Cablegate: Usunesco: Outcome of Executive Board Decision On

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






E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: The EU continues to focus on UNESCO as a
place to enhance its influence and stature in United Nations
organizations. Following the rebuff at last fall's
Executive Board of the EU's attempt to gain "full
participant" status and the February round of negotiations
on a cultural diversity convention, the EU made another run
at it during UNESCO's most recent Executive Board meeting
which ended April 29. While the Board's resolution gave the
EU much less than they wanted, they still succeeded in
gaining more than they had before. The resolution says that
during the next round of negotiations (May 25-June 4) the EC
"while maintaining its observer status" will remain seated
at the back of the hall with other observers but will not be
subject to the same rules observers must follow on when and
how much they can address the meeting. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Negotiations on the Draft Convention on the
Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and
Artistic Expressions (also known as the cultural diversity
convention) began in the fall of 2004. A second round of
talks was held in February and there will be another later
this month.

3. (SBU) During last fall's meeting of UNESCO's biannual
Executive Board, European Union members on the board
submitted a draft resolution seeking enhanced observer
status at future negotiations. Claiming that EU member
states had transferred competency in several areas-trade,
free movement of people, and intellectual property rights-to
the European Community, they asserted a need for a "full"
seat at the negotiations table. The EU members had not done
their homework and ended up withdrawing their proposed
resolution in the face of a maelstrom of negative reactions.

4. (SBU) As a result of the resolution's failure to pass,
European Commission representatives were "embedded" in the
delegation of the EU presidency (Luxembourg) during the
February round of negotiations. Most non-EU member states
felt that this approach worked well in logistical terms,
that the EC was able to present fully its positions without
a problem, and that this arrangement was consistent with the
normal rules of procedure.

5. (SBU) Since the beginning of this year, the EU member
states on the Board have vigorously and strongly renewed
their goals on the participation issue. They prepared
another draft Executive Board decision for adoption at the
spring Executive Board meeting and began intense lobbying of
national delegations at UNESCO and in capitals. We cited
one example of their efforts reftel where the Jamaican
ambassador received new instructions to support the EU after
lobbying in her capital.

6. (SBU) The Executive Board's Special Committee was the
first to look at the EU's draft resolution. When the
Committee was unable to reach consensus, it referred the
matter to a working group headed by the Indian ambassador to
UNESCO. The Indian Ambassador, working with Uruguay and
Brazil, came up with a revised draft decision text, which,
from the U.S. point of view was highly objectionable in
several respects. That text, however, was readily embraced
by EU states. A key operative paragraph of that text
stated that "the European Community, while maintaining its
observer status, may actively participate in the same manner
as full participants in the work of the Intergovernmental
Meeting of Experts, excluding the right to vote." Adoption
of such a text would have provided the EC everything it had
fought to obtain since last fall.

7. (SBU) With sentiment seeming to coalesce around this
version and the likelihood that the EU would prevail in a
vote, the US delegation, assisted by US Mission Geneva Legal
Adviser Michael Peay, engaged in intensive negotiations with
the EU over a 4-day period. The operative language of the
final version of the resolution (cleared by IO and EUR)
reads: (para 3) (The Executive Board) invites, on an
exceptional basis, the European Community, while maintaining
its observer status, to participate actively and as fully as
appropriate in the work of the Intergovernmental Meeting of
Experts (May 25 - 4 June 2005).

(para 4) Recommends that the General Conference, at its 33rd
session, take this decision into account with respect to its
consideration of the item related to the Preliminary Draft
Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural
Contents and Artistic Expressions.

8. (SBU) This version was introduced to the plenary by the
Indian ambassador as a consensus text. After adoption, the
UK ambassador read a clarifying statement:
(begin quote)The Decision refers to active participation of
the European Community as fully as appropriate.

