of the United Nations system also contributed their findings, which were summarized by the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Cuba.
According to Cuban authorities, the accumulated direct economic damage to the Cuban economy brought about by the embargo exceeded $82 billion. The negative impact of the blockade had been particularly felt in recent years due to the unprecedented number of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and drought.
Programmes for housing and infrastructure improvement for those affected by natural disasters had been postponed as a result of an insufficient supply of key imported building materials. For example, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) experienced delays of three months in acquiring basic supplies, such as mattresses and generators, required by children affected by Hurricane Ivan in the province of Pinar del Rio in September 2004.
In 2004, the Cuban economy faced volatility in prices and in the foreign exchange market as a result of new measures announced by the United States to strengthen the embargo. Those included additional travel restrictions on United States citizens to Cuba and on remittances sent by Cuban relatives. Average prices in Cuba rose 15 per cent after the measures were announced. The embargo had traditionally affected children, adolescents and women directly. The new measures had only aggravated that situation.
The embargo also continued to create numerous transport and bureaucratic difficulties for food aid deliveries. Cuba had been forced to develop far more distant markets, which increases distribution and transportation costs. It is impossible or extremely difficult to purchase equipment, medicines and laboratory materials produced by the United States or covered by United States patents. Trade restrictions also created problems in the educational sector, limiting the supply of computer equipment, pencils, paper and notebooks.
Only 50 per cent of required textbooks could be printed, and science labs were deteriorating. Exchange of scientific missions and expertise as part of United Nations technical cooperation projects was virtually impossible. Cuban experts designated to participate in exchange missions to the United States needed to request visas in advance, and those were sometimes denied.
Also before the Assembly is a related draft resolution (document A/60/L.9), which would have the Assembly reiterate its call on all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures that affect the free flow of international trade, in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which, among other things, reaffirms the freedom of trade and navigation.
Also, the Assembly would once again urge States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the necessary steps to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible in accordance with their legal regime.
The Assembly will also take up the report of the International Criminal Court (document A/60/177), an independent treaty-based permanent judicial institution with jurisdiction over persons for the most serious international crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The report describes the work of the Court, which entered the judicial phase of its operations, over the past year.
Three States parties had referred situations on their territories to the Prosecutor, and the Security Council had referred one situation to the Prosecutor. The Prosecutor was investigating three international situations and was monitoring eight other situations. The Court was conducting field operations and the Pre-Trial Chambers had begun the first judicial proceedings. The different organs of the Court coordinated their activities on matters of common concern, including strategic planning, external relations, public information and outreach and the cooperation of field presences.
Since 2002, the Assembly of States parties had held three sessions, during which it adopted a number of instruments, rules, regulations and resolutions. That Assembly had also established a Committee on Budget and Finance to provide an appropriate mechanism for the budgetary and financial review and monitoring of the resources of the Court. The Bureau of the Assembly established two working groups.
STAFFORD O. NEIL (Jamaica), speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the Group opposed unilateral sanctions against developing countries, and had rejected the United States embargo at the Doha Summit earlier this year. At that time, it reiterated the need to eliminate the sanctions immediately. The embargo was unilateral and was contrary to international law and the United Nations Charter. It had caused huge damage to the people of Cuba. The recent measures to tighten the embargo violated Cuba's sovereignty. The United Nations Charter called for the peaceful settlement of disputes. The destinies of Cuba and the United States were linked and differences between them had to be resolved by dialogue and cooperation.
The measures had caused untold hardships to the people of Cuba, he said. Cuba's difficulties, as a result of the embargo, had been compounded by the recent series of hurricanes. The international community had to assist in Cuba's hardships. He called on the United States to end the embargo and to enter into peaceful negotiations with Cuba.
JULIAN HUNTE (Saint Lucia), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the United Nations Charter emphasized the importance of respect for the sovereign equality of States, non-interference in their internal affairs, and the maintenance of friendly relations between nations. For small States like those in the Caribbean, such principles were an essential part of the rule of law of the international community. From that perspective, the imposition of unilateral punitive measures and the extraterritorial application of legislation constituted a violation of international law. The undue restrictions were inconsistent with the promotion of free and fair trade, which was essential to the sustainable development of small States such as those in the Caribbean.
He said Cuba was an integral part of the Caribbean region and threatened no one. Its commitment to the social and economic development of its neighbours was unquestionable. The CARICOM continued to support unwaveringly the right of the Cuban people to choose their own government. The embargo served no other purpose than to preserve a state of tension between two neighbouring countries, resulting only in the imposition of significant hardship and suffering on the Cuban people. It was all the more regrettable that that was occurring while the people of Cuba, the wider Caribbean and parts of North America suffered from the devastation of several recent hurricanes. Those disasters underscored the need for regional and international cooperation and solidarity.
He said the Caribbean Community enjoyed friendly relations with the United States and, in that spirit, urged its Government to respect the will of the international community, ending the embargo and engaging in constructive dialogue and the normalization of relations with Cuba.
ENRIQUE BERRUGA FILLOY (Mexico) said that the leaders of the Member States of the Organization had responded to the Assembly's request to reiterate the vital importance of an effective multilateral system, and to reaffirm the commitment to promote and fortify the effectiveness of the United Nations by implementing its decisions and resolutions. Mexico expected that that renewed agreement for the future of the Organization be translated through the application and fulfilment of resolutions, such as the one before delegations today, which called for the end of the embargo against Cuba. That call, a position held by the majority of the international community, had been disregarded consistently.
The United States embargo contradicted international law, and symbolized the gradual abandonment of diplomacy and the ability to solve controversies among States, he said. Mexico expected that a renewed commitment against the embargo should be translated through today's resolution, and would vote in favour of the text.
BAI YONGJIE (China) said the issue of development had figured prominently in the World Summit's Outcome Document. To fulfil the Millennium Development Goals, developing countries had formulated national development strategies and the international community had promised to provide more support to them. The entire international community had mobilized to reach the Millennium Development Goals but the largest developed country in the world, and the so-called "partner for development", had not changed its policy of embargo. Not only had Cuba not received the support it deserved, but its normal economic, business and financial contacts had been arbitrarily cut off.
