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10STATE16234 2010-02-23 01:48:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Secretary of State
Cable title:  

USG PRIORITIES FOR MARCH U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS

Tags:   PREL PHUM UN 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 STATE 016234 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM UN
SUBJECT: USG PRIORITIES FOR MARCH U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL SESSION

REF: A. (A) STATE 109397

B. (B) STATE 111466

C. (C) STATE 12108



1. (U) This is an action request. See paras. 3-4.

SUMMARY


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





2. (SBU) The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) will
hold its 13th regular session in Geneva on March 1-26, 2010.
The first week of the session will be a high-level segment;
Under-Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, Maria
Otero, will attend to represent the United States during this
portion and is scheduled to make a statement on Wednesday,
March 3, 2010. The USG seeks to engage other governments and
delegations in Geneva on six top priorities for the March HRC
Session, including: (1) advancing a consensus-based approach
on racial and religious intolerance; (2) gaining support for
a resolution on the human rights situation in Guinea; (3)
renewing and strengthening the existing special procedures
mandate for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); (4)
managing fallout resulting from the Goldstone Report on
alleged violations of international humanitarian and human
rights law committed during the winter 2008/2009 conflict in
Gaza; (5) registering support for HRC action spotlighting
human rights abuses in Iran; and (6) renewing
country-specific special procedures mandates for DPRK and
Burma. END SUMMARY.

ACTION REQUEST


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





3. (SBU) For Mission Geneva: Drawing on the suggested talking
points in para. 5 and background available in paragraphs
6-11, Mission is requested to engage delegations from the 46

STATE 00016234 002 OF 011


other HRC members to garner support for USG priorities.



4. (SBU) For Embassies Luanda, Buenos Aires , Manama, Dhaka,
Brussels, La Paz, Sarajevo, Brasilia, Ouagadougou, Younde,
Santiago, Beijing, Havana, Djibouti, Cairo, Paris,
Libreville, Accra, Budapest, New Delhi, Jakarta, Rome, Tokyo,
Amman, Bishkek, Antananarivo, Port Louis, Mexico City,
Amsterdam, Managua, Abuja, Oslo, Islamabad, Manila, Doha,
Seoul, Moscow, Riyadh, Dakar, Bratislava, Ljubljana,
Pretoria, Kyiv, London, Montevideo, Lusaka: Posts are
requested to engage host governments at the appropriate level
to garner support for USG priorities. See para. 5 for
suggested talking points and paras. 6-11 for background,
which include specific notes for some capitals. Reftels
noted are available at the IO-HR sharepoint site at:
http://io.p.state.sbu/HR/.

SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS


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





5. (SBU) Begin suggested talking points:

-- Express U.S. commitment to (1) defending the universality
of human rights and the responsibility of governments to
respect the rights of their people; (2) defending the
independence of UN human rights mechanisms, including human
rights monitoring and assistance functions; (3) reinforcing
the Council,s credibility, including working to remove the
systemic bias in the HRC against Israel; (4) advancing the
principles of accountability, transparency, and good
governance in the work of the HRC.

-- Emphasize that we are consulting with host governments in
advance of the session not only because we hope to work
closely with them on key human rights initiatives, but also
to enable us to take their views into account as we shape our
own positions.

-- Stress the importance of strengthening human rights in
country-specific situations. Emphasize our concern that the
HRC address these types of situations to bolster its

STATE 00016234 003 OF 011


credibility on the ground.

Specific initiatives in March 2010 HRC session:

-- Religious and Racial Intolerance: Solicit host country
support for an action-oriented approach that a) acknowledges
the concerns of both the OIC and members of the African Group
regarding persistent discrimination against Muslims, and b)
promotes concrete actions that governments can undertake now
to make immediate progress on issues of discrimination, hate
crimes, and the promotion of mutual respect. Urge host
country to not support the defamation resolution and ensure
the ad hoc committee resolution does not call for a binding
treaty. A copy of the U.S. proposal is available on the
IO/HR intranet website under &HRC 13th Session8 at
http://io.p.state.sbu/HR/.

-- Guinea: Seek support for a resolution addressing the
situation, focusing on opportunities for technical assistance
and safeguards to strengthen the new government,s ability to
effectively promote and protect human rights.

-- Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Convey our
disappointment that the technical assistance-oriented special
procedures mandate for the DRC was not renewed in 2008 and
solicit thoughts on reinstating a focused, country-specific
mandate or extending the existing combined thematic mandate
regarding human rights in the DRC.

