Cablegate: Unga64: Eu and Efta Member States Welcome And

DE RUCNDT #1141/01 3551124
P 211124Z DEC 09

Monday, 21 December 2009, 11:24
EO 12958 DECL: 12/11/2019
Classified By: Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo for reasons 1.4 (d)
1. (U) The EU-27 responded to new U.S. flexibility at UNGA64 by collaborating pragmatically on our top priorities, and by providing essential voting support. Ably led by Sweden’s EU presidency, EU member states shared the burden on lobbying the G-77 regarding human rights resolutions. They stood firm against G-77 ideology on economic/social resolutions, notably voting No on the Right to Development, and voting No with us on the trade resolution, for only the second time at UNGA.
2. (SBU) Despite differences with us over the Freedom of Expression resolution, EU states contributed to a more positive outcome on the Defamation of Religions resolution. They also attempted to moderate the language of Palestinian resolutions. The EU split over the Goldstone report resolution,(5 Yes-7 No-15 Abstain) primarily because of Dutch insistence on clear principles.
3. (C) While enthusiastic about new U.S. flexibility on disarmament and non-proliferation, Germany complicated eventual consensus on the Arms Transfer Treaty and France continues to question total disarmament. On Cuba, the EU as a whole and Spain in particular remained critical of our policy. Overall, Spain stood out for its influence within the EU and in Latin America, and The Netherlands for its principled, helpful stance on Goldstone and the Palestine resolutions.
4. (C) EFTA country delegations played influential niche roles: Switzerland’s PR ably chaired the budget committee; Liechtenstein’s PR led the ICC assembly of states parties; and Norway’s proposed pragmatic follow-up to U.S. initiatives on combating violence against women in conflicts. The Vatican observer was as always active and influential behind the scenes. Although budget committee business is not yet complete, the large contributors from the Eurozone have shown welcome budget discipline and have pledged not to re-open the issue of the U.S budget cap.
5. (SBU) Looking ahead to UNGA65, the WEOG quietly chose its candidate for President of that General Assembly, to be formally elected by the GA in June 2010: Joseph Deiss, former President of the Swiss Confederation. Deiss is a consensus-builder and should preside efficiently, discretely, and impartially.
6. (C) Also looking forward to UNGA65, EU delegations at the UN (and in other international organizations) are moving deliberately towards an enhanced observer status, based on the Lisbon Treaty mandate, whereby the EU would speak early and authoritatively for the 27 in all UN debates. How such a new dynamic would affect U.S. interests at the UN and beyond, and how other regional groupings (AU, Caricom) might react, are important future issues.
To encourage the EU-27 to continue as our core supporters at UNGA65, we should engage them in early and energetic consultations on our UNGA65 agenda.
7. (U) Led by an organized and pragmatic Sweden-EU Presidency delegation, the 27 EU member states worked collaboratively and productively with us on our major UNGA64 objectives. They responded with alacrity to new U.S. flexibility, particularly on arms control and economic/social issues. Compared to UNGA62 and 63, they committed and delivered a higher level of cooperation, which led to better results for traditional “WEOG” interests, particularly on human rights resolutions and on other “rights” issues.
8. (C) The EU lobbied energetically for the three key country-specific human rights resolutions (Burma, DPRK, Iran, of which they ran the first two). The Swedish presidency helped to organize and implement a burdensharing campaign that was more comprehensive, systematic, and synergistic than in previous UNGAs. EU lobbying efforts mobilized permanent representatives and other senior diplomats, not only third committee experts. The Swedish Ambassador himself repeatedly engaged with G-77 colleagues to sway votes.
9. (C) The EU failed to achieve their desired consensus to
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vote together in favor of or to abstain on the Goldstone Report resolution, primarily because The Netherlands demanded a clear position of principle against endorsement of the report. As a result, the EU split, with Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, and Slovenia voting Yes while Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia joined the U.S. in voting No. The other 15 abstained.
10. (C) The EU’s traditional negotiation with the Palestinian observer delegation over its Israel resolutions improved slightly in dynamic, but not in outcome. Although the EU succeeded in moderating some of these draft resolutions, the overall voting outcomes remained overwhelmingly against the U.S. position. The EU did help to build bridges to moderate Arab states on Israel’s technical agriculture resolution, but the Arab group nonetheless called a vote on the resolution and pressured OIC and African NAM members to join in abstaining.
