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Cablegate: Sharp Debate On Ukraine Marks Un General Committee

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUCNDT #0859/01 2662318
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 222318Z SEP 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4988

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000859

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL UNGA PHUM CH TW
SUBJECT: SHARP DEBATE ON UKRAINE MARKS UN GENERAL COMMITTEE
MEETING REGARDING THE AGENDA FOR THE 63RD GA

REF: A. STATE 98699
B. STATE 85098
C. STATE 99661

1. (U) Summary: The UN General Committee (GC) met September
17 to inscribe items on the agenda of the 63rd UNGA, which
opened September 16, and to allocate them to the Main
Committees or Plenary. There were no votes in the General
Committee, but several controversial items were deferred for
future consideration. The UNGA plenary met September 19 to
consider the General Committee's Report. In the General
Committee and at the plenary, USUN spoke to express
reservation about Serbia's request for an International Court
of Justice advisory opinion on Kosovo's declaration of
independence and to dissociate from decisions on that item.
The General Committee's Report was adopted without further
comment. End Summary.

Advisory Opinion on Kosovo
--------------------------
2. (U) At the September 17 General Committee Meeting, the
Serbian Foreign Minister spoke in support of inscription of
their request for an International Court of Justice advisory
opinion on Kosovo. Spain, Argentina, Egypt, and Myanmar also
spoke in support of inscription. France spoke against
inscribing the item. The UK did not object to the
inscription but clarified that the position rested on
procedural grounds and should not be interpreted as support
for the request. Ambassador Wolff explained U.S.
reservations about the request and dissociated from the
decision to inscribe, which was made without a vote.

The Human Rights Council Report
-------------------------------
3. (U) Inscription of this item was not controversial but
the General Committee decided by consensus to defer a
decision on whether to allocate consideration of the Report
of the Human Rights Council to the plenary or the Third
Committee. France spoke in favor of allocation to the
plenary. Argentina, Portugal, New Zealand, the UK, Mexico,
Hungary, Spain, and Costa Rica concurred in statements of
their own. Jamaica, Egypt, The Solomon Islands, Uruguay,
China, Myanmar, and Niger spoke in favor of allocation to the
Third Committee. No date was set for further consideration,
but consultations will be undertaken to resolve the matter.
This was a replay of General Committee action on the item
last year.

Libya Withdraws item regarding the 1986 U.S. Attack
--------------------------------------------- ------
4. (U) At Libya's request the Committee removed from the
agenda the item entitled, "Declaration of the Assembly of
Heads of State and Government of the OAU on the aerial and
naval military attack against the Socialist People's Libyan
Arab Jamahiriya by the present U.S. administration in April
1986."

Natural Resources & Conflict
----------------------------
5. (U) A Belgian request to inscribe an item entitled
"Natural Resources and Conflict" provoked extended
discussion. The UK spoke in strong support of inscribing
"Natural Resources and Conflict;" Spain and France concurred.
Egypt, supported by China and Namibia, proposed that the
item's title be changed to relate to development instead of
security. One wording suggested in Egypt's speech was
"Strengthening National Ownership of Resources for
Development." The Committee agreed to postpone discussion of
the inscription of the item to a later, unspecified, date.

Commemoration of the Great Famine provokes debate
--------------------------------------------- ----
6. (U) Heated discussions ensued after Ukraine addressed the
committee in support of its request to inscribe an item
regarding the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the
Great Famine of 1932-1933. Ambassador Wolff spoke in support
of inscription, noting that discussion of the content of the
commemoration should take place in the plenary. Russia spoke
at length opposing the inscription. Myanmar and Kyrgystan
concurred. China and Argentina requested that the item be
postponed until the countries affected by the famine reached
consensus. Ambassador Wolff, after consulting the Ukrainian
Permanent Representative, supported inscription of the item
and called for a vote. The chair began the voting process.
Russia made a speech on a point of order to attempt to change
the question to be put to a vote to "the item should not be
inscribed." Speeches by Belarus against the item and Poland
supporting it followed. To block additional statements
against inscription, Ambassador Wolff raised a point of order
when Kazakhstan began to speak in opposition. GA rules
provide that once voting has begun, members can only speak if
raising a point of order relating to the conduct of the vote.

7. (U) In view of continued Russian objections to the
formulation of the question to be put to a vote, the Chairman
suspended the Committee to conduct consultations. During the
suspension the Ukraine representative informed Ambassador
Wolff that some of the votes they had "locked in" were no
longer there and they preferred not to risk a vote. Wolff
and Russian Permanent Representative Churkin agreed to accept
the Chinese proposal that a decision on inscription be
deferred on the condition that it be considered again by the
General Committee within a time frame that would permit the
debate to proceed before the end of 2008. As a result, the
Ukraine was spared a probable defeat and will have an
opportunity to lobby for additional support before the
committee decides the issue.

Taiwan
------
8. (U) A September 11 informal agreement limited discussion
of inscription an item allowing Taiwan to participate
meaningfully in the UN to one speaker on either side. The
Solomon Islands spoke in favor of the item, saying that their
flexibility in wording the item this year did not set a
precedent for the future. The Chinese Permanent
Representative reiterated that there is one China. The
Committee Chairman, following past practice, then announced
that there was no agreement to include the item in the
agenda.

Granting GA Observer Status for the Global Fund
--------------------------------------------- --
9. (U) The Committee also deferred inscription of the item
regarding observer status in the GA for the Global Fund to
Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Egypt spoke and
delivered a strong objection that the organization did not
meet the criteria for Observer status. France, the sponsor,
said that that determination should be made by the Sixth
Committee after inscription and allocation and did not fall
under the purview of the General Committee. (Note: That is
the correct position, which has been consistently applied in
similar cases). Portugal and Spain spoke in support of
France's point. Argentina did not oppose, but said they
would like more clarity.

Plenary Accepts the General Committee's Recommendations
--------------------------------------------- ----------
10. (U) At the September 19 plenary, the GA accepted the
inscriptions and allocations suggested in the General
Committee's Report almost without comment. Contrary to
expectations, no one spoke regarding the General Committee's
decision not to inscribe the item regarding Taiwan's
participation in the UN. (Note: Last year, 14 countries spoke
supporting inclusion of the Taiwan item and 125 countries
spoke against it. The Solomon Islands Permanent
Representative told a USUN senior advisor that this year the
policy has changed and they are trying to work with the
Peoples Republic of China. End Note.) USUN spoke to express
again reservations regarding Serbia's request for an ICJ
advisory opinion and to dissociate from decisions relating to
inscription of that item.
Khalilzad

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