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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09PARISFR1483 2009-11-05 08:36:00 UNCLASSIFIED Mission UNESCO
Cable title:  

UNESCO'S 35TH GENERAL CONFERENCE: COMMUNICATIONS AND

Tags:   SCUL PREL UNESCO HO 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS FR 001483 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: SCUL PREL UNESCO HO
SUBJECT: UNESCO'S 35TH GENERAL CONFERENCE: COMMUNICATIONS AND
INFORMATION COMMISSION



1. Summary: The Communication and Information (CI) Commission,
chaired by Venezuela, met from October 13-15. The agenda included
close to 40 draft amendments to the budget and program, almost half
of them from Cuba and Egypt. The proposed amendments with the most
potential for damage, such as ones mandating that media be "socially
responsible to the state," were not adopted. While the overall tenor
of the meeting was civil, a clear divide could be seen between the
"north" and "south," especially concerning access to information and
media freedom. End summary.

THE GENERAL DEBATE



2. The CI Commission met five times during the 35th General
Conference. It was chaired by Ivan Avila-Belloso, Minister Counselor
of the Venezuelan Permanent Delegation to UNESCO.
During the general debate on the Director General's draft budget and
program for 2010-2011, Slovakia, China, and Russia all stated that
the Main Lines of Action and priorities set forth were too general.
China, Portugal, Turkey and others called for more work to be done
in the area of internet governance, while the Nordic states called
for greater cooperation toward the protection of journalists in
areas of conflict. The majority of delegations who took the floor
encouraged the Director General to expand support for the
Information for All Program (IFAP), while several developing
countries focused on the value of the Memory of the World Program.



3. The Cuban delegation called on UNESCO to improve the unequal
North-South situation in the area of the digital divide. They
reflected on financing of the press and ownership of communication
media, citing imperial domination and monopolistic power.



4. Some 50 delegations in total gave interventions during the
debate, including the United States, which announced support for the
draft budget and priorities, citing the International Program for
the Development of Communication (IPDC) in particular as a valuable
program to which we contribute voluntarily.



5. Reacting to the interventions, ADG Khan reiterated that IFAP
participation and funding remain extremely low. Without
contributions, he said there's not much UNESCO can do to expand the
program. He concluded his comments with a plea for more
extra-budgetary resources for this program. (Note: We are well aware
that the CI sector shares our dislike of this program, which
duplicates much of the work already carried out by the sector.
However, the program has considerable support from developing
nations. End note.)

DRAFT AMENDMENTS PROVOKE NO REAL SPARKS



6. The Commission then moved to consideration of the nearly 40
draft proposals for amendments to the budget and program, more than
any other commission during this General Conference. Cuba alone
submitted ten of them, many of which were barely relevant to the
items they meant to amend, several of which seemed merely meant to
spark debate on the digital divide and North-South inequality
matters, and none of which received full support of the Director
General. No heated debate ever materialized on these items and
Germany, the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries and Canada were
helpful in having them either withdrawn or watered-down to
insignificant amendments.



7. Egypt, perhaps prompted by their wish to have Farouk Hosni
elected as UNESCO's Director General, had also submitted several
vague proposals for programming in the Arab region that would have
called for regular program funds. Perhaps as a result of Hosni's
defeat, Egypt withdrew or amended all of these to call for
extra-budgetary funds to be used.



8. Sixteen delegations from all regional groups co-sponsored a
proposal calling for IFAP "in particular" to be emphasized in the
sector's programming. The United States intervened, seconded by the
UK, Norway, Barbados, and St. Lucia, citing both the Assistant
Director General's and the Chair's comments that IFAP is struggling
financial and lacking in human resources as well. Despite these
efforts, the proposal was adopted. In total, the Commission adopted
the allocation of just over $33 million for the Communication and
Information sector's activity and staff costs.

WSIS FOLLOW-UP



9. For the agenda item concerning the follow-up to the World Summit
on the Information Society (WSIS), the United States co-sponsored a
draft resolution submitted by Norway and eight other countries
focusing on open access to scientific information. The resolution
calls for UNESCO to "undertake a mapping of existing Open Access
initiatives and Open Access stakeholders at the regional and global
levels" and to "develop a draft strategy on how UNESCO may
strengthen its contribution to the promotion of Open Access to
scientific information and research, to be submitted to the 186th
session of the Executive Board for approval."



10. On the same WSIS item, another draft resolution led to the most

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heated debate of the Commission's session. A last-minute amendment
proposed by Cuba which would have made mention of inequalities
between the North and the South in terms of "access to knowledge"
was quickly gaveled through by the Venezuelan chair before the
translation was completed. The Latvian and German delegates were
quick to raise a point of order, and enough opposition was raised to
several procedural irregularities, including the unwillingness of
the Secretariat to use the projection screen in the room to display
the text, that the Chair was forced to adjourn the consideration of
the text until the next session. At that time, the Cuban language
was amended to acceptable levels. The adopted resolution "notes
with concern the continued imbalances and inequalities in the field
of information and communication, which are being further aggravated
by the current world crises, affecting development prospects,
particularly those of developing countries."

IFLA MANIFESTO



11. The final item on the agenda was an uneventful adoption of the
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions'
(IFLA) Multicultural Library Manifesto, meant as guidelines and
recommendations for national-level programming and policy on the
establishment of multilingual and multicultural libraries.



12. In addition to these agenda items and draft resolution, the
Commission also noted 2008-2009 reports by the Intergovernmental
Councils for IFAP and IPDC.

KILLION