On 3 October, the EU and Cuba held their second formal Human Rights Dialogue in Brussels under the EU-Cuba Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation (PDCA).The dialogue provides a structured framework to discuss openly and in a constructive way the human rights situation in both Cuba and the EU and a platform to explore cooperation in multilateral fora on shared human rights challenges. The EU and Cuba maintain regular informal exchanges on human rights beyond the formal dialogue.
In his opening remarks, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore highlighted that human rights "remain at the centre of EU-Cuba bilateral relations, as reflected in the PDCA".
The objective of the Dialogue was to enhance bilateral engagement in areas where there was potential for making progress, because “in complex international situations, we can achieve more when we break down barriers and work together”.
During the dialogue, the two sides discussed the issue of freedom of expression and access to information offline and online. Discussions also covered the right to participate in the conduct of public affairs in the EU and in Cuba. The EU underlined the importance that all citizens can freely associate, express their views and participate in public life.
The EU and Cuba addressed the rights of vulnerable groups, where the EU stressed the need to ensure the totality of the political, economic and social rights for all. The parties also discussed the promotion of gender equality and respective policies to fight against gender-based violence. The EU reiterated its commitment to work with Cuba on achieving societies where all people can thrive, regardless of their gender.
Finally, both parties explored opportunities for closer EU-Cuba cooperation in multilateral human rights fora, such as at the Human Rights Council and the United National General Assembly Third Committee. The EU and Cuba furthermore exchanged views on the implementation of the recommendations of last years’ Universal Periodic Review of Cuba.
The EU and Cuba agreed to explore further collaboration through technical assistance and the exchange of best practices, including on combatting violence against women, modernising the regulatory framework and improving access to the internet. The EU underlined the value of involving a broader spectrum of civil society organisations to share their specialised knowledge and experiences to find common solutions to shared challenges.
The Dialogue was preceded by a civil society seminar on 2 October, where representatives of Cuban and European civil society exchanged views in particular on the topics ofcombatting gender-based violence and on the protection of families. The parties also visited a centre for the prevention of gender-based violence and rehabilitation of victims in Brussels to exchange best practices and explore avenues for cooperation.
The EU delegation was headed by the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore and included Deputy Managing Director for the Americas of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Hugo Sobral, as well as other representatives of the EEAS. Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez, Director General for Multilateral Issues and International Law of the Cuban Ministry for Foreign Affairs led the Cuban side, and was accompanied by Alba Soto, Director for Europe and Canada, Cuban Ambassador to the EU Norma Goicochea and Director for International Organisations Juan Antonio Quintanilla Roman. Representatives of EU Member States participated in the Dialogue as observers.
The Human Rights Dialogue allows both sides to share experiences and best practices, build capacities, and provide training or technical cooperation to address specific issues.
It is one of five political dialogues held under the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA), which is being provisionally applied since 2017. All five political dialogues are preceded by events with civil society.