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Cablegate: Unesco's D-G Urges Member States to Ratify the 2001

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Lucia A Keegan 11/28/2006 10:08:44 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS SENSITIVE PARIS 07517

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

DISSEMINATION: UNESCOX
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AMB:LVOLIVER
DRAFTED: LEG:TMPEAY
CLEARED: DCM:KOSS

VZCZCFRI005
RR RUEHC RUCNSCO
DE RUEHFR #7517/01 3280618
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240618Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3320
INFO RUCNSCO/UNESCO COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 007517

SIPDIS

FROM USMISSION UNESCO PARIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR IO/UNESCO
FOR L/OES - BINIAZ
FOR ECA - KOROUPAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL KPAO UNESCO
SUBJECT: UNESCO'S D-G URGES MEMBER STATES TO RATIFY THE 2001
CONVENTION ON THE PROTECTION OF THE UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE


1. (U) Action requested: see paragraph 10 below.

2. (U) Summary. At a well-attended information meeting hosted at
UNESCO's Headquarters on November 21, 2006, and personally chaired
by Director-General Matsuura, the D-G issued an appeal to UNESCO
Member States to move with greater speed to increase the number of
ratifications from the current level of ten ratifications to the
twenty needed to bring the Convention on the Protection of the
Underwater Cultural Heritage (CUCH) into force. He said it would be
"harmful" and "paradoxical" if the CUCH were to become the sole
UNESCO convention aimed at protecting cultural heritage that fails
to enter into force - citing by contrast the recent entry into force
of the 2003 intangible cultural heritage convention and the likely
spring 2007 entry into force of the diversity of cultural
expressions convention of 2005. He defended the CUCH as consistent
with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and voiced his
personal view that any amendments to the CUCH that States deem
necessary should be done after its entry into force, not before.
Department's response to UNESCO questionnaire on Convention
requested at earliest opportunity. End Summary.

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3. (U) On November 21, D-G Matsuura presided over a well-attended
information meeting at which he urged UNESCO Member States to move
quickly to scale up the number of the instruments of ratification of
the CUCH to enable it to enter into force. In the D-G's formal
statement (being provided separately to the Department by e-mail),
he lamented that only 10 ratifications instruments have been
received thus far. He contrasted that with the high number of
ratifications instruments received for two other culture-related
UNESCO conventions that were concluded after the CUCH (e.g., the
2003 intangible cultural heritage and the 2005 diversity of cultural
expressions conventions). He characterized those three instruments
as inter-related and mutually supportive. The D-G explained that
States should endeavor to promote greater awareness of this
convention. He claimed that cultural objects submerged in a State's
Exclusive Economic Zone, its continental shelf, or on the high seas
are currently not protected by any international legal instrument,
whence the need for CUCH. He lamented the scope of looting that
continues to take place through the use of increasing sophistication
in diving and underwater extraction techniques, and with it the lost
history and displacement of cultural heritage.

4. (U) The D-G recalled his close personal involvement in support of
the negotiations shortly after he had begun his first term. He
offered UNESCO's assistance to countries who wished to heighten
awareness about the CUCH. He noted the role that existing Category
II centers could play in this regard and said that new such centers
should be established for training in the field of underwater
cultural heritage. The D-G appealed to States parties to the CUCH
to urge their neighboring States to join the convention.

5. (U) During the Q & A session that immediately followed the D-G's
prepared remarks, the Nigerian Ambassador said that a study should
be conducted to learn "why the Convention is so unpopular." He
urged the Secretariat to prepare a report addressing perceptions
("real or imagined") regarding the Convention that are held by all
UNESCO Member States. The D-G offered three personal reasons why he
thinks the ratification rate is low: the Convention's complexity;
legal problems that some States have with it; and lack of interest
in the Convention at the political level. (Comment: An additional
reason offered to Missionoff after the meeting by a senior
secretariat officer (Carducci) is that treasure-hunting entrepreneur

SIPDIS
organizations are engaging in powerful lobbying against the
Convention). End Comment. The Dominican Republic expressed its
surprise that no Caribbean States are parties to CUCH, despite its
importance for that region.

6. (U) Mission Legal Adviser (Peay) thanked the D-G for his clear
explanation of why he had called the information meeting, endorsed
the Nigerian proposal for a study of low ratification rates, and
noted that such a study could shed even greater light on the
underlying reasons. Missionoff then noted for the record the USG's
position on the Convention. Drawing from two U.S. Delegation EOP
statements made at the 2001 UNESCO meeting just prior to the
Convention's adoption, Missionoff recalled USG's active
participation in those negotiations; our favorable view of important
aspects of the Convention text; our concerns regarding certain
articles, including, inter alia, Article 9(1)(b)(i); our continuing
desire to attain a broadly ratifiable agreement arrived at by
consensus; and our hope that there will be a future opportunity to
"revisit" the provisions that impeded the U.S. from becoming party
to the Convention.

7. (U) In response, the D-G agreed that a more comprehensive
assessment of Member States' views of the Convention is needed,
recalled in that regard the January 2006 questionnaire he sent to
all UNESCO Member States asking for their views on the CUCH, and
noted that only 30 responses have been received to date. He
therefore urged Member States to respond in greater number to the
questionnaire. The D-G then offered his personal view that it would
be difficult to re-open negotiations on elements of the CUCH before
its entry into force, but he noted that the Convention would permit
such review after entry into force. A senior secretariat member
observed that the CUCH (Art. 30) does not permit reservations, which
Missionoff used as an opportunity to intervene once again to note
that conventions that prohibit reservations require an even greater
effort by negotiating States Parties to reach consensus on the final
negotiated text. Missionoff then read an excerpt from the USG EOP
of October 29, 2001 in which the U.S. delegation had observed that a
large group of States had "refused to participate in informal
consultations convened at the suggestion of the Director General . .
. that could have resulted in acceptable compromises on the
remaining outstanding issues."

8. (SBU) In a subsequent private discussion, Indian Mission rep
informed Missionoff that he had intended to make several points,
including with regard to the incompatibility of the CUCH with
UNCLOS, and thanked the U.S. for having done so. The Indian rep and
the Canadian rep separately expressed interest in the modalities of
possibly re-opening the CUCH text before its entry into force.

9. (SBU) Comment: Mission's suspicions going into the meeting (that
the D-G is in his last term and is trying to leave as his legacy the
entry into force of all culture-related conventions concluded during
his watch) proved to be prescient as the likely motive for the D-G
sudden call for an information meeting about this dormant
convention. Whether his gambit will succeed is difficult to
predict, but cannot be dismissed. Since only 10 additional
ratification instruments need to be deposited with UNESCO in order
to reach the low threshold of only 20 ratifications for entry into
force, there is a distinct possibility we could observe the
Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention become a legally operative
instrument within the next year.

10. (U) Action Request: Mission previously provided text of
UNESCO's Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention questionnaire to
Department for its consideration. In light of the above report,
Department is requested to consider submitting written responses to
the questionnaire, as a means of: (a) ensuring that U.S.
Government's views are considered in the secretariat assessment of
the reasons why States are/are not likely to ratify the Convention,
the obstacles and difficulties to ratification they perceive, and
other issues raised in the questionnaire; and (b) reminding other
possibly like-minded States that the USG has continuing substantive
concerns with the Convention.
Oliver

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