The Guardian April 10, 2002


Cuba call to banish inequality from UNHRC

Addressing the Felipe Perez Roque, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba 
appealed to the 58th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission 
in Geneva on March 26 to democratise the methods of the UNHRC. The 
following is the text (translated from Spanish) of his statement.

I do not think it is necessary here to go over truths that are no longer 
questioned by anybody, such as the ever-increasing lack of credibility and 
the extreme politicisation that today weigh down the work of the Human 
Rights Commission. Disrepute is growing, time is running out.

It is essential that we democratise the methods of this Commission, 
reestablish with transparency its purpose and rules; in a word, set it up 
anew.

We need a Commission at the service of everyone's interests, and not 
hostage to the designs of a minority or, as becomes more obvious every day, 
to the whims of the mightiest.

It is absolutely necessary to banish double standards from this Commission. 
Did those who today question the legitimacy of the elections in an African 
country utter a word when, scarcely a year ago, amid the scandal, we had to 
wait almost a month to learn who would be President of the United States?

It is absolutely necessary to banish selectivity from this Commission.

Last year, the Commission adopted resolutions and declarations criticising 
the human rights situation in 18 countries of the Third World.

Some of those, like the one on Cuba, were imposed by using brutal pressure. 
Nevertheless, not one decision mentioned any human rights violations in the 
developed world.

Is it because there are no such violations or because it is impossible to 
criticise a rich country in this Commission?

It is absolutely necessary to banish inequality from this Commission.

A minority of rich, developed countries impose their interests here. They 
are the ones who can have large delegations accredited here; they are the 
ones who introduce most of the resolutions and decisions that are passed; 
they are the ones who have all the resources to do their job.

They are always the judges and never the accused.

On the other hand, here we are, the underdeveloped countries, accounting 
for three quarters of the world population. We are always the accused  
and the ones who through great sacrifices and scarce resources try to make 
our voices heard here.

It is absolutely necessary to banish arbitrariness and the lack of 
democratic spirit from this Commission.

Is it not shameful that the United States is pressing to return to the 
Human Rights Commission without having to go through a vote?

Is it not almost laughable, if not truly pathetic, the reaction with which 
the United States has wanted to take reprisals for its fair exclusion from 
this body?

It is absolutely necessary to banish from this Commission the attempt to 
ignore the defence of basic human rights for us, the poor peoples of the 
Earth.

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