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Cablegate: India and the U.S.: Bilateral Ties Not Reflected


DE RUCNDT #1254/01 1722204
O 212204Z JUN 06




E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/21/2016

REF: A. 2005 NEW DELHI 8799
B. 2005 USUN NEW YORK 2635

Classified By: Amb. John R. Bolton. E.O. 12958. Reasons 1.4 (b/d)

1. (C) Summary and Comment. India's positions on key issues of importance to the U.S. in New York do not appear to have kept pace with the increasingly strong bilateral ties developing in New Delhi and Washington. India is perceived as one of a handful of countries (which includes Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil and South Africa) that lead the opposition to U.S. policies in multilateral debates. In particular, India has emerged as the most consistent and acerbic critic of the Security Council in what is an increasingly poisonous atmosphere in GA-UNSC relations. India's efforts to position itself as a leader of the NAM/G-77 appear directly related to its aspirations for a permanent seat on the Security Council. Well-informed contacts, including New Delhi's partners within the G-4, say that India ""in it for the long haul"", believing their influence within the organization and their claim to membership among the global powers will only grow in coming years. This cable is the latest in a series of USUN reporting on key opponents to U.S. priorities at the UN. Below are details on India's positions in relation to key U.S. priorities at the UN over the past year. End Summary and Comment.

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2. (C) A statistical analysis of India,s 2005 UNGA voting record illustrates that India is often in opposition to U.S. positions. India,s 2005 voting correlation with the U.S. on recorded votes was 19.40%. On Middle East issues, India,s voting correlation with the U.S. was 5.90%; on disarmament and arms control issues, 39.30%; and on human rights issues, 11.80%.

A Thorn in the UNSC's Side

3. (C) India,s behavior in New York is widely perceived to reflect its desire to establish bona fides as a leader of the developing world in support of its campaign for a permanent seat on the Security Council. Significant, from our perspective, is the rhetoric that Indian Permanent Representative Nirupam Sen deploys in order to rally support from the general membership. Sen's arguments consistently attack the Charter-based rights of the Security Council and the P-5 in particular. He routinely characterizes the P-5 as an exclusive club attempting to perpetuate an historical dominance within the international community that no longer reflects reality and does not acknowledge rising powers. (His statements along these lines, particularly as they coincide with the Administration's efforts to achieve an historic nuclear deal with India, strike us as terribly anachronistic.)

4. (C) Sen is also one of the most persistent advocates of the idea that the Security Council is ""encroaching"" on the authority of the General Assembly (GA). The Indians have characterized vital U.S. priorities in the Security Council on counter-terrorism and non-proliferation (including UNSCRs 1373 and 1540) as ""norm-setting"" that should be reserved for the General Assembly (2005 USUN 2635). In a June 5 GA debate on mandate review, Sen argued that the Security Council has no legal authority under the Charter to establish international tribunals, including ICTY and ICTR.

5. (C) Comment: We believe that part of Sen's approach simply reflects his own personal views. One of India's G-4 partners suggested to us privately that Sen was an ""unreformed Communist."" This view seems to be corroborated by Embassy Delhi's reporting on divergences between New Delhi and New York (2005 USUN 8795). However, we believe the aggressive approach towards the Security Council, and the P-5 in particular, is also part of a calculated effort to deepen inter-organ hostility as means to build support for dramatic reform of the Security Council's membership. Sen said it explicitly last November: if the General Assembly wants to change the way the Council operates, it needs to change the permanent membership. By taking such aggressive ""anti-P5"" positions, India is establishing itself as an outsider willing to stand up to the current P-5 if admitted to the club. End Comment.

