Viewing cable 09PARISFR1137
Title: UNESCO DIRECTOR-GENERAL RACE ENTERS THE LAST LAP

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09PARISFR11372009-08-18 15:26:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Mission UNESCO
UNCLASSIFIED UNESCOPARI 08181137 
VZCZCXRO5370
RR RUEHAP RUEHFL RUEHGI RUEHGR RUEHKN RUEHKR RUEHMA RUEHMJ RUEHMR
RUEHPA RUEHPB RUEHQU RUEHRN RUEHSK RUEHSL
DE RUEHFR #1137/01 2301526
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181526Z AUG 09
FM UNESCO PARIS FR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO RUCNSCO/UNESCO COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS FR 001137 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL UNESCO EG AU EC BU LH RS BN RS
SUBJECT:  UNESCO DIRECTOR-GENERAL RACE ENTERS THE LAST LAP 
 
REF:  STATE 82701 
 
¶1.  (SBU) Summary:  Egypt's Farouk Hosni leads the pack in the race 
to be UNESCO's next Director-General.  He appears to have 20-25 
votes of the 30 needed to obtain the endorsement of UNESCO's 
58-member Executive Board.  Notably, he has recently picked up 
support from India which, added to Brazil which backed him in May, 
gives him support from two highly influential regional powers.  He 
is within striking distance of victory on what will be a secret 
ballot, but his victory is not inevitable.  He does not have the 
support of UNESCO's major contributors, nor does he have support of 
many in Africa, despite the African Union's apparent endorsement. 
Many states believe he would be a disengaged manager who would 
rather ignore UNESCO's serious management deficiencies than deal 
with them, and many question his commitment to UNESCO's ideals given 
his history of anti-Semitic comments.  Hosni can be beaten if he 
fails to win on the first ballot.  Most of those committed to him 
have promised to vote for him only once, and many even in the Middle 
East are likely to desert his cause.  The key will be finding a way 
for his opponents to coalesce around the candidate who has the best 
chance of winning.  End Summary. 
 
¶2.  (U) UNESCO's 58-member Executive Board will conduct up to five 
secret ballots September 17-22 to decide which of nine candidates 
for UNESCO Director-General to recommend for selection by the 
October General Conference as UNESCO's new leader.  Obtaining a 
precise breakdown of support for each candidate is impossible at 
this time.  Many permanent representatives are taking advantage of 
the August lull to consult their capitals and obtain instructions. 
Some delegations are being deliberately close-mouthed, while we know 
for a fact that others have promised their support to more than one 
candidate.  At least two permanent representatives have told us they 
will take advantage of the secrecy of the ballot to ignore 
instructions from their capital and vote for whom they please. 
¶3.  (SBU) By any yardstick, Egypt's Culture Minister Farouk Hosni is 
far ahead.  Egypt has been engaged in high-level deal-making and 
arm-twisting with other governments for more than two years.  Along 
the way it has picked up the endorsement of the Arab League and of 
the African Union (AU), although the former may be much more 
valuable than the latter.  While Arab delegations tell us they will 
join the Arab League consensus on the first ballot, despite the 
personal misgivings many have, many AU delegations tell us the AU 
endorsement was due only to heavy pressure from Libya's Qadhafi at 
the last AU meeting in Sirte, and that they do not intend to respect 
the AU position.  (Comment:  In our experience, Africans usually try 
to paper over divisions between north and south, but on this subject 
Sub-Saharan resentment at perceived bullying by Egypt and Libya is 
being expressed with unusual openness.)  More useful to Egypt have 
been endorsements by Brazil and India, each of which initially took 
a reserved position but have now come around to support and campaign 
for Hosni.  Both Brazil and India exercise strong influence in their 
respective regions and have the potential to bring others into his 
column. 
 
