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Cablegate: Usunesco: Nordic States and Uk Champion

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. Guidance Request in Para 3.

2. Summary: In Advance of UNESCO's October General
Conference, the Nordic States and the UK are circulating
a draft resolution calling for an "overall review" of
Programs II and III (the Natural Sciences Sector and the
Social and Human Sciences Sector (SHS)). The review
would be undertaken by a regionally representative panel
of scientific experts from member states, including
appropriate intergovernmental and international NGOS,
working in partnership with the Secretariat. Its goal
would be to ensure that "UNESCO takes a more forward-
looking perspective" in setting priorities particularly
with regard "to the international goals set.(in) the
Millennium Declaration." It would also help define
UNESCO's role in the sciences within the UN System. (Text
of Draft Resolution in Para 8).

3. Representatives of the UK and Swedish Delegations
stress that the goal of the review is not to provide
justification for a merger of the Natural Sciences Sector
and the Social and Human Sciences (SHS) Sector. They
both say, though, that they would support such a merger,
and that this issue merits debate. Comment: An
"overall review" of the Natural Sciences Sector could in
fact represent a great opportunity for the sector.
However, the idea of a joint audit with the Social
Sciences Sector gives us pause. Focus on the Natural
Sciences and SHS sectors alone would limit the
examination of potential cross-sector synergies to those
between the two sectors, in effect prejudicing the
outcome of the assessment. A merger of the two sectors
would result in a muddying of the goals of the Natural
Sciences Sector, rather than a sharpening of its focus.
This is particularly true given the current stress of the
Social and Human Sciences Sector on issues including
Human Rights. In light of these concerns, Post Requests
Department Guidance regarding amendments to the proposed
resolution. Department should also consider U.S.
participation in the assessment. End summary and

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Swedish Delegation: Nordics Press for An "Open" Audit to
Help Sectors Assume "Comparative Advantage"
--------------------------------------------- ----------

4. Science Officer spoke with Mr. Falk, the deputy at
the Swedish Delegation (protect), who confided that the
draft resolution, sponsored by the Nordic states and the
UK, was the brainchild of the National Commissions of
these countries. Queried on whether the aim of the
resolution is to merge the natural sciences and social
sciences sectors, Falk replied that the assessment is
meant to be "open." That said, Falk himself believes
that the two sectors should be merged; he was not sure
whether the Swedish National Commission shared this view.
Science Officer asked why the Natural Sciences and Social
Sciences Sector were chosen as the targets, rather than
education and/or culture. Quoting from the DR, Falk said
the proposal was meant to enable the Natural Sciences
Sector and the Social Sciences Sector to profit from
their comparative advantage, stressing that the study
could inform the next budget exercise. At any rate, the
performance of the Education Sector is already the
subject of debate at the Executive Board; UNESCO's role
in culture is clearly defined. Natural Sciences and
Social Sciences were chosen together in order to foster
cross-sector approaches. For example, water is the
principal priority in UNESCO; but there are many social
factors that need to be considered in this area.

5. Science Officer explored similar issues with the UK
DCM Christine Atkinson (protect), probing her on the
ultimate goals of the resolution. She said that the
National Committees of the co-sponsoring states had been
studying for nearly a year means of "rationalizing"
UNESCO's sectors. She expressed the personal belief that
the two sectors should be merged, but stressed that the
goal of the evaluation is not to provide justification
for a merger. The study would address this question,
among others.

6. Science officer expressed the concern that the
resolution seems to have two goals: the first to ensure
that UNESCO science assumes a lead role in helping
countries address development challenges; the second to
explore the interface between the Natural Sciences Sector
and the Social Science Sector. Might these two disparate
goals produce a muddy result, for example in giving short
shrift to potential synergies with other sectors?
Atkinson pointed out that the issue of merger of the two
sectors is worthy of study: it would allow UNESCO to
eliminate an ADG position. Science ethics, currently a
division of the SHS sector, would be easily integrated
into the work of the current Natural Sciences sector.
Human rights issues currently covered in the Social and
Human Sciences Sector are not a natural fit, she
conceded. But the important thing is that the individual
program officers work towards clear objectives set for
them by member states. Atkinson concluded by again
stressing that member states should debate these issues,
and that the assessment would be a basis for this

Science Sector Concerned about "True Aim" of Resolution:
A Merger with Social Sciences?
--------------------------------------------- ---------

7. Science Officer met with a Natural Sciences Sector
Director who expressed concern about the draft
resolution, although he had not seen the text; the
Natural Sciences sector is understandably abuzz. Issues
of concern to them are: What sparked this proposal?: do
member states "disapprove" of the science sector? Is the
goal of the audit in fact to build a case to merge the
two divisions? Nalecz noted that under current
leadership, the focus of SHS is on human rights, although
the office that deals with ethics that cooperates well
with the science sector. 3. How will the assessment be
paid for? (NOTE: The figure in the proposed current DR
is 400,000 USD, to be paid from funds that would have
gone to finance SHS's "UNESCO World Report." End Note.

