After a debate on the United States-imposed embargo against Cuba, the General Assembly this morning once again urged States to repeal all laws, such as the Helms-Burton Act, whose extraterritorial provisions affect the sovereignty of other States and freedom of trade and navigation.
In a resolution adopted by a vote of 143 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United States, Uzbekistan), with 17 abstentions, the Assembly called on States to refrain from promulgating and applying such laws in conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter and international law. (For details of vote, see Annex.)
[The voting on a comparable resolution last year was 137 in favour to 3 against -- Israel, United States, Uzbekistan -- with 25 abstentions.]
The President of the National Assembly of People's Power of Cuba, Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, said that since 1992 the General Assembly had been analysing the need to end the blockade, but the United States had taken new measures to strengthen it, despite growing opposition among its own people and around the world.
He said the Helms-Burton Act denied Cuba's independence and overtly proclaimed the intention of dominating Cuba totally, reviving the annexation plans of almost two decades ago. Only a few weeks ago, President Clinton admitted that his Government's policy was the responsibility of the most extreme elements in Miami. The United States was doing nothing to honour its April understanding with the European Union to make minor modifications to the Act. This year, many amendments and other proposals had been introduced in the United States Congress, some of them directly opposing the understanding.
The blockade was not intended to defend the interests of the former United States owners in Cuba, and actually harmed them. Nationalizations carried out at the time of the Cuban revolution were in accordance with
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international law and contemplated proper compensation for the former owners. The Helms-Burton Act conferred non-existent prerogatives on people who were Cubans at the time of Cuba's nationalization laws.
The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote, said he believed sanctions were an essential tool of foreign policy when important interests were at stake. His Government had a right to refuse to trade with a country that violated freedoms and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. He urged all nations committed to the Cuban people to work with it to promote democracy in Cuba. Change must come from within, and peaceful activists and groups needed support of the international community.
He said the United States licensed $2 billion in private humanitarian aid from non-governmental organizations and individuals to Cuba and permitted exports of medicine and medical equipment by United States companies and their subsidiaries to Cuba. The inability of Cubans to obtain medicine and medical supplies was an unfounded accusation. Their health care had deteriorated because Cuba directed its resources elsewhere.
The representative of Luxembourg, explaining the vote that would be cast by European Union members, said, although they were concerned with the deterioration of political rights in Cuba, they were not in favour of measures that caused suffering to its people, and strongly opposed legislation with extraterritorial effects. The Union could not accept the United States unilaterally restricting the economic relations of its member countries with any other State.
Statements were also made by South Africa, Ghana, Colombia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Viet Nam, Mexico, Botswana, Zambia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Libya, Namibia, Jamaica, Venezuela, Syria, Iraq, Russian Federation and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Statements in explanation of vote were also made by China, Indonesia, Argentina, Japan, Brazil, Canada and Costa Rica.
The representative of Cuba made a statement in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today, to elect a candidate to fill the remaining vacancy on the Economic and Social Council.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to discuss its agenda item on the "necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba". The Assembly had before it a draft resolution on the question, as well as a report by the Secretary-General.
By the terms of the draft resolution, (A/52/L.11), sponsored by Cuba, the Assembly would reiterate its call on all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws, such as the United States "Helms-Burton" Act, in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which reaffirm the freedom of trade and navigation.
It would once again urge States to repeal those laws as soon as possible, in accordance with their legal regimes. The Secretary-General would be asked to prepare a report on implementation of the resolution in the light of the purposes and principles of the Charter and international law and submit it to the Assembly's next session.
The report by the Secretary General (document A/52/342 and Corr. 1) contains responses of governments to Assembly resolution 51/17, adopted last year, which urged an end to the blockade. It includes replies from 41 countries, as well as from the Observer Mission of the Holy See and seven United Nations agencies.
In its reply, Cuba said the United States had not only ignored the international community, international law and the United Nations Charter, but tightened the blockade with the Helms-Burton Act. Cuba said the Act sought to stifle its economy and society by punishing sovereign States with which Cuba had economic ties. The international community rejected the Act because it was unilateral, extraterritorial and violates international law.
