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2009-12-18 16:50:00
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DE RUCNDT #1131/01 3521650
P 181650Z DEC 09
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 USUN NEW YORK 001131 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2019

REF: USUN 1192 08

Classified By: Classified By: Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo for reasons 1



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2019

REF: USUN 1192 08

Classified By: Classified By: Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo for reasons 1

1. (U) Gerald Scott has returned to advise the U.S.
Delegation to the General Assembly on African affairs for the
ninth year in succession. Following are his views of this
64th General Assembly and the performance of Delegations
representing Africa Bureau states.

Introduction and Summary

2. (SBU) The diplomatic atmosphere of this General Assembly
was lightened by the "Obama Effect," the perception that the
United States was re-engaging in multi-lateral diplomacy. In
fact, we made an effort to join consensus on a number of
resolutions (with explanations of vote) rather than voting
against them as in previous years. However, the opposition
of Cuba and several other hard-line members of the
Non-Aligned Movement and G-77 did not go away. We lost some
ground on issues where Palestine/Israel questions were the
subject (or inserted into) various resolutions. On the other
hand, we gained some support for country-specific human
rights resolutions. Fifteen delegations voted for one or more
of these, and the argument that there is an African consensus
against country-specific human rights resolutions is
decreasingly credible. The resolution on Defamation of
Religions, which we oppose, passed, but with reduced support.
In the Security Council, Gabon and Nigeria will replace
Burkina Faso and Libya next year. We were, as always, the
subject of some direct criticism in the General Debate, this
centered on U.S. Cuban policy.

The General Debate

3. (SBU) The initial period of Sept. 23rd to 29th was
reserved for the addresses of the Chiefs of State and Heads
of Government (and the occasional Foreign Minister or even
Permanent Representative), each of whom had, in theory,
fifteen minutes to share his wisdom with a waiting world.
Some dealt in e
xtenso with the particulars of their country's
situation, but most of the speeches were indistinguishable
one from another. Africans called for economic assistance,
attention to climate change, support for peacekeeping,
acknowledgment of special burdens (refugees in, e.g., Kenya
and Chad), reform of the Security Council (meaning "not less
than two permanent seats" with all the prerogatives including
the right of veto and five non-permanent seats -- the
Ezulwini Consensus).

4. (SBU) One point to watch for: criticism of another
country, a matter of concern, given the diplomatic politeness
that prevails at the UN where any direct criticism of another
country is distinctly exceptional. Still, Burkina Faso noted
problems in Guinea and Madagascar; Mauritius regretted
developments in Honduras and Madagascar, and mentioned its
problem with France over Tromelin; Comoros criticized France,
gently; Eritrea and Djibouti exchanged accusations. The
Gambia criticized "some member states" who blocked countless
helpful resolutions with impunity, referred to "locust
invasions" by which President Jammeh meant multilateral
corporations, and the United States, both for our support for
Israel and the Cuban Embargo. In voicing objection to our
Cuba policy, the Gambia was joined by South Africa, Zimbabwe,
Lesotho, Namibia, Chad, and Angola. When, out of 192 member
states, only the United States is the object of criticism in
a speech in the General Debate, it strikes me as something
warranting a query at the Foreign Ministry -- if not,
sometimes, something more.

Credentials Challenge: Madagascar and Guinea

5. (SBU) All African countries spoke in the General Debate
except Madagascar. When, on Sept. 25th, the unconstitutional
president, Andry Rojoilina was scheduled to speak, he was
blocked. The DRC Foreign Minister, speaking for SADC, raised
a point of order under the Rules of Procedure objecting to
the seating of the unconstitutional government. They had, it
turns out, discussed the maneuver with the GA President
earlier, and it was agreed, according to the Office of Legal

USUN NEW Y 00001131 002 OF 006

Affairs, that the President would have to rule against the
point of order. However, the rules provided that such a
judgment on a point of order could then be submitted to the
membership in the chamber. There had been almost no prior
consultation, and most delegations were caught off-guard with
no opportunity to think the question through to any
considered view. The result was 4 in favor of the
President's ruling (Madagascar, Denmark, Ecuador and
Malaysia), 23 against (all of SADC except Lesotho and
Mauritius, plus Congo and Kenya and eight others), 6
abstaining (including Cameroon and Mali). The rest,
including the United States, did not participate in the vote.
Madagascar then left the hall.

