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News & Advocacy

55th Session of the UN Human Rights Council


The 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 26 February to 5 April 2024, considers a diverse array of issues stemming from transversal human rights concerns, including the results of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of multiple Member States, including Cuba, Turkmenistan, Colombia, Uzbekistan, Germany, Bangladesh, The Russian Federation, among others.

On March 26, ARC, PEN International, and the PEN Club of Cuban Writers in Exile issued an oral joint statement on behalf of a group of organizations related to the outcomes of the UPR of the Cuban State.

The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the UN responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. Throughout the year, the Council brings together UN officials, diplomatic representatives, and human rights organizations to discuss human rights issues of global concern.

During the session, follow the live-updated program of work on Sched and the sessions on UN TV. Stay up-to-date: Follow @atriskartists on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Read the full text of the joint oral statement below.

Joint oral statement on the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Cuban State

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

On behalf of PEN International, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), and the PEN Club of Cuban Writers in Exile, we are honored to address the Human Rights Council regarding the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Cuban State.

Since the previous UPR in 2018, Cuba has faced an exodus of people amid the deepening criminalization of freedom of expression, artistic expression, and social protest, including the adoption of legislation restricting such freedoms.

Two months after the July 11, 2021 protests in Cuba, PEN International, ARC, and partner organizations documented 39 arrests of artists, 55 artists and writers arbitrarily detained, under house arrest or investigations conducted under illegal judicial processes. The working group Justicia 11J has documented the detention of 68 artists or cultural professionals during peaceful demonstrations in 2021 and 2022. Subsequently, more than a dozen artists were forced into exile, and at least another dozen remain in detention.

We highlight the cases of artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Maykel Castillo Pérez, and Maria Cristina Garrido Rodriguez, who, among others, were sentenced to prison in Cuba for exercising their free expression.

We urge the United Nations member states to demand the immediate release of artists and writers imprisoned in Cuba, an end to forced exile, and that Cuba heed the recommendations made by states and implement measures for the full exercise of human rights.

Thank you.

List of Supporting Organizations

  • PEN International
  • PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC)
  • PEN Club of Cuban Writers in Exile 
  • ARTICLE 19 Oficina para México y Centroamérica
  • Civil Rights Defenders
  • Cubalex
  • Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights
  • Justicia 11J
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