The Cuban response said the United States had suspended aid to countries providing economic assistance to Cuba or trading with it on non-market terms. It denied Cuba access to its nearest market, further damaging its economy. Vessels shipping goods to Cuba were denied access to United States ports for 180 days -- a flagrant violation of freedom of navigation that increased shipping charges for three basic products by $13.4 million in 1996. Cuba said the United States still banned trade between Cuba and subsidiaries of United States companies based in third countries, which violated those countries' sovereignty, affected their economic interests and severely disrupted the Cuban economy. In 1996, Cuba spent $43.8 million more on four basic items than it would have if the embargo had not been in place.
The blockade caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the Cuban economy every year and limited access to food and life-saving medicines, a practice rejected by international conventions and treaties even in war. The accelerating globalization of the world economy had worsened its impact. The Cuban response said experts estimated that up to 1995, the embargo had cost Cuba over $60 billion. That figure was rising, and reduced the financial resources available for importing food, medicines and raw materials.
In many other replies, governments expressed their support of General Assembly resolution 51/17 and their opposition to laws and measures whose extraterritorial effects impinged on the sovereignty of States and hindered freedom of trade and navigation.
Among the replies of United Nations specialized agencies, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said the embargo was one of several factors adversely affecting children in Cuba. Women's health services had seriously
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declined in the past five years and access to drugs for some 2,200 HIV- positive patients was severely limited. A lack of supplies had led to closing 40 per cent of the water chlorination plants, increasing the incidence of typhoid fever, dysentery, viral hepatitis, acute diarrhoeal diseases and parasitism, which were serious threats to children's health. Cuban children were guaranteed basic education despite the scarcity of supplies and equipment, but maintaining this basic child right was increasingly difficult.
RICARDO ALARCON DE QUESADA (Cuba) introduced the draft resolution. He said that since 1992 the Assembly had been analyzing the need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade against his country, but the United States had ignored the five resolutions adopted and had taken new measures to strengthen the blockade. Washington could not cite a single intergovernmental, religious or trade union organization in support of its actions. No other government, parliament or political party endorsed it. The number and diversity of those around the world who demanded that the embargo come to an end was growing. Religious institutions, entrepreneurs and individuals in the United States were also joining in the universal protest. He said the "infamous" Helms-Burton Act of 1996 denied Cuba's independence and overtly proclaimed the intention of dominating Cuba totally, reviving the annexation plans of almost two decades ago. The Act codified all the regulations and practices that the world had been rejecting for thirty years and included new and more unsound ones, in contradiction of international law and the legitimate rights of other States.
Only a few weeks ago, he continued, President Clinton admitted that the policy was the responsibility of the most extremist elements in Miami. The United States had announced with great fanfare the understanding signed with the European Union on 11 April to implement minor modifications to the law, but had done nothing to honour it. On the contrary, many amendments and other proposals had been introduced in the United States Congress this year, some of them directly opposing the understanding, and others attempting to universalize the original measures against Cuba.
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He said nationalizations carried out by the Cuban revolution were conducted in compliance with international law and Cuban legislation, which contemplated proper, fair compensation for the former owners regardless of their nationality. Based on those laws, the matter was successfully solved with other States. The United States was the only exception. The blockade was not intended to defend the interests of the former United States owners and had, in fact, harmed them. The Helms-Burton Act, besides setting up a plan for the colonial absorption of Cuba and seriously working against the rights of other States, introduced an element which radically changed even the United States position.
He said Washington's new position was no longer the alleged defence of those people who were United States citizens who were not compensated when the Cuban nationalization laws were enacted. Through the Helms-Burton Act, Washington conferred non-existent prerogatives on people who were Cuban at the time of the nationalization laws. Such an arbitrary equalizer violated the United States Constitution by conceding to a special group of its citizens privileges not enjoyed by the rest.
According to the Helms-Burton Act, the blockade would continue until Cubans "return" the properties lost in 1959. However, he went on, those properties were illegally acquired by "the Batista clique and its bands of killers, torturers and thieves". The expropriation of those assets -- their recovery by the nation -- was an act of justice endorsed by the Cuban people.
