Cablegate: Costa Rica: August 28 Unsc Bilateral Consultations


DE RUEHSJ #0763/01 2671323
P 231323Z SEP 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 000763



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/10/2018


Classified By: Political/Economic Counselor David E. Henifin for reason

1. (C) SUMMARY: IO Acting A/S Brian Hook's August 28
bilateral consultations with the MFA on UNSC matters were
successful in bringing the U.S. and the GOCR to mutual
understanding - if not agreement - on a range of UNSC issues.
A/S Hook lobbied the MFA for greater cooperation on speed in
the UNSC, better voting coincidence, and not automatically
voting in favor of UN Human Rights Council reports. The MFA:

-- shared U.S. concerns and views on Georgia;
-- boxed itself in on its support of the ICJ, making it
unfeasible for the GOCR to be critical of Serbia's decision
to bring the case of Kosovo independence to the ICJ;
-- was appalled by the lack of any UNSC action and "complete
silence" regarding Pakistan in relation to non-proliferation,
in contrast to strong UNSC pressure on Iran;
-- would "not acquiesce" in its resistance to closing down
Oil-for-Food without assurances that goods were delivered
in accordance with contracts (Ref A);
-- seemed to have a well-reasoned rationale for recognizing
"State" of Palestine, taking into account Costa Rica's "yes"
vote on UN Resolution 181 and the GOCR desire to give a
strong show of support to Abbas, in the face of Hamas;
-- had a clear position against adding more UNSC permanent
members and preferred to focus on working methods reform;
-- said it would re-examine its voting in favor of Human
Rights Council reports and would consider Costa Rica's 14
percent Overall voting coincidence with the U.S.; and
-- planned two thematic debates for its UNSC presidency in
November: the first on regional security agreements under
Chapter 8 of the UN Charter presided by President Arias (Ref
B), and the second on peace and security issues under Chapter
16 presided by FonMin Stagno. A/S Hook did not clear this

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2. (SBU) Acting A/S Brian Hook's August 27-28 visit was an
excellent opportunity to engage in bilateral consultations
with the MFA on UNSC matters. The timely visit followed up
on the March visit by PDAS Jim Warlick and IO and USUN staff
(Ref B). The consultations began with a small meeting
between FonMin Stagno, the MFA's Antonio Alarcon (COS) and
Christian Guillermet (P-equivalent Director for Foreign
Policy); Ambassador Cianchette, Acting A/S Hook and IO SA
Erin McLinn. A larger meeting of both delegations followed.
See para 21 for delegation lists. The following, for the
record, are the highlights of those consultations.

3. (SBU) In the principals meeting, IO Hook relayed to us
that the GOCR was "with us on Georgia," but that pushing
Costa Rica on the ICJ Serbia/Kosovo issue would be to no
avail since the Costa Ricans had already "boxed themselves
in" on support of the ICJ.

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4. (C) In the larger meeting, Stagno expressed dismay
regarding the lack of any UNSC attention to Pakistani nuclear
proliferation - either by state or non-state actors -
including the A.Q. Khan case, for which Khan only received a
"slap on the wrist." Stagno supported UNSC and international
community pressure on Iran and its challenge to the
architecture of the international non-proliferation regime,
but was "baffled" by the "complete silence" on Pakistan. As
chair of the 1540 Committee, Stagno said Costa Rica felt
"uncomfortable" not raising the issue of Pakistan and the
A.Q. Khan network, though he understood the political
complications that raising the issue might have on the War on
Terror, the Taliban, and the new Pakistani government.
Stagno pointed out the "nightmare scenario" of non-state
actors possessing nuclear technology or materials and decried
Pakistan's visible "non-compliance" vis-Q-vis a non-state
actor, as in the Khan case. The MFA was worried that the
UNSC was sending "distinct and incomprehensible messages" on
non-proliferation and was "negligent" by ignoring Pakistan.
The GOCR did not advocate lighter treatment of Iran, just
appropriately heavier treatment of Pakistan.

5. (C) Hook agreed that Pakistan's reports were "cleansed of
any truth." He told the MFA that the Proliferation Security
Initiative (PSI) was the Bush Administration's response to
the A.Q. Khan case since Khan accomplished what he did
through shipping activity and did not run a proliferation
organization per se. (NOTE: Costa Rica has not signed on
to the PSI but did attend the May 29 PSI workshop in
Washington organized by ISN/CPI. END NOTE.) Hook also pointed
to UNSCRs 1540 and 1803 as steps that U.S. had taken to
address proliferation issues. Hook promised to review
applicable non-proliferation language used for North Korea
and to get back to Stagno with a possible approach.


6. (C) On the Oil-for-Food program (reported Ref A), Stagno
recognized there was political pressure to close down OFF and
that the remaining funds were "negligible" in the grand
scheme of things. However, he said the GOCR would "not
acquiesce" unless it received assurances that goods had been
delivered. The MFA offered no solutions, but agreed to a SYG
Briefing on the matter. Hook told Stagno that the political
reality of the P5's desire to close down the program was
separate from principle, though both concerns were valid. He
urged that the "perfect not be the enemy of the done." Hook
said he would call Under-Secretary-General Chris Burnham for
more background and see if there was a way through the issue.