11. (C) On Fourth Committee issues dealing with decolonization, France and the U.K. were strong partners. However, their influence within the EU caucus at the UN on Palestine resolutions was not as positive as we expected and hoped. Sweden-EU Presidency helped substantially with the Palestine resolutions, enforcing efficiency in EU consultations and briefing WEOG members on the outcome of the EU’s negotiations. The EU’s annual negotiation of these nine drafts (four UNRWA and five on the special rights of the Palestinians) improved marginally, but it was Dutch insistence of a strongly-worded EU explanation of vote against the inclusion of politicized terms like “blockade” and “collective punishment” that had the most impact on the Fourth Committee deliberation of these resolutions. The vote outcomes remained lopsided.
12. (U) On other Third Committee resolutions, particularly Right to Food, Rights of the Child, Right to Development, EU member states warmly welcomed our new flexibility (particularly on the former resolution) and stood firm against G-77 excesses (surprisingly voting No as a bloc against the latter resolution). There was spontaneous applause in committee when the U.S. joined consensus on the Right to Food for the first time ever, and on Rights of the Child for the first time in a decade.
13. (C) On Second Committee issues the EU was as frustrated as we were regarding the disconnect between positions taken by large G-77 nations at the UN and diverging commitments they had undertaken in the G-20. However, preferring to see a glass half full, several EU Ambassadors said that this “schizophrenia” would eventually improve second committee economic resolutions, but that this would take time. The EU joined us for the second time ever at UNGA by casting 27 No votes on the trade resolution. A Norwegian diplomat was key facilitator in those negotiations, which came close to bridging the gap between US/EU positions and the G-77’s.
14. (C) On First Committee, the Arms Transfer Treaty (ATT) resolution ran into determined opposition from Germany (and Mexico). Germany’s argument was that a consensus on the ATT would yield a “lowest common denominator” weak outcome. The U.K. sided with us as we called for language supporting a consensus-based approach to ATT negotiations. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty resolution also for the first time achieved consensus, with support and acclaim from key European players for U.S. willingness to do so. Overall, EU support for new U.S. flexibility on non-proliferation and disarmament was strong. Key Europeans helped us lobby third parties.
15. (C) During UNGA64, the EU worked closely with us on the trade resolution. Negotiators, led by a Norwegian trade expert, nearly agreed on draft language with the G-77. Unfortunately, given realities of the Doha Round, both we and the EU voted No. There was little difference in European dynamics on the MDG debate compared to previous UNGAs. In the lead-up to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, most of the UN negotiations proceeded away from NY, despite Secretary General’s Ban Ki-moon’s repeated references to the issue. Nevertheless, Denmark’s PR worked diligently to prepare modalities for the MDG, biodiversity and associated high-level events that will open UNGA65.
16. (U) Extra-EU support for our initiatives on preventing violence against women in armed conflicts came from Norway. The PR brought his national chief of police to the UN for a consciousness-raising session that proposed and sought
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practical programs to address the issue. Belgium’s PR also hosted a side-event on this issue and is looking for U.S. engagement. The Vatican observer mission lobbied actively and influentially in the corridors and in informal consultations, particularly on social issues, especially on the Defamation of Religions resolution, where they are allies. Their long-term view of this issue coincides with ours: the trend is positive.
17. (SBU) On the downside, during the Cuba debate relating to our trade embargo and other U.S. bilateral policies, the EU showed no change in its firm stand against extraterritoriality provisions of the embargo. Spain was a particularly tenacious critic of our Cuba policy.
18. (C) In Fourth (decolonization) Committee France and the UK generally were strong partners. However, their influence within the EU caucus at the UN on Palestine was not as positive what we had hoped. The Swedish EU Presidency helped substantially with the UNRWA resolutions. The EU’s traditional negotiation of nine drafts on Palestine resolutions (4 on UNRWA and five on Special Rights of Palestinain People) improved marginally in tone and objectivity from previous years. Also of initial concern, EU working-level negotiators suggested unhelpful amendments to the U.S. cybersecurity resolution, adding extraneous, questionable references (e.g., to MDGs). Once the matter was raised at PR level, the EU lined up behind our resolution as drafted.