ECOSOC and Development

6. (C) India's role in development and humanitarian issues, while unhelpful in certain specific areas, has been less pronounced than Egypt's or Pakistan's. In the long-running negotiations on ECOSOC reform and development resolutions resulting from the September 2005 Summit outcome document, India has been intermittently engaged and has made only occasional comments. No Indian sits on the Secretary-General's High Level Panel on System-wide Coherence
SIPDIS (while both Egypt and Pakistan do). On environmental matters, U.S. and Indian interests are often in line. In the ongoing informal consultations on the framework of the UN's environmental activities, for instance, both the U.S. and India have argued in favor of the current decentralized approach to international environmental governance and have opposed EU-inspired efforts to transform the UN Environment Program into a specialized agency with greatly expanded powers. As a credible, major voice with the G-77, India can -- when it wishes -- use its influence with other developing countries to work for acceptable compromises. As spokesperson for the G-77 in negotiations on the Second Committee resolution on Globalization (A/60/204) last fall, India brokered important compromises between the U.S., EU and G-77 positions, and was quite confident of its ability to deliver the agreement of the rest of the G-77 with their suggestions.

7. (C) That said, India has been a key G-77 player staking out extreme positions at odds with U.S. goals on trade and IPR (in most cases patent rights for pharmaceuticals). The Indian delegation often utilizes old-fashioned statist terminology on global economic issues that does not appear to reflect views of India's booming private sector. Friendly G-77 contacts reported that during last fall's negotiations on the Second Committee resolution on International Financial System and Development (A/60/186), for example, India strongly resisted efforts within the group to craft compromise language as it battled with Pakistan for leadership on these issues. In the recent negotiations on the political declaration for the May 31-June 2, 2006 High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS (USUN 1068), India led the G-77 in staking out inflexible and problematic positions on trade and IPR.

Human Rights Council and Social Issues

8. (C) In Third Committee deliberations on human rights and social issues, India generally has not gone out of its way to be unhelpful. Similarly, as the world's largest democracy, India has worked constructively with the U.S. to set up the UN Democracy Fund (contributing $10 million). This cooperativeness was highlighted by the personal appearances of President Bush and the Indian Prime Minister together at the UN for the inauguration of this fund. However, given its position as an influential developing world democracy, India also could have played a more proactive and supportive role bolstering other U.S. pro-democracy positions in the Third Committee. Whenever faced with a choice between aligning with other democracies or with other developing countries, India will side with the developing world's interests, presumably out of reluctance to disrupt group cohesion and a wish to retain their influence within the G-77. As part of the Convening Group of the Democracy Caucus, India went along with other Conveners in watering down U.S.-proposed language that would have stressed the need to elect only democratic countries to the Human Rights Council (HRC). In the negotiations leading to the creation of the HRC, much of India's efforts focused on ensuring geographic distribution of seats in favor of the Asian Group, though India did not seek to obstruct progress on other issues.

Worsening the General Assembly - Security Council Split
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9. (C) In negotiations that led to the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), India allied itself with Pakistan, Brazil, South Africa and other G-77 leaders in seeking to curb Security Council influence. It argued against permanent membership for the P-5 on the PBC's Organizational Committee and pressed (successfully) to add an additional GA membership category. In arguing that the Security Council had demonstrated itself unable to address post-conflict peacebuilding, Sen claimed that the Security Council, at the end of the first Gulf War, had ""imposed de facto treaty obligations on states without their consent"" at a time when Iraq ""could not be considered to be an imminent threat to peace and security."" As was the case with the HRC, so also with the PBC: India has been a quiet but persistent architect of moves to reapportion the geographic distribution in Asia's favor, for instance working with Egypt to forge an alliance with Africa to lock out other regions in the fight for seats, particularly at the expense of WEOG.

10. (C) India was the leading advocate of General Assembly action to ""demand"" the Security Council produce more than one recommendation for Secretary-General this year (USUN 1065). The Indian campaign was predicated on exploiting the divide between GA and the Security Council and seemingly designed to only further widen the gap.

11. (C) In an October 2005 Fourth Committee debate on a comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations, India stood out by focusing its remarks on criticism of the Security Council. The Indian representative said the problems stemming from peacekeeping were linked to an ""unrepresentative Council"" and not to a lack of money or personnel. He accused the UNSC of lacking the will to act and when it did act, inadequately so.

