Preliminary Comments on Cuba’s Upcoming Universal Periodic Review of Its Human Rights 

As a prior post reported, on November 15, 2023, a U.N. agency will conduct its Universal Periodic Review of Cuba’s human rights over the last four and a half years and in February/March 2024 the U.N. Human Rights Council will adopt a final report on same.[1]

Here is a preliminary review of some of the issues that should arise in that review.[2]

First. Cuba has not signed or ratified the following international human rights treaties:

  • The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment . This prevents investigations into these issues within the prison system and police interrogation centers.
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Consequently, it ignores its two optional protocols and thus prevents the recognition of freedom of political thought, freedom of political parties and the safe exercise of rights of this nature such as those of expression, assembly and demonstration/protest and thus legitimizing the criminalization of these rights.
  • The 2014 Protocol to the Convention on Forced Labor (1930) of the International Labor Organization. The Cuban Government profits from the sale of professional services, while the conditions of the specialists it exports have been denounced in international organizations such as the United Nations itself. For this reason,  Cuba appears alongside China and North Korea as leaders in  forced labor
  • The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which abolishes the death penalty. The number of crimes with this penalty has increased in the new Cuban Penal Code.
  • The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which prevents a thorough investigation of discriminatory acts of all kinds against women for political reasons, affecting their fundamental rights such as access to forms of employment and full inclusion in society. Independent feminist activism suffers persecution in Cuba and women activists are repressed for trying to interfere in political affairs.

The Cuban Government has also argued that it has not been able to advance further on human rights due to “other priorities” in the country, currently mired in an economic crisis with no way out. The regime denies that there is repression of civic conduct in Cuba. It says that it is not human rights that are repressed, but rather foreign subversive activity through Cubans whom it accuses of trying to end the Revolution, and other arguments with which it criminalizes dissent. But what is a higher priority for a modern State than the promotion, respect and guarantees of human rights?


[1] U.N. Universal Periodic Review of Cuban Human Rights, (Nov. 6, 2023).

[2] Angels, What is the UN Universal Periodic Review and how does the Cuban regime arrive? Diario de Cuba (May 5, 2023); Angels, In permanent evasion: the Cuban regime before the UN Universal Periodic Review. Diario de Cuba (May 5, 2023)