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Cablegate: Unesco Director-General's Information Session

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFR #0165/01 0421447
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111447Z FEB 10
FM USMISSION UNESCO PARIS FR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0000
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

UNCLAS UNESCO PARIS FR 000165

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL UNESCO SCUL SENV AORC HA
SUBJECT: UNESCO DIRECTOR-GENERAL'S INFORMATION SESSION

1. Summary: At UNESCO Director-General Bokova's first information
session for member states on February 4, the Director-General
reiterated her intention to protect cultural property in Haiti and
help rebuild that country's educational system. Bokova also
reaffirmed her intention to work on girls' education, promising to
present an initiative on the topic at the April Executive Board
meeting. In the same vein, she announced that the Board will be
asked to approve a proposed Category 2 regional research center on
Women, Gender, and the Construction of Peace in the Great Lakes
Region that would established in Kinshasa. The Haitian
representative was given the floor at the conclusion of the day-long
meeting to thank to donor countries for their help in relief and
reconstruction work in Haiti. His gratitude was very selective,
however, as he managed to heap praise on Haiti's Latin American
brothers (notably including President Chavez of Venezuela) but
forgot to mention assistance from the U.S. and European countries.
End Summary.

2. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova held an all day briefing
session for Executive Board members on February 4. This was the
first time since taking office in mid-November 2009 that Bokova has
held such a lengthy briefing. In doing so, she was following the
tradition set by her predecessor, Koichiro Matsuura who made a habit
of holding similar sessions in January and July every year. Bokova
used the occasion to provide member states with an update on the
evolution of her thinking on UNESCO's program and management.
Following were the high points:

-- GIRLS' EDUCATION: UNESCO will be more vocal on women and girls
who are still not enjoying equal education opportunities. "I am
most encouraged that in discussion with leading personalities,
including the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, First Ladies of
Qatar and Egypt, among others, there is a commitment to launch an
initiative on girls' and women's education. I will share my
intentions with you at the Executive Board in April."

-- HAITI: The Haitian Education Minister and members of his staff
are working out UNESCO's largely undamaged headquarter. UNESCO's
Regional Bureau for Education in Santiago, Chile, has made up to US
DOLS 50,000 in regular program funds available to finance the
mission of an education expert to Haiti. Contacts are on-going with
nations of the Latin American group to see whether up to US DOLS
340,000 of funds earmarked for the Latin American activities of
UNESCO's Participation Program can be used to finance educational
projects in Haiti.

-- HAITI FLASH APPEAL: Brazil, Bulgaria, Japan, Norway, and Israel,
have responded so the flash appeal. Brazil has agreed to fund the
project on psycho-social support through teacher training (about
U.S. DOLS. 400,000). Norway has seconded two specialists, and
Israel has offered to provide an expert.

-- HAITI CULTURAL PROPERTY: The Director-General has written the
Haitian Culture Minister proposing the creation of an international
coordinating committee (ICC) to provide advice to Haiti on the
safeguard of its cultural patrimony. (N.B. Creation of an ICC would
require approval by UNESCO's Executive Board which next meets in
April 2010.)

-- INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF RAPPROCHEMENT OF CULTURES: UNESCO will aim
to promote mutual understanding, elaborate a framework of common
values, reinforce quality education and cross-cultural abilities,
and encourage dialogue on sustainable development. An 18-member
High-Panel for Peace and Dialogue among Cultures will be launched on
February 18. Membership of this panel will not be closed. Others
may be added later as the need arises. The panel will meet twice a
year. The second meeting in 2010 will be held in New York toward
the end of the year.

-- REORGANIZATION: Changes in structure must be based on what is
working and what is not. First, UNESCO must renew its leadership
team. Second, we should take account of the work of four internal
task forces that were established on January 15 and are scheduled to
report in March. One task force focuses on optimizing UNESCO's
operations; two others focus on UNESCO's priority areas, gender
equality and Africa; and the fourth will explore new ideas for
partnerships and the mobilization of extra-budgetary funds. Any
proposal for change will be put to the April Executive Board.

-- TEACHER TRAINING IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: This program was the
object of an external audit in 2009. We must now use our policy
toolkit to carry out a comprehensive diagnosis of the program's
needs. The Director of the Dakar Regional Education Bureau wrote to
all African Ministers in December inviting their countries to
participate in this exercise.

-- INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: "I had discussions with his Highness the
Emir of Kuwait to establish a new trust fund dedicated to inclusive
education."

-- HIGHER EDUCATION: We are facilitating the participation of
Higher Education ministers from outside Europe at a Bologna
Ministerial Conference in Vienna this coming March.

-- CLIMATE CHANGE: "I am in the process of launching a thematic
workshop on climate change. Its mandate will be to sketch out
concrete measures to implement the new initiative . . . I have also
asked ADG Science to follow up on my discussions with the United
Nations Environment Program and to put together a team which, on the
basis of the agreement signed with that agency last April, will
develop concrete initiatives in line with our climate change
strategy."

-- BIO-DIVERSITY: "I have expressed UNESCO's interest in a project
to create an intergovernmental platform on biodiversity and
ecosystems services to promote exchange between scientists and
policy-makers, similar to the International Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC). I will inform and consult the Executive Board when this
proposal firms up."

-- HIGH-LEVEL SCIENCE PANEL: "I intend to establish a High-Level
Panel on Science . . . to advise us on how best to focus and
reorient our program to better respond to pressing needs and to map
out avenues through which we can reinforce our links with
international scientific bodies and gain our leadership in this
important area."

-- KINSHASA CATEGORY 2 CENTER: A proposal to establish in Kinshasa
a regional research center on Women, Gender, and the Construction of
Peace in the Great Lakes Region will be put to the next Executive
Board. An experts meeting will be held in Tanzania February 16-18
to finalize the legal documents establishing the center. The
official launch of the center will probably be in May or June 2010.
A donors meeting, including the African Development Bank, will
probably be held at the same time as the launch ceremony.

-- INTERSECTORAL PLATFORMS: We have begun to take a critical look
at the effectiveness of these platforms and have reached the
conclusion that, while they successfully encouraged
cross-fertilization of ideas, they were not securing effective
high-level buy-in and results. We must, therefore, consider several
options. We might reduce the number of platforms, or we might
reformulate their work plans to focus on a limited number of
high-level objectives. We must face the fact, however, that to
achieve results, the platforms need dedicated funds.

-- JOURNALISTS: The Bureau of Public Information has been
instructed to issue permanent accreditation and offer facilities to
those journalists who cover our activities regularly.

3. As the day-long meeting concluded, Haiti's representative Claude
Moise was given the floor to give his country's thanks for the
assistance being given since the January 12 earthquake. His
gratitude, however, proved to be quite selective. He thanked the
Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, and several other Latin countries
notably including Venezuela. (He thanked President Chavez by name,
the only head of state he mentioned.) He made no mention, however,
of U.S. assistance or that of the European Union and its member
states. Instead, he went on to speculate that Haiti will experience
political instability in the coming months, as Haitians will
question the legitimacy of the current president and parliament who
are nearing the end of their term. He ended this highly unusual
intervention by speculating that there may be a need to reform
Haiti's institutions of government profoundly in the year ahead.
(Comment: Moise is new to UNESCO. A quick on-line search reveals
him to be the author of a number of books on Haiti's history and
governance. His predecessor was reportedly a victim of the January
12 earthquake. End Comment.)
KILLION

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