The United States had repeatedly stated that the embargo was a bilateral issue that should not be taken up by the Assembly, she continued. The truth was that nearly 80 countries suffered economic losses from the United States embargo and sanctions against Cuba. The international community had every right to raise grave concerns about such practices and to demand an immediate end to them. The United States should replace confrontation with dialogue, and embargoes and sanctions with contacts and exchanges.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said the embargo against Cuba had negatively impacted economic and social conditions for Cubans. The embargo ran contrary to efforts to assist developing countries. The lifting of the blockade against Cuba would improve the regional situation, would integrate Cuba into trade and would bring about the normalization of other relations. The sanctions in the Helms-Burton Act encroached on the rights of other nations. The extraterritorial nature of the sanctions hurt Cuba and other countries. He supported the resolution and called on the United States to end the embargo and to normalize relations with Cuba.
HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia) said that since 1991, the General Assembly had repeatedly pronounced its rejection of the use of unilateral measures by one Member State to effect political reforms of another Member State. Last year's adoption by the Assembly once again unambiguously reflected the position of an overwhelming majority of Member States to reject the United States embargo against Cuba and call for its end.
The embargo was not consistent with universally accepted principals of international law, the United Nations Charter or the principles of the World Trade Organization. The embargo was provocative, extremely discriminatory, and undermined the principles of the sovereign equality of States, human rights and peaceful co-existence. The embargo against Cuba was not only a violation of international law, but violated the rights of the Cuban people and impeded their rights to enjoy life, to economic well-being, and development. In addition, the embargo had caused tremendous socio-economic damage to the country. As a staunch supporter of free trade, human rights and good relations among nations, the United States should repeal its sanctions against Cuba.
XOLISA MABHONGO (South Africa) said he had consistently opposed the United States embargo against Cuba, and continued to view the measure as a violation of the principles of the sovereign equality of States and of non-intervention and non-interference in the domestic affairs of others. South Africa was guided by the basic norms of international law in its principled support for the need to eliminate economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion. It was also committed to working towards a better world in which all nations, big and small, co-existed peacefully.
He recalled that the Heads of State and Government of the Group of 77, meeting at the second South Summit in Doha, Qatar, this past June, had recognized that the embargo against Cuba had caused a high degree of economic and financial damage, which had negatively impacted the welfare and well-being of the people of that country. The Doha meeting had condemned the use of economic and social measures designed to prevent countries from exercising their right to decide their own political, economic and social systems. The meeting had also called on all countries not to recognize the unilateral extraterritorial laws that imposed sanctions on other States or foreign companies.
LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam) said that over the past 14 years, the Assembly had adopted resolutions calling for an end to the embargo against Cuba. Unfortunately, the United States had not only kept the ban in place, it had tightened the measure by introducing restrictions on travel and money transfers to the country. With that, the longest-held embargo in history now caused greater damage to nearly every aspect of the Cuban economy and the lives of the people there -- calculated in purely monetary terms at some $80 billion a year. It was also now affecting the decisions of third countries where Cuba was concerned.
Viet Nam had always joined the overwhelming majority of Member States opposing the imposition of unilateral embargoes or blockades by one State against another. It would continue to maintain that the United States' embargo against Cuba served no other purpose than to aggravate tensions between the two countries. Viet Nam believed that the differences between both Cuba and the United States should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations based on the respect for each nation's sovereignty and independence. Such dialogue could allow both countries to use their close geographical proximity for developing useful economic, trade and investment relations in the interest of their peoples.
ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People's Democratic Republic) said that in the complex and ever changing contemporary world, in order to preserve peace and to achieve worldwide economic development, cooperation was necessary between nations, whatever their socio-economic regimes. In general, international cooperation had increased, but it was discouraging that there remained unilateral and discriminatory commercial measures. According to General Assembly resolutions, it was forbidden for one country to impose extraterritorial measures on another sovereign country or to impinge on the freedom of commerce. It was in that spirit that his country supported the lifting of the economic, financial and commercial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba.
The embargo, which had recently been enforced even more strenuously, had caused great suffering on innocent Cuban citizens. The embargo had not been good for either the United States or Cuba. On the contrary, it had increased tensions between the two countries. It was time that the international community redoubled its efforts to end the anachronistic blockade.
YASIR ABDELSALAM (Sudan) said one of the main responsibilities of United Nations membership was to ensure respect for the rule of law, and for the right of people to choose their own path. Today's meeting marked the fourteenth year running that the Assembly had opposed the United States blockade against Cuba. The Sudan had urged other States not to abide by the blockade. However, once again, Member States found themselves considering the agenda item.
Last year, he recalled, the Assembly adopted a similar resolution by a large majority. The embargo was a unilateral blockade imposed on Cuba, which constituted a flagrant violation of international law and ran counter to the spirit of international human rights law and, most significantly, the spirit of development. The embargo had caused tremendous suffering to the Cuban people as a result of illegal and unjustified policies. The Sudan opposed that policy of exclusion and the act of imposing certain choices on people, and strongly condemned unilateral actions which violated international law and the United Nations Charter.
SITARAM YECHURY (India) said the embargo, which had been imposed by President Eisenhower in 1960 and had been maintained and strengthened in the ensuing years, did not meet the test of international law. "Trafficking" in nationalized property could not be said to have a serious effect on the United States, and so the embargo could not be justified. Nor could it be justified under the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The embargo was having a serious impact on food supplies and the health of Cubans. The difficulties imposed by the embargo had been recognized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). While the United States and Cuba would, under normal circumstances, be natural economic partners, their experience had been the opposite. India understood that a large part of the United States private sector would like to see the embargo ended.
Embargos impeded the full development of a country and it especially hurt women and children, he said. India opposed unilateral measures that impinged on the sovereignty of other nations, including efforts to change the laws of another country. It urged the international community to protect the sovereign rights of all countries.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said that a way must be found to settle the embargo issue once and for all. The current gathering should ask whether the embargo was justifiable in today's globalized, interdependent world and in keeping with the spirit of multilateralism. The Secretary-General's report showed the disagreement and opposition of Member States to the embargo, which ran counter to the United Nations Charter and was against every recognized principle of international law. The embargo had affected the economic and social life of the Cuban people, especially children and women, a condition that was not in line with the spirit of global partnership for development.
He said due respect should be shown for the sovereign equality of all States, consistent with international law. The principle of non-interference in countries' internal affairs must also be upheld, and there should be no hindrance to the freedom of international trade and navigation. The embargo would only serve to keep tensions high between the two neighbouring countries and would not advance the commitment to the principles of the Charter and international law.
TENS C. KAPOMA (Zambia) said the Secretary-General had presented a comprehensive report on the effects of the embargo. The measures hurt Cubans, including the most vulnerable. It was disturbing that measures had been taken to strengthen the embargo in the past several years. His country called on all nations to support the lifting of the embargo, as it violated international law. The embargo also eroded the principles of friendly relations between States, to which his country was committed. The cost of providing Cuba with assistance was becoming untenable because of the embargo. Therefore, the situation had to be changed and all countries were urged to support the resolution.
