Cablegate: Un Human Rights Council

DE RUEHDT #0236 2510653
R 080653Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) STATE 90247, B) TOKYO 2051

Sensitive but unclassified. Protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Ambassador raised reftel points with President Jose
Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste. Ramos-Horta reported that neither
he nor the government of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has given
consideration to becoming a candidate for one of the four seats
in the Asian group of the UN Human Rights Council to open in
2010. He expressed reluctance to do so, primarily due to a) the
council's `lack of effectiveness' and b) Timor-Leste's failure
to secure election to the council at an earlier opportunity -
`we would not want a second defeat'. He said he would speak to
the Prime and Foreign Ministers regarding a potential Timorese
candidacy, but predicted there would not/not be strong interest
in pursuing a bid.

2. (SBU) Were it to become a candidate, Timor-Leste would
bring with it a positive record of commitment to
specific-country human rights (a legacy in part of being a
beneficiary of international human rights attention and concern
during the 1975-1999 Indonesian occupation), a strong record of
alignment with the United States on key UN votes (the best by
far among Southeast Asian countries (although Timor-Leste's
friendly relations with Cuba make it unlikely to break ranks on
Cuba-related votes), and a marked tendency to be independent of
Asian regional voting trends. Timor-Leste's staff capacity,
however, at both its missions in New York and Geneva is weak.
Ramos-Horta acknowledged that should Timor-Leste find itself on
the council, it would have to increase its staff in Geneva to
handle the demands of membership. The issues raised by
Ramos-Horta are more fundamental to his decision-making,
however. Unless he can be convinced that membership on the
Human Rights Council would be meaningful, and that a second
campaign for membership would be successful, Timor-Leste is not
likely to run.


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