6. (SBU) Most of the African delegations, while representing
countries opposed to the Madagascar government, did not join
SADC in the move. We were told by two respected Ambassadors
that there was distinctly inadequate consultation in the
African Group and that the exclusion of a Member State by
point of order was not easily supportable.

7. (SBU) The exclusion of Madagascar on the narrow issue of
participation in the General Debate did not affect
participation in all the later General Assembly work. We had
understood in late November that a challenge to the General
Assembly credentials of Madagascar and Guinea would NOT be
made, but in a Committee meeting on Dec. 8th, Tanzania and
Zambia (the only African members) challenged the credentials
of both. The argument: both sets of credentials were signed
by "unconstitutional" governments, suspended for that reason
by the AU. The governments, whatever the status of mediation
efforts, remained unconstitutional and suspended, and the (at
least implied) AU position that the challenge be made was
still in effect. However, the SADC move had not been
coordinated with the entire African Group at the UN, and some
objected to this. An African Group meeting was held on Dec.
11, and it was decided to support deferral, rather than
rejection. This position was adopted by consensus of the
Credentials Committee, thus granting "the right to
participate provisionally in the activities of the 64th
session." A reprimand of sorts, but not an exclusion.

Security Council Elections

8. (U) The elections this year were uncontested. Burkina
Faso leaves the Council at the end of the year. Uganda
remains for another year. Gabon (replacing B. Faso) and
Nigeria (replacing Libya) join. It is generally true that
African council member delegations are led by particularly
competent Permanent Representative. This is certainly true
in the case of Burkina Faso and Uganda. On the other hand,
even reinforced delegations often have even less time for
General Assembly issues, so we shall see what leadership
Nigeria and Gabon (heretofore often distinguished by
absences) provide next year in the GA.

Anti-Israeli Resolutions

9. (U) This has been a more than usually difficult year for
Israel in the General Assembly. The atmosphere was
conditioned in part by the issue of the Goldstone Report
(authorized by a Human Rights Council resolution) following
on the Israeli/Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip beginning
last December. The resolution endorsing the report, the
"Follow-up to the Report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on
the Gaza Conflict," passed: 114 - 18 (US) - 44. The AF vote
was 32 - 0 - 8 and 8 absences.
(AF abstentions: B. Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya,
Liberia, Swaziland, Uganda) Other occasions were also found
to inject an anti-Israeli element into a text.

10. (U) But the principal packet of objectionable resolutions
aimed directly at Israel are put forward in Fourth Committee
dealing directly with Palestine. We vote against all of
them, but in particular we lobby against the "Committee on
the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian
People" (chaired by Senegal), the "Division for Palestinian
Rights of the Secretariat," and the "Work of the Special
Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices."
The votes:
-- Committee on the Exercise, etc.:
63rd GA:107 - 8 (US) - 57 AF votes: 34 - 0 - 1 and 13

USUN NEW Y 00001131 003 OF 006

64th GA:109 - 8 (US) - 55 AF votes: 36 - 0 - 2 and 10

-- Division for Pal. Rights:
63rd GA:106 - 8 (US) - 5 AF votes: 34 - 0 - 1 and 13
64th GA:112 - 9 (US) - 54 AF votes: 38 - 0 - 2 and 8 absent

-- Work of the Sp. Committee:
63rd GA: 94 - 8 (US) - 73 AF votes: 30 - 0 - 6 and 12
64th GA: 92 - 9 (US) - 72 AF votes: 30 - 0 - 6 and 12

Cameroon abstained on all three (as last year); Benin
abstained on the first two (last year voted yes on all);
Botswana, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Liberia
abstained on the Work of the Sp. Committee (as last year).
(As the votes indicate, it is somewhat easier to convince
delegations to abstain on the Work of the Special Committee.)
In the negative direction, changes occurred where delegations
which did not participate in one or more votes last year
chose to vote for all or some of these resolutions this year.
Of particular note, the DRC, the Gambia, Niger and Sierra
Leone all voted for two resolutions where last year they had
refrained from participation.

