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Context of 'December 18, 2002: UN General Assembly Strengthens Protection against Torture, Despite US ‘No’ Vote'

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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 adopts Resolution 2131, titled, “Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty,” which recognizes that “armed intervention is synonymous with aggression and, as such, is contrary to the basic principles on which peaceful international cooperation between States should be built.” It also states that “direct intervention, subversion and all forms of indirect intervention are contrary to these principles and, consequently, constitute a violation of the Charter of the United Nations.” In its declaration, which as a General Assembly resolution is non-binding, it prohibits all forms of intervention by one state “in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” (United Nations 12/21/1965)

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The UN General Assembly calls on the US to comply with the International Court of Justice’s judgment that the US pay Nicaragua reparations (see June 27, 1986). The US continues to ignore the ruling. The UN will repeat its demand the following year. (United Nations 7/27/1986; United Nations 11/12/1987)

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)


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