KHIPHUSIZI J. JELE (South Africa) said the principles of the United Nations Charter stressed the equality of sovereign States as well as non- intervention and non-interference in the economic affairs of countries. South Africa wanted to reiterate its concern over the United States-imposed embargo against Cuba. For years, Cuba had been an unjust victim of this measure. South Africa opposed the Helms-burton Law because it enforced the embargo and also because of its extraterritorial nature on sovereignty and independence. He said his country urged Member States to refrain from actions and legislation that were incompatible with international law. South Africa encouraged Cuba and the United States to settle their differences by means of earnest dialogue. South Africa once more supported the draft resolution.
SAMUEL ANUM (Ghana) said it was regrettable that, despite appeals from the international community and its own allies, the United States Congress had strengthened the Toricelli and Helms-Burton Acts with amendments. Ghana was concerned about their "disastrous consequences" for the Cuban people as well as their effects on foreign firms with business interests in Cuba. Ghana was against all laws that violated two basic principles of international law -- non-interference in the affairs of other countries and the right of all nations to determine their own path to social and economic development.
He said the attempt by certain powers to export their type of democracy to developing countries without regard to their history and culture was a root
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cause of instability in the world. Democracy was most viable when it evolved and was not imposed. Ghana was opposed to the globalization of the conflict between Cuba and the United States through laws that impeded international trade and navigation between Cuba and third countries. Regional cooperation and integration would be more constructive. The United States should create a conducive environment for dialogue based on mutual respect and recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
ALVARO FORERO (Colombia) said his country believed in an age in which all nations had free access to international trade. Free markets were vital to the development of peoples. So was freedom of trade and navigation. The extraterritoriality of domestic laws was an illegal and unilateral act, and a disturbing trend on the international scene. Such actions were guided by internal political factors that must be kept out of international relations.
Colombia was in favour of the draft resolution and of free, lively and transparent international trade that would help developing countries reach the economic and social development they sought.
ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People's Democratic Republic) said conflicts between States could be resolved provided the parties had the will. The blockade against Cuba was nonsensical, served the interests of neither party and damaged freedom of trade and navigation. International efforts should focus on aid to Cuba to help reintegrate it into the world economy. Cuba continued active trade relations with the world in spite of adverse conditions. Many countries and companies still traded with Cuba, demonstrating the international community's will to maintain relations with that country. More than 1,800 companies from 61 countries had taken part in a recent trade fair in Cuba. He said the brave Cuban people only wanted to live in peace and enjoy the benefits of international cooperation. A people that had committed no crime should not continue to suffer from a blockade that had no reason to exist. The United States should negotiate to resolve the conflict, in keeping with the current international trend towards dialogue rather than conflict.
NGO QUANG XUAN (Viet Nam) said the economic, commercial and financial blockade and embargo against Cuba were contrary to the basic principles of the United Nations Charter and violated international law, particularly the freedom of international trade and navigation. At the same time, it ran counter to the common desire of the world community to build healthy international relations on the basis of equality, mutual respect, non- discrimination and respect for the right of every nation to choose its way of development.
Viet Nam shared the conviction that extraterritorial laws and regulations not only ran counter to the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, but also adversely affected the freedom of trade and navigation, and the promotion of good relations among states for
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cooperation and development. He said his country joined the worldwide call for an immediate end to the long-imposed embargo against Cuba and believed that differences and disputes between countries should be settled through dialogue and negotiations in the spirit of mutual respect, respect for independence and sovereignty, and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
MANUEL TELLO (Mexico) said his country had neither enacted nor applied legal provisions of an extraterritorial nature. Mexico had rejected the use of coercion as a means of pressure in international relations. The scope of the Helms-Burton Law was unacceptable in the light of international law. It constituted a violation of the United Nations Charter. It also ran counter to the provisions of the Charter establishing the World Trade Organization.
During the last five years, he said, the General Assembly had urged Member States to refrain from laws and measures that would reinforce the United States embargo against Cuba. New evidence showed that on the basis of respect for all countries it was possible to deal with differences directly and openly. Dialogues of understanding must be opened, and fear and ideas of bygone years must be left behind. Global interdependence called for that and required it. Mexico would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
VAIN MAMELA (Botswana) said there was ample evidence before the Assembly of the enormous damage caused to all sectors of the Cuban economy and suffering inflicted on its people by the embargo. The "Helms-Burton Act" and subsequent legislation were in conflict with the accepted principles of international law and ran counter to the spirit of multilateral trade agreements under the World Trade Organization. It was ironic that a policy meant to punish Cuba was also punishing American business.
