With OSCE’s future uncertain, parliamentarians must redouble efforts to raise support, participants say at PA webinar

COPENHAGEN, 31 May 2023 – The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine has aggravated problems that have plagued the OSCE for years, said participants at today’s OSCE Parliamentary Assembly webinar, and in order to ensure the continuity of OSCE processes and operations, it is necessary to increase the political attention to it, as well as ensure proper funding.

The troubles facing the organization are illustrated by the fact that just six months before the next Ministerial Council, there is no agreement on who will chair the OSCE next year, it was stressed. Other challenges of the OSCE include the perennial difficulties in passing an annual budget and the need to achieve a difficult consensus on confirming heads of OSCE institutions.

To discuss these and other obstacles to the effective functioning of the OSCE, the PA held a discussion in the framework of its Call for Action – Helsinki +50 initiative, including the participation of OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt; Secretary General Roberto Montella; Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Matteo Mecacci; Allison Hart, Senior Advisor/Chief of Staff to the OSCE Secretary General; and Doug Wake, former US diplomat and senior OSCE official. The meeting was moderated by Ambassador Lamberto Zannier, OSCE PA High-Level Expert.

Several OSCE PA Members also participated in the discussion, agreeing that parliamentarians can play an important role in raising awareness of these issues within their parliaments and urging governments to engage with a view to their timely and effective resolution.

“In our parliaments, it is urgent that we redouble efforts to raise awareness about the OSCE,” President Cederfelt said. “We have opportunities to question our governments about the OSCE: What are our Foreign Ministers doing to ensure that the OSCE’s modest budget is passed? What are they doing to renew the appointments of OSCE officials? We need to make full use of this prerogative to ensure that the Ministers themselves take charge of these questions and take responsibility.”

Secretary General Montella stressed that there are many people who benefit from the OSCE, highlighting various projects that have a real impact on the ground in a cost-efficient manner. Montella emphasized that it is important to help the organization do its job, and in this regard he stressed the importance of reaching consensus for the Chairmanship of the OSCE next year and to ensure the renewal of the leadership of OSCE institutions.

ODIHR Director Mecacci focused on what can be done in a practical way to make sure that the organization remains relevant today, highlighting the need for more flexibility in order to continue important programmes that have a real impact, such as election observation.

Allison Hart underlined the importance of everyone working together to find solutions. It’s not enough to know that there’s a problem, she said, what is needed is to remember why these are problems worth solving. The OSCE, she underscored, is delivering everyday in ways that are bringing security and prosperity to the region. The OSCE is supporting Ukraine and Moldova, and working on border security in Central Asia, as well as other priority issues. She recalled the OSCE’s important work in fighting corruption and human trafficking, through legislative remedies and awareness-raising.

Doug Wake spoke about the OSCE’s enduring value as a platform for dialogue, which he pointed out might be more useful in the future even if it is not feasible now considering the geopolitical realities. He also highlighted the OSCE’s programmatic activities through its field operations, institutions, and the Secretariat. The OSCE is unique, he stressed, in that it has a set of common principles that have been agreed to at the highest levels. It is therefore incumbent upon everyone, including parliamentarians, to do what is possible to get through these difficult times.

In the discussion, participants said that the situation facing the OSCE should be a wake-up call, and highlighted the value of the OSCE as an organization devoted to working toward peace. It is essential, it was stressed, that the OSCE receives the funding it needs to continue to work towards peace and security. Governments should hear from elected officials about these issues, it was underlined, and in this regard parliaments can have a real impact, including by increasing the OSCE's visibility.

To watch video of today's webinar, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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