Cablegate: Unesco: Meeting with Deputy Director General


DE RUEHFR #0438/01 0711031
R 111031Z MAR 08







E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: UNESCO's Deputy Director, Marcio Barbosa,
expressed his pride regarding UNESCO's role in the technical
discussions on the Mughrabi Gate; his efforts to improve UNESCO's
visibility and communications, and his work in relation to the
Science sector review. He also spoke about next steps on the
Holocaust education project, and the Crossroads conference, which
will be hosted by UNESCO. End Summary.

2. (U) UNESCO's Deputy Director, Marcio Barbosa, met with Ambassador
Oliver on Friday, 7 March 2008 on a variety of issues:

UNESCO, Communications and Visibility

3. (SBU) Ambassador Oliver opened the meeting by asking Barbosa
about a P-5 position in the Communications Sector (C & I) that,
according to our information, will only be open to internal
candidates. Ambassador Oliver expressed her concern that the
current UNESCO Spokesperson, Muriel de Pierrebourg, who will be
retiring soon for medical reasons, (Barbosa noted she was also
leaving due to her frustration with the Organization), has
apparently hand-picked someone to replace her for the post. He also
said that de Pierrebourg's position may be restructured. Ambassador
Oliver made the point that UNESCO's inability to communicate
effectively to the outside world has shown that the needed skills
sets are not in house and it is, therefore, important to seek new,
more experienced people from outside for these key slots if UNESCO
is to improve its communications skills and raise its visibility.

4. (SBU) Barbosa commented that UNESCO has recently missed
opportunities to communicate on its mandated issues, noting, for
examples, a library in the Parisian suburbs that was burned down by
arsonists; and a racist attack on a Spanish soccer player.
Ambassador Oliver said that UNESCO needs a person in its Bureau of
Public Information (BPI) and Spokesperson's office that understands
these "moments of opportunity", and how to take advantage of them.

Holocaust Education

5. (SBU) Ambassador Oliver told DDG Barbosa that UNESCO must be
careful in handling the strategy of the follow-up regarding the
General Conference decision on Holocaust Education, and the
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Israel and UNESCO,
which also has an element regarding Holocaust Education. Ambassador
Oliver told Barbosa that while they are on parallel tracks and have
a connection, UNESCO must be cautious to keep them separate, to
avoid any concerns from other Member States (particularly from
within the Arab Group). Because it is possible that actions
associated with the Israel-UNESCO MOU could advance more quickly, it
must be clear to Member States that recommendations linked to the
Holocaust Resolution will be carried out only after consultation
with Member States, as had been agreed to in the General Conference

Crossroads Conference

6. (SBU) Barbosa mentioned that the Director General has asked him
to participate in the conference scheduled to take place in Bahrain.
Ambassador Oliver then asked DDG Barbosa if he had any idea of who
might be a good chairperson, as the role is critical for a well-run
conference. Barbosa said he'd give it some thought. He also said
he would consider some well-known sports figures, or others, as
possible keynote speakers.

Mughrabi Gate - Temple Mount

7. (SBU) Barbosa told Ambassador Oliver that his recent trip to
Jerusalem was very successful, and that he is particularly pleased
with the part UNESCO has played in the technical "encounters" held
among the Israelis, the WAQF, and the Jordanians. Barbosa
acknowledged that UNESCO took on a "high-risk operation" in acting
as facilitator for the meetings, but was extremely proud of the fact
that the different sides are really exchanging ideas, "playing it
straight", and not using the Mughrabi gate restoration as a
political tool. Barbosa said that he anticipates the first phase of
the reconstruction to begin before summer. He also mentioned that
the last plans returned to the scale of a pedestrian walk-way, while
previous Israeli plans had included a ramp wide enough for vehicles.
Barbosa then repeated proudly that UNESCO has gained enormous
credibility for the part it played in arranging these meetings.


8. (SBU) Barbosa admitted that he has been quietly, but
conscientiously, reviewing the plans based on the Science Review
Committee's recommendations and the work plans approved by the
General Conference regarding UNESCO's Science Sector. He said that
he has found over 200 small projects to eliminate from current
plans. He added that he still needs some time to review the overall
plans, and that meetings will be held next week to help shape the
final report.

9. (SBU) One of the key things he hopes to encourage is greater
science related work in Africa and Latin America, and said that he
hopes to engage more National Commissions in those regions, and
would like to see some regional conferences to spark more interest
in science. He also mentioned that the Germans had provided 300,000
Euros, and the Spaniards some 200,000 Euros, to help the National
Commissions in Africa and Latin America. Barbosa said that the
National Commissions are vital in those areas where UNESCO does not
have a local or regional office. Barbosa said that he hopes to have
a final report to send to the Science Review Committee before the
end of March. He indicated that he is in informal contact with
several of its members on a regular basis. OLIVER

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