Cablegate: Unga Third Committee: Tunisia Pressing Hard To
DE RUEHTU #0801/01 3031657
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301657Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6926
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0077
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0098
UNCLAS TUNIS 000801
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM SCUL TS UN
SUBJECT: UNGA THIRD COMMITTEE: TUNISIA PRESSING HARD TO
MAKE 2010 "THE YEAR OF YOUTH," AMBASSADOR RAISES IRAN,
DEFAMATION OF RELIGION MOTIONS
REF: A. TUNIS 788
B. TUNIS 751
C. STATE 109397
Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.
1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph ten.
2. (SBU) Summary: A senior Foreign Ministry official
convoked the Ambassador on October 30 to press for U.S.
support for a Tunisian proposal before the UNGA Third
Committee to designate 2010 "The Year of Youth" and organize
an international conference on youth policy. The Ambassador
pledged to pass the message and seek an official response.
Noting other business before the Third Committee, the
Ambassador urged Tunisia to support the Canadian resolution
condemning human rights violations and repression in Iran and
the Political-Economic Counselor urged deferral of the OIC
states' "defamation of religion" motion until a compromise
formula could be agreed. End summary.
3. (SBU) Saida Chtoui, Secretary of State for Asia and the
Americas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, convoked the
Ambassador on October 30 to request U.S. support for the
Tunisian proposal, currently being considered by the UNGA
Third Committee, to designate 2010 "the Year of Youth" and
organize an international conference on youth policy. (Note:
The Spanish and Canadian ambassadors were also convoked,
presumably on the same issue, on the same day. The British
Ambassador was convoked for an October 31 meeting. End
4. (SBU) Tunisia's proposal would constitute a significant
"affirmation of global values" on the importance of dialogue
and mutual understanding to counter the trend of youth
alienation and extremism, Chtoui argued, and originates from
President Ben Ali himself. (Note: In fact, the proposal is
an outgrowth of a 2008 domestic campaign (of dubious merit)
to engage Tunisian youth by establishing a new "pact"
stressing mutual loyalty and solidarity between the state and
the country's youth. End note.)
5. (SBU) Chtoui said Tunisia had already enlisted
significant international support for its proposal from the
Arab League, from the OIC, from the heads of state gathered
at the Arab-Latin America summit in March 2009, from the
Nonaligned Movement, and from the G-77 plus China. Even the
OSCE, at a recent meeting in Washington, had indicated its
support for Tunisia's proposal, Chtoui asserted.
6. (SBU) Some countries are not supporting Tunisia's
proposal, Chtoui added. She explicitly rejected a Swedish
counterproposal that 2010 instead be commemorated as the 25th
anniversary of the first ever UN designated youth year.
Chtoui also rejected the arguments of some member states that
it is by now too late to declare 2010 the "Year of Youth."
In fact, Chtoui asserted, Tunisia's proposal has been on the
table for some time, and member states have had ample
opportunity to consider it. Furthermore, most countries are
already pursuing youth initiatives that could easily fit
under the rubric of the "Year of Youth." The Tunisian
proposal would simply provide a unifying framework for
projects already underway. The international conference
could be held later, perhaps in Tunis in the summer of 2011,
she suggested, but the GOT believed it important that 2010 be
the designated year, "otherwise we may slip to 2012 or 2013,"
she worried, "and much time would be lost."
7. (SBU) The Ambassador responded that he was uninstructed on
this issue, but believed that the USG's position on this
proposal had in the past been neutral. He pledged to seek an
official U.S. response.
8. (SBU) Noting other business before the UN Third Committee,
the Ambassador urged Tunisia, as we have earlier (refs A and
B), to keep international pressure on Iran and to support the
Canadian sponsored motion condemning the latest round of
repression in Iran. With its violent response to popular
protests of vote rigging in June, the regime in Tehran had
shown its true face, the Ambassador underlined.
9. (SBU) POL-ECON Counselor also noted that the U.S. was
urging OIC states to defer debate on their "defamation of
religion" motions before the Third Committee. The current
text raises freedom of expression concerns, the U.S.
believes, but we strongly support government efforts to
promote tolerance and combat bigotry. Chtoui said Tunisia
would consider U.S. positions on these questions, but had to
balance carefully so as not to alienate countries whose
support it needs for other issues.
10. (SBU) Action request: Embassy requests Department
guidance on responding to the Tunisian demarche on the "Year