February 14, 1990 | Executive Memorandum on International Organizations
the September 1962 V isit by the Cubvii Working C.-roup, the Castro regime has made a mockery of the UNHRC by taking punitive action against thc.s-. who had made statements to the Group, subjecting over 50 human rights activists to harassment, imprisonment, -or physical tortu r e. Castro's efforts to silence those who have spoken out against the abuses have been documented by such prominent human rights monitors as Amnesty International and Americas Watch. 71ree of Cuba's leading human rights activists, Ricardo Bofil, Tania Diaz , and Elizardo Sanchez have been either imprisoned or exiled. Seven of their colleagues were also arrested and then released. Explicit Promise. As a result of these events, Vice President Dan Quayle met with Perez de Cuellar last December 11. Quayle was as s ured that the Secretary-General would submit a written report on Cuban human rights abuses if requested to do so by any U.N. member. Representative Chris Smith, the New Jersey Republican and member of the U.S. delegation to the U.N., received a similar pr o mise from Perez de Cuellar. In a letter of this January 31 to Perez de Cuellar, Smith explicitly notes the U.N. "assurances that a report on human rights in Cuba would be submitted, if one or several governments request it." U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. 11 o mas Pickering formally requested this report on January 9 in a letter to the Secretary-General. Despite this request, Perez de Cuellar has refused to submit a report.- In a January 29 letter to the UNHRC, the Secretary-General merely wrote that he "remain [ s] at the disposal of the Commission in this regard." In explanation of why the Secretary-General would not respond to the U.S. request to submit a report, a spokesman said that there must have been a misunderstanding on the part of Quayle. Francois Giuli a ni, spokesman for the Secretary-General, said in a January 30 briefing at U.N. headquarters in New York, "What the Secretary-General meant was that if a country wanted a report or statement from him in a particular body, then it had to address a request t o this effect to that body." The refusal by Perez de Cuellar to honor a legitimate request from the U.S. - by far the U.N.'s largest donor - sends a strong signal that the U.N. is not yet a reformed institution. Because of this, the Bush Administration imm e diately should withdraw and revise its request for U.N. funding. The Administration should postpone payment of its scheduled $39 million installment for arrearages, and trim its $204.5 million request for the current year contribution to last year's level of $144 million. If the Bush Administration fails to respond forcefully to Perez de Cuellar's insult of the U.S., Congress should do so by limiting the appropriation to $144 million with no payment on the arrearages. As recent history teaches, only the st ing of financial withholding can provide the necessary incentive for the U.N. and its Secretary-General to act responsibly. Mark A. Franz Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs and Director, United Nations Assessment ProjectF or further info rmation: Ambassador Armando Valladares, US. Representative to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, "Statement ... on... the Report of the Mission which Took Place in Cuba ...... February 28, 1989. Mark A. Franz and Robert V*rmters, "At the United Nations, Reform Has A LongWay to Go," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 678, October 24,1988.