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Cablegate: Usunesco: U/S Dobrianksy's Meeting On

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

041420Z Oct 05




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In her September 30th meeting with
the Director General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura,
Under Secretary Dobriansky expressed deep concern about
the ramifications of certain language in the draft
convention on cultural diversity. Highlighting both
trade and human rights implications, she urged Matsuura
to establish a way forward and implored him to not
close discussion of the draft convention. Doing so,
the Under Secretary warned, would send a very
unfortunate signal to Washington. The Director General
stated that USG concerns on protectionism corresponded
to his own, but stated repeatedly that the draft text
would not have repercussions for human rights, citing a
lack of concern from media watchdog and human rights
NGOS. He noted that he controlled only the process of
drafting instruments at UNESCO, not the
intergovernmental process of revising them.
Nonetheless, Matsuura was receptive to the Under
Secretary's request for him to draft a statement that

would ensure that UNESCO member states do not use this
convention to undermine the organization's founding
principles. He also appeared to support the idea of
establishing a working group on the draft text. The
Under Secretary also met with Assistant Director
General Peter Smith and Director of the Communication
Development Division, Wijayanand Jayaweera to discuss
ways in which the USG can encourage democracy education
through UNESCO's Education and Communication sectors.

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2. (SBU) The U/S noted USG concerns with the
ramifications of certain language in the draft
convention on cultural diversity that could be used by
some countries to curtail freedom of expression, noting
that this went to the heart of the UNESCO's integrity
as an institution. She also cited potential
ramifications for protectionist measures in terms of
trade. It would be very unfortunate, the U/S
cautioned, if there was a reversal in the coming weeks.
Could Matsuura, she asked, work something out and
devise a way forward that was more inclusive of member
states views? She noted reports from Ambassador Oliver
that Matsuura was considering ways in which the
discussion on the draft convention could become more
open. She implored Matsuura not to close the debate on
the document, and added that passing it would send a
very unfortunate signal to Washington.

3. (SBU) Matsuura noted that he would like to avoid
the adoption of the draft convention, and affirmed
UNESCO's commitment to press freedom. He stated that
this would continue, even if the convention were to be
adopted. He reasoned that since the draft convention
was pushed by Canada, France and EU members, rather
than a regime with a poor human rights record, like
China, the main issue was not human rights, but
protection of national film industries. The Europeans
and Canadians, he stated, were trying to maintain the
current system of film quotas, which was something the
international community could not accept in the long
term. Matsuura stated that he was concerned about the
draft convention's potential to provide a political
pretext for such protectionist trade policies, and
added that GATS was actually the appropriate forum for
the U.S. to promote the issue of negotiation on
cultural services.

4. (SBU) He rejected the idea that the draft
convention would have human rights ramifications,
adding that countries who were weak in this realm would
continue to be whether a convention was passed or not.
He observed that no NGOs dealing with human rights or
press freedom had raised concerns on the draft
convention's potential to restrict these rights. He
cited UNESCO's commitment to Article 19 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and record of
pushing for media freedom. Finally, Matsuura assured
the Under Secretary and the Ambassador that he
personally would not allow the convention to be
interpreted as a justification for curtailing human
rights and media freedom.

5. (SBU) The Under Secretary observed that Matsuura
was a man of great personal integrity and while no one
doubted his personal commitment to ensure that the text
would not be used to justify human rights abuses, there
was no way to prevent the draft text from being
misinterpreted after he stepped down as UNESCO Director
General in 2010. Under Secretary Dobriansky asked if
it would be possible to obtain extra reassurance from
Matsuura that the draft text would not be used to
violate the principles of the UNESCO constitution. It
remained unclear, Ambassador Oliver added, whether the
premise of the draft text was that a sovereign country
could do whatever it deemed necessary to protect its
culture. Citing the repeated rejection of USG language
intended to make the document clearer, they asked for
the DG to show leadership and take steps to add
confidence at this point. As the meeting concluded, an
aide to the DG suggested to the Under Secretary that
the U.S. Delegation draft language for a statement by
the Director general on the draft text and UNESCO's
founding principles. She also urged the Under
Secretary to work with media freedom and human rights

NGOs to draft a letter spelling out their concerns
about how the draft text could be manipulated to
justify human rights abuses and curtail the free
exchange of information.


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