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Cablegate: U/S Otero Leads Usg to Hrc "Reflection Group"

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RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
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DE RUEHME #3455/01 3431322
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091322Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9320
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 0054
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0035
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0055
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0003
RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 0043
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0001
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0477
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0048
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE 0001
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0366
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0378
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0352
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 003455

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MX PHUM PINR PREL PGOV
SUBJECT: U/S OTERO LEADS USG TO HRC "REFLECTION GROUP"

1. (SBU) Summary: Mexico and France hosted a meeting in
Mexico City October 29-30 on strengthening the United Nations
Human Rights Council (HRC) and to discuss the 2011 Review of
its mandate by the General Assembly. A hand-selected group
of HRC Member States, representing its five regional groups,
gathered in Mexico City to evaluate the pros and cons of the
HRC's existing structure. Most representatives argued
against both wholesale "reform" of the HRC and any
"reopening" of the 2006 institution-building package (IBP),
which established the Council's organization and rules.
However, many favored specific amendments that would tackle
the HRC's current shortcomings. Led by U/S Maria Otero and
IO DAS Suzanne Nossel, the USG delegation suggested
"broadening the toolkit" the Council uses to respond to human
rights violations and holding governments more accountable
when it comes to implementing HRC recommendations. The
French and Moroccans volunteered host follow-up meetings next
spring. End Summary.

Participants
------------

2. (SBU) Co-hosts Mexico and France invited the delegations
from Ghana, Jordan, Romania, Morocco, Nigeria, Republic of
Korea, Spain, Costa Rica, India, Brazil, Switzerland,
Ukraine, the United States, and Argentina to participate in a
"Reflection Group on the Strengthening of the Human Rights
Council." These countries were drawn from the UN's five
regional groups and generally subscribe to constructive views
regarding how to use the HRC to promote greater human rights
respect. The NGOs Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,
and the International Commission of Jurists were also invited
to send representatives. Maria Otero, Under Secretary for
Democracy and Global Affairs, headed the USG delegation. The
U.S. delegation also included Suzanne Nossel, Deputy
Assistant Secretary for International Organizations (IO),
Lynn Sicade, Deputy Director of the Office of Multilateral
and Global Affairs (MLGA) for the Bureau for Democracy, Human
Rights, and Labor (DRL), Lisa Sherman, G Special Assistant,
Catherine Powell, Policy Planning Staff (S/P), Mark Cassayre,
Counselor for the U.S. Permanent Mission in Geneva, and
Nicole Otallah, First Secretary Political Officer in the U.S.
Embassy in Mexico City.

Positive Dimensions of Existing HRC Structure
---------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Conference participants described the Universal
Periodic Review (UPR), a system designed for States to
evaluate one another on their respect for human rights, as
one of the HRC's most constructive mechanisms to date. The
reports by HRC special rapporteurs, experts in their fields,
have raised the profile of human rights challenges and
abuses. Further, HRC broadcasts its sessions through live
webcasts, which currently reach over 80,000 viewers a day.
With this technology, the HRC disseminates information
directly to the public about individuals' human rights.

HRC's Limitations
------------------

4. (SBU) Despite the progress made in the HRC's first three
years, it still has numerous limitations. Primarily, the
Council has failed to adequately address chronic human rights
abuses. The Swiss representative underscored that the
Council's mandate included preventing human rights violations
and responding to chronic violations, in places such as
Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Guinea. He suggested that the HRC
was failing on both scores. The participants identified
further difficulties with the HRC special sessions: the
often high threshold of encroachment on human rights needed
to convene these emergency sessions, the absence of follow-up
to HRC recommendations, the lack of cooperation by the
concerned State, and the insufficient impact on victims'
lives. Participants suggested that the Council needed
greater flexibility to address country-specific situations,
which could entail using special sessions differently or

MEXICO 00003455 002 OF 003


holding briefings on specific cases. The U.S. suggested
pulling all country issues into one subset of the Council's
work while enhancing the HRC's "toolkit" to address
situations more relatively and flexibly, possibly by having a
graded approach to problematic cases.

