Cablegate: Usunesco: Outcome of Executive Board Decision On

Published: Wed 4 May 2005 01:24 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) Summary: The EU continues to focus on UNESCO as a
place to enhance its influence in United Nations
organizations. Following the rebuff last fall of the EU's
attempts to gain a seat at the table during ongoing
negotiations on a cultural diversity convention, the EU was
back at it during UNESCO's most recent Executive Board
meeting which ended April 29. While the final draft
resolution gave the EU much less than they wanted, they
still succeeded in gaining more than they had before. The
resolution says that the EC "while maintaining its observer
status" will remain seated at the back of the hall with
other observers during the next round of negotiations (May
23-June 4) but will not be subject to the same rules
observers must follow on when and how much they can address
the meeting. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Negotiations on the Draft Convention on the
Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and
Artistic Expressions (also known as the cultural diversity
convention) began in the fall of 2004. A second round of
talks was held in February and there will be another later
this month.
3. (SBU) During last fall's meeting of UNESCO's biannual
Executive Board, European Union members on the board
submitted a draft resolution seeking enhanced observer
status at future negotiations. Claiming that EU member
states had transferred competency in several areas-trade,
free movement of people, and intellectual property rights-to
the European Community, they asserted a need for a seat at
the table. The EU members had not done their homework and
ended up withdrawing the resolution in the face of a
maelstrom of negative reactions.
4. (SBU) As a result of the resolution's failure to pass,
European Commission representatives were "embedded" in the
delegation of the EU presidency (Luxembourg) during the
February round of negotiations. Most member states felt
that this approach worked well; the EC was able to present
its positions without a problem.
5. (SBU) Since the beginning of this year, the EU member
states on the Board have again been pushing the
participation issue strongly. They prepared another draft
resolution for the spring Executive Board and began intense
lobbying of national delegations at UNESCO and in capitals.
We cited one example of their efforts reftel where the
Jamaican ambassador received new instructions to support the
EU after lobbying in her capital.
6. (SBU) The Executive Board's Special Committee was the
first to look at the EU's draft resolution. When the
Committee was unable to reach consensus, it referred the
matter to a working group headed by the Indian ambassador to
UNESCO. The Indian Ambassador, working with Uruguay and
Brazil, came up with a chairman's text. Despite the lack of
consensus on this text, it was referred to the plenary and
was readily embraced by EU states that substituted it as a
new version of their draft resolution. The operant language
of this text states that "the European Community, while
maintaining its observer status, may actively participate in
the same manner as full participants in the work of the
Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts, excluding the right to
7. (SBU) With sentiment seeming to coalesce around this
version and the likelihood that the EU would prevail in a
vote, the US delegation, assisted by US Mission Geneva Legal
Advisor Michael Peay, engaged in last-minute negotiations
with the EU. The operant language of the final version of
the resolution (cleared by IO and EUR) reads: (para 3)(The
Executive Board) invites, on an exceptional basis, the
European Community, while maintaining its observer status,
to participate actively and as fully as appropriate in the
work of the Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts (May 25 - 4
June 2005).
(para 4) Recommends that the General Conference, at its 33rd
session, take this decision into account with respect to its
consideration of the item related to the Preliminary Draft
Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural
Contents and Artistic Expressions.
8. (SBU) This version was introduced to the plenary by the
Indian ambassador as a consensus text. After adoption, the
UK ambassador read a clarifying statement: (AK note-need to
get proper language here)
"The Decision refers to active participation of the European
Community as fully as appropriate.
The European Union considers that this active participation
shall consist, within negotiation of the convention, of the
ability to speak as other participants. Such active
participation shall also consist of the ability to reply, to
put forward proposals and amendments on issues for which it
has competence at the formal meetings. It shall also
include the ability to take part in the discussion of
procedural issues within the context of the Draft Cultural
Diversity Convention and the ability to take part in the
committees, working groups, formal or informal meetings set
up in the course of the work relating to negotiation of this
Convention. The European Community shall have its own
The European Community may not chair committees or sub-
committees or serve as Rapporteur unless there is full
consensus. The European Community shall not have the right
vote nor break or block consensus.
Furthermore, European Community participation does not mean
an additional voice. Indeed, the European Community decides
in internal coordination whether the Presidency of the
Council will speak on an issue on behalf of the Community
and its member states. During this process, we have been
open to providing further explanations concerning
competences of the Community as regards the draft Convention
whenever it speaks and we will continue to do so."
9. (SBU) The Australian Ambassador asked that the UK
Ambassador's statement be put verbatim in the records of the
meeting. The Russian Ambassador also asked for a clear
articulation of EU competencies.
10.(SBU) Comment. Most delegations at UNESCO told us they
were really pleased with the outcome. They dreaded a vote
and many told us they hated being caught between the US and
the EU. We repeatedly made the point that this was not
about the US vs. the EU, that this was about broader
principles of UNESCO and UN governance. We were
disappointed that so few states were willing to confront the
EU's egregious over reaching. Most of the responses to IO's
demarche on this subject showed support in capitals for the
US position, but that did not translate into support on the
ground. We also were disappointed with the unwillingness of
countries like Australia and Russia to address the issue
until after the US delegation had finished with all the
heavy lifting.
11. (SBU) Comment continued. While we avoided a vote that
would have been a clear win for the EU, we are not entirely
satisfied with the outcome. Though their participation
remains heavily circumscribed, the EU gained more than they
had going into the meeting, and no matter how many times
they deny this will be a precedent, it will be a precedent.
12. (SBU) Comment continued. An interesting source of quiet
support during this period has come from EU delegations that
indicated they were so tired of EC bullying and over reach
on this issue that they hoped the resolution would be voted
down. The message came over as save us from ourselves. We
were told that many EU members also did not want a vote and
resisted a strong French push for a vote.
12. (SBU)Comment (continued). This will not be the last
time the EU will come knocking on the door. We see this as
one more in a series of attempts by the EU to gain the same
rights as member states in UN organizations. UNESCO is a
great place to start because so many delegations operate
without instructions from their capital or (as in the case
of Morocco) are free to operate as they wish. The language
in the resolution about referring this matter to the General
Conference in October will likely lead to a reprise of this
debate when the issue of who can sign the cultural diversity
convention will probably be raised. End comment.
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