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Cablegate: Usg Response to Who-Ohchr Right to Health "Fact

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGV #0925 3101210
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051210Z NOV 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7385
INFO RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0924
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2856

UNCLAS GENEVA 000925

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KHUM EAID PHUM WHO
SUBJECT: USG RESPONSE TO WHO-OHCHR RIGHT TO HEALTH "FACT
SHEET"

REF: STATE 108531

1. As requested reftel, Mission officers met with WHO and
OHCHR officials to deliver copies of letters from IO
Assistant Secretary Hook on the recent publication of the
WHO-OHCHR "fact sheet" on the "right to health."

2. Mission Health Attache met October 23 with WHO Deputy
Director-General Asamoa Baah and Executive Director of the
WHO Director-General's Office, Bill Kean. Drawing on the
points in A/S Hook's cover letter, Health Attache emphasized
the seriousness of our concerns with this publication and
reiterated our request that it be rescinded. Noting that WHO
had not yet received A/S Hook's letter, Kean said WHO would
review the fact sheet in light of the U.S. critique and, in
consultation with OHCHR, consider appropriate next steps.

3. Charge Mark Storella met October 31 with Deputy High
Commissioner for Human Rights Kung-Wha Kang concerning this
and other issues. Charge expressed our deep concern and
disappointment with the fact sheet, reiterating key points in
A/S Hook's letter. DHC Kang responded that OHCHR takes the
position that the right to health is a fundamental right,
enshrined in many documents. The U.S., she argued, is in a
minority on this issue, as its view on the right to health
was not shared by much of the international community. OHCHR
had the "obligation" to inform people about their rights, "to
bring the language of rights to everyday people," Kang
continued, and fact sheets such as the one in question were
key instruments for doing so. When challenged about whether
the fact sheet was indeed an accurate representation of the
facts, Kang said that fact sheets were aimed at the broad
public, and while factual errors were unacceptable, technical
details might be omitted or not fully fleshed out in the
interest of accessibility of the information to the broader
public. That said, Kang said she was impressed at the level
of detail in the U.S. response to the fact sheet and would
reply after studying it carefully.
STORELLA

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