This is big news. Every year (last year was the 23rd) the United Nations has a vote condemning the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Usually it is ridiculously lopsided, with the U.S. and 2-3 other countries (one is always Israel) voting against it. Now the U.S. may abstain, thus acknowledging the criticisms as valid.
The article suggests this is a message to the UN that if the wording is changed (exactly how is unclear) then the U.S. will hop on board. Here is the basic wording (sorry about the formatting).
Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba The General Assembly, Determined to encourage strict compliance with the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, Reaffirming, among other principles, the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention and non-interference in their internal affairs and freedom of international trade and navigation, which are also enshrined in many international legal instruments, Recalling the statements of the Heads of State or Government at the Ibero-American Summits concerning the need to eliminate the unilateral application of economic and trade measures by one State against another that affect the free flow of international trade, Concerned about the continued promulgation and application by Member States of laws and regulations, such as that promulgated on 12 March 1996 known as “the Helms-Burton Act”, the extraterritorial effects of which affect the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation, Taking note of declarations and resolutions of different intergovernmental forums, bodies and Governments that express the rejection by the international community and public opinion of the promulgation and application of measures of the kind referred to above, Recalling its resolutions 47/19 of 24 November 1992, 48/16 of 3 November 1993, 49/9 of 26 October 1994, 50/10 of 2 November 1995, 51/17 of 12 November 1996, 52/10 of 5 November 1997, 53/4 of 14 October 1998, 54/21 of 9 November 1999, 55/20 of 9 November 2000, 56/9 of 27 November 2001, 57/11 of 12 November 2002, 58/7 of 4 November 2003, 59/11 of 28 October 2004, 60/12 of 8 November 2005, 61/11 of 8 November 2006, 62/3 of 30 October 2007, 63/7 of A/68/L.6 2/2 13-51021 29 October 2008, 64/6 of 28 October 2009, 65/6 of 26 October 2010, 66/6 of 25 October 2011 and 67/4 of 13 November 2012, Concerned that, since the adoption of its resolutions 47/19, 48/16, 49/9, 50/10, 51/17, 52/10, 53/4, 54/21, 55/20, 56/9, 57/11, 58/7, 59/11, 60/12, 61/11, 62/3, 63/7, 64/6, 65/6, 66/6 and 67/4, further measures of that nature aimed at strengthening and extending the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba continue to be promulgated and applied, and concerned also about the adverse effects of such measures on the Cuban people and on Cuban nationals living in other countries,
1. Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 67/4;1
2. Reiterates its call upon all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures of the kind referred to in the preamble to the present resolution, in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which, inter alia, reaffirm the freedom of trade and navigation;
3. Once again urges States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the necessary steps to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible in accordance with their legal regime;
4. Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations system, to prepare a report on the implementation of the present resolution in the light of the purposes and principles of the Charter and international law and to submit it to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session;
5. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-ninth session the item entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.
The officials suggest that the revision could be done with the Cubans, which perhaps suggests Cuba must accept something in there as well (on economic freedom or something?).
It is unheard of for a U.N. member state not to oppose resolutions critical of its own laws.
And by not actively opposing the resolution, the administration would be effectively siding with the world body against Congress, which has refused to repeal the embargo despite calls from President Barack Obama to do so.
You got that right! States don't vote against themselves. There will be quite a howl from Congress and the right more generally. Obama is at the point where not only does he never need to face election again, but he figures there is a chunk of the country that hates him and essentially they can't hate him more so why not go for it?