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Cablegate: Usunesco: Ambassador Discusses Cultural Diversity

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

UNCLAS PARIS 006021

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

FROM USMISSION UNESCO
STATE PASS USTR BALASSA
IO/UNESCO FOR JANE COWLEY
EUR/ERA FOR PETER CHASE
L/EUR FOR PETER OLSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL ETRD EU CJAN UNESCO
SUBJECT: USUNESCO: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES CULTURAL DIVERSITY
CONVENTION WITH DIRECTOR GENERAL AND SEVERAL AMBASSADORS

REF: A) Paris 5990 and previous

1. Summary. The draft cultural diversity convention was a
primary topic of discussion during Ambassador Oliver's
meetings with UNESCO Director General (DG) Matsuura and
several ambassadors, including the outgoing chairman of the
general conference. All agreed that the convention must be
adopted by consensus. End summary.

2. (SBU) During a September 2 luncheon meeting the DG told
the ambassador that while he cannot be seen as leaning
toward one side or another he has insisted and will continue
to insist that the final convention must be a consensus
document. The DG also told the ambassador that when he
publicly made this statement during a culture ministers'
meeting at UNESCO in June, the French culture minister
reacted angrily to his suggestion.

3. (SBU) Later on September 2, Ambassador Oliver met with
Nigerian Ambassador Michael Omolewa, the outgoing chairman
of the General Conference. (Note: by UNESCO tradition the
chair holds the title between General Conference sessions
and receives special deference.) Omolewa admitted that he
had not attended the final negotiating session in June and
had no idea how badly it had gone. He said that he assumed
that a consensus document had emerged. When he heard that
there had been no consensus, he expressed a strong desire to
make sure the current draft is treated as a preliminary text
and that consensus is reached. He also expressed surprise
that the EU is unwilling to reopen the document to find
consensus. (Comment: the draft convention is increasingly
being seen at UNESCO as a struggle between the US and the
EU.) Omolewa expressed concern when Ambassador Oliver
explained potential domestic ramifications posed by the
draft and how those could influence US reengagement with
UNESCO.

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4. (SBU) During a courtesy call on September 2, the new
Saudi Arabian Ambassador to UNESCO, Mohammed Aldebian, also
expressed concerns about the convention and its effects on
us engagement with UNESCO. He had attended the June
negotiations as a member of the Saudi delegation and was
aware of the poisonous atmosphere surrounding the meeting.
Aldebian encouraged Ambassador Oliver to have conversations
on the topic with other states. He also suggested that the
US Delegation write a letter to other delegations setting
out our concerns with the convention.

5. (SBU) A similar tone was struck in a conversation with
Afghan ambassador Aziz on September 1. Aziz stated that
"everyone agreed that there should be a convention on
cultural diversity," but in order for the convention to be
effective it must be accepted by all members states. He
said that there is still time to negotiate and try to get
the convention postponed for two years. He also said that
strong diplomatic work is needed for the US to get enough
support from member states so that none feel like they are
caught out on a limb. (Comment: he has told us before that
he feels caught between the US and the EU.) He also
suggested that delegations needed to be instructed by their
capitals to support the US position.

6. Comment: We now have had the DG and several UNESCO
ambassadors express their concern about the potential harm
of the draft cultural diversity convention. The question is
whether we can pick off enough delegations in time to stop
the EU/Canadian/Brazilian juggernaut.

Oliver

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