Cablegate: Unesco Geneva Group to Tackle Medium-Term (2008-

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

REFS: A) Paris 5862, B) Paris 6028

1. This is a guidance request, see para 5.

2. The agenda of the September 13 meeting of UNESCO's
Geneva group will include discussion of the medium-term
strategy. This is the first time in UNESCO's history
that the strategy has been discussed so far in advance of
its projected adoption date (General Conference 2007).
Geneva Group members are aware that early debate affords
an opportunity for pro-active participation by member
states in formulating the new strategy.
3. According to the UK, who will be chairing the
meeting, the purpose of the discussion will be to agree
on ideas that we wish to see featured in the medium-term
strategy, for example, prioritization, results-based
management, perhaps sunset clauses. In their view, it
would be helpful if the General Conference gives
guidelines to the Secretariat on the preparation of the
draft strategy: "Otherwise, once again we will merely be
reacting to a draft drawn up by the Secretariat based on
a questionnaire put out by the Secretariat."
4. To that end, the UK has circulated in advance of the
September 13 meeting a paper to serve as a basis for
discussion. The text (excepted para 6) is in fact a
Draft Resolution that was presented to the May 2005
Executive Board, the product of an informal Geneva Group
Working Group. Given the press of time, the Executive
Board adopted only a scaled-down version, mandating that
the medium-term strategy would be on the agenda of the
next General Conference. The text raises key points
relating to reform that could be raised in the context of
the medium term-strategy: a more tightly-defined set of
principal priorities; ways to implement fully results-
based budgeting and management; development of an
organizational culture of "intersectorality";
decentralization; reorganization of programs; UNESCO's
role in the context of post-emergency and post-conflict
situations; improved management of extra-budgetary

5. Guidance request/recommendation: U.S. permanent
delegation requests guidance on text in advance of the
September 13 meeting. Mission recommends that the
Department consider the following talking points as a
basis for informal consultations within the Geneva group:

We believe it is essential that the General Conference
issue clear guidance to the Secretariat and to regional
groups to guide their work on the medium-term strategy.

The points enumerated in point seven of the UK text are a
good basis for this guidance.

We believe that fundamental questions relating to the
structure/format of the medium-term strategy must be
raised. For whom is the strategy intended? How is it to
be used?

We believe that the format of the report should be
altered so that it focuses more sharply on UNESCO's
program activities. For members of the secretariat, the
medium-term strategy should convey clear, concise
guidance on how to fulfill their functions. Next steps
should be clear. Target countries/regions specified.

For member states, specific benchmarks should be provided
so that we can track the extent to which UNESCO's
programs bring about genuine change. To allow member
states to do this, the document must be reader-friendly.
To this end, we should consider developing guidelines,
including page limits and comprehensive summaries, as

One structure to consider might be to introduce one to
three overarching cross-sectoral themes: for example,
capacity building. But instead of burying such cross-
sector themes in the back, we might consider stating them
up front. The strategy would then outline specific ways
in which each of UNESCO's programs should contribute to
the theme. In this way, UNESCO's programs would gain in

One issue to reflect upon is whether the six-year
planning time framework militates against a sharply
focused document, particularly given the fact that UNESCO
is going through a period of change. Perhaps reducing
the framework to four years would be more workable. In
any case, the strategy should be subject to periodic
formal review by member states.
As to the substance of the new strategy, we should
strongly urge that the Secretariat take into account
guidance offered by outside consultants and evaluators.
This is particularly true in the case of the Education
sector, where the Education ADG is engaged in a
reevaluation process.

Regarding process, the Secretariat should hold regular,
and not less than quarterly, meetings for all member
states on progress forward. The possibility of video-
conferencing could be explored. This would enhance
member states' ability to shape the development of the
medium-term strategy.

6. Begin excerpt from UK Text:

The preparation of a revised medium-term strategy should
begin at the 33rd session of the General Conference with
a discussion of the principles which should govern its
preparation and drafting; (these could include):

a) the possibility of identifying a more tightly-
defined set of principal priorities as a clear framework
for a results-based approach to programming and

b) analysis of further steps needed to implement fully
results-based budgeting and management;

c) the further development of an organizational
culture of "intersectorality", both at Headquarters and
in the field, in the light of experience with cross-
cutting themes, as a means of contributing to the
achievement of UNESCO's principal priorities;

d) the need to review, in the light of experience with
decentralization, the complementary roles of Headquarters
and the field in delivering results against the
Organization's principal priorities and to make
recommendations on how the work of Headquarters and the
field should be more closely integrated in order to have
a measurable impact at country level, particularly in
Member States which are classified as LDCs];

e) the case for reorganizing, on the basis of
experience in UNESCO and the Wider United Nations system
of outsourcing and relocation, certain programmes and
certain management and other functions, in order to
improve UNESCO's effectiveness and to position UNESCO
more strongly within the multilateral system;

f) the need to define, aim at consensus within the
United Nations system on, UNESCO's role in the context of
post-emergency and post-conflict situations;

g) ways and means of improving the management of
extrabudgetary resources in order to ensure that they are
fully and effectively spent in support of UNESCO's role
in the context of post-emergency and post-conflict
situations. End Text.


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