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Cuban at the UN's human rights council

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Message Tim Anderson

Here's something you won't hear from the US corporate media: Cuba's human rights record was examined by the UN's Human Rights Council, and the country came out looking pretty good. There was a great deal of praise, some constructive criticism and relatively few intransigent issues.

Such reports are rarely reported on in meaningful terms. The corporate media, generally looking for a single story line, spin it their own way or ignore it especially if the news does not suit their predetermined stereotypes. The Cuban media presented some short, positive stories. Let's look at some of the details.

Since 2006, Cuba has participated more freely in the UN's Human Rights Council precisely because the Council has more equitable processes than the old Commission. The voting structure allows a wider range of countries to participate and the main accountability process is the 'Universal Periodic Review' (UPR), which applies to all countries.

The big powers no longer pick and choose their favorite 'human rights offenders' for UN scrutiny, as they did in the old Commission. The US tried to target Cuba (particularly during the administration of that great champion of human rights, George W. Bush) at the Commission, and for this reason Cuba refused to fully cooperate. But since the restructuring of 2006, things have changed.

In the eleventh session it was Cuba's turn for a UPR, and the little socialist country faced scrutiny from all participating countries plus a wide range of NGOs.

The structure of a UPR leads to the subject state either accepting, considering or rejecting submissions. The Human Rights Council report on Cuba, like all UPR reports, is not a UN opinion but summarizes the scrutiny process and sets out the state's responses to all the criticism or praise.

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Tim Anderson is an academic and social activist based in Sydney, Australia
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