Was it not time, he asked, for the United States to re-assess its policy, if it had not brought about the desired results after such a length of time? And was it also not time for the United States to employ another strategy to engage Cuba in a more positive dialogue about change in that country? He said Cuba had successfully deflected the effects of the embargo; the system it was intended to change had become entrenched primarily because of the embargo. He encouraged all parties to the dispute to resort to dialogue and find ways of resolving their differences amicably and to develop peaceful and friendly relations for the wider interests of international peace and security.
PETER L. KASANDA (Zambia) said his country had consistently voted in favour of resolutions to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United states against Cuba. That pattern of consistency would be maintained this year when they would vote in favour of the draft resolution now before the Assembly. He said Zambia's support for the resolution and earlier ones was done on principle. It was not consistent with the principles of international law to promulgate and apply domestic laws and measures with
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extraterritorial jurisdiction. Such acts went against the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs.
He said Zambia had a Joint Commission of Cooperation with Cuba and through it the two countries actively promoted economic, scientific and technical cooperation for the mutual benefit of their people. The bilateral cooperation with Cuba was in accord with the norms of international law and basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
WIN MRA (Myanmar) said it was regrettable that an appeal from the international community, no matter how just, had gone unheeded. The embargo failed to achieve its goal, but resulted in suffering for innocent Cubans, especially women and children. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the lack of essential supplies was severely affecting the health of women and children. It was cruel and unfair for people to be victimized for reasons that were no longer valid. The policies resulting in such suffering were incompatible with the stature of a permanent member of the Security Council.
(The Cuban people had heroically resisted, he said. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UNICEF, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and other United Nations organizations had helped Cuba overcome the negative effects of the embargo. The Cuban people should be commended for their courage, and all countries should show solidarity with Cuba in its struggle against the difficulties caused by the embargo.
MARZUKI NOOR (Malaysia) said there was no justification for the United States to take unilateral trade measures against Cuba, which also impinged on the rights of other States to engage in free trade and navigation. The promulgation of the Helms-Burton law in the United States also contravened the principles and objectives of the World Trade Organization and created a bad precedent which would be detrimental to the promotion of international trade.
He said Malaysia firmly subscribed to the declaration of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Non-Aligned Movement in New Delhi in April 1997 and the communiqué issued by the movement in June 1997, rejecting the continued blockade against Cuba, and the legislative instruments on which it was based. It noted particularly the Helms-Burton law, whose extraterritorial effects, like that of the d'Amato Act against Iran and Libya, violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the States affected. Malaysia would continue to vote in favor of the draft resolution.
ALI MOHAMMED NAGEM (Libya) said the Assembly had previously discussed the embargo in the hope that the United States would respond and lift it. However, the United States had disregarded the will of the international community and expanded the scope of its embargo so that its provisions infringed on the sovereignty of other States. The actions of the United
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States showed how it sought to impose its policies on other countries. The sanctions against Cuba had created severe hardship for its people, limiting the import of foodstuffs and medicines and draining resources which could have been used to improve the people's standard of living.
He said the Libyan people also suffered from United States unilateral sanctions, which prevented American firms from doing business with Libyan oil firms. The sanctions also froze Libyan funds in American banks. Recently, the United States Congress had passed legislation to prevent American firms from doing business with Libya. The United States used "flimsy excuses" for its sanctions against Cuba. Its justification for its coercive measures against Libya -- that it threatened American national security -- were no less flimsy. How could a small country like Libya be a threat to any State, let alone the security of the United States which was thousands of miles away?
