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Cablegate: Responses in Geneva to Human Rights Council

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGV #0446/01 1651539
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131539Z JUN 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6592
INFO RUEHZJ/HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1761
RUEHAN/AMEMBASSY ANTANANARIVO 0069
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 0100
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0956
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1977
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0177
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LUANDA 0020
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 0284
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 0282
RUEHOU/AMEMBASSY OUAGADOUGOU 0152
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE 0364
RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR 0316
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0613
RUEHTG/AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA 0187
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 4986
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 2804
RUEHVL/AMEMBASSY VILNIUS 0169
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 1222
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2790
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0086
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 1097
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2755

2008-06-13 15:39:00 08GENEVA446 US Mission Geneva CONFIDENTIAL 08STATE61034 VZCZCXYZ0000\
PP RUEHWEB\
\
DE RUEHGV #0446/01 1651539\
ZNY CCCCC ZZH\
P 131539Z JUN 08\
FM USMISSION GENEVA\
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6592\
INFO RUEHZJ/HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE\
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1761\
RUEHAN/AMEMBASSY ANTANANARIVO 0069\
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 0100\
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0956\
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1977\
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0177\
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LUANDA 0020\
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 0284\
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 0282\
RUEHOU/AMEMBASSY OUAGADOUGOU 0152\
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE 0364\
RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR 0316\
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0613\
RUEHTG/AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA 0187\
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 4986\
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 2804\
RUEHVL/AMEMBASSY VILNIUS 0169\
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 1222\
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2790\
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0086\
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 1097\
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2755\
C O N F I D E N T I A L GENEVA 000446 \
\
SIPDIS \
\
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2018 \
TAGS: PHUM PREL UNHRC PINR
SUBJECT: RESPONSES IN GENEVA TO HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL \
DEMARCHE \
\
REF: STATE 61034 (NOTAL) \
\
Classified By: Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor. Reasons: 1.4 (b/d). \
\
1. (C) SUMMARY: The Ambassador and Mission officers deployed \
reftel language in discussions with numerous delegations \
concerning the new USG posture toward the Human Rights \
Council. Most delegations with whom we spoke agreed that the \
Council was seriously flawed. While a few, notably Poland \
and Italy, saw the USG decision as the Council's death knell, \
most expressed disappointment with the new posture, arguing \
that it would only complicate efforts to counter negative \
trends in the Council. Many of our closest friends in the \
Western Group doubted that it would serve our common \
strategic goals. Amid rumors that the U.S. was adopting its \
new posture for ulterior motives, such as to avoid scrutiny \
under the Universal Periodic Review, most delegations also \
urged that the USG further articulate in public the reasoning \
behind our disengagement. We believe further explanation of \
our position, possibly through an op-ed, would be beneficial. \
END SUMMARY. \
\
2. (U) The new USG posture toward the Human Rights Council \
met with keen interest from Geneva-based delegations. Per \
reftel guidance, the Ambassador met with a large number of \
his counterparts, notably from like-minded governments, to \
articulate the USG position. Mission officers also did so \
with their counterparts from a range of delegations. \
\
BROAD DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THE COUNCIL \
------------------------------------- \
\
3. (C) Most like-minded delegations, as well as many others, \
stressed that they share our general disappointment with the \
Council. Canada, Australia, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, \
Poland and Norway voiced among the strongest sense of \
disappointment with the Council, emphasizing that they were \
troubled by many of the Council's decisions of the past year. \
Even the Russian ambassador commented privately to us that \
the Council had not performed well, although he stressed that \
it was a new institution that might still prove itself. (The \
Norwegian ambassador told us that the Russian ambassador had \
privately made the same comment to her, noting that without \
the U.S. as a counterweight, Russia might be under greater \
pressure to even more strongly support the positions of the \
Organization of the Islamic Conference.) Only the Brazilian \
Deputy PermRep, among our interlocutors, argued that the \
Council's overall record was good and that it had served to \
advance human rights goals. \
\
