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Cablegate: Demarche to South Africa: Priorities for March Un

VZCZCXRO3076
PP RUEHDU RUEHJO
DE RUEHSA #0384/01 0561258
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251258Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1344
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN PRIORITY 7604
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN PRIORITY 1668
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG PRIORITY 9959

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 000384

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR IO/HR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM UN SA
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE TO SOUTH AFRICA: PRIORITIES FOR MARCH UN
HRC SESSION

REF: SECSTATE 16236

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The South African Government's (SAG) positions in
the 13th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) will be
essentially unchanged from those of the 12th session apart
from slight nuances. The SAG continues to assert that
Defamation of Religion (DoR) must be addressed, although it
concedes that the Organization of the Islamic Conference
(OIC) needs to find a new strategy to pursue the issue. The
SAG will continue to support country-specific resolutions
only when the targeted country--or its regional
neighbors--consents to them. The SAG's priorities in the
March session will be: impending review processes of the HRC;
the question of universal membership and the authority of HRC
resolutions once adopted. Post's interlocutor also warned
that the SAG will follow closely the Freedom of Expression
resolution, will produce first drafts of several racism
resolutions and is concerned with mandate creep. Lengthy
discussions on Iran will be reported septel. End summary.

------------------
FAMILIAR TERRITORY
------------------

2. (U) Poloffs met with Mr. Pitso Montwedi, Chief Director,
Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the Multilateral
Directorate of the Department of International Relations
(DIRCO); Raymond Sithole, Deputy Director for Civil and
Political Rights (CPR); Laura Lazarous, Assistant Director
for CPR and Sybil Matlhako, Assistant Director for CPR.

3. (SBU) Montwedi confirmed that the SAG's stance on the
Defamation of Religion resolution has not changed. He
asserted that the concept needs to be defined in
international law. The SAG thinks that the OIC's claims that
the "War on Terror" has led to "religious profiling" are
correct and that said profiling has led to the restriction of
Muslims' movements and violations of their human rights.
Montwedi did concede that the OIC "has been running the
resolution for too long", making it a divisive issue, and
needs to provide an alternate solution. The SAG suggests
opening a mechanism that would address what they see as the
essential question: Is religious defamation a condition that
needs to be added to international human rights law? He said
that if DoR was a legitimate concern, it should be opened to
debate to create a clear definition, so that it would not
undergo the "endless oscillation" of issues like sexual
orientation, gender equality and the death penalty. Montwedi
added that the OIC and others should "nail down what they
mean" and not just "use the issue as a political hammer."

4. (U) Similarly, the SAG's stance on country-specific
resolutions will remain unchanged. If the countries being
targeted by a resolution (or their regional neighbors)
consent to the resolutions proposed, South Africa will vote
in the affirmative. If the countries do not support the
measures proposed, South Africa will not support them.

-------------------------
SOUTH AFRICA'S PRIORITIES
-------------------------

5. (SBU) As Montwedi expressed when a DRL/IO/L delegation
visited Pretoria in October 2009, the SAG is very concerned
with the status of the HRC. It is seeking a powerful ally to
help it amend Chapter 13 of the United Nations Charter to
replace the "defunct" Trusteeship Council and replace it with
the HRC. Although it understood the sensitivities of those
who see the Charter as inviolable, the SAG feels it can be
amended to put the HRC on par with the Economic and Social
Council (ECOSOC) and the Security Council. Montwedi
QCouncil (ECOSOC) and the Security Council. Montwedi
characterized it as a "desperate bottom line", an initiative
which the SAG will champion despite divisions within the
Africa Group.

6. (U) Montwedi also reiterated the SAG's view that if
members want to discuss universal membership, by "necessary
implication" the discussion must explore uprooting everything
from Geneva and transplanting it to New York. In a
continuation of themes explored in October 2009, Montwedi
revisited the concept of the authority of HRC resolutions
once adopted by the Council. The SAG's stance is that HRC
resolutions do not need subsequent endorsement in other UN
fora and that only new instruments need to be brought before

PRETORIA 00000384 002 OF 002


the General Assembly.

-------------
WARNING SIGNS
-------------

7. (SBU) Montwedi advised that while South Africa may not
support any resolution on Iran, the SAG will wholeheartedly
support the fact that such resolution is being offered in the
proper venue. Montwedi asked for confirmation that the USG
intended to offer a resolution addressing the ongoing human
rights abuses in Iran. Additional Iran discussion will be
reported by septel.

8. (U) Montwedi warned that the SAG will follow closely the
Freedom of Expression resolution and still maintains that the
resolution derogates the existing norms and standards. He
added, "We will be giving your colleagues in Geneva a hard
time on this one."

9. (U) The SAG also intends to fulfill its "continental
obligations" to produce first drafts of various racism
resolutions. Montwedi mentioned a resolution on the
elimination of racism in sport and one on complementary
standards to the International Convention on the Elimination
of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) for cyber
crime, defamation and xenophobia.

10. (U) In closing, Montwedi discussed the SAG's concern with
mission creep as it relates to the Commission on the Status
of Women (CSW) and the Mexico-sponsored Elimination of
Discrimination Against Women resolution. The SAG thinks
Mexico's resolution was unnecessary and conflicts with the
CSW's mandate. Montwedi suggested the HRC President might be
asked to draft some form of statement committing the HRC to
not usurping or abrogating the mandates of other UN bodies.
GIPS

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