He said Libya had never harboured any ill-will against the United States, nor had it frozen American funds, or prohibited commercial dealings between the two countries. Libya had not shelled American cities or killed its people. The United States had done all of those things to Libya. Its naval fleets and aircraft carriers cruised near Libyan territorial waters. The suffering of the Cuban people was not an isolated case. There was no validity in United States accusations against Cuba, which it also made against other countries. Recently, it had imposed economic sanctions against Sudan.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that instead of working towards ending the United States-imposed economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, there had been a further strengthening of the Helms-Burton Act, enhancing its extraterritorial nature. How much suffering should the people of Cuba endure before the embargo could be lifted, and how many more lives should be lost through the unavailability of basic medicines and medical equipment?
He said Namibia upheld the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and viewed the Helms-Burton Act as a blatant violation of the sovereignty of States, as well as a serious breach of the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law, freedom of trade and navigation, and a violation of the rules of the international trade system. It was right for the international community to continue to reject the unilateral embargo against the people of Cuba. Namibia would vote for the draft resolution, as the lifting of the embargo would benefit Cuba as well as the international community.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that it was evident from the draft resolution and the overwhelming support for similar resolutions adopted by the Assembly that there was a wide measure of consensus on this issue within the world community. The embargo should be ended and so should the perpetuation of policies of confrontation, which gave rise to continued tension in the Caribbean and imposed artificial barriers to trade and cooperation in the region. The extraterritorial application of national legislation which ran
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counter to international law and the sovereign equality of States could not be accepted.
She believed a constructive process of bilateral negotiations and normalization would serve the interests of both sides and have a wider impact. It would remove the dangers of tension and conflict in the Caribbean and improve the prospects for peaceful development and integration in the region. Jamaica supported the contents of the draft and would vote in favor of it.
RAMON ESCOVAR SALOM (Venezuela) said that in a world advancing rapidly towards interdependence and globalization, the use of discriminatory commercial practices such as the extraterritorial application of internal laws was not only unacceptable and incompatible with the norms of international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter, but was also a setback to the path for a better future characterized by constructive integration and interaction of all members of the international community.
The application of coercive unilateral measures was incompatible with the fundamental principles of international law which regulated relations among peoples and had an impact on the legal rules that defined financial and trade relations among States. Such actions only fostered unnecessary confrontation, and contributed to the deterioration of the quality of life without affecting the regime against which they were imposed.
He said his government believed that the blockade against Cuba should be lifted. Unilateral measures against national laws including the promulgation of acts such as the Helms-Burton legislation, violated the sovereignty and the jurisdiction of third States. Venezuelas support of the draft should not be interpreted as support for any political regime. Venezuela was a firm defender of democracy, but the search for democracy must be based on a valid course of action according to the rules of international law, and not on coercive measures.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) any action by a State that undermined the sovereignty of another ran counter to the United Nations Charter. The blockade could only deepen the gap between Cuba and the United States. Dialogue based on mutual respect and good-neighbourliness should take its place. The embargo must end because of the suffering it had brought to the Cuban people.
The Helms-Burton Act was a clear violation of freedom of trade and navigation and had been rejected in many international forums, including the Organization of American States (OAS), which urged the United States to repeal it. Sanctions were not limited to Cuba but included Libya. Recent United States legislation to impose sanctions on Sudan were also unacceptable. Syria supported mutual respect of Member States and the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter.
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KHALED S.H. AL-HITTI (Iraq) said the United Sates of America "trampled shamelessly" on United Nations resolutions when it came to political action against some third world States. United States obstinacy in its hostile policy towards Cuba violated the sovereign right of Cubans to choose their economic and political regime. Among the reforms of the United Nations there was a need to stress the peaceful resolution of conflicts and to remove measures such as sanctions, blockades and embargoes.
He said it was regrettable that the United States Government had yesterday imposed global sanctions against Sudan without legal justification. Sanctions and embargoes were devastating measures which involved major damage to societies. Iraq reiterated that all States should give up such measures. Silence and indifference would only further encourage those who threatened international peace and security. The United States should respect free trade, something which it encouraged the rest of the international community to do.
NIKOLAI V. TCHOULKOV (Russian Federation) said almost the entire world community regarded the embargo against Cuba as a manifestation of the outdated mentality of confrontation between blocs. The extension of the internal jurisdiction of States beyond their own territory in violation of the established rules of international law was not acceptable. Such unilateral actions were an anachronism, and undermined the foundations of world economic relations.
