DE RUCNDT #0103 0552109
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 242109Z FEB 10
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8224
C O N F I D E N T I A L USUN NEW YORK 000103
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/24/2020 TAGS: PREL PTER UN KJUS SUBJECT: PREPARING FOR THE 12 - 16 APRIL MEETING ON THE COMPREHENSIVE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM (CCIT)
REF: 2009 USUN 840
Classified By: Ambassador Wolff for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (U) This is an action request. See paragraph 6 below.
2. (C) Summary. Negotiations on the CCIT will resume April 12 through 16 in New York. Discussions within the UN General Assembly's Sixth (Legal) Committee on the CCIT last October resulted in no movement towards consensus on a text. The plenary discussion focused on the 2007 Coordinator's text, which was not expressly rejected by anyone. Many (including the EU, OIC, Africa Group, and India), while not expressly endorsing the text, said that it needed further consideration. Liechtenstein said that in the next ad hoc committee meeting (12-16 April), a decisive step forward needed to be taken and that if there was no consensus the April 2010 meeting should be the last one. Bilaterally, the Sri Lankan Chair acknowledged that he thought if no results were achieved in April 2010, it was a good idea to shelve discussion of the CCIT for a little while. In late January, the Spanish (EU Presidency) expert handling the CCIT conveyed to USUN that the EU would like to see the CCIT concluded in the next session, although she did not offer any suggestions as to how to overcome the longstanding differences between the two sides by then. We have also learned that the Coordinator for the past several years, Maria Talelian (Greece), apparently frustrated with the lack of progress, will likely not reprise this role in the April negotiations. Recently, the Indian expert handling the CCIT told USUN that India intends to host a dinner for approximately 16 countries (including the US) at the expert level to discuss objectives for the April meeting. Mission seeks urgent guidance at para 6 on the way forward. End Summary.
3. (SBU) As captured in reftel, the most problematic language in the 2007 coordinator's text is language (para 5 of Article 18) that provides that "This Convention is without prejudice to the rules of international law applicable to armed conflict, in particular those rules applicable to acts lawful under international humanitarian law." USUN emphasized the ambiguity of this text as a reason for not supporting it, but did not publicly explain our rationale in detail. It is conceivable, given that nobody rejected this text, that we might find ourselves relatively isolated in April if there is suddenly a push to finish negotiations (after 10 years).
4. (C) If Ms. Talelian does not participate, we would have an opportunity to recommend a new process. One possibility would be to nominate two facilitators (at the Ambassador level) from Missions in New York, ideally one from WEOG and one from the OIC. This would provide the ability for more sustained inter-sessional discussion and move away from the one week/twice per year discussions in the Sixth Committee we have been mired in for the last 10 years. Such an approach involving Ambassadorial-level facilitators proved critical to bridging the differences between the OIC and the "West" that allowed for the consensus adoption of the UN General Assembly's Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In addition, it might also fill a leadership vacuum in the CCIT negotiations that exists from having what is widely viewed as an ineffective Chair (Sri Lankan MFA Legal Adviser Rohan Perera, who is based in Colombo), for a number of years. Absent some heightened and sustained political interest in the negotiations, which might generate the momentum to bridge the outstanding differences, the prospects for finalizing the CCIT in the near future seem bleak, unless it is brought to a vote, in which case we would lose.
5. (SBU) A new process, however, will not advance the negotiations unless there is a substantive proposal around which everyone can coalesce, whether it is the 2007 coordinator's language or a new formulation. The 2002 proposal no longer seems viable, as we are the only ones actively endorsing it. It may be, of course, that the OIC is not serious about concluding a convention, and prefers to shift the action (especially on the definition of terrorism) to the high-level conference on terrorism that they espouse, but if so active engagement by the USG would call their bluff.
6. (C) USUN requests the Department to provide guidance on the U.S. position on the CCIT. Is finalizing the CCIT a USG priority? If so, what is our strategy for realizing it, both in terms of process and substance as discussed in paras 4 and 5? Are we prepared to be relatively isolated in opposition if the current text is pushed to a vote? USUN requests this guidance ASAP but in any event by March 12, in advance of the Indian-hosted dinner. RICE