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Context of 'November 8, 2005: UN General Assembly Calls on US to End Economic Boycott of Cuba'

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The US begins a 40-year plus trade embargo on Cuba. (Perez 1995; Guardian 11/28/2001) The embargo applies to a wide range of goods including both food and medicine. (Perez 1995; Guardian 11/28/2001) Beginning in 1992, the UN General Assembly will annually condemn these sanctions against Cuba. (Guardian 11/28/2001)

The UN General Assembly approves the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Torture after 10 years of negotiations. The protocol is adopted with 127 votes in favor, 4 against, and 42 abstentions. The four states that oppose the treaty are the US, Nigeria, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. (Cohn 6/9/2004) One of the states voting in favor, Israel, later notifies the UN that its vote was cast by mistake because of a “human technical error.” (Algazy 6/3/2004) The purpose of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Torture is to strengthen the means of enforcing the Convention’s provisions. Under the new protocol, a system of regular visits to prison facilities will be established. A 10-member subcommittee, funded by the UN, will serve as the executive arm of the existing committee on torture. (Algazy 6/3/2004)

For the fourteenth consecutive year, the UN General Assembly, in a record 182 to 4 vote, calls on the US to end its four-decade-old embargo against Cuba (see 1960). Voting against the measure are the US, Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstains, while El Salvador, Iraq, Morocco, and Nicaragua do not vote. (Lederer 11/8/2005; CBC News 11/8/2005; EuroNews 11/9/2005) (The Palau Archipelago was administered by the United States as the last UN trust territory until 1994. The Marshall Islands, taken by the US during World War II, became self-governing under US military protection in 1976, achieving free-association status in 1986. The combined population of Palau and the Marshall Islands is less than 80,000.) (Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2005; Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth edition 2005) Before the vote, speaker after speaker in the General Assembly debate speaks out against the US sanctions (Lederer 11/8/2005) , while Ronald Godard, a deputy United States ambassador, asserts that “if the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry, or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it’s because of his economic mismanagement.” (New York Times 11/9/2005) After the votes are tallied up, many delegates in the General Assembly hall reportedly burst into applause. (Lederer 11/8/2005) US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, calls the vote “a complete exercise in irrelevancy.” (Lederer 11/8/2005)

The UN General Assembly takes up its annual vote on a resolution in favor of the “prevention of an arms race in outer space” calling on parties to limit their use of space to peaceful purposes and oppose its weaponization. For the first time since its initial adoption in 1968, the resolution does not pass with a unanimous vote. Only two countries—the United States and Israel—vote against it, with all 180 other countries present voting in support. (United Nations 12/8/2005 pdf file; United Nations 12/8/2005; Center for Nonproliferation Studies 4/24/2006; United Nations Bibliographic Information System 10/20/2006)


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