¶4.  (SBU) Hosni's opponents are divided and struggling but in many 
cases passionate in opposing him.  We continually hear concerns 
expressed about the way he ran his ministry in Cairo and the 
conviction for corruption of members of his staff by an Egyptian 
court.  Many tell us they fear he would be a distant, 
unapproachable, hands-off manager who would ignore UNESCO's many 
management failings and let things slide back to the way they were 
before the current director-general began attempting to reform the 
organization.  Criticism of Hosni's past anti-Semitic remarks cuts 
both ways, winning him sympathy from some in the Islamic world but 
causing many in Europe but also in Africa and Latin America to doubt 
his commitment to UNESCO's core principles.  Notably, virtually none 
of UNESCO's major contributors like him, and this could have a very 
negative impact on his ability to raise funds for the Organization, 
should he win.  Japan, the UK, Canada, Mexico, France, the Nordics, 
and Russia, for example, are all outspoken Hosni critics. 
¶5.  (SBU) The fundamental problem of Hosni's opponents is that they 
do not have a clear figure around which to rally.  Each of the other 
candidates has obvious flaws.  Of them, Austria's Benita 
Ferrero-Waldner, probably has the most votes.  She has wide support 
in northern Europe, backing from Colombia and perhaps Mexico, as 
well as the possibility of support in Africa.  Her critics contend 
she is a late-comer to the campaign with little evident interest in 
UNESCO, and they complain she has been falsely trying to claim that 
she is the EU candidate and can deliver EU development aid to 
potential supporters in the developing world.  In addition, many of 
Hosni's detractors feel that it is not Europe's turn to lead this 
organization.  Europeans essentially ran it from its foundation 
until the mid-1970's and again in the 1990's under Spanish former 
director-general Federico Mayor. 
¶6.  (SBU) Other rivals have less support.  Russian Vice-Foreign 
Minister Yakovenko has tried to position himself as the alternative 
to Hosni who could appeal to both developing and developed 
countries, but he has failed to win much support in either camp. 
The Russian ambassador was chagrined to admit to us that even states 
Russia considered natural allies like Serbia and Azerbaijan have 
committed to vote for Hosni rather than Yakovenko.  (Comment: 
Serbia's position, which was intended to enlist Egyptian support in 
blocking the tendency of Arab states to recognize Kosovo, clearly 
 
rankled Russia.  End Comment.)  Bulgaria's candidate, UNESCO PermRep 
Irina Bukova, has campaigned energetically for almost as long as the 
Egyptian, but Yakovenko is now directly competing for many of the 
same countries Bukova is targeting.  She may pick up scattered votes 
in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa but the total is unlikely to be 
large.  Her detractors feel she lacks vision and the strong 
personality that would be needed to impose order on a large 
international organization.  Lithuania's candidate, Ina 
Marciulonyte, is generally conceded to have vision and the best 
understanding of any candidate of UNESCO's internal workings, but 
she is felt to lack charisma.  Her vote total is thus probably in 
the low single digits, similar to Bukova's. 
 
¶7.  (SBU)  The remaining candidates may have even less support. 
Ecuador's Ivone Baki, herself of Lebanese extraction, has attracted 
support among the Lebanese diaspora in the Caribbean and has gotten 
some quiet help from Lebanon itself, but her vote total also appears 
low.  In Europe, where she is not well-known she is seen as a light 
weight with insufficient management experience to run the 
organization.  The African candidates, Noreini Tidjani-Serpos 
(Benin) and Sospeter Muhongo (Tanzania) have little support beyond 
their home countries, and, in Tidjani-Serpos' case, he may not even 
have that.  The Beninois ambassador, a bitter rival of Tidjani's, 
made clear to us recently that he is not enthusiastic about 
Tidjani's candidacy.  Finally, there is the strange case of former 
Algerian Foreign Minister Mohammed Bedjaoui who was nominated by 
Cambodia.  Algeria reportedly announced publicly it did not support 
him at the last AU Summit, while Cambodia maintains it is not 
campaigning for him.  Cambodia has not, however, written a letter 
withdrawing his nomination, so he remains an official candidate. 
Given such tepid backing, we believe Bedjaoui is likely to receive 
no votes on the first ballot. 
 
¶8.  (SBU) Comment:  We believe Hosni has to win on the first round, 
if he is going to do so.  He is not far from what he needs, but the 
commitments he has are for the first round only.  Several states 
committed to voting for him on the first round tell us that they 
will not vote for him on succeeding rounds.  This includes several 
Arab states who seem to have their own quiet misgivings about him. 
If there are two or more ballots, it will be important to build 
momentum around one of Hosni's opponents.  This will require some of 
Hosni's opponents to drop out and direct their votes to the 
anti-Hosni candidate with the best chance.  We anticipate intense 
consultations among Hosni's opponents as soon as the French vacation 
period ends. 
ENGELKEN 
UNCLASSIFIED   UNESCOPARI   08181137