19. (SBU) The legal affairs committee’s resolutions, invariably adopted by consensus, featured like-minded cooperation between EU legal experts and U.S. counterparts. However, we would have appreciated more active European support on important points of principle in the negotiations of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and on the Russian sanction paper preserving Security Council prerogatives, but they were silent. Although not formally part of the UN legal affairs committee’s work, the ICC is often staffed and led by legal officers who overlap with UN business, notably the PR of Liechtenstein, Christian Wenaweser, who spent several weeks away from the UN to preside in The Hague over the ICC Assembly of States Parties.
20. (SBU) The budget committee’s end game is still being played out. From the start of the intertwined debates over scales of contribution and various budget processes, the EU provided critical support (particularly since Japan was less stalwart on budget stringency than in previous years). Early on, the EU agreed to respect the inviolability of the cap on U.S. contributions. In the scales of contribution debate, they agreed from the first to seek greater contributions from the governments of the large emerging economies, in line with our approach. On December 15 Ambassador Rice urged EU PRs to accelerate their endgame on scales to reach consensus with the G-77 for both the peacekeeping and regular budgets. Our concern was that a continued EU/G-77 stand-off might jeopardize our ceiling on contributions. EU PRs acknowledged that there is little chance of agreement with the G-77, but urged continued U.S. support for their efforts. Switzerland’s PR Peter Maurer served ably and honestly as chair of the budget committee.
21. (C) According to the UNGA tradition of rotating its Presidency among the regional groupings, WEOG (whose numbers are weighted heavily towards the EU-27) chose its UNGA65 candidate. This selection will be ratified by the entire GA membership in a June 2010 vote. The decision was taken quietly on December 14 in a WEOG secret straw poll. Joseph Deiss, former President of the Swiss Confederation outpolled the Belgian candidate, Louis Michel, former FM and EU Commissioner, who ran as current chair of the European Parliament’s inter-parliamentary association with parliamentarians from the ACP (developing world). Deiss is a consensus-builder and should preside efficiently, discreetly, and impartially. His performance as President of UNGA65 will be an indicator of how WEOG can reach out to the G-77.
22. (C) Also looking ahead to UNGA65, the EU (under its new, broader Lisbon Treaty mandate) will seek to become an enhanced observer. Subject to passage of an implementing resolution, the EU delegation (not the rotating EU Presidency nation) would speak early and authoritatively on all matters before any UNGA meeting, from committees to plenary. The EU member state permanent representatives are negotiating among themselves the language of such a resolution. Although they do not expect action on enhanced
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observership until the second half of 2010, they are already previewing their request to the UN membership. They have reached out to key groups and nations, from China and India to the Rio Group. Such enhanced observer status for the EU regional grouping may generate counterproposals from others such as the AU or Caricom. The U.S. will need to monitor the dynamic of such negotiations and outcomes for their effect on U.S. equities and interests in future General Assemblies.
23. (U) Another election is scheduled at UNGA65, for the two WEOG rotating seats on the 2011-2012 UNSC. Three candidates are contending for the two seats: Canada, Germany, and Portugal.
24. (C) Comment: Despite initial concerns that European delegations would soon come to view new U.S. flexibility (which generally reinforces their own positions) as a natural state of affairs, they did not during the first months of UNGA64 “pocket” our flexibility and seek more. This dynamic is not yet played out, though, and so we should be prepared to counter any EU presumption that U.S. positions are necessarily crafted to align with EU preferences. When we do so align, we should seek EU reciprocity, either in terms of shifting an EU negotiating position or in terms of EU support in persuading G-77 members to back our common transatlantic positions.
25. (SBU) Recommendation: Since the EU concerts its UNGA65 positions by summer 2010, it is in our interest to begin early, energetic, and detailed consultations. One influential interface would be with key EU Permanent Representatives. This should allow us to work together to meet almost certain G-77 opposition to key elements of our policy, and to show transatlantic leadership at the UN. Such pre-consultations should allow us to influence EU consensus-building, before their positions crystallize. The bottom line is that the EU generally provides our core support, so we should engage the EU proactively and in detail.

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