UNODC MAJOR DONORS MEETING TACKLES UNGASS REVIEW, PIRACY AND FUTURE FUNDING CHALLENGES

ID
08UNVIEVIENNA666
SUBJECT
UNODC MAJOR DONORS MEETING TACKLES UNGASS REVIEW, PIRACY
DATE
2008-12-22 13:01:00
CLASSIFICATION
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
ORIGIN
UNVIE
TEXT
UNCLAS UNVIE VIENNA 000666

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM UN PGOV AORC AF SW SZ GM FR CA IN IT
NO, PK, TU, UK, EWWT, MARSEC

SUBJECT: UNODC MAJOR DONORS MEETING TACKLES UNGASS REVIEW, PIRACY AND FUTURE FUNDING CHALLENGES

REF: A. UNVIE 00579 B.UNVIE 000659

——– SUMMARY: ——–

¶1. (SBU) INL A/S David T. Johnson led the USDEL to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Major Donors meeting, December 5. Discussion with the other 20 donor countries included (1) a proposal for UNODC action to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, (2) the funding situation of UNODC, and (3) a review of progress achieved since the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session on Narcotic Drugs (UNGASS). Also discussed were the status of the Independent Evaluation Unit (IEU) and the UNODC’s partnership with INTERPOL to establish an anti-corruption training academy. A/S Johnson met with UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa, who committed to ensuring the U.S. is recognized for contributions to UNODC projects in Central Asia. At a dinner hosted by UNVIE Ambassador Greg Schulte, A/S Johnson discussed the counternarcotics situation in Afghanistan and underscored U.S. opposition to use of the phrase “harm reduction” in UNGASS review documents. END SUMMARY.

————————————– Major Donors: The “Watch Dog” of UNODC ————————————–

¶2. (SBU) The Major Donor countries reinstituted the practice of holding a “closed” session, without UNODC staff, to coordinate messages and to discuss the future role of the Major Donors group. A/S Johnson used the opportunity to emphasize the importance of continuing Major Donor coordination. He emphasized the need to schedule meetings close to other UN events, in order to ensure participation from capitals. Other donors, notably Sweden and Norway, questioned the ability of UNODC to operate without sufficient and predictable (read, increased) General Purpose Funds (GPF, i.e., funds without earmarks), which finance administrative and backstopping support for implementation of UNODC technical assistance projects. Germany and USDEL expressed skepticism, highlighting the practical difficulties in raising contributions to the GPF. A/S Johnson noted that government organizations, including his own, are often funded by project earmarks and must use project support costs to finance their operations. UNODC charges 13 percent in overhead to each project contribution (with the exception of some donors, notably the European Commission, which has secured an UN-wide rate of seven percent.) These funds must be better utilized in order to supplement the GPF. The UK closed the session by emphasizing the potential leverage that Major Donors could have in guiding UNODC, calling the group a “watch dog” of sorts. The UK will refine its non-paper on the future of Major Donors and also draft a work program for the 2009 calendar year to be shared with other donors.

————————- Funding, Funding, Funding ————————-

¶3. (SBU) During the Major Donors session, UNODC staff at all levels, including Executive Director Costa, painted a dire picture of UNODC’s funding situation. There is a lack of GPF, while Special Purpose Funds (SPF, i.e., earmarked contributions) continued on an upward trajectory. In Costa’s view, UNODC would soon either need to start rejecting SPF or need to secure an increase in the UN Regular Budget, to provide adequate oversight of technical assistance activities. UNODC specifically pointed to the 1.4 million dollar shortfall of the GPF for its anti-crime programs and noted that unless the imbalance was corrected the organization would be forced to cover the shortfall with the GPF intended for drug control programs. UNODC also sought to provide transparency to the use of its GPF, by outlining the areas for which these funds were used, including internal evaluation, research and policy analysis, salaries of the Field Office Representatives and its online financial database (ProFI). UNODC submitted a request for an additional 16 posts and 2.2 million dollars from the UN Regular Budget for the biennium 2010-2011, in order to cover its staffing and financial needs.

¶4. (SBU) Donors emphasized that other avenues could be found to relieve the GPF problems. Sweden and France pointed to the “thematic programs” under development by UNODC, as a way to allow donors to “soft earmark” funding. UNODC Director for the Division of Operations, Francis Maertens, identified future regional and thematic programs to overcome “projectitis” and focus strategic interventions in the areas of corruption, money laundering, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, trafficking of firearms, criminal justice reform, as well as health and human development. Finland, supported by the United States, sounded an alarm over the title of the thematic program on “health and human development,” in which the themes of drug demand reduction and HIV/AIDS would be examined. The title obscured the role of UNODC and its mandate to tackle these issues. A/S Johnson further reiterated the U.S. view that earmarked contributions should not be crowded out in favor of non-earmarked or loosely earmarked funds. Rather, the current financial situation should drive UNODC, its managers and its donors to take a more entrepreneurial approach, with overhead costs tied to specific projects. Germany reiterated U.S. concerns, noting that its government would not be increasing its contribution to the GPF in the immediate term. Italy confirmed that it had decreased its annual GPF contribution by more than 1 million dollars. Only the Netherlands announced an impending new contribution to the GPF. Questions also remained regarding the interplay between regional and thematic programs. UNODC intends to follow up with donors.