Country-Specific Human Rights Resolutions:
North Korea, Burma and Iran

11. (SBU) Our biggest push during the General Assembly is to
ensure passage of the country-specific human rights
resolutions introduced in 3rd Committee. This year (as last
year) there were three: North Korea and Burma (sponsored by
the EU) and Iran (sponsored by Canada). These have always
passed, but not without great effort, and much of the
lobbying has been to stimulate opposition to any "no-action
motion," a procedural move to avoid voting on the text which
the Iranians have used and have at times brought close to
success. This year we were again engaged and gained a number
of pledges to vote against any "no-action motion," but none
of the three introduced the procedure in 3rd Committee.
These issues are often difficult for African delegations.
There is a radical Non-Aligned Movement position against
them, and a gut feeling among a number of African delegations
that this is a weapon that, in other and not inconceivable
circumstances, could be turned against them or their
neighbors. And the argument that name-and-shame is not
appropriate. And the argument that the issue is inevitably
politicized. And the argument that the proper forum is the
Human Rights Committee in Geneva. But we reply that the
General Assembly and its Third Committee have historically
been an appropriate venue for such considerations, that the
General Assembly, unlike the HRC, has a universal membership,
and that egregious offenders merit GA rebuke. And if it were
not (at least to some degree) an effective tool, the target
regimes would not expend so much energy opposing the drafts.

12.(U) At the time of writing, the Plenary votes on these
texts have not taken place, so I compare below last year's
plenary votes with this year's votes in Third Committee.

The votes:
-- DPRK:
63rd Pl.: 94(US)-22-63 AF votes: 11-4-27 and 6 absent
64th 3rd Com: 97(US)-19-65 AF votes: 12-3-29 and 4 absent

-- Myanman/Burma:
63rd Pl.: 80(US)- 5-45 AF votes: 5-2-21 and 20 absent
64th 3rd Com: 92(US)-26-65 AF votes: 10-2-30 and 6 absent

-- Iran:
63rd Pl.: 69(US)-54-57 AF votes: 2-14-26 and 6 absent
64th 3rd Com: 74(US)-48-59 AF votes: 4-11-28 and 5 absent

13.(U) On the DPRK:
Voting YES: Botswana, Burundi, Eq. Guinea, Eritrea, Ghana,
G-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, S. Leone, Togo,

Voting NO: Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe

USUN NEW Y 00001131 004 OF 006

Abstaining: Angola, Benin, B. Faso, Cameroon Cape Verde, CAR,
Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire DRC, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea,
Kenya, Lesotho, Mali Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique,
Namibia, Niger, Nigeria Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, S.
Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia

Absent: Chad, Djibouti, Gabon, Sao Tome

14.(U) On Burma/Myanmar:
Voting YES: Botswana, Burundi, Eq. Guinea, Liberia, Malawi,
Mauritius, Nigeria, S. Africa, Togo, Tanzania.

Voting NO: Sudan, Zimbabwe

Abstaining: Angola, Benin, B. Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, CAR,
Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Guinea, G-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali,
Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, S. Leone,
Somalia, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia

Absent: Chad, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Namibia, Sao Tome

15.(U) On Iran:
Voting YES: Botswana, Eq. Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar,

Voting NO: Comoros, Eritrea, Guinea, G-Bissau, Mauritania,
Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe

Abstaining: Angola, Benin, B. Faso, Burundi, Cameroon,
Cape Verde, CAR, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Gambia,
Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique,
Namibia, Rwanda, S. Leone, S. Africa, Swaziland, Togo,
Tanzania, Zambia

Absent: Chad, Djibouti, Gabon, Sao Tome, Seychelles

16.(U) Significant switches:
Positive: Eq. Guinea and S. Leone from absent to yes;
Guinea from no to abstain
Negative: Comoros from yes to abstain

On Burma/Myanmar:
Positive: Malawi, S. Africa and Tanzania from abstain to yes;
Eq. Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria from absent to yes.
Negative:Eritrea from yes to abstain.

On Iran:
Positive: Eq. Guinea and Madagascar from absent to yes;
Congo, Gambia, Malawi, S. Africa, Togo from no to abstain.
Negative: G. Bissau, Nigeria from abstain to no.

17.(SBU) Comment: Africa is moving in the right direction on
these resolutions. Positive switches clearly out-number
negative ones. And the argument that there is any African
consensus against country-specific human rights resolutions
is decreasingly credible: fifteen delegations voted in favor
of one or more of these texts. (Last year twelve did so.)
Those voting for all three: Botswana, Eq. Guinea, Liberia.
Voting for two: Burundi, Madagascar, Malawi, Togo, Tanzania
Voting for one: Eritrea, Ghana, G-Bissau, Mauritius, Nigeria,

S. Leone, S. Africa

On the other hand, votes against the resolution on Iran
(clearly identified as our most important vote of the GA)
should not, I think, go unremarked. The Department and
Embassies will have to determine what blame or mitigation to
assign; circumstances vary. But from the USUN perspective,
votes against the Iran resolution especially are a distinct

Defamation of Religions

18.(U) Another important issue for us was the OIC-sponsored
resolution on the Defamation of Religions. Embassies lobbied
on this, and while the Plenary has not yet voted, the
comparison with the results in the 63rd General Assembly
represents a slight improvement.
The 63rd Plenary vote: 86 - 53 (US) - 42.

