2013-AS-Plenary-VotingGround-breaking resolutions on international adoption, Palestinians, audit of OSCE also pass

ISTANBUL, 3 July 2013 – After four days of debates, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly today adopted a sweeping declaration aimed at jumpstarting the 57 member states and the Organization itself into action on comprehensive security commitments, including human rights.

“This year, more than ever, this declaration matters because this is the time when our governments are starting to examine how we best revitalize our Organization and strengthen the landmark agreement we entered into nearly 40 years ago,” said outgoing President Wolfgang Grossruck.

The 14-page Istanbul Declaration covering all three OSCE dimensions is joined by 23 additional resolutions covering more specific issues ranging from the crisis in Syria and media freedom to human trafficking and cybersecurity. 

Other adopted supplementary items call for:

  • the OSCE to grant the Palestinian National Authority Mediterranean Partner status;
  • countries to resolve differences related to inter-country adoption and avoid any “indiscriminate disruption of inter-country adoptions already in progress”;
  • the Assembly to approve the OSCE’s 144.8 million Euro budget and hire and pay for a professional external auditor to examine the Organization’s accounts.

“Our commitments to a holistic view of security, including human rights, economic and environmental cooperation may have been founded amid the Cold War, but we can never let what inspired our actions then become frozen in time,” Grossruck said. “The Istanbul Declaration should breathe new life into our political commitments and inspire real action in Vienna and all our capitals.”

Political affairs and security

In a vote aimed at clearly modernizing inter-military agreements, the adopted Declaration calls for parliaments and governments to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, renew negotiations on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and update the Vienna Document to lower thresholds at which states are to inform each other of military exercises.

Economic & environmental

In the economic and environmental dimension delegates took a bold stance against austerity and for green energy, recommending the imposition of new fees to make short-term stock speculation more expensive and the utilization of green growth initiatives as an alternative to economic austerity. Members also voted to support binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions when government leaders meet at this November’s UN climate change meeting in Poland.

Human rights

In lively debates that took place within a six-block walk from Istanbul’s Taksim Square, delegates discussed human rights with specific attention given to the situation in Turkey. The final declaration "strongly urges" governments to respect the rule of law and judicial independence, to release and exonerate all political prisoners and to abolish the death penalty.

The declaration also calls for increased participation of civil society in the OSCE and calls for governments to establish special anti-trafficking units to combat human trafficking.

The declaration is now forwarded on to foreign ministries and parliaments to help fuel the discussions in the OSCE’s ongoing Helsinki +40 process, the informal dialogue leading to ministerial decisions that shape the future of the Organization and the political commitments of participating States.

Future Meetings

The Assembly also announced in Istanbul new hosts for upcoming major parliamentary meetings, with the upcoming chairmanship country Switzerland announcing they will host the 2014 Fall Meeting in Geneva 2-5 October 2014, and Finland agreeing to be the site for the 2015 Annual Session – in commemoration of that year’s 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act. Montenegro and Azerbaijan had already announced they will host the 2013 Fall Meeting in Budva 13-15 October 2013 and the 2014 Annual Session in Baku 28 June – 2 July 2014.