Cablegate: U.S. Wins Concessions On Unescap 64th Commission Session


DE RUEHBK #1425/01 1300933
R 090933Z MAY 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: U.S. Wins Concessions on UNESCAP 64th Commission Session

1. (SBU) Summary. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) held its 64th annual commission
session in Bangkok April 22-30. This year's theme was "Energy
Security and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific."
After several days (and nights) of negotiations, nine resolutions
were passed by consensus, calling for the Commission to take action
on topics from road transport to renewable energy technology. A
resolution was also passed on reform of the conference structure
that shortens the conference from nine days to seven and takes other
steps to streamline operations. Iran withdrew from consideration
this year its resolution that proposed establishing a disaster
management center in Tehran. On virtually all key points, the U.S.
worked with Japan, South Korea, and Australia to win needed
concessions. End Summary

2. (SBU) Membership in UNESCAP comprises 53 countries of the vast
Asia Pacific region from Azerbaijan to Australia, plus four
extra-regional members (the United States, the United Kingdom,
France, and the Netherlands). In practice, very active
participation in the proceedings, and especially negotiations over
the resolutions, has been limited to a handful of countries. Over
the past year at the monthly meetings of the Advisory Committee of
Permanent Representatives (ACPR), and then subsequently at the
annual Commission session held in Bangkok April 22-30, the most
active countries have been Russia, China, Japan, Korea, India,
Pakistan, and Iran and the U.S. Australia has also become more
vocal recently.

3. (SBU) Negotiations over the text of the resolutions at the
commission session were almost exclusively confined to the nine
countries mentioned above, with predictable fault lines. Japan,
Korea, and Australia tended to adhere to positions similar to those
of the United States, especially on resolutions concerning financing
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and technology transfer. On
these same issues, India and Pakistan led the developing country
bloc. Russia and China were somewhere in between, with Russia
leaning more toward the wealthy countries' position and China
leaning more toward the developing countries' position on most

4. (SBU) The Commission passed a resolution on Reform of the
Conference Structure. Notably, the resolution reduced the number of
days of future commission sessions from nine to seven. This was a
compromise solution reached after Korea, the United States, Japan,
and Australia expressed support for reducing the commission session
to five days, and Russia and Iran supported retaining it at nine
days. The UNESCAP Secretariat claimed that reducing the commission
session to less than seven days would have budgetary implications
due to work requirements of translators. The Secretariat also
undoubtedly preferred the more stretched-out schedule to give more
time for document translation and preparation between meetings. The
countries that supported reducing the number of days of the session
to five pointed out that it would reduce the burden on traveling
delegations and overall would have to cost less than a nine day
session. The resolution imposed a limit on the number of ACPR
meetings to 12 per year to avoid increasing the budget. The
resolution also re-named the eight committees of the commission and
determined that these committees would meet biennially, with four
committees meeting per year.

5. (SBU) India sponsored a resolution on Energy Security and
Sustainable Development that was in effect a resolution on
technology transfer. India, strongly backed by Pakistan, proposed
treating renewable energy technology as a "non-commercial good" and
to place such technology "in the public domain." The United States
and Japan could not accept such language and in the end prevailed in
getting it removed. The negotiations over this resolution involved
mainly the United States and Japan on one side of the table, and
India and Pakistan on the other side, with Russia and China
observing on the margins.

6. (SBU) Iran was only concerned and engaged on two resolutions.
One was about Iran's ongoing proposal to host in Tehran an Asian and
Pacific Center for Information, Communication and Space
Technology-enabled Disaster Management (APIDM). Despite an
agreement at last year's conference to allow for an independent
consultant study of the proposal, Iran submitted a resolution that
incorporated none of the study's recommendations. In the end, the
Iranian delegation said they did not have time to produce a new
resolution that incorporated the consultant's recommendations that
were made at the ACPR meeting in January, so the resolution was
withdrawn for the time being, but is likely to resurface next year.
The other resolution that concerned Iran was a resolution on reform
of the conference structure. Iran appeared to feel isolated in
Southwest Asia from the rest of the UNESCAP region and through
numerous interventions attempted to use the conference structure
resolution as a means to emphasize "sub-regional" programming and to
constantly evaluate UNESCAP to see that its wishes are implemented.

7. (SBU) The Philippines-sponsored resolution on financing the
Millennium Development Goals initially had language in the operative
paragraphs calling for debt swaps for middle income countries and
for the establishment of a regional official development facility.
This language was removed after opposition from Japan, the United
States, and Australia. Although the Philippines sponsored the
resolution, it was almost silent in the negotiations. Pakistan took
over to argue for the original language, though it conceded in the
end to our position to reach consensus.

8. (U) The full texts of the resolutions and conference reports are
available on the ESCAP website at


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