7. (SBU) Stagno told us that Costa Rica planned two thematic
debates for its November UNSC presidency. The first, to be
presided over by President Arias, would focus on how regional
security arrangements (under Chapter 8 of the UN Charter)
could reduce tensions and military spending. (See invitation
to POTUS, Ref B.) Stagno will preside over the second debate,
which will deal with peace and justice issues under Chapter
16. Regarding regional security arrangements, Stagno said
that Latin America had never been more democratic, yet
military spending continued to increase. He noted that
Venezuela was not the only concern; Chile, too, was
re-building its military, even though it was a
well-established democracy facing no serious regional threat.

8. (SBU) Thus, the MFA believed that regional security
arrangements could generate significant confidence building
measures which in turn would limit military spending which
was unjustified because there were no interstate conflicts
(or immediately foreseeable conflicts). (NOTE: This proposal
is in line with the a) GOCR's push in the UN for a
conventional arms transfer treaty and overall arms control
and b) GOCR's push for the "Costa Rica Consensus" to lower
world weapons expenditure and beef up world foreign
assistance to those who disarm. END NOTE.)


9. (C) Regarding the Middle East peace process, Stagno gave
the most detailed rationale we had heard for the GOCR's
recognition of the Palestinian "state" (Ref D). The FonMin
said that recognition was calculated to provide support for
President Abbas and impetus for the ultimate creation of
Palestine, as set forth in UN resolution 181, which Costa
Rica supported. Stagno appeared frustrated that mechanisms
such as UN Resolution 181, the Oslo Accords, the Madrid Plan,
and the Road Map - which all called for tiered processes to
establish a Palestinian State within certain time frames -
were always derailed by "spoilers" before they could get to
fundamental issues such as the status of Jerusalem;
settlements; borders; security arrangements; and the right of
refugee return. Stagno assured us that Palestinian
recognition did "not prejudice" the GOCR's view on these
fundamental issues. Stagno cautioned that if the
international community did not back Abbas and the moderates,
then Hamas would be emboldened and the GOCR did not want to
see a further Hamas victory. Stagno, however, said that he
was "uncomfortable" with the UN being put on par with member
states in the Quartet.

10. (C) Hook stressed to Stagno that Middle East peace was a
top priority of POTUS and the Secretary. He said the Quartet
was the current mechanism and the SYG's role is more one of
"using his good offices" in negotiations. Hook warned that
UN and UNSC dialogue on Israel was a big problem for the
U.S., given Libya's recent toxic remarks on the Council. The
UN had not been effective on Israel, he added, due to the
bias of many member states, and Israel remained an issue for
the U.S. image around the world. Under these circumstances,
Hook suggested that in multilateral fora, USG goals should
to be to "first, do no harm," to our Middle East objectives
and work for breakthroughs outside the UN. At Stagno's
request, Hook said he would touch base with NEA PDAS David
Welch to assess the status of the peace process and get back
to Stagno.

11. (SBU) On a related issue, Stagno criticized Israel for
not doing its own demarches while leaving the U.S. to do the
brunt of Israeli lobbying around the world. While he was UN
Ambassador, Stagno remembered only being demarched twice.
MFA Foreign Policy Director Guillermet said that during his
six years in Geneva, he never received a demarche from

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12. (C) On UNSC reform, the FonMin reiterated GOCR opposition
to expansion, for four reasons. First, as a small
country looking at an enlarged UNSC, Costa Rica's odds of
holding a non-permanent seat again in the future would be
reduced. Second, Costa Rica did not approve of all the
candidates nations and their respective credentials. India
was not yet a party to the NPT, for example; Brazil would be
unfairly upgraded over Mexico when Mexico paid more UN dues;
Japan's UN contributions were dwindling; and as part of the
EU with a common foreign policy, a seat for Germany would be
redundant with France and Britain already permanent members.
Third, the MFA believed the UNSC would have more credibility
via modification of its working methods (such as ending the
silent veto). Fourth, with a drawn-out process of elections,
surprise members may get in due to "voter fatigue," as
happened with Mexico and Panama after contentious UNSC
elections in the past. Stagno cautioned that "sometimes you
don't get what you are expecting" and cited examples of an
accidental election of a Nigeria or Libya, which would
provide those countries with unmerited moral authority.

13. (C) Stagno claimed that the S5 shared views with GOCR on
working methods - but not on enlargement - and that there
would be insufficient value added by enlargement of the UNSC.
Hook responded that the U.S. wanted a more efficient and
effective Council, and that though the U.S. has been on the
record with its support of Japan for some time, it was hard
to imagine consensus-building being any easier in an enlarged
Council; consensus was elusive enough with 15 members.

