Cablegate: Unesco - Group I Meeting Pre-Executive Board


DE RUEHFR #0529/01 0791633
R 191633Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: The US candidate for the IPDC Bureau was endorsed by
Group I at its first Israeli-chaired meeting. Other candidates for
IPDC and IFAP were also approved by the Group. Norway briefed the
Discussion Group on Executive Board issues, with special mention
regarding procedures for the election of the next Director General.
End summary.

Electoral Group I and Group I Discussion Meeting Highlights

2. The key decisions taken at the 17 March 2008 meeting were the
selection of Group I candidates for the Bureau of the IPDC
(International Program for the Development of Communication)
Intergovernmental Council, which are the United States and
Switzerland. Switzerland will run for Chair of the IPDC
Intergovernmental Council at the upcoming IPDC meeting from March 26
to 28, while the U.S. will run for the Group I seat. Member states
also chose Austria for the Group I IFAP (Information for All
Program) Bureau and it is expected this will be confirmed at the
next IFAP Intergovernmental Council meeting on April 2. The second
half of the meeting was devoted to an informal discussion of
Executive Board issues, chaired by Norway, in its capacity as Vice
Chairman (representing Group I) on the Executive Board Bureau.

3. At the meeting, the United States was the only Group I member
that had signaled its interest in the IPDC Bureau seat. The Danes
had informally expressed their interest in running for the Bureau
earlier in the week, but did not declare their candidacy during the

4. Ambassador Oliver spoke briefly, noting the qualifications of the
U.S. candidate, Marguerite Sullivan. Israel's Ambassador, David
Kornbluth, then quickly got the Group's approval to endorse the US
candidacy for the IPDC Bureau of the IPDC Council, which meets March

5. The Swiss Ambassador then asked if he could present a candidate,
Walter Fust, the Director-General of the Swiss Agency for
Development and Cooperation, for the Chairmanship of the IPDC
Council. Ambassador Oliver clarified that Group I had previously
had two representatives on the IPDC Council, confirming that it was
normal practice for Group I to support two candidacies. Chairman
Kornbluth, after checking the room, quickly agreed, and accepted the
Swiss candidacy as well.

6. The second issue raised was the Vice Chair position for the IFAP
Council. Austria was the sole candidate, and was also quickly
endorsed as Group I's choice for the post. The Austrian candidate
is a Dietrich Schuller, Director of the Austrian Academy of
Sciences' Video and Sound Archive in Vienna, and has already served
on the IFAP Bureau.

7. The French, earlier in the day, had circulated a formal request
for Group I's consideration of their candidate as chairman of the
Second General Assembly for the Intangible Cultural Heritage
Convention, Mr. Cherif Khaznadar, former Director and current
Chairman of the Maison des Cultures du Monde.

8. Ambassador Kornbluth suggested that, given the lack of lead time
and the fact that the meeting is not scheduled until mid-June, a
decision on this position should be deferred to a later Group I
meeting to give other Member States time to reflect on the subject.
Ambassador Oliver suggested that perhaps only those Group I
countries that had ratified the Convention should take part in the
selection process. The French representative nodded vigorously in
approval. Kornbluth then suggested that the French talk to the
other Group I members who have ratified the convention prior to
making any decisions.

9. The Electoral Group I meeting was then closed, and became a Group
I Discussion Group, separating policy questions from electoral
matters. Ole Briseid, Norway's Deputy Permanent Representative, in
his capacity as Group I Vice Chair on the Executive Board Bureau,
chaired the discussion.

10. He began by explaining how Norway plans to carry out its work in
the Bureau of the Executive Board, and how it will interact with
Group I members. Briseid said that he will report to the nine Group
I members on the Executive Board and to Chairman Kornbluth, who
then, should he wish, may communicate the report to the other Group
I members. Briseid also said that he hopes to hold informal meetings
from time to time, as needed, to hear the views of other Group I
members on key issues.

11. Regarding the upcoming Executive Board, Briseid said that Norway
is looking carefully at the methods of work of the Executive Board,
aiming at increasing the number of issues that will be raised in
joint committees, reducing the number and length of documents,
adopting more issues without discussion, and including a paragraph
from the Secretariat on each item outlining its financial and
administrative implications.
12. Briseid spoke briefly about the Thematic Debate, mentioning that
despite having a clear mandate from Group I, the decision by the
European Union to put forward a separate proposal created confusion.
Ambassador Oliver used the opportunity to reinforce the point of
having informal discussions so to better understand the sense of
where different countries are coming from on particular issues.
Several other countries present echoed the same sentiment, with
Portugal, in particular, noting that synchronizing our positions
will be a "challenge".

13. Briseid then mentioned several issues that will be of importance
in the upcoming 179 th Executive Board meeting. Among them, he
noted that UN Reform is moving forward, that the United Nations in
New York has been advancing and providing a clearer mandate to carry
on. He added that results from the pilot projects are positive, and
that some elements are already being put into action in other
countries. He also said that the Secretary General has appointed
two coordinators (Ireland and Tanzania) to handle One UN issues.
Briseid said that UNESCO has an opportunity to be pro-active in
regard to One UN issues, and that this Executive Board may provide
the chance for us to demonstrate our support of UNESCO's active role
in this important change within the UN system.

14. He then switched subjects to Climate Change, noting that UNESCO
has a role to play, particularly within the Education Sector and
Social and Human Sciences. Briseid also spoke about improving the
General Conference, and the need to identify and propose new
mechanisms to ensure that it is improved and more efficient in the

15. Moving on to other subjects, he mentioned the upcoming report
from the External Auditor, and the question of excessive
publications and wasted money within BPI. He also said that human
resources issues, including making the rotation of personnel a
standard practice, needs to get more attention. Briseid concluded
by mentioning that we should continue to pay attention to the
Brasilia office, the rolling C/4, the IFAP program, which has been
poorly run. Several Group I member states made comments on each of
this issues, generally noting the need to remain attentive to these

16. Finally, Briseid raised the matter of the election of the new
Director General. He said that he had reviewed the process going
back to the first elections. Overall, he believes that the process
is good, but that we must ensure that the Executive Board puts a
formal procedure into place before next fall's Executive Board.
Briseid raised the point that waiting, given the fact that at least
one candidate has already been announced, turns any discussion
regarding process into political and personal debates, when the
process should remain clear and transparent to all. Ambassador
Oliver noted that Egypt, which has put forward its Culture Minister
as a DG candidate, also sits on the Executive Board Bureau, making
their input into Bureau discussions on the subject less than

17. Turkey also suggested that the Secretariat's Legal office report
on the legal question regarding geographic rotation for the DG job
among the Groups, noting that Egypt believes it is, without
question, the Arab Group's turn to hold the position.

18. Chairman Kornbluth then closed the meeting, promising to hold
another when needed. OLIVER

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