———————————– UNGASS Review: Compromise Necessary ———————————–

¶5. (SBU) During a UK-hosted lunch, Sandeep Chawla, Director for the Division of Policy Analysis, relayed the concerns held by the chairman of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) – that states had impeded progress on the negotiation of the documents (the Annex and Political Declaration) to be adopted at the high-level CND in March 2009. Specifically, he pointed to delegates’ insistence on re-opening conclusions agreed to by the UNGASS experts groups (Reftel A) and the insistence by some delegations (notably the EU) on inserting the phrase “harm reduction” into the texts. Costa further warned of an “empty” document if progress could not be made.

¶6. (SBU) SWITZERLAND, Germany and France followed UNODC’s statements by giving an optimistic assessment and stressing that the UNGASS review presented an opportunity to highlight “harm reduction” and human rights in the outcome documents. A/S Johnson made clear the U.S. strongly opposed mentioning “harm reduction” in the text of the UNGASS documents. He further stressed that EU introduction of “harm reduction” policies – concepts not agreed to at the expert groups – after the November 4 deadline set by the CND Chairperson for the submission of new ideas into the draft Annex document, bordered on bad faith. All other Member States abided by this deadline. Furthermore, A/S Johnson warned EU Member States not to assume that the new U.S. administration would reverse course on “harm reduction” in the run up to the March 2009 CND. He said the EU should end their attempts to slow roll the negotiations. When asked, UNODC indicated that the Namibian Ambassador would collate comments on the Political Declaration by December 15 and circulate a draft by early January. EU Member States present expressed displeasure and insisted that the draft Political Declaration must be issued by late December.

¶7. (SBU) On the margins of the Major Donors meeting, the UK approached USDEL to note increasing tension on the issue of “harm reduction” and to offer to meet with UNVIE to discuss further. SWITZERLAND also approached USDEL, to question the purported U.S. lack of support for demand reduction. A/S Johnson reiterated that the U.S. very much supports demand reduction. He explained that we object to the use of the term “harm reduction,” because it encompasses objectionable policies such as heroin maintenance and drug injection rooms.

——————————- UNODC Proposal to Combat Piracy ——————————-

¶8. (SBU) The UNODC formally released to Major Donors its draft proposal to combat piracy off of the Somali Coast by facilitating arrests at sea by teams of “ship-riders” from nearby littoral states, the legal transfer of suspects, and their investigation and prosecution. UNODC also shared the proposal with the Permanent Missions of Egypt, Kenya and Yemen, who are included as possible recipients of assistance. The proposal could not be passed to Tanzania because Tanzania does not have permanent representation in Vienna. UNODC staff asserted they could have “boots on the ground” in two weeks and tangible progress in six weeks thereafter. Major Donors, including the United States, expressed general support for the UNODC initiative but there were no immediate funding commitments. The UNODC proposed program would provide countries in the region with the tools necessary to utilize the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to prosecute the pirates, who constitute an organized crime group as defined by the treaty (Reftel B).

——————————- The Independent Evaluation Unit and the Anti-Corruption Academy ——————————-

¶9. (SBU) A representative of the Independent Evaluation Unit (IEU) provided Major Donors with an overview of the IEU’s accomplishments in 2008. This included a thematic evaluation of UNODC’s terrorism-related work and its program in Afghanistan. Voluntary contributions to the IEU fell in 2008 to half their 2007 levels. These financial constraints caused the IEU to delay staff recruiting and to re-evaluate their 2009 work plan. (Note: UNODC requested UN Regular Budget funding for IEU staff positions for the biennium 2010-2011. End Note.) This tentative work plan includes an evaluation of UNODC’s anti-corruption activities, its Colombia
illicit crop monitoring survey and an annual evaluation report. Donors agreed that evaluations play a vital role in a well functioning organization. Japan urged that the IEU report directly to the Executive Director, to avoid exertion of undue influence by branches of the organization.

¶10. (SBU) UNODC provided a brief overview of its recent agreement with INTERPOL and the Austrian Government to establish the International Anti-Corruption Academy. This body would be the first institution of higher learning dedicated to the fight against corruption within the framework of the UN Convention against Corruption. UNODC said the curriculum will be administered by full time staff, targeting law enforcement, judicial employees, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. UNODC is currently approaching donors for the half million dollars in required start-up costs.

————————————- Meeting with Executive Director Costa ————————————-

¶11. (SBU) A/S Johnson and UNVIE Ambassador Schulte met with UNODC Executive Director Antonio Costa to compare notes in advance of the Major Donors meeting. A/S Johnson showcased the 2008 U.S. contribution to UNODC, which grew to 26 million dollars. In the U.S. view, this voluntary contribution, which includes a little over USD 1 million to the GPF, represented a serious commitment to the organization. A/S Johnson stressed the importance of acknowledging donors for their contributions, citing a trend by UNODC’s operations in Central Asia to fail to recognize U.S. funding support. UNVIE Ambassador Schulte added that UNODC must also provide good visibility to its projects with U.S. embassies in the region due to the increasingly decentralized nature of bilateral assistance efforts. Costa apologized if the U.S. did not receive the recognition it deserved, noting that the EU was particularly sensitive to the same issue; he said that he would address this.

