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Cablegate: Uk Delegation Seeks Eu Consensus On Unesco's Role In

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

UNCLAS PARIS 004159

SIPDIS

FROM USMISSION UNESCO

STATE FOR IO/UNESCO KELLY SIEKMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC EAID SOCI UK UNESCO
SUBJECT: UK DELEGATION SEEKS EU CONSENSUS ON UNESCO'S ROLE IN
ADVANCE OF ATHENS MEDIUM-TERM STRATEGY CONCLAVE

REFS: A) Paris 5862, B) Paris 6028, C) Paris 6136

1. At a June 16 informal meeting of UNESCO delegates, the UK deputy
informed Mission Officer that the UK is, in advance of Group I
consultations in Athens on the medium-term strategy, seeking to
achieve EU consensus on a non-paper on UNESCO's role. The aim of
the UK paper is to encourage UNESCO to re-define its role to better
align with ongoing UN reform efforts. Achieving EU consensus on
this issue may be challenging - Belgium and Finland had already
taken a stab at the UK draft, but the UK has strong ideas on what
UNESCO's role should be.
2. The UK believes that the five elements of UNESCO's role - as
laboratory of ideas, as standard setter, as clearing house, as
capacity builder in member states, and as catalyst for international
cooperation - need to be tightened. In particular, UNESCO's role as
a laboratory of ideas needs to be re-focused on policy
recommendations and standard setting. The UK believes that policy
committees should be set up to advise the Executive Board on areas
within UNESCO's fields of competence, similar to committees existing
at the OECD. Thus, UNESCO could assume a role in formulating
standards for public policy. The UK deputy noted that some had
raised objections to the costs entailed in setting up such policy
committees, but she stressed that these would not be significant.
3. Mission officer said that while it might be useful for UNESCO to
explore its role in giving advice on public policy to member states
seeking such advice, setting standards for public policy is another
matter. The UK deputy offered reassurances that such
standard-setting would only constitute "soft law." This would be a
means of addressing U.S. concerns about further normative
instruments. She also noted that the U.S. and Israel had been
isolated during the Cultural Diversity debate and that this "soft
law" approach would be a means of guaranteeing future consensus.
U.S. Mission Officer repeated that the U.S. does not regard UNESCO
as a purveyor of either "hard" or "soft" law.
4. This issue seems to be on the minds of EU delegations. Last
week, U.S. Mission DCM was approached by the Belgian ambassador to
UNESCO, who probed him on the U.S. stance on UNESCO's role as a
stand setter. This was probably triggered by the intra-EU
consultations described above. End Note.
Oliver

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