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Cuba and other dictatorships are members of the United Nations Human Rights Council!!!
 Ver la versión en español de este boletín aquí.

Current members of the United Nations Human Rights Council include the worst human rights’ violators on the planet: China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, and Vietnam. Membership of the first four expires on December 31, 2016 and they are up for reelection. Voting is October 28th.
The Human Rights Council is a subsidiary body of the U.N. and part of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (, with a staff of 1,085 plus 689 human rights’ officers worldwide. The Council it is composed of 47 U.N. member states serving for periods of three years for up to two consecutive terms. They are selected by secret ballot and must be voted in by an absolute majority (at least 97 votes) of the U.N. membership. The General Assembly resolution establishing the Council states that U.N. members are obliged, in selecting members, to consider the candidates’ “contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto” and whether candidates can “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

October 6th, the Geneva-based UN Watch (www. and the New York-based Human Rights Foundation ( organized a press conference at U.N. headquarters in New York city to call on member states, particularly democratic nations, to elect members that respect rather than trample the rights of their citizens. Javier El-Hage, Human Rights Foundation Chief Legal Officer, explained that dictatorships gaining these highly coveted seats “have consistently used them to exercise a heckler’s veto … to shield themselves from any significant exposure of their horrendous human rights’ records.” After the press conference, the case was made at a luncheon with members of the media and other influential New Yorkers and in the evening had a panel discussion at New York University.

At all three events Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, and Mr. El-Hage gave informative overviews of the situation at the Council. Cuba Archive’s Executive Director, Maria Werlau, explained why Cuba should not be selected to the Council. Former Chinese Tiananmen Square survivor and political prisoner Dr. Yang Jianli spoke on China including its political prisoners (see Ensaf Haidar highlighted the case of her husband, renowned political prisoner Raif Badawi (see and spoke of the lack of freedoms in Saudi Arabia. Canada’s former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Irwin Cotler spoke about impunity and other troubling aspects shared by candidates unqualified for membership in the Council. Not surprisingly, Cuba has strong economic and political alliances with both China and Saudi Arabia as well as with most other totalitarian and rogue regimes. Together, they protect other human rights violators, such as Syria, from condemnation. See Cuba´s recent voting record at Council:

In her New York presentations, Cuba Archive’s Executive Director asserted that the 57 year-old Cuban military dictatorship violates, de jure and de facto, all applicable articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Offering a brief overview of how Cuba’s Constitution, Penal Code, and other laws embody the totalitarian nature of the system, she explained how the Cuban regime has systematically and from its beginnings committed wide-ranging and continuing crimes against humanity. For example, 12 human rights´ defenders have been killed or disappeared just in the last ten years. See her written and filmed remarks at

A report by UN Watch and Human Rights Foundation ( evaluates all member countries slated for the coming Council election based on detailed ratings and analysis. It makes clear that “the presence of systematic abusers on the Human Rights Council contradicts its own charter” and reminds U.N. member states of their right to refrain from voting for unqualified candidates, suggesting they defeat candidacies in closed slates by not voting for them and “freeing up the process for qualified alternatives to come forward.”


The premier international human rights’ agency in the world is wasting enormous resources and real opportunities to advance human rights. Demand accountability in the membership and proceedings of the Council. Alert the media and civil society groups, write opinion pieces and letters in newspapers, and post in blogs and social media. If you’re from the U.S., know that we provide a substantial portion of the U.N.’s budget.  Pease take just a few minutes to contact the White House, the State Department, and your representatives to Congress. Use these links:

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Cuba Archive’s Truth and Memory Project documents the loss of life resulting from
the Cuban revolution and studies transitional issues of truth, memory and justice.

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