JAVAD AGHAZADEH (Iran) said the content, and the 179 votes in favour, of last year's resolution on the subject were a clear reflection of the international community's position on the embargo against Cuba. It was clear that the blockade was a violation of the internationally agreed principles governing relations among States. The Johannesburg Plan of Action called on States to refrain from unilateral measures contrary to international law and to the Charter. Such measures also impeded the achievement of economic and social development among the people affected, particularly women and children. Unilateral measures also created obstacles to the enjoyment of human rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living.
The devastation suffered by the people of Cuba was evident from a report Cuba's Government had prepared, he continued. The embargo had adversely affected all areas of life, including health, economy, education, trade, tourism, aviation, culture and sports. Such policies stemmed only from intolerance and enmity towards other political, economic and social systems. It added to the gulfs among nations and ran counter to the policy of protecting human rights and dignity.
At the start of the twenty-first century, the resort to unjustifiable economic coercive measures against States on the basis of political observations was not acceptable.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said that with pride and bitterness, his country added its voice to the international community to call for the lifting of the embargo on Cuba. Belarus was proud that it could stand with Cuba, which had been the victim of a country that tried to impose foreign domination. He hoped that the international community would join his country to oppose such tyranny. It was with bitterness and regret that Belarus saw continuing attempts by the great Power, the United States, to force Cuba to live as the United States wanted. The true, noble essence of strength was to demonstrate wisdom, to recognize mistakes and to understand that there was a new world that was interdependent, complex, and fragile.
BEN SHINGENGE (Namibia) said his delegation had always held the view that the near 50-year embargo against Cuba ran counter to the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter, international law and the Millennium Declaration. The blockade, which continued to cause damage to the Cuban people's economic, social and cultural development, remained intact despite yearly action by the Assembly. Noting the extraterritorial nature of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts, he added that the matter could not be considered an "exclusive bilateral affair" because it now impacted the decisions of numerous countries, as well as the citizens or companies of third States.
Namibia was convinced that the people of the two neighbouring countries would benefit from the normalization of relations and the removal of the restrictions between them. He said that the United States Government should, therefore, heed the international community's call and end the blockade, which would lead to the promotion of good neighbourly relations with the Government and people of Cuba. He added that all human rights were inalienable, and that under the blockade, the Cuban people were being denied basic rights to food, medicine, education and, above all, the right to development.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said the United Nations Charter enshrined the principle of non-intervention in sovereign nations, and the unilateral embargo and the measures to strengthen the embargo went against that principle, as well as the rights to freedom of trade and freedom of travel. Cuba had been a victim of socio-economic damage that had particularly hurt the elderly and children. The embargo had hampered the country's efforts to improve the well-being of its citizens. The Cuban people had been deprived of the benefits of trade and of their basic rights, including the right to development.
Syria had never stopped trying to persuade the United States, through discussion, to allow Cuba to be able to choose its own political, social and economic systems, he said. The fact that more than 100 countries had previously voted to end the embargo demonstrated the injustice of the blockade. Also, the Doha Summit had rejected the imposition by a country of its own policies on another and the imposition of coercive economic measures. The Helms-Burton Act went beyond setting national policy to imposing policies on other countries. The United States had not taken any measures to respond to the international community's position, and had stubbornly stuck to the embargo and had adopted new measures to strengthen the embargo. The voice of the international community ought to be heeded by the United States.
FERMÍN TORO JIMÉNEZ (Venezuela) said the maintenance of international peace and security required that relations between States, independent of ideologies, be based on the strict adherence to the United Nations Charter and to the norms of international law. There was not, and could not, be one single model for development or democracy. Members of the Organization should reaffirm their support for non-intervention in the internal affairs of States, self-determination of peoples and national sovereignty. Many voices had risen in outrage throughout the world since the imposition of the criminal blockade. It was a destabilizing act of war against the Cuban people and their exercise of their right to self-determination. The purpose of the act, with its genocidal flavour, was to weaken support of the Cuban revolution by making the Cuban people suffer and become discouraged in pursuing the revolutionary changes that had been unstoppable in the last 44 years.
He said that the fact that the embargo had cost Cuba more than $80 billion in the last four decades eloquently called out for justice, but that did not even include the $54 billion caused by terrorist actions and sabotage incited and financed from United States territory. The blockade was a coercive, systematic, unilateral act of force incompatible with the international legal regime, and contrary to the overall framework that defined trade between States as a fundamental right. The Cuban people and their legitimate Government had not only survived with courage and integrity, but had become stronger, offering solidarity to other parts of the world and spreading a sense of dignity to the world community. Venezuela stood side by side with the people of Cuba, inspired by the spirit of Bolivar and Marti, against the unilateral coercive blockade.
KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said the application of laws and regulations that affected the sovereignty of other States, their legitimate interest and their freedom of trade and navigation, was a violation of the spirit and letter of the Charter and of the universally adopted principles of international law. Myanmar had been a co-initiator of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, by which it maintained scrupulous respect for the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in the internal affairs and freedom of trade of others.
Furthermore, he said that imposing the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba adversely affected the Cuban people, particularly children, women and the elderly. The embargo in no way promoted peace and stability in the region. He would vote affirmatively on the resolution to demonstrate firm opposition to rules and regulations that had extraterritorial effects, particularly when contrary to the Charter and international law.
MOHAMED ABURAWI (Libya) said unilateral measures would never be the way to resolve differences between nations. They were intolerable when they were based on differences in the nature of the political or economic system of States. The international community had rejected unilateral actions repeatedly. The answer to differences in views was not to violate the rights of others but to find appropriate solutions in ways that protected human rights.
Introduction of Draft
FELIPE PÉREZ ROQUE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, introduced the draft resolution on the item, saying that today was a day of particular importance as the Assembly voted for the fourteenth time on a resolution calling for the removal of the United States embargo on Cuba. In voting for the resolution, delegates would be voting for the principles of international law. The United States had repeatedly ignored appeals from the international community. The blockade had not been enforced with such brutality as it had been in the last 18 months. Since 6 May 2004, when President Bush signed his plan for the annexation of Cuba, there had been a hysterical attitude in the enforcement of the embargo.