5. (SBU) The Reflection Group had a broader concern about
the HRC's procedures and resources. Ideology has led some
HRC members to exploit special sessions for political
reasons. For example, representatives at the Reflection
Group highlighted misrepresentation within the HRC system
designed to organize participation for UPR observer countries
and NGOs, known as the "queuing system." Human
rights-violating States have asked countries and/or NGOs
friendly to them to arrive hours early to sign-up, skewing
the number of serious participants and UPR reports' results.
The Costa Rican Ambassador commented that, logistically,
small countries and NGOs often find it difficult to staff-up
for the HRC, particularly when the UN's Third Committee and
the UNGA are in session. This drain can also impact the USG.
Therefore, the U.S. delegation suggested readjusting the
schedule of the HRC's annual sessions to address this
concern.

Review Process
--------------

6. (SBU) The Reflection Group's most significant themes
related to the Review revolved around the HRC's internal
structure, whether or not to reopen debate on the 2006
institution-building package (IBP), how to improve the HRC's
impact on victims of HR abuses, and how to time and
coordinate the Review itself. The Indian delegate argued
that the Review should not reopen the IBP or change the HRC's
rules/structure. Most participants agreed with the Indians
that the Council should not reopen the entire IBP, but many
did argue strenuously in favor of some internal reform, such
as changing the "queuing" process.

7. (SBU) The conference attendees proposed numerous steps to
increase the HRC's influence over the lives of victims of
human rights abuses. The International Commission of Jurists
representative suggested regular country debates with
experts, roundtables with Rapporteurs, and follow-up to the
UPR with a high-level representative to ensure implementation
of the UPR recommendations for each country. The Swiss
argued for giving more moderate HRC members a voice in
finding creative solutions when the Council deadlocks on
resolutions. The Nigerians proposed the creation of regular
cross-regional consultations. The Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) underscored the need to
provide the HRC more institutional support, and the Swiss
also advocated more financing for the Office of the President.

USG messaging
-------------

8. (SBU) U/S Otero emphasized that the USG saw the HRC as a
value-added tool in the human rights community, especially
through the UPR, the work of special rapporteurs, its
technical assistance, and the Council's flexibility. IO DAS
Nossel raised six areas that the USG judged should be
discussed in the 2011 Review:

-- meeting the expectations of HR victims;
-- avoiding polarization along UN block politics;
-- improving the Council's interaction with Governments;
-- strengthening implementation and response to the HRC's
recommendations;
-- resolving some of the difficulties related to the HRC's
membership and composition; and
-- linking the Geneva and NYC review processes and ensuring
that the NYC human rights community relies on Geneva's
expertise.

"Reflection Group" Follow-up and Review Integration
--------------------------------------------- ------

MEXICO 00003455 003 OF 003

9. (U) The primary movers behind the Mexico conference, the
French, plan to host another meeting of the "Reflection
Group" in Paris this spring. The leadership of the group
will then diversify, as the Moroccans plan to hold a third
session. Depending on timing, the Argentinens may choose to
host a fourth. The participants debated how to weave the
Reflection Group process back into the official 2011 Review,
which, according to a resolution proposed by the Russians,
will consist of several meetings running from June-December
2011, culminating in a report to the UN General Assembly.
Though the U.K. representative noted that the UNGA resolution
on the Review left several deadlines open to interpretation,
she advocated for completing the Review by June 18, 2011.
The HRC would then send the results directly to the General
Assembly -- and not the Third Committee -- presumably with
strong contributions by the Reflection Group. Most
participants preliminarily agreed with these suggestions.

10. Comment. Mexico and France deserve credit for drawing
together some moderate voices within the HRC as part of an
attempt to use the Review as a lever to for change within the
Council and the multi-lateral human rights community. Going
forward, though, the "Reflection Group" will face a challenge
in transitioning from the brainstorming stage to a united
vision. The group will have an even greater challenge in
seeking to integrate its recommendations into the work of the
HRC Review working-group scheduled to begin in Geneva in
June, in accordance with a September Russian resolution, as
well as the yet undefined review process expected to take
place at the General Assembly in New York. End comment.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
PASCUAL

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