Personalities or Policies

12. (C) An example of India's unhelpful behavior occurred in the December 2004 Fifth Committee proceedings in which the Indian delegate was particularly destructive in the negotiations on the creation of the UN's Department of Safety and Security (DSS), the establishment of which was a high priority for the United States, EU, Japan and others (known as the ""Extended Group"") following the bombing of the UN Office in Baghdad in 2003. India, along with Egypt, formed the core and driving force of the ""like-minded group"" (LMG) whose primary purpose was to dilute and, if possible, derail the establishment of the new office. The LMG also included Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Venezuela, China and Pakistan. The main elements of the LMG negotiating position were to provide as little capacity for leadership as possible to the new Department (in number and level of posts), to arbitrarily not approve the security officer posts for UN duty stations around the world, and to disable the Threat and Risk Assessment Unit at Headquarters (without which the DSS capacity and effectiveness would have been crippled). Though the LMG had no mandate to represent the G-77 as a whole, any public or private opposition from members of the G-77 to the LMG was swiftly and forcefully ended by India and Egypt. Public shouting matches between the LMG and other G-77 delegations were commonplace, and anecdotes of behind-the-scenes verbal and physical intimidation by India and Egypt dominated much of the negotiating session (2004 USUN 2932).

13. (C) While the position and negotiating tactics of the LMG as a whole were a source of frustration to the Extended Group, the antics of India deserve particular attention. The Indian delegation was the driving force of the LMG and often referred to as the ""brains"" of the group. Although the UN Secretariat provided the Fifth Committee more than 100 pages
SIPDIS of supplemental information to justify the purpose and resources of the DSS, the Indian delegate repeatedly berated the Secretariat for not providing adequate information. Contrary to all evidence, the Indian delegate consistently defied the logic of the proposal, asserted that there was no security expertise sought in the planning stages of the proposal, and maintained that there was no increased level of threat to the UN and its personnel. Although the Indian delegate always claimed to be serious about ensuring the safety and security on UN personnel and premises, the actions of the delegate were in direct contravention to that sentiment.

UN Reform

14. (C) One area in which India has been consistently unhelpful to the U.S. is UN management reform. Early on, India was one of a handful of countries that signaled their opposition to significant or rapid progress on management reform and improvement of the working of the organization. India's Sen asserted that ""what are required are not new structures and posts but systems and sustained managerial attention "" (USUN 2304). In September 2005 discussions on management reform in the Outcome Document, India, along with Pakistan, Egypt and Mexico, argued that proposals to give the Secretary-General greater flexibility and freedom in the
SIPDIS daily management of UN affairs were actually designed to diminish the role of the GA. In a stance clearly aimed to curry favor with the G-77 and NAM countries, India argued that any reforms that challenged the GA's prerogatives were unacceptable (USUN 2111).

15. (C) In September meetings of the Committee on Conferences, the G-77 led by India (along with Egypt, Jamaica, Nigeria, Syria) frustrated the efforts of WEOG countries by making repeated interventions to request additional resources without any financial accountability to solve any conference management issues and made clear that no efficiency measures or reforms could proceed prior to the approval of the General Assembly (USUN 2406).

16. (C) In late October budget meetings India (as did Egypt and Cuba) used the occasion to refute the need for budget reform and to attack U.S. positions (USUN 2554). The Indian statement focused on the need to fund mandates without having a ""pre-determined"" budget level in mind, said that the proposed budget demonstrated that the SYG had managerial flexibility and that the ""General Assembly is the only truly democratic body in the United Nations"" and that ""we should strive to ensure that it remains that way and that the proprieties of the vast majority of its membership are reflected in the Regular Budget.""

17. (C) As we have previously suggested (USUN 1037) India remains a leader of a G-77/NAM interest in redistributing power away from the major contributors, the P-5, the Security Council and the Secretariat to the G-77-dominated UNGA. And in this respect, India is taking the wrong side of three issues of importance to the U.S.: resolutions to lift the budget cap without any meaningful reforms, &requiring8 the Security Council to recommend more than one name from which UNGA will choose the next Secretary-General, and a resolution locking in minimum levels of development assistance by member states.


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