USUN NEW Y 00001131 005 OF 006

The AF vote: 27 - 2 - 14 and five absent.

The 64th 3rd Committee vote: 81 - 55 (US) - 43
The AF vote: 25 - 0 - 16 and 7 absent.

19.(U) Votes in the 64th 3rd Committee:
Voting YES: Angola, Benin, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire,
Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, G-Bissau, Mali,
Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, S. Leone,
Somalia, S.Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Voting NO (with the US): none

Abstaining: Botswana, B. Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde,
DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius,
Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia.

Absent: CAR, Chad, Eq. Guinea, Gabon, Liberia, Sao Tome,

20.(U) Last year, Cape Verde and Liberia voted NO. Benin
and Congo went from an abstention to YES. But Lesotho and
Namibia went from YES to an abstention.


21. (C) With the new administration in Washington, the
working atmosphere in the General Assembly has improved. The
impression that we have re-engaged with this institution has
to some degree been reciprocated, perhaps a warmer welcome in
my calls and meetings and a greater willingness to engage in
dialogue. And we have deliberately sought to minimize the
confrontations on a number of resolutions. For example, in
the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security)
the number of "no" votes by the U.S. was reduced from 23 last
year to 10 this year -- sometimes accompanied by explanations
of vote to set out our difficulties with a text we might
otherwise have opposed. All this has been greeted favorably,
but serious differences in approach to issues necessarily

22. The Africa Group at the UN, one of the five regional
groups which comprise the organizing blocs of much of the
General Assembly work, is both the largest such group and
composed of some of the weakest states. In New York, the
Africa Group includes all the members of the AU, but even
considering only the Africa Bureau delegations (subtracting
the North African littoral) we are dealing with twenty-five
percent of the membership. The natural interests of the poor
and weak and the understandable inclination to hang together
rather than hang separately mean that very often we are
confronted with solid opposition to US views and interests.

22. Within the group there is a strong tradition of support
for Palestine and against Israel, for more radical positions
on economic and financial issues, and a reluctance to
confront human rights offenders directly. Egypt exercises a
baleful role in New York, and the other North African members
of the African Group here are thumbs on the scale when Near
East questions are addressed. However, there is some at
least marginal change, especially on the human rights issues.
Fortunately, there are several helpful Ambassadors here:
Tanzania (but Ambassador Mahiga is reportedly to be replaced
at some point soon), Botswana, Liberia (Ambassador Kamara is
new, but gives a good impression of competence and energy),
Mauritius (though Ambassador Soborun's private expressions of
solidarity do not translate into many votes in our favor). I
am encouraged by the current South African Permanent
Representative, Ambassador Sangqu, but it is said he will be
recalled shortly. Togo's Ambassador Menan knows the UN well
and his delegation is proving helpful. Benin's Ambassador
Zinsou has a long-standing record of cooperation with USUN --
dating to their time on the Security Council. One might
expect more from Uganda were they not so occupied with
Security Council responsibilities. And Burkina Faso's
Ambassador Kafando has been an excellent UNSC member, but,
perhaps because of that, not of much weight in the General

23. All in all, the General Assembly has gone relatively
well. But such progress as we have made depends on constant
representation of our views, coordinating with Europeans and
others where we can, expressing our interests in capitals as

USUN NEW Y 00001131 006 OF 006

well as cultivating the Missions here. It is a truth which
needs to be put very indirectly, but a truth none the less:
one of the few ways many countries can return the support we
give them is to be helpful to our interests in the UNGA. But
the issues come with a history, often unfavorable to us. And
it requires much one-on-one diplomacy. This, however, over
time is having an effect, especially since some of the
factors which have conditioned Africa-wide responses are
changing. We have made some progress this year, and with
continued engagement we will make some more. And as we
attempt to manage the UN and the General Assembly, the
African membership is an inevitable (and often helpful)
element in our effort.