75 UNGA: Statement by Cuba at UN General Assembly Plenary Meeting. Item 115: Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization. New York, 28 January 2021

Mr. President,

We take this opportunity to recognize His Excellency, Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly, for his determination and dedicated effort in maintaining the work of the General Assembly under such adverse conditions.

We thank the Secretary-General for the presentation of his report on the work of the Organization. This report reflects the relevance of the United Nations, the validity of the purposes and principles endorsed in its foundational Charter, as well as the need to strengthen multilateralism, international cooperation and solidarity.

It is our shared duty to preserve this Organization, and with it, peace and development for present and future generations; that is the task of our peoples, to whom we are responsible for.

Mr. President,

As the report reflects, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its implementation and follow-up, continue to be the roadmap for the promotion of the socio-economic, equitable and sustained growth of States, as endorsed in 2019 when we committed ourselves to a decade of action to attain the SDGs in 2030 at the latest.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated inequalities and significantly heightened the challenges for all, but especially for developing countries, lays bare the need to step up our actions if we are to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda comprehensively and in a timely manner. This will not be possible without a greater share of international cooperation and solidarity.

COVID-19 has starkly exposed the consequences of the unjust international order we live in. The most vulnerable countries and groups have been the most affected, not only because of the impact on health, but also due to its socio-economic consequences.

In this context, the limited and unequal access of developing countries to larger sources of financing and the lack of a sustainable and lasting solution to the debt problem, are just a few examples.

In this regard, we reaffirm the significance of fulfilling the commitments regarding funding and official development assistance, technology transfer as well as capacity-building, as complements to the efforts of developing countries.

Mr. President,

In this very Hall, during the general debate of the 75th General Assembly and the 31st special session, the overwhelming majority of Member States called for the COVID-19 vaccine to be declared a global public good. The phrase "no one is safe until everyone is safe" was repeated over and over again.

However, just a few months after those events, we are witnessing a frantic and irresponsible race unleashed by developed nations in order to secure, only for themselves, vaccines and means of protection against COVID-19. According to the WHO, more than 39 million vaccines have been administered in at least 49 high-income countries; while only 25 doses have been administered in one low-income country.

As the WHO Director General pointed out, the price of this moral failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world´s poorest countries. This unjust reality shows that we are far from achieving an international order in which solidarity and multilateralism prevail.

Mr. President,

We agree with the Secretary-General on the importance of human rights, and the need for all rights to be promoted and protected for all people. This means that the rights to development, peace, international solidarity and to a healthy environment must be promoted with the same energy as other rights.

No country in the world can claim to have a perfect record in respect of human rights, and each has its own challenges. Therefore, this issue needs to be addressed on objective, universal bases and not on discriminatory or politicized grounds. 

Manipulation of the human rights issue, selective practices, punitive approaches and double standards in UN bodies addressing these topics, only stir up confrontation and discredit those bodies, where only the challenges of developing countries are often made visible, while violations in rich countries are silenced.

We appreciate the important work of the United Nations, under the leadership of the Secretary-General, in the humanitarian field, whose challenges have also been compounded by the impact of the pandemic. It is critical that the response to the humanitarian consequences of COVID-19 fully respect the provisions of General Assembly resolution 46/182. It is equally important to make sure that despite the pandemic response, we do not neglect the other global challenges we were already tackling prior to COVID-19, many of which have humanitarian repercussions.

Mr. President,

The maintenance of international peace and security will only be possible through the full respect for the principles of the UN Charter and International Law. The establishment and deployment of peacekeeping operations must be carried out in strict observance of these principles, especially the respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States and the non-interference in their internal affairs. It is also more important than ever to respect the basic principles of peacekeeping operations, such as the consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defense.

The entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, last 22 January, reaffirms that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is and must continue to be the highest priority in the area of disarmament, particularly within a context where nuclear arsenals are being modernized and expanded under the pretext of military concepts or doctrines of defense and security, and other international agreements on disarmament and arms control are being disregarded.

Mr. President,

Within the framework of the implementation of the reforms, including the annual programme budget in its trial period, to be evaluated in 2022, we agree with the Secretary-General on his concern over the lack of liquidity that the Organization continues to face. It is unacceptable that this situation undermines the ability of the United Nations to enforce its mandates and carry out the approved work program. We reiterate that no austerity measures or proposals for flexibility regarding the use of budgets can fill the gap caused by the absence of resources. Notwithstanding, the difficult circumstances brought about by the pandemic and which impacts on everyone, we are called to honor our financial commitments to the Organization, on time, in full and without conditions.

Mr. President,

The unrestricted respect for the political, economic and social system chosen by the peoples, in exercise of their sovereignty and right to self-determination, as well as the non-interference in internal affairs, constitute a postulate of this Organization.

The application of unilateral coercive measures not only threatens peace and stability, but also significantly affects the well-being of the peoples. This has been even more noticeable in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the impact of such measures has multiplied the hardships and deprivations faced by the countries subject to them in their capacity to combat the pandemic and move towards recovery.

As the Secretary-General stated when the pandemic was at the onset: "this is a time for solidarity, not exclusion". We regret that the appeal made by the Secretary-General for the lifting of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential supplies and access to COVID-19 tests and medical support, is not reflected in the document we are discussing today. We are concerned over selectivity when reference is made to the different appeals.

Against this backdrop, we denounce once again, the criminal and genocidal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba, maliciously intensified by the previous U.S. Administration. During President Trump's administration, unprecedented measures and actions were announced and taken, which stood out for their systematicity. All spheres of our society and the daily lives of our citizens suffered to a significant degree from the impact of this policy, accentuated amid the pandemic.

The emphasis on hampering our country's main sources of income, crippling fuel supplies and thwarting our trade relations, with the purpose of bringing about economic strangulation to set off a situation of ungovernability and the overthrow of the government, reached a level of infamy, which ended with the arbitrary and unjustified inclusion of Cuba in the spurious list of State sponsors of terrorism, which is unilaterally and without any moral or international legitimacy, drawn up by the Department of State, which we condemn in the strongest and most absolute terms.

Despite the criminal blockade, Cuba continues to move forward and is determined to continue to advance in its development plans and in the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda. The results achieved in the development of four vaccine candidates to confront COVID-19, show that determination.

Mr. President, I would like to conclude by reiterating our support for your efforts, particularly in the defense of multilateralism and international law, diplomacy for peace, development and respect among nations.

Thank you very much