-- Goldstone Report: Convey our concerns that the attention
generated by the Goldstone Report harms Special Envoy
Mitchell,s peace efforts. Continue to express our concern
with the deeply flawed Goldstone report. Note that UN
Secretary-General Ban,s February 4 report observes that the
processes initiated by Israel to investigate alleged
violations are ongoing and that the Palestinian side only
recently initiated its investigative effort. The report
concludes: &As such, no determination can be made on the
implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned.8
Express our belief that additional Goldstone-related
resolutions now in the Human Rights Council serve no useful

STATE 00016234 004 OF 011


purpose when both Israelis and Palestinians need more time to
carry out their domestic investigations. If a resolution
cannot be avoided, it should be minimalist and purely
technical, calling on the parties to continue their domestic
investigations without setting an artificial timeline for
them to complete those investigations.

-- Iran: Convey our deep concern with the situation of human
rights in Iran, particularly the continuing abuses following
the June 12, 2009 presidential elections. Solicit thoughts
on a resolution or other HRC action addressing the ongoing
human rights abuses in Iran. Reiterate our hope that Iran
not be elected to the Human Rights Council as doing so would
undermine the credibility of this body. (See septel cable on
HRC elections for additional information forthcoming on the
IO/HR intranet site at http://io.p.state.sbu/HR/.)

-- DPRK and Burma: Reiterate that the special procedures
mandates for DPRK and Burma will expire in March, requiring
the HRC to act to renew them. Seek support for the EU-led
effort to renew these special rapporteurs without weakening
their mandates.

-- Solicit additional information on resolutions the host
government is planning to introduce or support.

TOP PRIORITIES


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





6. (SBU) Advancing a consensus-based approach on racial and
religious intolerance: The USG seeks to prevent further
progress toward a binding treaty banning &defamation of
religions8 and weaken momentum for the annual HRC
resolutions calling for bans on defamation. More background
on the defamation resolutions sponsored by the Organization
of the Islamic Conference (OIC) each year during the March
HRC session and during the fall in the UN General Assembly,s
Third Committee is available via reftel A, and on the IO/HR
intranet website under &HRC 13th Session.8 For more
information on the potential treaty to ban &defamation of
religion,8 please see reftel B and the IO/HR intranet

STATE 00016234 005 OF 011


website at http://io.p.state.sbu/HR/.

We expect that the OIC will again run its &defamation8
resolution this March, and that the governments of Nigeria
(in its role as chair of the African Group in Geneva) and
South Africa may run a resolution on the &Ad Hoc Committee
on Complementary Standards,8 the body in which these
governments and others are advocating for a binding treaty
banning defamation (in the form of an optional protocol to
the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination). Rather than continue down the divisive and
discredited path of more &defamation8 resolutions and
disagreements about the utility of a treaty to ban criticisms
of religion, the USG hopes to unite HRC members at this March
session behind an action-oriented approach (as highlighted in
our first talking point) that a) acknowledges the concerns of
both the OIC and members of the African Group regarding
persistent discrimination against members of religious
minorities, including Muslims, and b) promotes concrete
actions that governments can undertake now to make immediate
progress on issues of discrimination, hate crimes, and the
promotion of mutual respect. A U.S. proposal, which includes
elements of a potential resolution, is circulating in Geneva.
A PDF copy of these elements and the associated &Action
Plan to Combat Racial and Religious Discrimination and
Intolerance8 is available at he IO/HR intranet site under
&HRC 13th Session8 at http://io.p.state.sbu/HR/. Posts are
encouraged to provide this proposal to the host government,
as appropriate.



7. (SBU) Gaining support for a resolution on the human rights
situation in Guinea: The USG, working in coordination with
the Guinean delegation in Geneva and Nigeria as Chair of the
African Group, aims to secure a broadly supported resolution
addressing the situation of human rights in Guinea. Given the
progress in installing a transitional government since the
events of September 28, 2009, we expect that a resolution
would focus on opportunities for technical assistance and
safeguards to strengthen the new government,s ability to
effectively promote and protect human rights. Securing a
resolution addressing this event and the broader situation of

