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Cablegate: Nigeria: Demarche Delivered On Human Rights

VZCZCXRO3450
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1673 2541217
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111217Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7003
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 2080
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE PRIORITY 1033
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 1949
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY

UNCLAS ABUJA 001673

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL NI PHUM UN UNHRC
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: DEMARCHE DELIVERED ON HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL 12TH SESSION PRIORITIES

REF: SECSTATE 93358

Classified By: Political Counselor James P. McAnulty
for reasons in Sections 1.4 (B) and (D)

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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) Staff from the Bureaus of International
Organizations (IO) and Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
(DRL) met in Abuja on September 8 with Nigeria's Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (MFA) to discuss resolutions, especially on
Freedom of Expression (FOE), to be presented at the upcoming
12th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.
The following day, POLOFF delivered additional demarche
points not covered in the original meeting. Our MFA contact
said African states "write with a common pen" in multilateral
fora, but asserted Nigeria does not always vote in unison
with other African governments. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Visitors from DRL/IO met in Abuja September 8 with MFA
Director of International Organizations Department,
Ambassador M. K. Ibrahim, and his deputy, John Gana. The
delegation concentrated on the freedom of expression
resolution, pointing out key new paragraphs. The foreign
ministry welcomed the U.S. initiative, and commented that if
we had Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria's support we "should have
no problems passing the resolution by consensus." The
deputy, speaking with some passion, thanked the U.S.
delegation for raising this issue and offered his view that
the issue of religion and expression is threatening to "tear
the Human Rights Council down the middle," and force it to go
the way of the Commission on Human Rights.

3. (C) On September 9, POLOFF followed up with Deputy Gana to
raise additional points from reftel. On the Colombia-Mexico
resolution regarding discriminatory laws against women, Gana
raised concerns due to cultural sensitivities in Nigeria. He
stated if the proposed language includes any prohibition of
the family choosing a woman's husband for her, that would be
unacceptable to Nigeria for traditional and cultural reasons.
He noted Nigeria would reserve support on this issue until
review of the specific language.

4. (C) Deputy Gana expressed no concerns over the Somalia
extension sponsored by Sweden, nor any problem over the
Cambodia extension. He reserved opinion on the Burundi
initiative, indicating Nigeria would have to hear directly
from Burundi. Gana concurred that the Russian resolution on
traditional values was not specific enough to merit support
at this time. He said Nigeria would reserve opinion until the
definition is clarified and they determine that it does not
undermine universal human rights.

5. (C) Deputy Gana noted that African states prefer to work
together, achieve consensus, and "write with a common pen" in
multi-lateral fora. He asserted that Nigeria doesn't always
vote in unison with other African governments, but tries to
whenever possible.

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COMMENT
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6. (C) Nigeria's well-versed MFA international organization
representatives were pleased that our DRL and IO visitors
recognized Nigeria's HRC chairmanship and turned what began
as a frosty reception into a meeting that ended on a positive
and mutually supportive note. END COMMENT.
MCCULLOUGH

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