8. Begin text of proposed Draft Amendment to Programme
and Budget: Para 3120 delete "and through the
dissemination of the UNESCO World Report": to be replaced
by the following addition: "and through a thorough
review of Major Programmes II and III by a team of expert
representatives of the scientific community from Member
States, inclusive of all regions, and appropriate
intergovernmental and international non-governmental
organizations, working in close partnership with the


The General Conference decides to launch an overall
review of Major Programmes II and III against the
background of UNESCO's mandate and today's global needs.

There is increasing realization in developed and
developing countries alike that the Sciences - including
engineering and technology - have an essential role for
UNESCO in the fight against poverty and improving the
human condition.

The Natural Sciences are at the heart of knowledge-based
capacity building for sustainable development, of
understanding key issues of the environment for risk
preparedness and disaster mitigation, of conflict
resolution and prevention, and of the fight against
disease, with the Social and Human Sciences inseparably
providing the underlying ethical, social, and cultural

But science is fundamentally progressive. The strategic
direction of science for pursuit of these goals may come
to acquire so much complexity that the resolution of
problems will imply the production of new forms of
knowledge and action.

With its unique mandate for science in the framework of
the United Nations System, it is critical therefore that
UNESCO take a more forward-looking perspective on
prioritization and promote a progressive agenda giving
proper emphasis to emerging priorities.

Furthermore, UNESCO should better exploit its comparative
advantage, seeking complementarity, harmonization and
coordination with its sister organizations of the United
Nations system, other scientific bodies and national
governments. A real demarcation must be agreed between
different organizations.

The review shall assess the relevance and strengths of
the Sciences programmes in relation to current priorities
as expressed and with regard to the international goals
set, in particular the Millennium Declaration and the
Related Millennium Development Goals. Building on this
review, the need for reform and adjustments of the Major
Programmes II and III should be examined with the purpose
of ensuring that UNESCO's role as custodian of knowledge
is well defined and reaffirmed at the present time.
The review should include an assessment of UNESCO's role
in the global science community and a consideration of
division of labor and tasks in relation to other relevant
intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as
well as reflect on the interface between Social and Human
Sciences and Natural Sciences.

The General Conference:

Instructs the Director General to initiate a review with
mandate on the lines indicated above by setting up a team
of expert representatives of the scientific community
from member states, inclusive of all regions, and
appropriate intergovernmental and international non-
governmental organizations, working in close partnership
with the Secretariat. The team shall start its work by 1
December 2005 at the latest; and

Further instructs the Director General to present the
review, with the recommendations of the Executive Board,
to the 34th Session of the General Conference with a view
to integrating the agreed conclusions in the Program and
Budget (34 C/5) and the Medium-Term Strategy (34 C/4).

Budgetary implications: 400 000 USD

Source of Funding 03123 Main Line of Action 3: UNESCO
World Report

Explanatory Note: The review should bear in kind that
the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the
Millennium Development Goals and the rising demands for
United Nations system-wide coordination including the
United Nations' agenda of simplification, harmonization
and quality enhancement. There is an obvious need to
clarify roles, tasks and programme delivery
responsibilities as well as the need to prioritize
between and among them.

The essential role of science as a foundation for
sustainable development and for the fight against poverty
has been acknowledged at many recent international fora,
not least at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(WSSD, Johannesburg). At the same time, with the ever-
increasing intergovernmental and non-governmental
organizations, funds and programs involved in providing
assistance in the pursuit of goals, it is crucial to look
into the role of UNESCO as the UN organization with an
overriding mandate in the fields of science.

An overall impact evaluation of UNESCO's Sciences
Programme will be helpful in clarifying roles and
responsibilities, and specifically that of UNESCO, with a
view to achieving the goals set. A review addressing the
division of labor will ultimately strengthen UNESCO's
mandate in the fields concerned. End text of proposed
Draft Amendment to Programme and Budget.


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