76 UNGA: Statement by Cuba in Plenary meeting on agenda item 134 “Responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”. New York, 23 June 2022

Mr. President,

The Cuban delegation would like to thank you for your good offices in the holding of this plenary meeting.

Cuba considers that it is a mistake to speak of Responsibility to Protect as a principle, since it does not constitute a foundation or an axiom of International Law. This so-called "responsibility" is just a notion, whose scope, rules of application and evaluation mechanisms are still far from being defined and agreed upon by Member States.

In this regard, it is inadmissible to speak of strengthening the implementation of the responsibility to protect without the existence of an agreement on its implications, which resolves differences in interpretation, ensures its universal recognition and acceptance, and grants legitimacy to the actions proposed for its implementation.

The report submitted continues to misuse the term "heinous crimes", framing it within the four crimes agreed upon in Resolution 60/1. In this respect, we recall once again that a great number of delegations have stated their disagreement with the use of this term or that of "mass atrocity crimes", due not only to its legal ambiguity, but also to the absence of consensus on the definition of these crimes, which derives from the will of Member States.

This is not the first time that this hall has heard concerns over the selective use of these terms for political purposes, to refer to various situations that are sometimes conceived as "new challenges requiring protection", and which can be easily manipulated, especially if they do not have the unanimous approval of this Assembly.

Nor do we consider it prudent to grant mandates to other bodies such as the Human Rights Council to evaluate States on matters that are still under study and lack consensus. The responsibility of the international community lies, as appropriate, in encouraging and assisting States to exercise that responsibility which rests with them first and foremost.

Mr. President,

More than 15 years after the Millennium Summit, the issue of the responsibility to protect continues to pose serious concerns for many countries, particularly small and developing ones.

In an international system as undemocratic as the one prevailing today, it is critical to determine who decides when there is a need to protect; who determines that a State does not protect its population; who and under which criteria determines the forms of action; and how to prevent the issue from being used for interventionist purposes. There is absolutely no transparency on how to ensure that the option to take action is carried out with the consent of the affected State, to avoid that this concept is used as a justification for an alleged and non-existent "right to intervene". Even more alarming is the idea of "protecting" a population, using bombs that when detonating do not distinguish and in no way safeguard the life and personal integrity of those they claim to protect.

International efforts to prevent the occurrence of acts of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity, objectives that Cuba has always shared, should contribute to strengthening the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, in particular sovereign equality, territorial integrity and self-determination. However, the ambiguities of this concept and the implications of the exercise of its so-called "three pillars" contradict those purposes and principles. Therefore, the preeminence of the principles of voluntariness, prior request and consent of States, must be recognized within the context of the so-called responsibility to protect.

If the intention is to prevent, then the root causes of these problems should be addressed, such as underdevelopment and poverty, the unjust international economic order, inequality and social exclusion, marginalization, food insecurity and other structural problems that determine the unleashing of conflicts that escalate to extreme situations, which unfortunately are not promoted with the same energy by many of those who advocate the advancement of this concept.

Mr. President,

Preventing international community from remaining impassive in the face of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is a noble effort and one that Cuba supports. However, in many cases promoting and attempting to implement the responsibility to protect only conceal the objective of having one more tool available to facilitate interference in internal affairs, regime change agendas and subversion in third countries, usually small and developing ones. Regrettably, the world history has more than enough examples to validate such a concern.

Thank you very much