Cablegate: Executive Board Early Preview

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

261639Z Jun 06




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Executive Board Secretary Parsuramen met with
Ambassador Oliver to review preparations for the 175th Executive
Board. Deadline for new agenda items for the 175th Executive Board
is 22 July. End summary.

2. Ambassador Oliver met on Thursday, 22 June, with the Secretary
of the Executive Board of UNESCO, Mr. Armoogum Parsuramen. Three
issues stood out for our possible action in advance of the 175th
Session of the UNESCO Executive Board this fall.

a) Discussion on the Cuban Literacy initiative (septel).

b) In an effort to hear directly from the field, instead of through
Secretariat staffers, Ambassador Oliver would appreciate

Washington's comments and advice on our proposing a "Directors Day"
giving an opportunity for a number of UNESCO field office directors
to personally brief the Executive Board on their activities during
the year, either focusing on Education issues, Water-related issues,
or potentially linked with the Thematic debate. (see below).

c) For the moment, no speakers have been selected for the Thematic
Debate during the Executive Board. The topic is "UNESCO as a
Specialized Agency of the Reforming UN System: Challenges, Roles and
Functions at Global, Regional and Country Levels." If Washington
has any suggestions or recommendations regarding speakers for a
three person panel (debate format) that could participate, Mr.
Parsuramen would be grateful to have a wider selection before making
any choices with the Chairman of the Executive Board, who will be in
Paris next week.

3. On other matters, Mr. Parsuramen said that, clearly, the C/4 and
C/5 discussions will be at the heart of the fall Executive Board's
work, beginning to set the stage for the next UNESCO General
Conference in 2007.

4. Regarding the Medium-Term Strategy proposals, the main
recommendations coming from the regional consultations with each
geographic group's national commissions will be arriving in Paris
shortly, along with comments from various consultations by the
Secretariat, the President of the General Conference, and

discussions with Ambassadors, all to be reviewed, filtered, and
coalesced into a 10-15 page preliminary document which will be
presented at the next Executive Board. The document will then be
reworked and polished for formal presentation to the 176th Executive
Board in Spring 2007, and ultimately readied for discussion, debate
and decision at the 34th General Conference in fall 2007. The
other major work in progress, the major review by the Science
Committee will have its major lines communicated orally at the next
Executive Board.

5. Other issues that will be at the forefront during the fall
Executive Board will, of course, be the reform of the Education
Sector, guided by ADG, Peter Smith. The opening of new UNESCO
centers in Libya (water) and Venezuela (education), though the
Ambassador told Parsuramen that it is important that the need for
these centers be fully documented before any serious discussion can
be had. Another issue that will surely be raised either formally or
informally will be the need to tighten internal procedures regarding
the increasingly out of control system of awarding UNESCO prizes.

6. Another issue where both Ambassador Oliver and Mr. Parsuramen
were in agreement was the need to find standardized language for
Executive Board resolutions. The Ambassador said that using
standardized language, negotiated and clearly understood by
interested parties, will lessen many of the problems faced in
previous Boards.

7. In the same vein, the Ambassador suggested that, as far as
possible, any need for changes in language be negotiated informally
between the concerned parties before documents are published and
distributed by the Secretariat. She noted that once documents have
been publicly disseminated, the context of the negotiation changes,
often raising discussions to a different and more difficult level
before solutions are found.

8. Parsuramen also agreed with the Ambassador that there are costs
and benefits in the negotiating process for drafts and resolutions,
where the line between editorial changes and substantive changes are
often extremely fine. Ambassador Oliver suggested that, as far as
possible, the rule should be to leave the language as is, unless
there is a serious problem.

9. Parsuramen went down a long list of issues that will likely be
on the agenda. They included: Displaced WWII Cultural Objects, the
Cuban feasibility study on the effectiveness of literacy teaching
methods, a report from Brazil on the African Intellectual Diaspora,
a review of the three organs, updates regarding the Brasilia office,
CR Committee issues, fixing a date for the General Conference,
Extrabudgetary matters, Headquarters committee, staffing issues, NGO
candidatures, cooperation with African organizations, the thematic
debate, UN reform, reflection on the future of UNESCO, Items for the
next Executive Board, etc.

10. Finally, the Ambassador mentioned that India might raise an
issue regarding Executive Board procedures, with the UK and German
delegations' musical chairs in mind. She said that currently there
is a "feeling of unease" regarding the situation. The fact that
rules are not being followed in spirit raises legitimate questions
about what it means to be a member of UNESCO, and could lead the
organization down a slippery slope.

11. Parsuramen agreed, saying that he is concerned about the
precedent it sets, and indicated that he and UNESCO's legal section
are actively researching the question. He noted that in New York,
while there are delegations that are represented by non-nationals of
that country, it would, in his view, be problematic if an Ambassador
speaks on behalf of another country.

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