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Cablegate: Unesco Geneva Group Update

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Lucia A Keegan 11/28/2006 10:02:52 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS PARIS 07450

SIPDIS
cxparis:
ACTION: UNESCO
INFO: ECON AMBU AMB AMBO DCM SCI POL

DISSEMINATION: UNESCOX
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: CHARGE:AKOSS
DRAFTED: SCI:NCOOPER
CLEARED: POL:DOSTROFF

VZCZCFRI734
RR RUEHC RUCNDT RUEHGV
DE RUEHFR #7450/01 3241103
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201103Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3219
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1009
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2534

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 007450

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FROM USMISSION UNESCO PARIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: UNESCO SCUL UNGA EUN
SUBJECT: UNESCO GENEVA GROUP UPDATE


1. UNESCO's Geneva Group met November 15, and was briefed by two
senior UNESCO staff members on the status of the drafting of the 34
C/4 Medium Term Strategy (MTS) and 34 C/5 Program and Budget
documents which will provide the foundations for the direction and
funding of the organization during the period 2008-2013. The
briefing also gave delegations some first reactions to the just
published High Level Panel report from UN New York on UN System-Wide
Coherence, and fears regarding UNESCO's seemingly marginalized role
in the "one UN" concept.

2. Liz Longworth, the Director General's Chief of Staff, and Hans
D'Orville, Director of UNESCO's Bureau of Strategic Planning made it
clear that the calendar has been driving the MTS drafting process,
and that they are still working to scale back and focus the paper.
They said that if the Geneva Group wants to add any further input,
it must be done in the next two weeks, so that a "discussable" draft
will be ready in early December. An informal Geneva Group meeting
will be held on November 28 to provide a last opportunity to share
ideas. The British ambassador also mentioned that an EU paper with
some new ideas for the C/4 and C/5 would be ready in the next few
days.

3. The Medium Term Strategy drafting exercise has been ongoing since
spring 2006, with UNESCO headquarters personnel, field offices,
delegations, national commissions and NGO's, among others, all
providing input for what was planned to be a clear, brief, yet
comprehensive document explaining UNESCO's mission and objectives
for the coming years. The result, however, has been a Christmas
tree, onto which almost no one passed on the chance to hang new
concepts, rather than help reduce and streamline the paper. The
finished documents are to be presented to the spring 2007 Executive
Board, and ultimately to the General Conference next fall for
approval.

4. During the recent fall Executive Board, a drafting committee (on
which the U.S. sat) was tasked to review the first draft of the MTS
and sent Mr. D'Orville and company back to the drawing board, saying
the document was "bones without any meat." Since then, the
Secretariat has been on relative radio silence, attempting to put

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together a tighter document that will pass muster with the critics
on the Executive Board and SP committee.

5. The Canadians delegation told D'Orville that it was disappointed
that the current draft did not seem to deviate much from the last
MTS, and that it did not include the kind of "radical changes" it
expected to see, and that UNESCO requires for the future. Several
delegations raised the idea of "sunset clauses", which had been
mentioned several times during the Executive Board, and suggested
that we take up the issue seriously, identifying specific criteria.
Two delegations noted that the concept had been suggested for years,
but had never been taken up by the Secretariat. Others noted that
the Science sector review and Cultural sector reforms are still in
the works, making it impossible to advance too far on Medium Term
Strategy with key pieces of the puzzle still missing.

6. Another point of discussion was the High Level Panel Report on UN
System-wide Coherence, and its place in the MTS. The Italians said
that UNESCO must define its role in terms of the wider process of UN
reform. Several delegations pushed the Secretariat representatives
to have the Director General present the UN System Coherence Report
here in Paris. Longworth and D'Orville, both expressed reluctance,
saying that since the report was not the DG's, he would not likely
wish to present it.

7. DCM Koss, speaking for the US delegation, reminded the group that
the report is still a draft, and that we should not get too far
ahead of ourselves in anticipating problems for or action by UNESCO
at this point. He said that it will likely be reworked extensively
by the Secretary General before it is presented to the General
Assembly for approval. He also added that the G-77 had already
indicated that it has some problems with elements of the report.
The Canadian ambassador said that it was highly unlikely that the
incoming Secretary General would risk putting something on the table
that would be shot down by Member States in New York as one of his
first actions. Several other delegations suggested that we read the
HLP Report carefully to identify potential problems that could
weaken UNESCO and communicate them to the Director General.

8. Commenting on the "one UN" concept on the country level,
D'Orville mentioned that simple things like the idea to house all UN
offices in country together don't necessarily make sense for UNESCO.
He explained that in probably half of the countries where UNESCO
has a field office, the buildings are provided at no cost to UNESCO.
Moving to a single UN complex would, he said, oblige UNESCO to pay
rent, security, etc., potentially offsetting any savings.
D'Orville, however, noted that the Director General has already
agreed to participate in pilot "one UN" programs in five countries.


9. Several speakers, including the Secretariat officials, expressed
concern that UNESCO's core missions could be marginalized within a
"one UN" system. They view the challenge ahead as to ensure that
specific concerns, like carrying out UNESCO's cultural mandate, are
not muscled to the side or diminished. D'Orville mentioned that the
Director General will be meeting in February or March with Secretary
General-designate Ban Ki-Moon, and heads of other UN specialized
agencies to discuss the "one UN" proposals.

10. The next major deadline in the C/4, C/5 is January 19, when the
Director General will host an information meeting to get last
comments from Member State representatives before the paper is given
its final massage before it is readied for the spring 2007 Executive
Board.

11. Comment: Despite the great pressures at work to finalize the
C/4 and C/5 documents, questions remain as to whether the
Secretariat can make a diamond from what is currently regarded by

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many as a lump of coal. End comment. KOSS

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