The maintenance of the embargo was counter-productive. It hampered a fuller integration of Cuba into the world community, and impeded democratic transformations and economic reforms that would have been started there. The lifting of the embargo, and the normalization of United States-Cuba relations in general, would promote a more healthy international situation and facilitate Cuba's inclusion in world economic relations and thus the advance of Cuban society towards transformation. Mutually acceptable solutions should be sought through constructive bilateral dialogue and an expansion of the negotiating process between the two countries. The Russian Federation, guided by the principles of the sovereign equality of States, non-interference in their internal affairs and freedom of international trade and navigation, reaffirmed its intention to continue developing normal commercial and economic ties with Cuba.
R.T. DOGANI (United Republic of Tanzania) regretted that in spite of resolutions calling for the end of the illegal embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States, the people of that country continued to endure suffering. The lack of progress towards peaceful coexistence between the two countries was a matter of grave concern. By supporting the draft resolution, the members of the United Nations would reaffirm their commitment to the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter and the prevailing norms of international law. They would do so in opposing the unilateralism of the strong who wished to impose their will against the weak.
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He said that instead of progress towards dialogue, the United States was taking measures which continued to drive the parties apart. The Helms-Burton Act was one such unfortunate measure, the implications of which have had ramifications beyond Cuba, and one which had been rejected by the international community. The attempt to claim application of extra- territoriality was a violation of the sovereignty not only of Cuba but of other countries as well.
Explanations of Vote
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), speaking for the European Union, said the Union was concerned with the deterioration of political rights in Cuba, and on 2 December 1996 the Union's Council adopted a position to encourage a peaceful transition to democracy. The Union condemned repeated violations of human rights in Cuba and hoped the process of "economic overture" would accelerate reform in that country. Cuba must accept its share of the blame for deteriorating economic conditions.
She said the Union was not in favour of using measures that led to the suffering of the Cuban people as a means of bringing about change. It strongly opposed legislation with extraterritorial effects, and the Union's Council had made compliance with the Helms-Burton Act an offense. The dispute must be solved by bilateral negotiations. The Union was strongly concerned with the effects of the Helms-Burton Act on countries, companies and individuals in third countries. The Union could not accept that the United States had the right to unilaterally restrict the economic relations of any Union member with any other State. The Union had therefore voted unanimously in favour of the draft.
CUI YING (China) said her country, like many others, had been hoping the Government of the United States would heed the just call of the international community, renounce its power politics, and seek to resolve issues between States through constructive dialogue and negotiations. Instead of changing its course of action in accordance with Assembly resolutions and international recognized norms of conduct, the United States had been sticking to its erroneous behaviour by moving towards even further strengthening of such laws and regulations.
She said the embargo and blockade against Cuba had been going on for years, inflicting economic losses amounting to tens of billions of United States dollars and causing grave difficulties for Cuba's economic and social development, as well as its restructuring efforts. The cooperation between Cuba and relevant international organizations had also been adversely affected.
Further, the unilateral action by the United States had hampered normal economic contacts and trade relations between Cuba and many other countries, and was thus gravely encroaching upon the legitimate interests of third
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countries. China hoped that the United Sates would earnestly reflect on its actions, renounce confrontation and seek to settle disputes with Cuba through dialogue. Her country would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
MALIKUS SUAMIN (Indonesia) said his country was in favour of the draft. United Nations Member States must settle disputes through dialogue and negotiations. The embargo against Cuba, compounded by recent United States legislation with extraterritorial effects, was incompatible with United Nations principles and purposes. The application of a domestic law with extraterritorial effects impinged upon the sovereignty and interests of States, ran counter to the United Nations Charter and contravened the aims of the World Trade Organization.
He said prolongation of the embargo had repercussions for regional peace and stability. Various international forums, including the meetings of Ministers or heads of State or government of the Non-Aligned Movement, had called for an end to the blockade. Reintegration of Cuba into the regional and international economic life was imperative.
FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina) said that sanctions always created sensitive issues. Unilateral measures should not have extraterritorial consequences, especially when they affected freedom of trade and navigation. Dialogue was the most effective way to work towards normalization of relations between two parties. For those reasons, Argentina supported the draft and would vote in favour of it.
