74 UNGA: Statement by Cuba at informal meeting of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country. New York, 25 May 2020

Movement restriction and violation of the Agreement on diplomatic privileges and immunities

Mr. President:

We appreciate the holding of this informal meeting of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country.

In the middle of the difficult situation, the world is facing today, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular, the city of New York, a group of States have been forced to request this emergency virtual meeting as a result of the repeated noncompliance by the Government of the United States with its obligations under the Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations.

We appreciate the information provided by the Iranian delegation which corroborates the seriousness of the fact that the Host Country continues to violate, in order to fulfill its political agendas, the obligations arising from the Headquarters Agreement, and the principle of sovereign equality, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and ratified by the General Assembly in resolution 2625 of 24 October 1970. This prevents various States from fully complying with their commitments as members of this Organization.

It is shameful that in addition to the challenges our Missions must face amid the tragedy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also forced to be concerned about finding new premises to live in. We are all aware that real estate brokers are not allowed to show apartments nor accept removals due of the risk of contagion that this entails.

The unjustified policy of restricting the movement of the diplomatic personnel and their families infringes the freedom of movement and transit through the territory of the host State, as set out in Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the clauses of the Headquarters Agreement itself.

Like Iran and other member States, Cuba is a victim of the US Government's abuse of its status as the host country for the UN. The arbitrary restriction of movement to which the personnel of the Cuban diplomatic mission has been subjected hinders the full performance of our duties, in violation of the obligations assumed by the United States as a State Party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Security of diplomatic missions and agents

Mr. President:

Within this Committee, we cannot fail to mention the serious terrorist attack involving a firearm, perpetrated against the Cuban Embassy in Washington in the early hours of last April 30.

Allow me to take a minute to describe the facts. That day, at 2:05 a.m., Cuban-born citizen Alexander Alazo Baró fired 32 rounds with a semi-automatic assault rifle at the Embassy building, where 10 Cuban diplomats were present at the time. The aforesaid individual had driven from the state of Pennsylvania to the premises of the Cuban Embassy carrying the firearm and his ammunition. He himself has confessed that he acted with the intention to kill.

This attack is the direct consequence of the aggressive and hateful policy and speech of the Government of the United States against Cuba; and of the permanent incitement to violence by US politicians and anti-Cuban extremist groups who have turned this sort of attacks into a means of living.

One month after the attack, the government of the United State remains silently complicit about the event, being incapable of issuing a public statement.

Such behavior could encourage violent terrorist actions, not only against Cuba, but also against other countries' diplomatic missions, both in Washington and in other cities.

No one could ever forget the long and bloody history of terrorism against Cuban diplomatic missions in the United States and their officials.

Allow me to summarize the terrorist acts against our Mission in this host country:

  • In 1976, a Cuban diplomat was wounded when opening an explosive package;
  • That same year, on 6 June, an explosive device was detonated at our Mission premises;
  • On 29 December 1978, another explosive device went off at our Mission;
  • In 1979, two new attacks with explosives were launched against the Mission on 4 January and 7 December;
  • On 11 November 1980, Cuban diplomat, Félix García Rodríguez, who was accredited to the UN, was peppered with bullets in a main street of Queens.

It would be very regrettable that acts like the ones carried out against our Missions in New York and Washington were repeated, and that the complicit silence of the United States government was interpreted as a sign of impunity.

Section 21

With regard to the fulfillment of the mandates provided for in the Headquarters Agreement as well as in resolution A/RES/74/195, it is necessary to report on the concrete results stemming from the discussions held between the Secretariat and the Host Country on matters that are pending resolution.

We hope to be clearly informed of the date on which Section 21 of the Headquarters Agreement will be activated to pursue a legal settlement for the disputes concerning the interpretation and implementation of the said Agreement and restore the infringed rights.

The decisions and recommendations of this important Committee must be implemented with transparency, without discrimination, selectivity and with full respect for the sovereignty of States and of the Organization.

The Secretary-General must use his powers to ensure that the principle of the sovereign equality of Member States is respected and that the full, equal and non-discriminatory participation of all Member States in the work of the United Nations is guaranteed.

Mr. President:

The unjustified and illegitimate unilateral decisions by the United States Government against United Nations Member States, in violation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the United Nations Agreement on Privileges and Immunities, the Headquarters Agreement and the recommendations adopted over the years in the reports of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, must be stopped.

Thank you