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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09GUATEMALA91
2009-02-02 18:19:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Guatemala
Cable title:  

EMBASSY GUATEMALA'S ASSESSMENT OF UN FIELD

Tags:   UN  PHUM  PREL  KDEM  GT 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGT #0091/01 0331819
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021819Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6875
INFO RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0885
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0265
						UNCLAS GUATEMALA 000091 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR IO/RHS AMY OSTERMEIER AND GAYATRI PATEL
DEPT ALSO FOR IO/PSC DEBORAH ODELL AND DRL/MLGA CHRIS
SIBILLA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: UN PHUM PREL KDEM GT
SUBJECT: EMBASSY GUATEMALA'S ASSESSMENT OF UN FIELD
COVERAGE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

REF: STATE 2023

UNCLAS GUATEMALA 000091

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR IO/RHS AMY OSTERMEIER AND GAYATRI PATEL
DEPT ALSO FOR IO/PSC DEBORAH ODELL AND DRL/MLGA CHRIS
SIBILLA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: UN PHUM PREL KDEM GT
SUBJECT: EMBASSY GUATEMALA'S ASSESSMENT OF UN FIELD
COVERAGE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

REF: STATE 2023


1. Summary: As requested in reftel, following is post's
assessment of the Guatemala office of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR/Guatemala), including a
description of the office, its successes and challenges in
promoting human rights, its relationship with the GOG, civil
society, and political opposition parties, and areas in which
the USG can initiate or provide additional support. In 2008,
OHCHR/Guatemala continued to focus its programs on combating
insecurity, impunity, and poverty and had some positive
results, although serious challenges remain. End Summary.

Description of Guatemala Office
--------------

2. The OHCHR/Guatemala was established in 2005 under a
renewable three-year mandate. It has a staff of 38 and a
budget of $3.8 million, half of which is used for
administrative operations including salaries and half for its
human rights activities. The office monitored the human
rights situation in Guatemala, advised the GOG and civil
society on human rights issues, and provided technical
assistance, in accordance with its mandate.


3. OHCHR/Guatemala fulfilled its mandate while working in an
environment marked by increasing levels of violence and
insecurity. According to Juan Carlos Monge, Deputy
Representative of OHCHR/Guatemala, Guatemala has one of the
highest levels of violence among countries not in conflict.
The office, therefore, focused its work on defending the
right to life and prioritized programs that combat
insecurity, impunity, and poverty. Its specific programs
centered on: rule of law; security; economic, social, and
cultural rights; and the rights of indigenous peoples.
Anders Kompass, Representative of OHCHR/Guatemala, engages
frequently through the press on the importance of improving
security and strengthening its weak state institutions should
be the GOG's priority goals.

Successes
--------------

4. In 2008, OHCHR/Guatemala worked with the Public Ministry
(Attorney General's Office) and the National Civil Police
(PNC) to strengthen their capacity to confront the country's
security challenges, including a plan to strengthen the

Public Ministry's Witness Protection Program.
OHCHR/Guatemala plans to continue to work with the Public
Ministry in 2009 to implement its recommendations. The
office also trained the PNC on human rights and
implementation of the Law Against Femicide and Other Forms of
Violence Against Women, and provided technical assistance to
Congress on how to draft legislation related to security
issues.


5. OHCHR/Guatemala organized a series of public events to
promote the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and established partnerships with government
institutions, NGOs, academic bodies, and private sector
organizations. The office targeted the young, urban
population in its public awareness campaign and disseminated
over 22,000 copies of the Universal Declaration.


6. In conjunction with the Social Studies and Research
Association (ASIES), a policy think tank, OHCHR/Guatemala
conducted a study and drafted a report on how to increase the
indigenous population's access to formal and informal systems
of justice. The office presented the report to the Judiciary
and the Public Ministry and will work with the GOG to
implement its recommendations. The office has also received
funding from the government of Norway to create a public
interest legal clinic where anyone, especially members of the
Qinterest legal clinic where anyone, especially members of the
indigenous population, who has suffered a human rights
violation can receive free legal advice.

Challenges
--------------

7. OHCHR/Guatemala faces enormous challenges: an increasing
level of violence, the growing power and influence of
organized criminal groups, a high level of impunity, and an
ineffective justice system, which complicate the
organization's ability to carry out its mandate. According
to Monge, the current economic crisis will undoubtedly affect
funding from international donors, which could impact the
office's operational budget and force it to cut back on
programs.

Relationship with the GOG

--------------

8. OHCHR/Guatemala has a constructive, frank, and open
relationship with the GOG, especially with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, according to Monge. In September 2008, the
GOG renewed OHCHR's mandate in Guatemala for three additional
years, a positive public indication of the GOG's desire to
continue working with the organization. Monge also stated
that the GOG welcomes the organization's recommendations on
how to more effectively confront the challenges that it faces.

Relationship with Civil Society
--------------

9. Civil society has criticized OHCHR/Guatemala for not
focusing sufficient attention on combating violence against
human rights defenders and for being overly reserved in its
public statements and reports. According to Monge, civil
society initially misconstrued OHCHR/Guatemala as a new
MINUGUA (UN Verification Mission in Guatemala) and had
unrealistic expectations of what the office could achieve
within its mandate. Monge believes, however, that civil
society now views the Guatemala office as an invaluable
interlocutor between civil society, the GOG, and the
international community.

Relationship with Political Opposition Parties
-------------- -

10. Monge noted that currently OHCHR/Guatemala does not
appear to have a strong working relationship with political
opposition parties, and plans to consolidate its relationship
with Congress in 2009.

Recommendations for USG Support
--------------

11. Monge emphasized that the social, political and economic
challenges facing the GOG justify the presence of OHCHR/
Guatemala. He underscored the valuable role of USG political
and economic support in the organization's success, and
emphasized that the Ambassador's presence at its events has
been a fundamental positive influence on the GOG. According
to Monge, if the Ambassador speaks, everyone listens and
takes note.


12. Comment: OHCHR/Guatemala is highly visible in Guatemala
and organizes numerous programs and events to focus attention
on key human rights issues. Its decision to focus on
insecurity, impunity, and poverty is not surprising in the
context of Guatemala's increasing level of violence and the
large percentage of the population that lives in poverty or
extreme poverty. The organization has had some notable
success in tackling these issues, although serious challenges
remain. USG political and economic support have had a
positive impact on the effectiveness of its programs.
McFarland