As a result of the strengthening of the embargo, an American, for the first time, would be barred from smoking a Cuban cigar even when travelling to another country, he said. Such insanity should go into the Guinness Book of World Records. In an unprecedented move, the United States had called for the creation of a group for the persecution of Cuban assets. The very existence of such a group should have embarrassed the President of the most powerful country on earth. Numerous companies had been sanctioned because they had traded with Cuba. Travel to Cuba from the United States and elsewhere had dropped markedly since the imposition of the heightened sanctions.
The blockade had cost Cubans nearly $82 billion in direct economic damage over the last four decades, and had deprived the United States of low-cost goods, cholesterol-reducing drugs, drugs for HIV/AIDS and much more. Cuba was the only Latin American country to never receive a credit or loan from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. If it were merely a bilateral sanction, that would be very grave; but it was an economic war against Cuba carried out on a global scale. The combination of the Presidency of George Bush and increasing globalisation had magnified the damage done by the embargo.
The blockade violated the constitutional rights of the United States, as well as the rights of Cubans, he said. The embargo prevented Americans from travelling to Cuba and enjoying its culture. It also hurt the economic interests of the United States. The United States had to cease its aggression against Cuba. The United States Government was delusional to believe that it could overthrow the Cuban revolution. He appealed to all countries to vote in favour of the resolution.
Action on Draft
In explanation of vote, before the vote, PAUL JOHNSTON (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated states, said the United States trade policy towards Cuba was fundamentally a bilateral issue. However, the extraterritorial extension of the embargo, as in the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, was unacceptable.
He said the European Union Council of Ministers had adopted a Common Position in 1996 to protect European Union residents from the extraterritorial effects of the Helms-Burton legislation by prohibiting compliance with it. At a 1998 Summit of the European Union and the United States, a package had been agreed upon that covered waivers to the Act, committed the United States to resist further extraterritorial legislation, and set forth an understanding on strengthening investment protection. The United States should implement its side of that package.
The Union's policy towards Cuba was set out in the 1996 Common Position, he said. Its objective in relations with Cuba was to encourage a process of transition to pluralist democracy with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, while also promoting the improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people. The commitment to that Common Position had been reaffirmed on 13 June.
Critical engagement with the Cuban Government and dialogue with the wider Cuban society was the way to promote peaceful change in Cuba, he said. Full cooperation would depend on improvements in human rights and political freedoms. The Cuban Government should unconditionally release all political prisoners and authorities should cooperate fully with international human rights bodies. In the meantime, the trade embargo should be lifted to open Cuba's economy for the benefit of the Cuban people, oppressed both by the Cuban domestic economic policy and by the embargo. In addition, Cuba should lift restrictions on private enterprise.
RONALD GODARD (United States) said his country's trade embargo against Cuba was a bilateral issue that should not come before the Assembly. But since Cuba had raised the issue, his delegation would like to discuss the root of the problems the Cuban people faced everyday -- the failed policies of President Fidel Castro. As his economic policies harmed the Cuban people, Mr. Castro tried to blame the United States for the failures of the Government he led. The resolution before the Assembly made frequent mention of "free trade", but Mr. Castro denied such commerce to the Cuban people.
Indeed, Mr. Castro continued with his "cynical and baseless" claims that the embargo denied Cuba access to food and medicine, but he knew that since 1992, the United States had licensed over $1.1 billion in the sale and donation of medicines and medical equipment to the Cuban people. He said that Mr. Castro knew that the United States Government had licensed the export of over $5 billion worth of agricultural commodities in the past five years. So, if the people of Cuba were jobless, hungry or without medical care, as Mr. Castro admitted, it was because of his economic mismanagement, not because of the embargo.
He said that Mr. Castro had long blocked democracy and economic freedom for the Cuban people, even denying them the right to many forms of self-employment. Mr Castro also gave his people a stark choice: work for his regime or starve. "Then he blames the embargo for the problems he created", he said, adding "He knows this is a lie. Cuba is free to trade with any other country in the world without interference from the United States". The real reason behind Cuba's trade problems was the failure of Mr. Castro's country to pay its bills, and billions of dollars of loans in arrears.
In 2002, the United States had challenged Mr. Castro to permit free and fair elections to the National Assembly, and to open the Cuban economy and allow independent trade unions. President Bush had made clear that his response to such concrete reforms would be an effort with Congress to ease restrictions on trade and travel between the United States and Cuba. "Castro answered this challenge for freedom with imprisonment for human rights leaders and trade unionists," he said, stressing that the United States opposed Mr. Castro and his politics of repression. The way forward for the two countries was through genuine transition to political and economic liberty for the Cuban people. He would vote against the resolution and urged others to do the same.
SONG SE IL (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said that the Assembly had been taking up resolutions for ending the embargo since 1991. The United States had thwarted the will of Member States, and should be held accountable. The sanctions were a wanton infringement of the independence of sovereign States. They ignored the principles and norms of the United Nations Charter. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had consistently opposed all unilateral sanctions on sovereign States. It offered its full support and solidarity with the Cuban people in their fight for justice, and urged the United States to end the embargo in accordance with Assembly resolutions.
NIKOLAY V. CHULKOV (Russian Federation) opposed the imposition of extraterritorial measures by one country on another, as such measures were counterproductive. He strongly condemned the United States embargo on Cuba and called for it to be immediately lifted. Ending the embargo and normalizing Cuban-American relations would improve the situation between the two countries and would help Cuba become more engaged in international and regional processes.
The imposition of the embargo was not in keeping with the spirit of the times, he said. Its continuation was a relic of the cold war and the era of international confrontation. It impeded the establishment of a new mode of operations in international relations. The decision to tighten sanctions showed that the United States continued to rely on repressive approaches. The recent worsening of relations was disturbing and would interfere with any constructive dialogue. He called for the lifting of the blockade and the normalization of relations between the two countries.
BONIFACE CHIDYAUSIKU (Zimbabwe) asked why, if the matter between the United States and Cuba was a bilateral one, the United States was imposing legislation about the matter on others. No country had the right to determine the path Cuba should follow. Consideration of the issue had shown that the United States needed to end its unilateral policy, which undermined the Cuban people's right to development. The policy was cruel, anachronistic and illegitimate. As a country also affected by extraterritorial policies, Zimbabwe stood in solidarity with Cuba.
The Assembly adopted the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 1 abstention (Federated States of Micronesia). (See Annex.)
In explanation of vote, after the vote, SUSANA RIVERO (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States, said the group was committed to the objectives and principles of the United Nations Charter. More than once, it had expressed its absolute rejection of unilateral and extraterritorial coercive measures that were opposed to international law. The group emphatically opposed foreign laws that directly or indirectly affected the principle of non-intervention in domestic affairs and attacked the sovereignty of States. The imposition of unilateral coercive measures did not contribute to promoting the democratic system and ended up impeding human rights, particularly the right to development.
