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New UN Special Rapporteur on sanctions hails US-Cuba diplomatic progress and calls for the embargo to be lifted

GENEVA (6 July 2015) – The new United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, welcomed the re-establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba announced last week, and called for the US embargo -which remains in force so far- to be lifted.

“The process of restoring fully normal relations between the two countries must imply the prompt lifting of the US embargo against Cuba,” said the independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring, reporting and advising on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights worldwide.

“The lifting of the embargo should put an end to its adverse social, economic and humanitarian consequences incurred for decades by the Cuban population, which the UN General Assembly has deplored in a number of resolutions,” Mr. Jazairy said.

The independent expert commended US Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke of a ‘fundamental decision to change a policy that didn’t work and that had been in place not working for far too long.’

The UN Human Rights Council established this new mandate in September 2014, in response to increasing concern by the UN human rights system and the international community about the negative impact of sanctions, including unilateral coercive measures, on the enjoyment of human rights, particularly their negative impact on the human rights of the civilian population of targeted countries.

“It is not always easy to translate good intentions in the capitals of advanced countries into human rights protection in the day-to-day life of remote communities in the developing world,” Mr. Jazairy noted. 

Mr. Idriss Jazairy was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. He took office on 1 May 2015. Mr. Jazairy has extensive experience in the fields of international relations and human rights with the Algerian Foreign Ministry, the UN human rights system and international NGOs. He holds a M.A.(Oxford) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and an M.P.A. (Harvard). He also graduated from the Ecole nationale d’Administration (France). Mr. Jazairy is the author of books and of a large number of articles in the international press on development, human rights and current affairs. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/UCM/Pages/SRCoerciveMeasures.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Pages:
Cuba: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/CUIndex.aspx
United States of America: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Michelle Erazo (+41 22 917 9449 / merazo@ohchr.org) or write to ucm@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en