STATE 00016234 006 OF 011


human rights in Guinea will require consent from Guinea and
leadership from the Africa Group; the USG has secured
provisional support from the Guinean delegation in Geneva and
a verbal commitment from the Nigerian mission to Geneva to
lead and sponsor a resolution, and we are pursuing the
confirmation/endorsement of those in capitals. Having the
HRC address the human rights situation in Guinea is critical
to building the Council,s credibility in addressing pressing
human rights crises. Note: On September 28, 2009, Guinean
government authorities killed 157 people during a
pro-democracy gathering in a stadium in Conakry.
Secretary-General Ban commissioned a report to document the
events of September 28, resulting in a Commission of Inquiry
(COI) report that highlighted abuses committed by government
authorities against civilians, including murder, rape, and
arbitrary detention. The COI,s report also suggests the
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
establish an office in Conakry, a recommendation the HRC
could endorse. End Note.



8. (SBU) Renewing and strengthening the special procedures
mandate for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): The USG
remains deeply concerned about the lack of capacity to
prosecute human rights abusers in the DRC security forces,
particularly in the military (the FARDC). The USG continues
to provide funding to strengthen the Congolese judiciary,
including through programs that train judges, prosecutors,
and lawyers in both the civilian and military justice sectors
to investigate and adjudicate crimes of sexual violence. At
the March 2008 HRC session, the independent expert for the
DRC was ended in favor of tasking a set of seven thematic
rapporteurs with reporting on the human rights situation in
the country. We have heard that the EU is interested in
creating a DRC special procedure, but they have not committed
to leading such an effort. We believe that in order for the
resolution to be effective and be adopted, this resolution
must have the support of the Africa Group and the government
of the DRC. During March 2009 negotiations, we received
conflicting information from the GDRC. The DRC mission in
Geneva reported that it supported the previous mandate but
not the mandate holder, while Kinshasa reported that it

STATE 00016234 007 OF 011


neither supported the former independent expert nor would it
not support a new mandate. Next week the USG plans to
demarche in Geneva and Kinshasa to emphasize the importance
of running a resolution. At a minimum the seven thematic
rapporteurs and the HCHR will report to the HRC during the
March session. The USG seeks to reinstate a focused,
country-specific mandate or, if this fails, to extend the
existing combined thematic mandate regarding human rights in
the DRC.



9. (SBU) Managing fallout from the Goldstone Report: During
the March HRC session, the USG aims to minimize attention to
and controversy over the Goldstone Report, to avoid further
damage to S/E Mitchell,s peace efforts, and to avoid an
unbalanced and counterproductive resolution.. We believe
that additional Goldstone-related resolutions now in the
Human Rights Council serve no useful purpose when both
Israelis and Palestinians need more time to carry out their
domestic investigations. If we cannot avoid a product, it
should be purely technical, calling on the parties to
continue their domestic investigations without setting an
artificial timeline for them to complete those
investigations. Such a resolution would reinforce the
primacy of domestic processes to investigate allegations of
human rights abuses and allow those processes time to play
out. Note: The Goldstone Report was commissioned by the HRC
to investigate Israeli violations of international
humanitarian and human rights law during the 2008-2009
conflict in Gaza. The HRC mandate was blatantly unbalanced,
focusing exclusively on Israel, and did not call for
investigation of Hamas, actions. The fact-finding mission
was led by Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, who
sought to broaden his terms of reference in practice to
include Hamas, actions, although the HRC never changed the
formal mandate. The U.S. government believes the Goldstone
Report to be deeply flawed as a result of its unbalanced
focus on Israel, the overly broad scope of its
recommendations, the excessively negative inferences it draws
about Israel,s intentions and actions, its failure to deal
with the asymmetrical nature of the Gaza conflict, its
failure to assign appropriate responsibility to Hamas for its

STATE 00016234 008 OF 011


practice of basing operations in civilian-populated urban
areas, and its sweeping conclusions of law. On October 16,
2009, the HRC passed a resolution endorsing the
recommendations in the Goldstone Report. On January 29,
Israel submitted to the UN Secretary General a 46-page update
outlining the status of its investigations into alleged
violations during the Gaza conflict. The Palestinian
Authority also submitted a document to Secretary General Ban
transmitting a Presidential Decree dated 25 January
establishing an Independent Investigation Commission to
follow up on implementation of the recommendations made in
the Goldstone Report with respect to the Palestinians, and a
report on the first meeting of the Commission. . Both sides
are undertaking efforts to investigate alleged violations.
The United States believes that Israel has the democratic
institutions to allow it to ensure domestic accountability.
Hamas is a terrorist organization, and it has neither the
ability nor the willingness to examine credibly its
deliberate and repeated violations of humanitarian law. End
Note. A forthcoming cable will provide additional
information and more specific instructions in respect to the
Goldstone Report.



