Cuba accuses United States of committing genocide

At this afternoon’s session of the Human Rights Council, Cuba hurled invectives at the United States, setting back attempts by the Obama administration to improve relations with the island nation. Adding to the atmosphere of politicization and lack of cooperation at the UN body, several nations, including Iran, Egypt and Russsia, took to criticizing other member states rather than proposing suggestions for reform.

Below is a summary of this afternoon’s debate.

  • German Foreign Affairs Minister Guido Westerwelle warned the Council that “cannot and must not ignore the violent crackdown on demonstrations, the suppression of opinion, and the intolerable disregard for other fundamental human rights” occurring in Iran.
  • DRC Justice Minister Luzolo Bambi Lessa believed that the elimination of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in the DRC symbolized the Council’s recognition of improvement in the country.  Additionally, he said that the DRC “does not deserve the quite shameful description of a land of impunity.”
  • According to Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, “Those who take upon themselves the role of watchdogs of human rights and attempt to question others, are precisely the ones who are directly responsible for the most serious, systematic and flagrant violations of human rights, particularly the right to life.”  He further claimed that “What has been happening in Palestine for years is a true genocide” and that “The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against Cuba is an act of genocide.”  Finally, the delegation declared that “since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, there has never been in Cuba a single case of assassination, torture or extrajudicial execution…when it comes to the protection of the right to life, Cuba’s slate has been meritorious and impeccable…”  At the conclusion of the speech, the room applauded. 
  • During right of reply at the conclusion of the High-Level Segment, China, in response to Sweden, claimed that “China has been trying to protect the freedom of expression of its citizens under the law.”  The DPRK maintained that a Special Rapporteur should be assigned to investigate human rights abuses in Japan.
  • Also during right of reply, Iran characterized critiques of its human rights records as a “politicized approach,” claiming that the nations that criticize Iran have “condoned violations” occurring in “occupied Palestine for six decades.”
  • During the General Session, Qatar claimed that it was not possible to discuss human rights without mentioning the “suffering of the Palestinian people.”  The delegation reaffirmed its support for the latest GA resolution on the Goldstone Report.
  • Egypt condemned “the storming and desecration of the courtyards of Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli extremists under the protection of Israeli soldiers.”
  • The Russian Federation expressed concern at the “growth of neo-Nazi supporters and attempts to rewrite history.”
  • France argued against “adopting new norms,” namely “defamation of religions,” calling it “a threat to freedom of expression.”
  • Oman mentioned the right to self-determination, namely for the Palestinians, and advocated emphasizing that right in order to “put an end to their suffering.”

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