ANDREW SOUTHCOTT (Australia) said his country shared concerns about human rights in Cuba but it did not consider economic sanctions as the means to express that disapproval. The extraterritorial effects of the sanctions affected the rights of other States. Such measures were not justified by the principles of international law. Australia was particularly concerned about the extraterritorial aspects of the Helms-Burton Act and, for that reason, voted in favour of the resolution.
Right of Reply
ILEANA NUÑEZ (Cuba), replying to the United States and the European Union, said that, year after year, the European Union had repeated the same arguments to explain its vote. It seemed to apologize for being forced to acknowledge what was clear, that people legitimately had the right to build a fairer society where benefits were not distributed among a small group of people. How could those who had extended impunity to atrocious perpetrators of human rights violations and established concentration camps in territory that rightfully belonged to Cuba speak of human rights? There was nothing to learn of human rights from the richest society in the world, where 44 million people did not have access to hospitals; the political cast was carrying out fraud and deceitfully running an empire; and the Government was incapable of preventing the death of thousands of citizens in light of nature's fury.
Statements on International Criminal Court
PHILIPPE KIRSCH, President of the International Criminal Court, said that since the Court had submitted its last report to the Assembly, there had been two significant developments. The first had been that Mexico had deposited its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General late last month. That was an important milestone in that Mexico had become the 100th State party to the Rome Statute, which established the Court. The second important event in the Court's development was that the body had issued its first arrest warrants this year.
He said that on 8 July, Pre-trial Chamber II issued the warrants, pertaining to the situation in Uganda, for five members of the Lord's Resistance Army for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes. Subject to the necessary cooperation in the arrest and surrender of persons, the first trials were expected to begin next year. He went on to highlight some significant aspects of the judicial phase of the Court's activities. Also, four situations had been referred to the Prosecutor: three States parties had referred situations in their territories, and the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, had referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan.
In addition, Cote d'Ivoire, a non-State party, had declared its acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction over crimes on its territory. He said that the Prosecutor had opened and was conducting investigations into the grave situations in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur. He stressed that the Court's investigations were underway in situations of ongoing conflict and that the security of its staff, the victims, witnesses and others were of paramount concern.
Noting language and translation concerns, he said field operations were challenging in terms of establishing reliable and secure logistics, transportation and communications, and protecting the rights of defence and conducting outreach. With no police force of its own, the Court relied on the cooperation of States and other actors to carry out many essential functions, he said, stressing that without such cooperation in the arrest and surrender of persons charged with grave crimes, there would be no trials.
In conclusion, he said that the United Nations had first taken up the issue of a permanent international court in the wake of the Holocaust. The 1948 Anti-Genocide Convention envisioned that that "crime of crimes" could one day be punished by an international penal tribunal. "The dream of a permanent international court was deferred for too long." Now, however, there was an opportunity to ensure the perpetrators of the worst atrocities no longer benefited from impunity, to deter perpetrators and to build a culture of accountability. "We can not afford to fail", he warned.
HUW LLEWELLYN (United Kingdom), on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the European Union was a strong supporter of the Court and was a staunch defender of the Rome Statute. The establishment of the Court had been the most significant development recently in the struggle to eradicate impunity for the most serious international crimes and in the advancement of justice and the rule of law. The Court was also a vital instrument for the prevention of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The European Union continued to seek the widest possible support for the Court, and, consequently, urged all States that had not yet done so to accede to the Rome Statute as soon as possible. It also urged States to become parties to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Court.
The European Union welcomed the fact that the Court was operational, he said. Investigations were underway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Northern Uganda and Darfur. In another milestone, the first warrants of arrest were unsealed this year against leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Uganda. That sent a clear message to the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern. Other activities of the Court, for example those in support of victims, were also commendable. The European Union further welcomed the activities of the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression. It urged all States to attend the next Assembly of States Parties at the end of November.
MARGARET HUGHES FERRARI (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), on behalf of CARICOM, said the report detailed significant progress in proving the Court's worth as a functioning and effective institution. It was essential that the Court receive full cooperation in such areas as preserving and providing evidence, sharing information and securing the arrest and surrender of persons to the Court. Effective collaboration between the United Nations and the Court remained of critical importance. The Security Council's decision to refer the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor was a significant step in the consolidation of the Court's work. Hopefully, it would form the basis for a closer, constructive relationship between the court and the Security Council in the future.
She said the adoption of the draft regulations of the Trust Fund for Victims was of critical importance. All States parties and other participants in the Working Group of the Bureau on that issue should work to reach agreement on the key outstanding issues, in advance of the Fourth Assembly of States Parties in The Hague later this month. All States parties were encouraged to make substantial voluntary contributions to the Fund. All States that had not yet ratified the Rome Statute were urged to do so as soon as possible, and adopt the necessary implementing legislation. States parties were also urged to ratify and implement the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Court, which was an important element to its proper functioning.
AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African States parties to the Rome Statute, said the Court's history made it remarkable that the number of States parties to the Rome Statute had risen to 100 in such a short time. It was also encouraging that five warrants of arrests had been issued and that Austria had concluded an agreement to effect the Court's judgment.
The Court should be guided by a strategic vision to be relevant in the future, he continued. The benefits and obligations of all stakeholders should be spelled out. Strategic goals based on a five-year cycle should be defined according to a resource-based strategy rather than a demand-based one. The schedule should not be strained and the strategy should ensure that justice was actually brought about, including by holding trials in the region where the crimes had been committed, when possible. The question of the Court's permanent premises should be linked to the strategic planning, which should also address the need for the Court to leave a legacy of lasting jurisprudence, particularly in affected countries. Finally, future meetings of States parties should be alternated between New York and The Hague.
DIEGO MALPEDE (Argentina) said that the Court was the most appropriate body to combat impunity and to judge those who committed the most serious crimes against humanity. The referral of the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor was a fundamental precedent for ending impunity. Argentina opposed any agreement that, in general terms, excluded the nationals of a State from the jurisdiction of the Court. The word and spirit of the Rome Statute must be respected and equilibrium among its provisions preserved.
He expressed satisfaction with the latest developments in investigations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Darfur. The recent arrest warrants for leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army for crimes committed in Uganda were an important step for consolidating the Court as an international legal institution. He called on the international community to coordinate its efforts to arrest the suspects. The Special Working Group was performing important work on crimes of aggression, and its meetings should be held at Headquarters, as indicated by Assembly Resolution 58/79.
PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said the fact that three States parties had referred situations to the International Criminal Court demonstrated that it was an institution that met a real need. The referral of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court -- by the Security Council -- proved the Court had become an indispensable pillar of the international peace and security architecture.
Switzerland welcomed the strategy of the Prosecutor, which aimed to identify those people at the highest levels responsible for the worst crimes. Concerning the relationship between the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the agreement that came into effect last year, between the two bodies, was fully implemented in the mutual interests of both institutions. In the execution of its mandate, the Court had proved to be sensitive to the political context in which it operated. The Court, in a short space of time, had enjoyed wide support within the international community and had become a cornerstone in the fight against impunity at the international level.
FRANCIS K. BUTAGIRA (Uganda) said one could only recoil from the horrible crimes committed against humanity, particularly against children, who were kidnapped, witnessed gruesome killings, mutilated, raped, and forced to take part in killings themselves. It was to redress some of those despicable human acts that the International Criminal Court was established. He congratulated the Court on behalf of all the victims of the Lord's Resistance Army, for its issuance of arrest warrants for five members of the Army's leadership. He called upon his country's neighbours to help apprehend the indictees. His country rejected notions that the arrest warrants would hamper peace prospects in Northern Uganda. It was clear that the Lord's Resistance Army had no intention to give up its heinous war and crimes against humanity.
The indictment of the perpetrators of crimes against Ugandans would serve as a strong deterrent and would strengthen the Court. It was clear that the Court was gaining increasing credibility and respect in the international community. However, it was important for the Court to have fair geographical distribution in the hiring of top- and mid-level managers. Currently, the West was overly represented and Africa and Asia were underrepresented. Uganda welcomed many procedural steps the Court had taken, including the development of a legal aid scheme to ensure the rights of the accused. Its efforts with regard to the inclusion of victims in the Court's proceedings were also commendable. Uganda welcomed the establishment of the Victim's Trust Fund, but it was dismayed by delays in the distribution of funds to victims. While it understood concerns that convictions against perpetrators be obtained prior to the dispersal of funds, it appealed for recognition of the immediate needs of victims.
RICARDO MOROTE (Peru) said the Court was conceived not only as an effective instrument to prevent the impunity of the perpetrators of crimes, but also to discourage the future commission of such atrocities. In exercising its delicate tasks, the Court could achieve that mission and thus help to achieve United Nations goals, particularly the respect for human rights and the maintenance of international peace and security. The decision of the Security Council to refer the situation in Darfur to the Court was the correct one. Hopefully, the Council would continue that practice in other situations where it was deemed necessary.
He said that Court investigations often encountered security problems.
In that respect, it was crucial that the Court and the United Nations work together. The Court lacked its own police force capable of implementing its decisions or warrants. For that reason, cooperation of States in areas such as gathering of evidence, arrest and surrender of individuals and the enforcement of sentences was essential. It was also important to provide the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims with sufficient assistance, and he appealed to States in a position to do so, to contribute to the fund. The Court served to complement the forces of national jurisdictions, which must react to criminal acts identified as crimes under the Court's jurisdiction. States should process those who committed crimes subject to the Court's jurisdiction and provide the most expeditious judicial assistance in those situations.
TOSHIRO OZAWA (Japan) said that in order for the Court to win the trust of the international community, it was essential that the body demonstrate fairness, efficiency and impartiality. The Court's activities were drawing increased international attention, particularly as the body shifted from investigations into the judicial phase. Although Japan had yet to accede to the Rome Statute, it had actively participated as an observer in all Court-related meetings. Japan was also taking part in activities such as the discussion on drafting regulations for the Victims Trust Fund and the task force for the draft code of professional conduct of counsel.
Japan was aware of the growing need for budgetary expansion as the Court began full-scale operations. At the same time, financial discipline must be maintained in order for the Court to enjoy the support of the wider international community. As a State considering becoming a party to the Rome Statue, Japan would emphasize the importance of transparency and effectiveness in the Court's work. Japan hoped that the Court would be a truly universalized body that commanded the trust of the entire international community.
IRENE KASYANJU (United Republic of Tanzania) said the relationship between the United Nations and the International Criminal Court was one that reinforced and institutionalized the idea that two important organs of international justice could work together. Most significant was the fact that the Court had entered the judicial phase of its operations. The Prosecutor had already launched three investigations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda upon referrals, and the Security Council had referred the Darfur issue to the Court as well.
Cooperation by States parties was essential in order for the Court to succeed. It was the duty of States to execute the arrest warrants issued by the Court. All United Nations Member States needed to grant their cooperation to the Court by ratifying and acceding to the Rome Statue to further universalize the Court.
SHIN KAK-SOO (Republic of Korea) welcomed the fact that there were now 100 States parties to the Court. However, there were only 12 States parties to the Rome Statute from Asia. He hoped that the Court and other States Parties would assist Asian States in acceding to the Statute. His country would do its part to accomplish that objective. He welcomed the beginning of the Court's operations and said the investigations underway and the issuance of arrest warrants for alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity would not only bring justice to perpetrators, but would also serve as a deterrent to future atrocities. The future of the Court would be determined by its performance, which in turn was dependent on the provision of adequate financial, logistical and political support for the Court.
It was important to note that the Court did not have its own enforcement arm. The Court was dependent on States to apprehend indictees, collect evidence or execute its sentences. As a result, it needed the full cooperation of States, regional organizations and the United Nations. The cooperation of the United Nations was also needed for many functions, including the protection of victims, witnesses and investigators. To facilitate that cooperation, his country advocated the establishment of a liaison office for the Court at the United Nations, and its adequate funding. He also looked forward to further efforts of the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression. There was growing support for the Court and he reaffirmed his country's unswerving commitment to it.
JUAN MANUEL GÓMEZ ROBLEDO (Mexico) said his country had deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute on 28 October, becoming the 100th State party to do so. The process leading to that point had not been easy. Constitutional reforms had to be instituted. Many people had not wanted Mexico to become a State party. But the debate brought out the fact that national judicial systems must be improved to let the Court carry out its role of dealing with the worst crimes against humanity. The Court was intended to be a deterrent against the most serious crimes and to promote the rule of law. Therefore, the debate on becoming a State party to the Rome Statute had helped President Fox achieve the agenda of reform for his country, including an improved judiciary.