10. (SBU) Registering support for a resolution or other HRC
action spotlighting human rights abuses in Iran: Ahead of the
March HRC session and building on momentum generated during
the February 15, 2010 Universal Periodic Review of Iran,s
human rights record, the USG is interested in assessing the
degree of support that would be forthcoming at the HRC for a
resolution or other HRC action addressing the ongoing human
rights abuses in Iran. HRC action on Iran would boost the
world body,s credibility in addressing critical human rights
crises. Initial impressions from host government capitals in
response to this demarche request will be essential for
informing the USG position moving into March. Note: The
human rights situation in Iran, already deeply troubling, has
grown significantly worse in the wake of the June 12
presidential elections and particularly during the Shi,a
holiday of Ashura on December 26-28. Since June, the
government of Iran has carried out a severe crackdown on
peaceful protestors, political critics, human rights

STATE 00016234 009 OF 011


defenders and journalists, and has acknowledged that at least
thirty-five individuals died in clashes with security forces,
with hundreds more injured, and nearly 4,000 imprisoned
(after the June 12 elections and an additional 1,000 were
detained in the wake of the Ashura protests). Reports of
arbitrary arrests; harassment and arrests of journalists;
persecution against religious minorities; extrajudicial
killings; and torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading
punishment have been ongoing since June. During the worst
violence since the election, at least eight persons and
reportedly as many as 37 were killed in clashes with security
forces at the Ashura protests on Sunday, December 27. Iran
is also running for membership to the Human Rights Council,
raising serious concerns that the credibility of the HRC will
be further undermined by the presence of this notorious human
rights violator on the Council. End note. See reftel C for
more information.



11. (SBU) Renewing country-specific special procedures
mandates for DPRK and Burma: The mandates of the Special
Rapporteurs on the Situation of Human Rights in the DPRK and
in Burma will expire in March, requiring the HRC to act to
renew them. The main co-sponsors of these resolutions, both
of which deal with countries that are among the world,s most
serious human rights abusers, will be the EU as a whole, as
in years past. Japan will assist as a main co-sponsor of the
DPRK resolution. The USG aims to secure the renewal of these
special rapporteurs without the weakening of their mandates.
Ahead of the March HRC session, the USG will offer our
support to the EU and Japan by lobbying other delegations for
their support.

OTHER POTENTIAL ISSUES


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





12. (SBU) Secret Detention Study (IF RAISED ONLY): On January
26, 2010, a group of HRC Special Rapporteurs and other
mandate holders issued a joint report on the practice of
secret detentions. A majority of the report focuses on the
alleged practices of the United States. The Department is
working closely with the interagency on a potential response.

STATE 00016234 010 OF 011


See below for suggested press points. The Africa Group and
others may seek to block consideration of the report because
of their objection to the Special Rapporteurs undertaking a
report of their own accord that the Africa Group believes to
be outside their respective mandates. If asked, the United
States supports the ability of the Special Rapporteurs to
present their report to the HRC through the usual Interactive
Dialogue process.

Suggested press points if asked about the USG reaction to the
Secret Detention Study:

-- The United States is still in the process of reviewing the
report released last night on global practices in relation to
secret detention in the context of countering terrorism.

-- The United States is a strong supporter of the Special
Mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and encourages robust
participation and dialogue within the United Nations human
rights system.

-- As a preliminary reaction, though, we note that the report
fails to adequately acknowledge the overall change in policy
in the Obama Administration. This Administration has clearly
reiterated its commitment to the rule of law, transparency,
and international law. We have completed an extensive review
of detention policy and practices and have gone to great
lengths to ensure that they are consistent with international
law.

-- We are committed to countering threats in a manner
consistent with our values and ideals. As the President
reiterated in his speech to the Nobel Committee, &even as we
confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules . . .
the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in
the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from
those whom we fight. That is the source of our strength.8

If pressed:

-- We will continue to review the report.

STATE 00016234 011 OF 011



REPORTING DEADLINE AND POINTS OF CONTACT


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





13. (U) Mission Geneva and posts are requested to provide
results of engagement with delegations and host governments
by February 26, 2010. Please refer questions or comments to
IO/HR Gayatri Patel.
CLINTON