In the News April 13
Statements on Decision to Suspend Russian Federation Membership in UN Human Rights Council
Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, Ambassador Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, on the Draft Resolution Regarding the Suspension of Rights of Membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council.
Cuba has always championed and worked for a Human Rights Council capable of coping with the complex challenges the international community faces in this area, from which no country escapes.
We defend objectivity, impartiality and transparency in the work of that body, and that its procedures and mechanisms are implemented on the basis of accurate and verified information.
The use of the clause on suspension of the right of membership in the Council will, in no way, favor the search for a peaceful, negotiated and lasting solution to the conflict in Ukraine; and much less will it help to foster the spirit of cooperation, dialogue and understanding that should prevail when addressing the issue of human rights.
It is disrespectful, moreover, that just a few days before the conclusion of a regular session of the Human Rights Council, that body has not even been given the opportunity to speak out on this subject.
Since the beginning of the negotiation process regarding the establishment of the new Council that would replace the Commission on Human Rights, Cuba opposed the membership suspension clause, due to the serious risk that it would be used by certain countries that privilege double standards, selectivity and the politicization of human rights issues.
This clause can be activated with the support of only two thirds of those present and voting; therefore, abstentions do not count and not even a required minimum number of votes is established for the suspension to be approved.
To be elected as a member of the Human Rights Council, a country needs to obtain at the very least, in a secret ballot, the endorsement of the majority of the UN members, that is to say, no less that 97 votes.
Thus, the rights of a member of the Council can be suspended by the will of an even smaller number of States than those that decided to elect it and grant it those rights.
The Russian Federation, which was elected as a member of the Human Rights Council in 2020 by 158 votes, could today be suspended by a lower number.
That suspension mechanism, which has no parallel in any other United Nations organ, can be easily used in a selective manner. Today it is Russia, but tomorrow it could be any of our countries, particularly nations of the South that do not bow to the interests of domination and staunchly defend their independence.
It was no coincidence that the most enthusiastic supporters of the membership suspension clause, when the establishment of the new Human Rights Council was being negotiated, were developed nations with a proven tendency to accuse countries of the South that do not abide by their alleged models of democracy, while remaining silently complicit in the face of flagrant violations of human rights in Western countries.
Of course, not everyone present in this hall shares our concerns about the suspension mechanism, since they know that the victims of its selective use will always be others.
Will this Assembly be able, some day, to pass a resolution suspending the membership of the United States in the Human Rights Council, just to mention an example?
We are all aware that this has not happened and will not happen, despite its blatant and massive violations of human rights, as a result of invasions and wars of plunder against sovereign States, in accordance with its geopolitical interests. They have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians, whom they call “collateral damage;” millions of displaced persons and mammoth destruction throughout our planet´s geography, but this Assembly has never suspended any of their rights.
We all also know that the suspension clause will not be applied against the State that has imposed against Cuba, for more than 60 years, a criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade which constitutes, without a doubt, the most protracted, flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of an entire people and a true act of genocide against an entire country.
It is ironic, to say the least, to see that the country that opposed the establishment of the Human Rights Council and demanded, in this very hall, the vote against the resolution that gave birth to it, is the same country that has activated at its own benefit now, as it did in 2011, one of the most controversial clauses of that forum.
Cuba will be consistent with the reservations it made relating to the membership suspension mechanism, upon the adoption in 2006 of resolution 60/251 that established the Human Rights Council and resolution 65/265, of 2011, on the suspension of Libya’s rights.
The adoption of the draft resolution we are considering today, will set an additional dangerous precedent, particularly for the South.
It is not enough for them to impose country-specific resolutions and selective mandates. Now they intend to take a new step towards the legitimation of selectivity and the creation of a Human Rights Council increasingly at the service of certain countries, as was once the extinct and discredited Commission on Human Rights.
For the reasons explained above, the Cuban delegation will vote against draft resolution L.XX.
Thank you very much.
(Cubaminrex-Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations, April 7, 2022)
TML Daily, posted April 13, 2022.