All the hard work to win over opponents would not have succeeded without the friends of the Court, he said, which included the European Union countries, the Court President and many others. Further, he said ratifying the Statute had been an act his country had taken with an eye to universalizing the Court. The Court's report provided the opportunity to assess the work that had been undertaken, and to look for areas where the international community could help the Court in its work of eradicating impunity for serious crimes.
Reaffirming full support for the Court, he said it was operating smoothly, just as envisioned in the Rome Statute. The Court had taken up the few cases before it now because the situations had been grave, but the Court should take care not to let partiality enter into its agenda in the future. All cases referred by the Security Council must be scrupulously examined to preclude bias and the principle of complementarity must be upheld. A mechanism must be developed to ensure access to the Court by those who needed it, and the Trust Fund for Victims must receive support. The work on regulations should be completed before the Assembly's next session.
DIEGO CORDOVEZ (Ecuador) said he was pleased with the progress that had been made in the past year by the Court. Through its work, it had dispelled scepticism about its potential effectiveness, independence and impartiality. The fact that the Central African Republic and others had submitted to its jurisdiction was indicative of the confidence the Court had marshalled. In that regard, the most important event was the Security Council's referral of the situation in Darfur to the Court. The ties between the Security Council and the Court had to be strengthened. Ecuador was particularly concerned about the rights of victims. They should receive financial remunerations, as well as protection and support, and be able to participate in the judicial process. In that respect, he was pleased with the creation of the Victim's Trust Fund.
The fight against impunity, and respect for the rule of law and human rights contributed to the establishment of international peace and security. Therefore, it was important to obtain universal accession to the Rome Statute. The full application of the Statute and the ratification of the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities depended on the support of countries. The will to ratify was not sufficient. Ecuador congratulated Mexico for its decision to ratify the Rome Statute.
BRUNO STAGNO (Costa Rica) thanked the President of the Court for his presentation, which he hoped would become the normal practice. The creation of the Court was one of the greatest achievements of the international community in recent times. It helped fill the vacuum regarding individual responsibility for criminal acts that violated international law. The Court represented a formidable tool to combat impunity and a powerful deterrent against future perpetration of such atrocities. The principle of complementarity enshrined in the Rome Statute showed that the Court was only the last resort when a State was unable or unwilling to judge those who committed the most serious crimes.
He welcomed the Court's unsealing of its first indictments for members of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, as well as for its recent progress in cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur. He was also pleased that the Prosecutor was preparing detailed studies of seven situations of concern, including allegations of possible crimes committed in the Central African Republic. The Court's role in deterring the commission of atrocities and war crimes complemented the work of the Security Council in the area of human rights and the rule of law. The effectiveness of the Court depended on cooperation from all States and the United Nations. All States should ensure their continued commitment to the Court.
CARLOS DUARTE (Brazil) said the universality and the integrity of the Rome Statute must be the permanent concerns of those who helped establish the Court. With Mexico's ratification of the Rome Statute, all but four Latin American countries had joined the Court, an outstanding achievement in the short history of the institution and a source of pride for the region. The investigations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Darfur were important developments for the Court. The issuance of the first arrest warrants marked a significant step in the fight against impunity in Uganda. Preliminary measures concerning the Security Council's referral of the situation in Darfur to the Court were welcome. Justice was crucial for establishing peace and ending violence there.
He said Brazil had abstained in the vote on Security Council Resolution 1593, since it felt its full commitment to the Court could not be adequately reflected in that text. However, Brazil had always endorsed the authority of the Court as the only acceptable international criminal institution to deal with the situation in Darfur. The Court's claim to universality was firmly rooted in the elaborate system of checks and balances built into the Statute. That regime provided the necessary safeguards against possible abuses and politically motivated misuse of the Court's jurisdiction. It was regrettable that, despite overwhelming support, the Court was not mentioned in the World Summit Outcome Document.
MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan) said the presentation of the Court's report was a significant event because it signified the cooperation between the United Nations and the Court. The perpetrators of crimes against humanity had been given the impression that they could commit crimes with impunity. Since the end of the Second World War, international action had been confined to the prosecution of only the most serious crimes. International tribunals had only acted in limited circumstances and their operations had become political and selective. It had become necessary to have an international tribunal that ensured fair trials and rights for suspects, and adherence to high international standards. For that purpose, a body such as the Court was required. The ability of victims to seek remunerations, as they could through the Court, was unprecedented. All of that had led his country to support the Court.
Enabling the Court to do its work and uphold the rule of law was crucial. The cooperation of States was necessary for the Court to establish and maintain its jurisdiction. The report showed the significant achievements made by the Court in a very short time. Jordan particularly welcomed the work of the Office of the Prosecutor for establishing legal procedures. The establishment of oversight bodies was necessary to maintain transparency. He welcomed the establishment of the Court and believed it served the interests of Jordan.
He urged all States that had not yet done so to accede to the Rome Statute.
NEBOJSA KALUDJEROVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said the achievements of the International Criminal Court represented a milestone in the evolution of international law. The first five arrest warrants against the senior leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army for crimes against humanity were especially welcomed. Serbia and Montenegro expected further action on that case, as well as on the other two cases, namely concerning the tragic events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Darfur. The referral of the Darfur file to the Court by the Security Council was a significant step towards the establishment of the Court as a custodian of international criminal justice. Serbia and Montenegro supported further strengthening the institutional capacity of the Court. That could only be achieved through increased cooperation by States, and States becoming parties to the Rome Statute.
TIM MCIVOR (New Zealand) said the fact that a majority of United Nations Member States had now become party to the Rome Statute highlighted the vital contribution that the Court would make to the common goal of enhanced security, justice and the rule of law. New Zealand continued to support efforts towards universalizing the Rome Statute, and was pleased that the Court was investigating situations in three different Member States, as well as working on crimes of aggression, a fundamental element of the Court's mandate.
Despite those achievements, the Court had some challenges it still needed to face he said. The absence of any mention of the Court's central contribution to ending impunity was a significant omission in the World Summit's Outcome Document. The Rome Statute contained a comprehensive range of checks and balances to protect against abuse, which should alleviate the concerns of reluctant Member States. New Zealand respected the decision of those Member States who had not signed on to the Rome Statute, and called on the non-signatories to respect the rights of those Member States which were party to the Statute to nurture the Court as an effective judicial mechanism.
JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said the basic structures required for the Court's initial proceedings were in place, and the Court was fully operational, marking yet another milestone in administering international criminal justice, and motivating States to bring to justice persons who had committed atrocities. Norway noted with satisfaction the fact that more than half of United Nations Member States were now party to the Rome Statute. It was Norway's hope that the number of parties to the Statute would continue to rise beyond 100 until universal adherence was achieved.
