Havana and Stockholm, August 2014.
The European Union bilateral relationship with Cuba has always been guided by the promotion of human rights and democracy, as explicitly stated in its “Common Position” toward Cuba. Therefore such values should also form the cornerstone of on-going negotiations between the EU and Cuba regarding the bilateral Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement that was initiated in April 2014.
In 2008, the Cuban government took its first positive step towards respecting human rights by signing the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The following years, Cuba released many political prisoners; including the 75 human rights defenders imprisoned during the spring of 2003. However, Cuba has not taken any further effective steps to ratify or implement the International Covenants. Political persecution and repression continues, while any space for opposition in official Cuban political life remains wholly elusive.
The EU must therefore first seek to include Cuban civil society and political opponents in the negotiation process with the Cuban government in order to ensure legitimacy to the final agreement for the Cuban population.
The EU should then move on to include basic steps regarding the ratification and implementation of the ICCPR and ICESCR, as well as their respective additional protocols in the agreement,
The implementation should be understood, in a first step, as the incorporation of these instruments into the Cuban constitution, and national laws so that basic human rights, such as the right to association, the right to form unions, the right to own property and the right to freedoms of expression, press and movement are guaranteed.
Finally, the EU should ensure that civil society and Cuban political opponents have the opportunity to maintain open dialogue with the EU throughout the follow up process of the agreement.