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

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1960: US Introduces Trade Embargo against Cuba

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]

Timeline Tags: US-Cuba (1959-2005)

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]

Entity Tags: UN General Assembly

Timeline Tags: US International Relations

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Nicaragua appeals to the World Court in The Hague to end US efforts to destabilize its government. The court rules in its favor, ordering America to end its interventionist policy in Nicaragua and to pay massive reparations. [Associated Press, 6/27/1986; Keen, 1992, pp. 459] The court does not specify an amount; however, Nicaraguan legal experts estimate that reparations, including interest, would be as much as $17.8 billion. [Norsworthy and Barry, 1990, pp. 59; New York Times, 9/30/1990; CounterPunch, 9/13/2002] America immediately rejects the World Court’s ruling. [Associated Press, 6/27/1986]

Timeline Tags: US International Relations, US-Nicaragua (1979-)

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]

Timeline Tags: US-Nicaragua (1979-)

UN General Assembly Hall.UN General Assembly Hall. [Source: UN]Preparations are underway in New York City for the upcoming meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. [US Congress, 4/23/2002] The Secret Service has an additional 100 employees in the city for this event. [PCCW Newsletter, 3/2006] Four communications soldiers from the 1108th Signal Brigade are also temporarily assigned to New York to support the Secret Service. [Fort Detrick Standard, 10/18/2001] Presumably, the specific event being prepared for is the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders, scheduled for September 24 to October 5, which President Bush is due to address on September 24. [Reuters, 9/12/2001; Associated Press, 10/29/2001] For example, one report says Secret Service Officer Craig Miller is in New York today “to do advance security work for President Bush’s then upcoming visit to the United Nations General Assembly.” [American Rifleman, 2/2002; United States Secret Service, 4/29/2002 pdf file] The General Assembly is designated as a National Special Security Event (NSSE). [New York Times, 11/10/2001; US Congress, 7/9/2002; US Department of Homeland Security, 7/9/2003] Since 1998, the National Security Council has been authorized to designate important upcoming events as NSSEs (see May 22, 1998), which puts the Secret Service in charge of the planning and implementation of security. [United States Secret Service, 2002] It is unclear whether the UN General Assembly received NSSE status prior to 9/11, or is later designated as an NSSE due to the attacks. However, the UN’s previous ‘Millennium Summit’ in New York in September 2000 was an NSSE. [US Department of the Treasury, 2000, pp. 177 pdf file; US Congress, 6/29/2000; White House, 1/10/2002] And in 2003, Secret Service Director Ralph Basham states: “Each year, the UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] is a manpower and resource intensive effort for the Secret Service.” [US Congress, 5/1/2003] So it seems likely that it was designated as an NSSE before 9/11. There are questions about how preparations for an NSSE could have affected security in New York. The Secret Service says it conducts a “tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination” for NSSEs, involving a “variety of training initiatives,” which include, “simulated attacks and medical emergencies.” [United States Secret Service, 2002] Furthermore, former FBI Director Louis Freeh will later tell the 9/11 Commission that in 2000 and 2001, the use of airplanes by terrorists in suicide missions “was part of the planning” for NSSEs. [9/11 Commission, 4/13/2004] Whether any such preparations are taking place in New York on or around 9/11 is unknown. The Secret Service is also mandated to create capabilities for achieving “airspace security” over NSSEs, which include “air interdiction teams” used to detect and identify aircraft that violate the restricted airspace above the event. [US Congress, 3/30/2000 pdf file; Security Management, 2/2002] Again, whether such capabilities are already available in New York in advance of the UN General Assembly is unknown. Even though only four or five events per year are designated as NSSEs, preparations are also underway in the Washington, DC area for a separate NSSE (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001). [US Department of Homeland Security, 7/9/2003; US Department of Homeland Security, 11/8/2004] The UN General Assembly’s gathering of world leaders will be cancelled due to the 9/11 attacks but is rescheduled for November. [CBS News, 9/19/2001; BBC, 11/10/2001; Guardian, 11/10/2001]

Entity Tags: 1108th Signal Brigade, National Special Security Events, Craig Miller, US Secret Service

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

At the opening of the UN General Assembly, which is delayed by seven weeks due to the 9/11 attacks, government leaders lend nearly unanimous support to the military campaign in Afghanistan, though the operation has not received the express prior authorization from the UN Security Council that is usually necessary for the lawful use of military force for any other reason than pure self-defense. [United Nations, 11/16/2001]

Entity Tags: United Nations Security Council, United Nations

Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan

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. [Truthout (.org), 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.” [Ha'aretz, 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. [Ha'aretz, 6/3/2004]

Entity Tags: UN General Assembly

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, US International Relations

For the fourteenth consecutive year, the UN General Assembly, in a record 182 to 4 vote, calls on the US to end its four-decade-old embargo against Cuba (see 1960). Voting against the measure are the US, Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstains, while El Salvador, Iraq, Morocco, and Nicaragua do not vote. [Associated Press, 11/8/2005; CBC News, 11/8/2005; EuroNews, 11/9/2005] (The Palau Archipelago was administered by the United States as the last UN trust territory until 1994. The Marshall Islands, taken by the US during World War II, became self-governing under US military protection in 1976, achieving free-association status in 1986. The combined population of Palau and the Marshall Islands is less than 80,000.) [Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2005; Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth edition, 2005] Before the vote, speaker after speaker in the General Assembly debate speaks out against the US sanctions [Associated Press, 11/8/2005] , while Ronald Godard, a deputy United States ambassador, asserts that “if the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry, or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it’s because of his economic mismanagement.” [New York Times, 11/9/2005] After the votes are tallied up, many delegates in the General Assembly hall reportedly burst into applause. [Associated Press, 11/8/2005] US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, calls the vote “a complete exercise in irrelevancy.” [Associated Press, 11/8/2005]

Entity Tags: John R. Bolton, Israel, UN General Assembly, Ronald Godard, United States

Timeline Tags: US-Cuba (1959-2005)

The UN General Assembly takes up its annual vote on a resolution in favor of the “prevention of an arms race in outer space” calling on parties to limit their use of space to peaceful purposes and oppose its weaponization. For the first time since its initial adoption in 1968, the resolution does not pass with a unanimous vote. Only two countries—the United States and Israel—vote against it, with all 180 other countries present voting in support. [United Nations, 12/8/2005 pdf file; United Nations, 12/8/2005; Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 4/24/2006; United Nations Bibliographic Information System, 10/20/2006]

Entity Tags: Israel, United States, UN General Assembly

Timeline Tags: US Military, US International Relations

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