The European Union considers that this active participation
shall consist, within negotiation of the convention, of the
ability to speak as other participants. Such active
participation shall also consist of the ability to reply, to
put forward proposals and amendments on issues for which it
has competence at the formal meetings. It shall also
include the ability to take part in the discussion of
procedural issues within the context of the Draft Cultural
Diversity Convention and the ability to take part in the
committees, working groups, formal or informal meetings set
up in the course of the work relating to negotiation of this
Convention. The European Community shall have its own

The European Community may not chair committees or sub-
committees or serve as Rapporteur unless there is full
consensus. The European Community shall not have the right
vote nor break or block consensus.

Furthermore, European Community participation does not mean
an additional voice. Indeed, the European Community decides
in internal coordination whether the Presidency of the
Council will speak on an issue on behalf of the Community
and its member states. During this process, we have been
open to providing further explanations concerning
competences of the Community as regards the draft Convention
whenever it speaks and we will continue to do so. (end

9. (SBU) The Australian Ambassador asked that the UK
Ambassador's statement be put verbatim in the records of the
meeting and added that Australia would welcome greater
clarification of EC competences. The Japanese Ambassador
intervened to underscore the point that EC participation
does not include the right to vote, which is a "crucial
point" for Japan and a "premise of Japan's acceptance" of
this outcome. The Russian Ambassador also asked for a clear
articulation of EU competencies and linked the competency
issue to the unresolved question of who will determine the
applicable legal principles that will govern EC
participation in the Convention's implementation, once
adopted. The UNESCO Legal Adviser provided a non-
responsive reply, and the Russian Ambassador again took the
floor to express concern about the restricted negotiation of
this decision text, noting that this is a "new and unique
development." The Chair promised to reproduce the texts of
statements made and also promised to forward the EU
statement to the chairman of the Inter-Governmental Working
Group of Experts (the South African chairman) for reference
during the next round of negotiations.

10. (SBU) Comment. Most delegations at UNESCO told us they
were really pleased with the outcome. They dreaded a vote
and many told us they hated being caught between the US and
the EU. We repeatedly made the point that this was not
about the US vs. the EU, that this was about broader
principles of UNESCO and UN governance. We were
disappointed that so few states were willing to confront the
EU's egregious over reaching. Most of the responses to IO's
demarche cable on this subject showed support in capitals
for the US position, but that did not translate into support
on the ground. We also were disappointed with the
unwillingness of countries like Australia and Russia to
address the issue until after the US delegation had finished
with all the heavy lifting.

11. (SBU) Comment continued. While we avoided a vote that
many believe would have been a clear win for the EU, we are
not entirely satisfied with the outcome. Though their
participation remains heavily circumscribed, the EU gained
more than they had going into the meeting, and no matter how
many times they deny this will be a precedent, it will be a

12. (SBU) Comment continued. Still it should be remembered
that the EC's exceptional and unique (vis--vis other
observers) ability to speak and present proposals, in the CD
negotiations context, while seated with other observers, and
its ability to be recognized to speak, like States, in the
chronological order of requests for the floor, is
substantially similar to an ability that the EC enjoyed
during the initial round of WHO negotiations on the revised
International Health Regulations in Geneva in the fall

13. (SBU) Comment continued. An interesting source of quiet
support during this period has come from EU delegations that
indicated they were so tired of EC bullying and over-
reaching on this issue that they hoped the resolution would
be voted down. The message came over as save us from
ourselves. We were told that many EU members also did not
want a vote and resisted a strong French push for a vote.

14. (SBU) Comment continued. This will not be the last time
the EU will come knocking on the door. We see this as one
more in a series of attempts by the EU to gain the same
rights as member states in UN organizations. UNESCO is a
great place to start because so many delegations operate
without instructions from their capital, leave decision
making to their National Commission representatives who
often do not reflect their countries' official foreign
policy line or (as in the case of Morocco) leave decision
making to the Permanent Delegate in Paris. The language in
the resolution about referring this matter to the General
Conference in October will likely lead to a reprise of this
debate when the issue of who can sign the cultural diversity
convention will probably be raised. End comment.


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