Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register



Cablegate: Fao Director General Election: India's Permrep Floats Possible Indian Candidates

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L ROME 002926





Classified By: Ambassador Tony P. Hall for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (U) This is an action message. See para 10 below.

2. (C) Summary: Indian Permrep Himachal Som requested a meeting with Ambassador Hall on July 26 to discuss options for a possible Indian candidacy to succeed Senegal's Jacques Diouf as Director General (DG) of FAO. Som said the GOI supports term limits for UN agency heads, and is concerned that another term for Diouf would result in benign neglect (or worse) of FAO by major donors. He explained that India might be able to present a strong candidate, mentioning two possible names; but he added that the GOI is unlikely to pursue this unless it is reasonably confident that an Indian candidacy has a chance of success, which would at minimum require strong USG and EU support.

3. (C) Ambassador Hall reiterated the firm USG commitment to term limits as a matter of principle, and reviewed our efforts to encourage nominations of alternative candidates. He noted, however, that Diouf has already lined up considerable, possibly sufficient G-77 support, and any challenger would need to run a vigorous, against-the-odds campaign. In U.S. Mission's view, the Indian Permrep's proposals are welcome, but tardy. Som had not done his homework to assess the current state of play, and was probably at too early a stage in his thinking to be able to table a serious initiative. This was a discussion we should have had four months ago. End summary.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

4. (C) Som began the discussion with Ambassador Hall and key U.S. Mission staff by mentioning India's UNGA votes in favor of term limits. He said that the GOI, while recognizing that circumstances might differ at the specialized UN agencies, disagrees with the notion that the incumbent DG at FAO should be exempted from such limits. Moreover, he added, the Indians are seriously worried that another six -- and possibly even ten -- years under Diouf would seriously undermine support for FAO among the major contributors and cause lasting harm to the organization. Som said he feared another Diouf term would result in benign neglect by key contributors, at best, or a repetition of UNESCO's experience, at worst. (Note: The term limits amendment to the FAO Constitution does not go into effect until January 2006 -- i.e., after the DG election -- and the generally accepted view in Rome is that it does not apply retroactively. By this logic, Diouf, like any other candidate, would be eligible for a six-year term, followed by a possible four-year, final term. See reftel for further background. End note.)

5. (C) The Indian Permrep then laid out the case for a possible Indian candidacy, noting India's population size and democratic system, its agricultural and technical expertise, its pivotal role as a both a donor and recipient of international aid, and its current lack of a top UN position. He mentioned two possible candidates, noting that neither had yet been approached:

-- Dr. M.S. Swaminathan: father of the Green Revolution in India, widely respected, already eighty but very energetic; and

-- Dr. Amrita Patel, Chairperson of the National Dairy Development Board, a dynamic veterinarian in her fifties who brings a strong interest in cooperatives and a concern for gender issues.

6. (C) Som said he had raised the idea of an Indian candidate tentatively with his Foreign Minister recently, whose immediate question was whether such a candidacy could be successful. Som admitted that, following the recent elections, the minority government in India was in a weak position and could not afford a failed candidacy. There is also concern in the GOI about potential harm to India's relations with Africa, which it has worked hard to cultivate. Som concluded that, with these potential downsides, he would not be able to recommend pursuing a candidacy without ""more than passive support"" from the U.S. and other key OECD members. He also foresaw possible USG support for an Indian candidate for the FAO position as a major step forward in U.S.-Indian relations.

7. (C) Ambassador Hall responded by restating the USG commitment to term limits and reviewing U.S. efforts to encourage nominations of other candidates. He noted that no serious candidates had appeared thus far; meanwhile, Diouf had already lined up substantial G-77 support. He agreed with Som that others are unlikely to back a challenger unless there is some assurance of a successful outcome, and this would require mounting a serious campaign. The Ambassador engaged to refer Som's proposals to Washington agencies, and to report back the reaction received.

8. (C) Comment: The Indian Ambassador's visit is the first serious proposal of an alternative candidate we have received at the U.S. Mission (though other names have been mentioned in passing). Yet even this trial balloon seems fairly limp, with Som's seeming unawareness of Diouf's recent successes in lining up Caribbean and Islamic countries' endorsements, his lack of information about vacillation on term limits within the EU, and his failure thus far to even approach tentative Indian candidates.

9. (C) Comment, Continued: As pointed out in reftel, any serious attempt to mount a candidacy at this relatively late stage will require running against the odds to successfully break unity within several G-77 regional groups. Any octogenarian (short of Mandela), or other less than gung-ho candidate with money, energy, time, organization, and full national support is not going to make the grade. Before any OECD members will openly consider an Indian candidate, moreover, they will want to see whether India has the Asia Group behind it. That is not yet the case, and achieving even that first step could require weeks or longer, given the summer holiday season now upon us. In other words, the game is late for testing the waters, as was Som,s apparent objective for this meeting. End comment.

10. (U) Action request: We would welcome Washington and Embassy New Delhi comments on this subject.

Visit Rome's Classified Website: m
HALL NNNN 2004ROME02926 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL "

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.