14. (C) Hook addressed the GOCR's action on Zimbabwe in July,
where the GOCR UN Mission examined the Mugabe sanctions
resolution text for more than a week (Ref C), thus giving
Russia and China the "cover of time" to veto it. Hook said
it took the UNSC two weeks to "show up on the grid and take
action," overtly hinting that Costa Rica's delays cost the
opportunity for unified Council action; by the time of the
veto, it was not front page news. Hook told Stagno that
speed was "very important in the UNSC or we lose momentum for
action." Stagno defended the GOCR's desire for text-tweaking
and said the resolution needed a well-defined start date for
sanctions - and that date could not have been when Mugabe was
born! He noted that the GOCR "eventually agreed" on the
resolution. The GOCR saw the resolution as a "wonderful
opportunity" to send a clear message to standing Heads of
State about violations committed during the electoral


15. (C) On Burma, Hook expressed U.S. dissatisfaction with
special envoys in general, since they tend to take the place
of or delay UNSC action and give a false sense of progress,
while the regime exploited the talks to buy time. Hook
stressed that the U.S. was at the "end of its rope" with UN
Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari. Hook asked Stagno to help
think of a face-saving way to get rid of Gambari, adding that
Aung San Suu Kyi did not even want to meet with him anymore.
Stagno did not have the best impressions of Gambari, either.


16. (SBU) On U.S. agenda items, Hook told Stagno of IO's new
initiative to improve voting coincidence with 25 like-minded,
democratic countries. When asked to guess the percentage of
GOCR's overall votes with the U.S., Stagno
guessed "30 percent of the time." Stagno seemed surprised
when Hook told him that the real number was only 14 percent.
Hook signaled that appropriators in Congress could see this
with disapproval - especially for those who receive U.S.
foreign assistance - and would not understand why there was
such a gap. Hook acknowledged the GOCR spoke with "moral
clarity" on human rights issues, and he promised to send
Stagno a recent Heritage Foundation study on the subject of
voting coincidence.

17. (SBU) On voting coincidence, while Stagno made it clear
that the GOCR did not have to be in "lock step" with the U.S.
and should not be expected to be, he acknowledged that he had
not seen voting coincidence reports since he was UN
Ambassador in 2005. (NOTE: We have passed Stagno's office
the 2007 Department Report on UN Voting Practices.) Stagno
noted that when the GOCR examined voting records then, the
differences were often due to U.S. votes on issues such as
climate change and disarmament and not due to specific
US-Costa Rica disagreements. He evinced openness to further
conversation on this topic.


18. (C) Finally, Hook asked why the GOCR voted in favor of
the annual Human Rights Council Report when the body's work
was not credible. Stagno explained that the GOCR supported
reform in 2005 and the creation of the Human Rights Council
and the Peacebuilding Commission, though the international
community got the worst results - the old Human Rights
Commission with a new name. Stagno felt that some elements
of the annual reports were favorable, so they voted in favor.

19. (C) Hook argued that just because it is a human rights
body the HR Council did not deserve automatic support, and
that by voting in favor of the report, members -- especially
with strong HR records like Costa Rica -- legitimized the HR
Council's work. Hook pointed out that HR Council reform
would come faster if we sent the message that the HR Council
was not serious about human rights and we let it "run off the
road into a ditch" itself. Hook suggested that the MFA
consider a resolution calling on the UNGA to take action on
the annual HR Council reports, with a positive vision (not
just critical), for continued HRC operation but under two to
three clear conditions. Hook suggested that the U.S. and the
GOCR touch base with each other - and with Panama - when the
next report came out. Stagno conceded that Hook had a "valid
point," offered to study the issue further, and stated that
the GOCR did not fear "major surgery in the


20. (C) It remains clear that the GOCR wants to make a
difference in the Security Council. Though we did not agree
on all points, the dialogue during these consultations was an
important and timely opportunity to coordinate on important
issues. Stagno and his MFA team appreciated the chance to
compare views as "equal members" of the Council, and he was,
as always, impressively on top of his complex and
comprehensive portfolio. These consultations may not
drastically alter GOCR behavior, however. We expect the GOCR
will continue to stand on principle and try to improve
procedures at every opportunity in the UNSC, sometimes at the
expense of speed and substance. Being "courted" by the
Department's top IO official in these consultations may help,
however. With Stagno clearly in charge of Costa Rica's UN
policy (as reaffirmed to us on September 17 by COS Alarcon),
calls to Stagno from A/S Hook from time to time may generate
more GOCR cooperation on select issues.

21. (U) Participants:


-- Bruno Stagno, Foreign Minister
-- Antonio Alarcon, FonMin's Chief of Staff
-- Christian Guillermet, Director, Foreign Policy
-- Adriana Murillo, Human Rights Officer and UNSC Team
-- Juan Salas, UNSC Desk Officer
-- Deyanira Ramirez, UN Desk Officer
-- Carlos Cordero, Disarmament and Organized Crime Officer,


-- Ambassador Cianchette (opening session)
-- Brian Hook, IO Acting A/S
-- Erin McLinn, IO Staff Assistant
-- David Henifin, Pol-Econ Counselor
-- Cheryl Neely, PolOff


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