The Assembly then adopted the resolution by a vote of 143 in favour, to three against (Israel, United States, Uzbekhistan) with 17 abstentions.
MASAKI KONISHI (Japan) said his country voted in favour of the resolution. However, the Assembly might not be the most suitable forum for this issue. The United States and Cuba should settle their differences through dialogue.
VICTOR MARRERO (United States) said he believed sanctions were an essential tool of foreign policy when important interests were at stake. The Castro Government denied basic freedoms to the Cuban people. The goal of United States policy was a peaceful transition to democracy. The United States had a right to refuse to trade with a country that violated freedoms and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Detention, exile, search and seizure of private property and violence were used to intimidate human rights activists. The United States urged all nations committed to the Cuban people to work with it to promote democracy in Cuba. Change must come from within. Peaceful activists and groups needed support of the international community.
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He said the United States licensed $2 billion in private humanitarian aid from non-governmental organizations and individuals to Cuba, and those efforts would continue. The Cuban Democracy Act permitted exports of medicine, medical supplies and equipment by United States companies and their subsidiaries to Cuba. The inability of Cubans to obtain medicine and medical supplies was an unfounded accusation. He said health care in Cuba had deteriorated because Cuba directed its resources elsewhere. The United States had licensed $227 million in donations of medical equipment. It called on the United Nations to advance freedom and human rights in Cuba and to increase support for those working towards that goal on the island.
HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said his country voted in favour of the draft resolution. Disputes between States must be settled peacefully, and sanctions or embargoes should be imposed only as a last resort. In any case, they should be firmly based on international law. If they contradicted international law, then instead of resolving disputes they raised tensions. If they affected the interests of third States, the international community had even more reason to be concerned. The so-called "Cuban Liberty and Solidarity Act" in force in the United States had been rejected in many international forums, including the OAS, the Rio Group, the Ibero-American Summit and the Latin American Economic System (SELA). It was also inconsistent with the legal obligations of the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said although not all the problems affecting Cuba were the result of the embargo, Canada had voted in favour of the resolution because it was still undergoing the effects of the United States legislation. It was opposed to the extraterritorial nature of the Helms-Burton Act and would continue to resist any pressure to change its own policies through such laws.
MELVIN SAENZ BIOLLEY (Costa Rica) said his country, which had voted in favour of the draft, traditionally supported the principles of non- intervention and respect for other countries' national policies. Costa Rica might or might not agree or disagree with what Cuba was doing, but believed it was not up to others to take measures which affected living conditions in the country. His Government rejected the Helms-Burton Act; it was unacceptable to impose sanctions on individuals or companies for carrying out actions which were perfectly legal in the jurisdictions where they took place. Costa Rica was also against any laws which violated the principles of free trade.
Right of Reply
RICARDO ALARCON (Cuba), in right of reply, said the United States representative had announced that it would not respect the sixth resolution by the Assembly calling for an end to the blockade against Cuba. Once again a practice which offended human intelligence by defying the will of the whole world would continue. The United States was practising democracy by
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imposition and through force and threats. However, it was finding it increasingly difficult to convince its own citizens of the need for the embargo. The idea of government for the people and by the people was "sound asleep buried under an impenetrable mound of dollars". He said the Cuban people chose their own political system and candidates. Cubans did not bribe government officials. They did not know about the concept of buying votes and candidates. No decision of national importance was adopted without discussion in the factories, the farms and in study groups. Cuba respected other political systems. The Helms-Burton Act had sought to impose restrictions on other countries and actually affected the investments and employment of both American and foreign companies. The extraterritoriality of the Act had become a "new form of aggression".
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General Assembly Plenary Press Release GA/9349 45th Meeting (AM) 5 November 1997
Vote on Draft Resolution on United States Embargo against Cuba
The General Assembly adopted the draft resolution on laws whose extraterritorial provisions affect the sovereignty of other States (document A/52/L.11) by a recorded vote of 143 in favour to 3 against, with 17 abstentions:
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Israel, United States, Uzbekistan.
Abstain: Estonia, Georgia, Kuwait, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Absent: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cambodia, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Marshall Islands, Nicaragua, Palau, Seychelles, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates.
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