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Cablegate: Ec Makes New Pitch On Cultural Diversity

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

UNCLAS PARIS 001857

SIPDIS

FROM USMISSION UNESCO PARIS
FOR IO/T BOOTH, EB/TPP/MTA/MST DOWNES, L/EUR OLSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL ETRD UNESCO
SUBJECT: EC MAKES NEW PITCH ON CULTURAL DIVERSITY
CONVENTION

1. SUMMARY: DCM Koss and I attended a lunch March 19 hosted
by Luxembourg ambassador to UNESCO Hubert Wurth. Wurth, who
was acting for the EU presidency, also included his deputy
and Xavier Troussard of the Culture and Education Division
of the European Commission. Lunch discussion focused on the
UNESCO cultural diversity convention. Highlights of the
discussion included EC insistence that the convention must
be "complementary" and not subordinate to other
international obligations and that the proposed convention
would not contradict existing trade agreements. Troussard
also gave a lengthy explanation of why the word "protect"
should not be defined in the convention. At the end of the
lunch Wurth gave us a copy of the draft resolution on EC
participation in cultural diversity negotiations to be
discussed at the next UNESCO Executive Board in April. END
SUMMARY.

2. Troussard remarked that most of the horizontal issues in
the draft cultural diversity convention are related to
article 19 (the relationship of the convention to other
international instruments). He insisted that the proposed
cultural diversity convention would be complementary to
other agreements and that no country would want to use it to
erect trade barriers. Troussard also averred that any
country adopting a policy that limits the choice of cultural
expressions would not be acting in the spirit of the
convention.

3. Troussard was categorical that the word protect must not
be defined in the convention. According to the EC Rep, a
definition is not necessary since the word has no trade
connotations. The EC believes the definition will be
implicit in the rights and obligations clause of the
convention. "He also felt that the principles of respect for
human rights and openness are embodied in the convention and
therefore a definition is unnecessary."

4. We were also unable to reach agreement on the criteria
for a "cultural" good. Troussard was adamant that
agricultural products do not have a cultural component. His
view on the matter could be boiled down to "you'll know a
cultural good when you see it."

5. During the discussion I mentioned US concern that the
proposed dispute resolution mechanism would turn UNESCO into
a dispute resolution body. (Neither Troussard nor Wurth
responded to this.) I also asked what prevents nations from
acting now to preserve their culture (again, no good
answer). Lastly, I emphasized the difference between a
declaration and a convention, and that since a convention is
a binding commitment on governments, there must be a clarity
on scope, objectives, and terms.

6. Before leaving, Wurth handed us a copy of a draft
resolution for the upcoming executive committee meeting
(copy already faxed to IO/T). The resolution seeks full
participation for the EC at the next round of negotiations,
including the right to sit behind its own nameplate and to
speak in its own name at the same time as the members of
UNESCO. The resolution does not seek voting rights for the
EC.

7. Comment: It cannot be said it was a dialogue of the
deaf, but it is clear from the discussion that we are far
apart from the EC on many issues. The Commission has strong
views on several sensitive topics. It will take a lot of
hard negotiating and continued dialogue to find the common
ground that will allow for a convention we can accept.
Oliver

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