Cablegate: Unesco High-Level Meeting On Human Security

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

161402Z Dec 05



E.O. 12958: N/A
DEC 12-13

1. A high-level working meeting on Human Security was
held December 12 and 13 at UNESCO headquarters. The
purpose of the meeting was to advise on a "major
publication" on human security that is planned for

2. The high-level working meeting (note: "high-level
working meeting" is not itself an official UNESCO
meeting category) was convened by UNESCO's sector for
Social and Human Sciences to advise on a "major
publication" on human security planned, for 2007.
According to Moufida Goucha, chief of the UNESCO human
security program, human security has been the subject
of an "intellectual debate" since the 1990's and is now
a priority in the organization's medium term strategy
2002-2007. It brings together the different things
UNESCO is doing-better management of the environment,
education, etc., and has a social and ethical
foundation. (Comment: when asked by our health attache
several months ago for a definition of "human
security," Goucha responded everything that affected
people.) Goucha listed the various publications that
have been issued (including the highly anti-American
report "Promoting Human Security: Ethical, Normative
and Education Frameworks in the Arab States" issued
last summer) and conferences held. Among other
regional conferences, a conference will be held in
Egypt in 2006 on human security in the Arab states.

3. Most of the experts' interventions focused on the
importance of human security, what is meant by human
security, and what UNESCO should do. Remarks by Majid
Tehranian, an expert from the United States, were
representative. Among his comments: "Nation states
are no longer as autonomous as they used to be;
globalization blurs boundaries. States are not in
command of their economies or societies. September 11
demonstrated this. So the framework must be an
international dialogue. It used to be, during the Cold
War, East vs. West; now it is North vs. South. Most
conflicts are intra-state; most casualties are
civilian. Rich countries bear a responsibility--
ethical and practical--to pay attention to what is
going on. The world is unequal. Afghanistan and Iraq
are fights between nomadic societies and digital

4. Bechir Chourou (expert from Tunisia who wrote the
report on human security in the Arab world that is so
critical of the U.S.) said that human security is multi-
dimensional. The state in many parts of the world is a
threat to human security. This puts UNESCO is a tight
spot; it is being forced to tell some of the member
states that they are a threat. (Comment: Given his
track record, we wonder which ones.)

5. The South African charge delivered an intervention
on the first day that in effect questioned the need for
the project and asked how it meshed with UNESCO's core
focus. Oddly, the second day he intervened again and
said that South Africa fully supports the concept. The
Indian ambassador also intervened to question the
utility of the meeting, pointing out that this work is
being done in other UN agencies. The U.S. delegation
also intervened and raised doubts about the need for
the proposed publication. It raised questions also
about the process: would the publication be put out
under UNESCO's name without Member States reaching
consensus on it (referring to, without naming, the
report on human security in the Arab world as an
example of publications put out under UNESCO's name but
not approved by Member States)?

6. UNESCO is determined to pursue its efforts in human
security, and the effort is funded in the 2006-07
budget. The Secretariat says it will consult with
experts broadly and involve more member states. A
questionnaire was to be distributed on-line after the
meeting. It will be sent to approximately 500-1000
"experts" but not member states.

7. Comment: We are concerned that this publication
will appear under the UNESCO logo with minimal input
from member states. Much of what was discussed in
terms of human rights is good and helpful and
consistent with the U.S. goal to enhance democracy,
human rights, and individuals' freedom and well-being.
It would not be unreasonable to expect, however, that
there will be efforts to insert statements that portray
the U.S. as a threat to human security rather than as a
main protector and that align with anti-globalization
and anti-capitalism rhetoric.

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