Significant strides had been made with the decision to make the Court operational, and with the launching of three investigations: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur. There were, however, some obstacles regarding cooperation with the Court by some Member States. It was essential for all States to cooperate with the Court in order to prevent the perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity from going unpunished. The Court could not operate effectively without the protection of the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Court. All Member States should ratify the Agreement as soon as possible, especially in lieu of the Prosecutor's current engagement in three different investigations.
ZÉNON MUKONGO NGAY (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that, after a more than five-year occupation of the eastern part of his country that was marked by systematic violations of human rights and the deaths of more than four million of his compatriots, the strength of the rule of law remained vital for his country. With the imminent end of the political transition underway, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had seen its age-old dream of justice realized. Since the decision to open an inquiry into the situation there, initiatives to help restore law and State authority had constantly increased. The Court represented the first audience in history devoted to the contents of the case. The deterrent effect had been felt with the announcement of the first Court inquiry on its territory. It reassured people traumatized by war, who were convinced that massive violations of human rights would no longer go unpunished.
He said that helping victims required well-planned compensation schemes to guarantee justice, not just for those who were guilty, but also for those who had suffered. The greatest concern was for victims who hoped to obtain reparations, the return of property and compensation equal to losses incurred. The Congolese had high expectations for the Court, but it was important that people were aware of its limits, because of the principle of complementarity or non-retroactivity, or because of the length of inquiries. Outreach campaigns, workshops and meetings were needed to inform and train the Congolese in the rules of the Court and its rules of evidence and procedure. He called for broader representation within the Court for experts from regions involved in inquiries. The Court could not replace national justice. Because of complementarity, national courts would remain the primary forum for meting out justice.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the fact that three States had referred situations to the International Criminal Court, now under investigation, was truly an historic achievement. It underscored the role of the Court in the framework of multilateral efforts to end impunity for the worst crimes known to mankind. The Court and the United Nations needed to continue to strengthen their partnership on the basis of the Relationship Agreement adopted last year. Both institutions, as well as all States, shared the responsibility to cooperate to achieve progress on the Court's proceedings.
The overriding goal of the Court needed to be the prevention of the worst crimes. The definition of the crime of aggression was an important milestone the Court needed to reach. It was of the utmost importance that the Special Working Group fulfil its mandate and submit proposals on the definition of the crime of aggression to the Review Conference. All States should be encouraged by Mexico's recent ratification of the Rome Statute and should follow its lead by acceding to the Statute as well.
ALLAN ROCK (Canada) said it was heartening that the Court had made so much progress in just a few years of operation. The three States of Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic had referred situations to the Court. Cote d'Ivoire was not yet a State party but had declared its acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction in respect of crimes that might have occurred on its territory following a coup attempt in September 2002. The Security Council's referral to the Court of the situation in Darfur was another critical landmark. Investigations had been launched in each of those situations and five arrest warrants had been issued against senior members of the Lord's Resistance Army in Northern Uganda.
He reiterated that States had nothing to fear from the Court, which had rigorous safeguards against frivolous investigations and prosecutions. States had a right to choose to not be members, but equal respect should be accorded to States who had chosen to nurture the Court and ensure it continued to be a responsible and effective judicial mechanism. All States should help strengthen the institution at the forefront of the campaign against impunity, to entrench a culture of accountability for the world's most serious crimes, along with universal respect for the common humanity of all.
BEN PLAYLE (Australia) said his country welcomed the progress the Court had made in beginning its operations. It also congratulated Mexico on becoming the 100th party to the Rome Statute, and to the Dominican Republic and Kenya for becoming parties in the past year. Australia commended the Court for the investigative work it had been doing in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and the Sudan. It particularly welcomed the Court's issuance of indictments against five people suspected of serious crimes in Northern Uganda, and it looked forward to further action on those indictments in the future.
His country noted the Security Council's decision to refer the situation in Darfur, which signified what an important tool the Court represented in fighting impunity for serious international crimes, and the critical role it could play in establishing peace and security. The referral also demonstrated close cooperation between the United Nations and the Court, which Australia welcomed and hoped would continue.
THOMAS B. AMOLO (Kenya) said his delegation believed that the Court's success depended on the support of a vast majority of United Nations members. Though the pace of ratification of the Rome Statute had been slow, Kenya was confident that as the Court entered its judicial phase, there would be not only wider appreciation of the body's work, but also wider participation. He added that Kenya itself had become the ninety-eighth State party and had embarked on a series of national consultations with relevant stakeholders to speed up the integration of the Statute into domestic legislation.
He commended the Court for the significant progress made in its judicial activities. Kenya also supported the on-going work in the Special Working Group on the crime of aggression, recognizing that the international criminal justice system would not be complete unless such crimes were fully defined. Kenya was also confident that the Relationship Agreement signed between the United Nations and the Court would enhance collaboration and strengthen the working relationship between the two institutions.
SUSANA RIVERO (Uruguay) said she was satisfied with the significant steps already taken by the International Criminal Court. She was particularly pleased that the Court had set the creation of a strategic planning process as a high priority. The investigations underway in Darfur and elsewhere had gone a long way to establish confidence in the Court. The importance of cooperation at the international level to protect human rights was clear. The Court's impartial actions would create an indispensable tool for fighting impunity and crimes against humanity.
She noted that Mexico had become the 100th party to the Rome Statute and her country looked forward to still more States from Latin America becoming parties soon as well. Uruguay had added genocide and other crimes against humanity to its criminal code. By virtue of that change in its laws, it hoped even more fully to be able to contribute to and support the Court's work.
LAILA TAJ EL DINE (Venezuela) recalled that the Court had been authorized to rule on the highest crimes against humanity. She said that as a judicial institution designed to administer justice, all the Court's actions must be absolutely fair and impartial. War crimes were increasing and the Court must act against them. The Court could not ignore invaders who ravaged innocent people and abused their rights. The Court must pass judgment on those actions. To prove its integrity, the Court must identify the specific actions undertaken in the commission of the crimes. The Court must also affirm that it stood above the interests of allies, and the veracity of the evidence must be solid. During its investigations of crimes, the Court must carry out a thorough review using defined standards. The Prosecutor must act with great caution and scrupulousness to safeguard the Court's integrity.
Vote on Necessity of Ending Embargo against Cuba
The draft resolution on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba (document A/60/L.9) was adopted by a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 4 against, with 1 abstention, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States.
Abstain: Federated States of Micronesia.
Absent: El Salvador, Iraq, Morocco, Nicaragua.
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