“At a UN Forum, a Cuban representative stares down the Russian official, demanding that the country: ‘share its progressive experience in the promotion of peace and interethnic harmony.’”
Sounds like a headline from the humor newspaper The Onion, doesn’t it? Except it’s not. It’s an actual recommendation, from an actual government official (Cuban) at an actual international forum, the UN Human Rights Council, to Russia. And there are worse.
As part of a research project on how Latin American countries act to promote and protect human rights internationally, we have been digging into votes and recommendations made by Latin American countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council. One of the activities undertaken by the Council is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). During the process countries’ human rights records are examined by the global community, with each country able to submit recommendations for how to improve human rights in the focus country.
Many of the recommendations are meant to highlight stark and serious situations that affect the life, safety and happiness of people, as well as goals each government should work toward (such as ratifying human rights treaties or ending discrimination against various groups). Of course it is up to the focus country to accept each recommendation and to take action. But most importantly, the process is an opportunity to present human rights concerns in individual countries on a global stage.
However, there are some recommendations, both to and from Latin American countries,—especially among allies—that flirt with the ridiculous. In fact, some outright laughable as supposedly serious statements on human rights, especially when you know some of the conditions in the countries making the recommendations. So, at the risk perhaps of bad taste, we have included a number of these in a humor post—though in the end the story is quite sad: states using what is supposed to be a serious forum to address citizens’ rights and human suffering for political posturing and sycophancy. This is not someone putting their foot in their mouth or an ignorant politician mouthing off on a topic they know nothing about, but how a country consciously decided to act on a global stage.
Here are some of our favorites:
From Cuba to Bolivia: Advance in the implementation of human rights to live in harmony with Mother Earth.
From Venezuela to North Korea: Continue actions to ensure that children in the most disadvantaged areas enjoy the same benefits in education and health enjoyed in urban areas.
From Venezuela to Cuba: Continue to support in international forums the right to self-determination and independence of peoples.
From Cuba to North Korea: Continue to take measures for the sustainable economic, social and cultural development in the rural areas.
From Cuba to Russia: Share its progressive experience in the promotion of peace and interethnic harmony.
From North Korea to Cuba: Continue to promote dialogue with all States, on the basis of mutual respect, sovereign equality, self-determination and the right to choose their own political, economic and social system.
From Haiti to Cuba: Promote in the international scene the literacy and post-literacy Cuban programs named “Yo sí puedo” “Ya puedo leer y escribir” and “Yo sí puedo seguir”.
From Syria to Cuba: Continue its efforts to widen the protection of human rights and the security of its citizen in the country as a means of consolidating social justice.
And another from Syria to Cuba: Continue achieving the widest enjoyment possible of human rights and basic freedoms.
Good stuff huh? We wouldn’t be surprised if a few of these appeared on the front page of The Onion soon—if they hadn’t already.