¶12. (SBU)Costa and his staff asked A/S Johnson and Ambassador Schulte for their impressions on whether the new administration would reverse previous U.S. opposition to “harm reduction.” A/S Johnson reiterated the U.S. concern with regard to the EU push for the term’s insertion in the UNGASS documents. He further surmised that in the short-term no one should expect the U.S. to support the so-called harm reduction approach, given the many practices the phrase subsumes. Costa opined that it would be good news if the U.S. does not make a fundamental policy shift on drug control.

———————————– Diverse Group Discusses Afghanistan and UNGASS at UNVIE-hosted Dinner ———————————–

¶13. (SBU) UNVIE Ambassador Schulte hosted a dinner on December 4 in honor of A/S Johnson, inviting a diverse array of participants: UNODC, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The attendees undertook a roundtable discussion on their views with regard to the narcotics situation in Afghanistan. A/S Johnson stressed the importance of coupling incentives and disincentives as an effective means to sustain the reductions in opium poppy cultivation. To this end, Ambassador Schulte cited UNODC reporting, which noted that fear of eradication influenced farmers’ decision-making. With regard to NATO involvement in counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan, the German representative emphatically stated that the direct involvement of German troops was “not possible.” A/S Johnson indicated that NATO engagement did not have to entail use of force but could involve supporting public information efforts or the disbursement of benefits under the Good Performers Initiative (GPI). To this end, he encouraged those governments at the table to provide funding to the GPI. Sweden made a commitment to take this message back to its capital.

¶14. (SBU) With regard to the UNGASS review process, A/S Johnson raised the disagreement between some “close allies” and partners over the phrase “harm reduction.” He expressed concern that relationships with the negotiating climate could be negatively affected at the political level if Member States did not find a mutually agreeable way forward. Canada’s Charge, Terry Wood, agreed that “harm reduction” posed a problem for his country and pointed to the compromise language agreed to in the 2008 UN General Assembly Resolution on drugs as a possible way forward. The UK Ambassador Simon Smith noted that, although a solution is possible, the UK “did not want to move backwards.” Germany and Norway concurred with the UK statement. Sweden’s Ambassador Lundburg pointed to the fact that Sweden also does not support “harm reduction” but has managed to “deal” with it in the EU context. Ambassador Lundburg further mentioned that there are some EU and Latin American countries that would like to modify the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and emphasized that Sweden certainly does not want to “open up that Pandora’s box.”

——- Comment ——-

¶15. (SBU) The Major Donors meeting proved to be an important venue for raising the political stakes with regard to the negotiation of the documents to be adopted at the high-level session of the CND in ¶2009. A/S Johnson used the occasion to follow up on his discussions with the UK in Washington and the European Commission in Brussels at the recent U.S.-EU Drugs Troika. Some EU delegates, notably the UK, seem to be prepared to begin discussions, if at a suitably high level, on compromise language to replace the phrase “harm reduction.” Germany appears more reluctant to do so. Other countries, notably Canada, Pakistan and Namibia, provided strong support for the United States on this issue. USDEL heard that in a private meeting with Costa, the Ambassador from Namibia went so far as to call it an “EU problem”, rather than a “US problem,” since many countries disagreed with the EU position.

¶16. (SBU) Finally, from the interventions of other donor countries, it does not appear that UNODC’s funding structure will undergo any fundamental shifts in the near term. The meeting highlighted UNODC’s increasing frustration with relying heavily on voluntary contributions and with what they perceive as donor-driven priorities for the organization. Nonetheless, many countries, including the United States, remained skeptical about the feasibility of providing a sizeable increase in non-earmarked contributions. The thematic and regional programs afford perhaps the best approach to meet UNODC’s desire for predictable funding. UNVIE will work closely with the Department to provide feedback to UNODC on these programs as they are developed.

¶17. (SBU) Assistant Secretary Johnson has cleared on this cable.

PYATT

HEADER
VZCZCXYZ0017
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUNV #0666/01 3571331
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221331Z DEC 08
FM USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8864
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1427

XTAGS: XTAGSNAR, XTAGKCRM, XTAGUN, XTAGPGOV, XTAGAORC, XTAGAF, XTAGSW, XTAGSZ, XTAGGM, XTAGFR, XTAGCA, XTAGIN, XTAGIT 08UNVIEVIENNA666

TAGS
SNAR KCRM UN PGOV AORC AF SW SZ GM FR CA IN IT
ADDED
2011-04-28 00:12:00
STAMP
2011-04-29 00:48:14
VOTE_POINTS
0
VOTE_COUNT
0
VOTE_RATING
0
PRIORITY
RR
TWEETS
0
MANUAL
N
SITELINK
ISNEW
N
FINGERPRINT1
ade1a0a40d18d43b7f2ccebaff4e9abf

 

Leave a Reply