REACTIONS TO OUR POLICY: A STEP TOWARD COUNCIL'S DEMISE... \
--------------------------------------------- -------------- \
\
4. (C) In their conversations with Ambassador Tichenor, his \
Polish and Italian counterparts both argued that our \
disengagement marked what the former described as "the \
beginning of the end of the Council." The Italian ambassador \
said his government had become sufficiently frustrated with \
the workings of that body to begin reconsidering its own \
engagement. The USG move would be a further spur to such \
thinking by his government. Similarly, both the Moroccan and \
Japanese ambassadors told Ambassador Tichenor that without \
the participation of the U.S., the Council would be a less \
meaningful -- and perhaps even meaningless -- organization. \
\
...OR PLAYING INTO OUR OPPONENTS' HANDS? \
\
---------------------------------------- \
\
5. (C) The Danish ambassador echoed some of that same message \
but did not predict the Council's eventual demise. She told \
Ambassador Tichenor that, given the Council's record, the \
USG's decision was understandable. The U.S. had tried hard \
to improve the Council's workings, making our current \
frustration all the more reasonable. She expressed relief \
that Denmark was not a Council member, and said that her \
government might give serious thought to disengagement if \
that body's functioning deteriorated further. \
\
6. (C) The Danish ambassador was quick to add, however, that \
for the moment, her government would continue to engage in \
the Council, and that our move would complicate efforts to \
counter negative trends in that body. Most of our \
interlocutors shared that view. The Maldives ambassador told \
us that it was too early to judge that the Council was a \
total failure, and that countries like the U.S. should work \
to improve it rather than walking away from it. The Dutch \
ambassador commented that though he respected USG plans to \
focus our human rights efforts in other venues, his \
government continued to see Geneva as a key human rights \
venue. USG disengagement was disappointing, both because it \
ran counter to the U.S. "can-do" spirit that he admired and \
because it would weaken those working against attacks on \
human rights in the Council. \
\
7. (C) The Canadian ambassador expressed similar views. \
Stressing that Canada often stood alone among Council \
members, enjoying only weak EU support, he expressed regret \
that he would be even more isolated without behind-the-scenes \
USG help. The timing of our move was particularly bad, he \
argued to Ambassador Tichenor, given that the Council's new \
president, who will come from the Africa Group, could prove \
more difficult to deal with than the incumbent president, \
particularly if pressured by less reasonable forces in that \
Group and in the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He \
concluded that countries such as Egypt and Pakistan would \
take advantage of the U.S. disengagement to further press \
their causes, and would enjoy even more open support from \
Russia and China, both of which would become more "brutal" in \
their dealings in the Council (because of the absence of \
countervailing U.S. influence). Many other interlocutors, \
including Hungary and Australia, strongly shared that view. \
\
8. (C) While sharing the opinion that the new USG posture \
might inadvertently play into the hands of leading OIC \
countries, several interlocutors questioned the timing and/or \
expressed disappointment for other reasons as well. \
Australia said that with High Commissioner for Human Rights \
Louise Arbour's departure, this was not a good moment to lose \
the USG's influence in shaping the relationship between the \
High Commissioner's office and the Council, which is in a \
fragile transitional stage. Slovakia regretted the \
suddenness of the U.S. move so soon after Slovakia's election \
to the Council, characterizing it as resulting in \
embarrassment to the Slovak government. The UK, Canada and \
Poland noted that they were taken by surprise and would have \
been better able to strategize had they received advance \
notice before the Council session of the USG decision, or \
even been consulted on it. \
\
LOOKING FORWARD TO CONTINUED COOPERATION \
---------------------------------------- \
\
9. (C) Many of the countries that expressed regret at USG \
disengagement said they intended to continue cooperating with \
the U.S. to the extent possible, including by providing us \
with information on the state-of-play of developments in the \
Council. The Nigerian ambassador, who will almost certainly \
become the new Council President with the end of the \
incumbent's term next week, told Ambassador Tichenor that he \
looked forward to working hard to shape the body into \
something worthy of U.S. support and engagement, and that he \
would do what he could, in conjunction with us, to achieve \
that end. \
\
NEED TO FURTHER PUBLICLY ARTICULATE OUR APPROACH \
--------------------------------------------- --- \
\
10. (C) Many interlocutors, including Western allies, \
expressed hope that the USG would more fully articulate its \
decision, particularly to their publics. High Commissioner \
Arbour also strongly argued that position to the Ambassador. \
They noted that some countries had taken advantage of the \
decision and its suddenness to spread rumors impugning USG \
motives. According to one rumor, supposedly fueled by Cuba, \
the USG had decided to disengage in order to avoid coming up \
for Universal Periodic Review scrutiny; though the rumor was \
obviously false, particularly given that the U.S. is to be \
reviewed in 2010, we received numerous questions about it. \
\
11. (SBU) At least from our perspective in Geneva, we believe \
an affirmative public statement, possibly in the form of an \
op-ed laying out more fully the justifiable rationale behind \
our approach, would be beneficial. \
TICHENOR \

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