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Voting AS 2017 090517Belarusian delegation voting on the OSCE PA Minsk Declaration in plenary session, 9 July 2017MINSK, 9 July 2017 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted the 2017 Minsk Declaration today with recommendations to national governments, parliaments and the international community to help shape policies in the fields of political affairs, security, economics, environment, and human rights. More than 260 parliamentarians from 55 OSCE countries and several Partners for Co-operation participated in the five-day Annual Session in Minsk held under the theme “Enhancing mutual trust and co-operation for peace and prosperity in the OSCE region.”

Parliamentarians representing the collective voice of one billion people from across the OSCE area adopted the Minsk Declaration with recommendations and pronouncements on issues including counter-terrorism, conflict resolution, climate change, migration, and strengthening the OSCE’s human rights enforcement mechanisms. (Full text available in English, French and Russian.)

The Declaration “urges participating States to recommit to multilateral diplomacy in the pursuit of comprehensive security and to implement OSCE confidence-building measures” to reduce the risk of conflict. It calls for governments to “develop measures aimed at blocking the funding of terrorist organizations ... including by improving legal frameworks and law enforcement methods, strengthening the security of international transportation, and by tracking the movements of terrorists within countries and across borders.”

In the economic and environmental dimension, the Declaration “urges all OSCE participating States to recognize the urgency of the climate crisis and its related challenges” and underlines that “domestic economic policies should prioritize clean energy projects, investment and innovation to promote sustained growth and ensure that negative effects on the environment are minimized.” It further calls on all OSCE countries “to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change [and] to fulfill their obligations under the agreement.”

On human rights, the Declaration “calls on OSCE participating States to respect the human dignity and equal rights of all their citizens by implementing to the fullest extent all OSCE commitments concerning human rights, fundamental freedoms, pluralistic democracy, and the rule of law.” It urges an immediate end to “the harassment, imprisonment, mistreatment, and disappearance of political opponents, human rights defenders, journalists, and other members of civil society.”

The Assembly also adopted resolutions on the crisis in and around Ukraine, the death penalty, new voting technologies, energy and water security, religious discrimination, legislative responses to new psychoactive substances, preventing child sexual exploitation, and promoting gender-inclusive conflict mediation.

The Declaration and resolutions will now be shared with parliaments and foreign ministers of OSCE countries, to serve as policy input ahead of the OSCE’s 2017 Ministerial Council meeting this year in Vienna.

Muttonen closing MinskPresident Christine Muttonen delivers remarks closing the 26th Annual Session, Minsk, 9 July 2017Speaking at the Annual Session’s closing plenary session today, OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) noted the meeting’s success in producing a wide-ranging Declaration addressing many of the most pressing challenges on the international agenda and promoting mutual understanding among OSCE countries from North America to Europe to Central Asia.

“Not only have we reached agreement on some of the most difficult issues of the day – and are issuing a very strong political document today – but we have also worked towards restoring the spirit of co-operation that we so badly need,” she said.

Noting that the top four positions in the OSCE remain vacant due to diplomatic deadlock, President Muttonen called on parliamentarians to use their political influence to redouble efforts to strike consensus for filling these vital roles. She called the current situation “unacceptable.”

The closing plenary session today also included reports by OSCE PA Treasurer Doris Barnett (MP, Germany) and OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella. Ambassador Paul Bekkers reported on behalf of the Office of the OSCE Secretary General, noting the status of filling ongoing vacancies of high-level positions in the Organization.

The adoption of the Minsk Declaration culminated several days of work in the Belarusian capital. The Annual Session kicked off on 5 July with opening speeches by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Andreichenko, PA President Muttonen, and the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

Side events were held on the margins of the Annual Session on issues including human rights in Belarus, migration, human trafficking, and promoting women’s leadership in political processes. The event on women’s leadership featured the participation of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which launched a new publication, “Making Laws Work for Women and Men: A Practical Guide to Gender-Sensitive Legislation.”

On Saturday – one day after 122 countries adopted a global treaty at the United Nations prohibiting nuclear weapons – Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) held a forum to discuss current threats from nuclear postures and the role of parliamentarians in addressing these threats. PA President Muttonen, who also serves as Co-President of PNND, spoke at the event and noted that the potential impact of nuclear weapons “is a matter of deepest concern for our organization.”

OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues Hedy Fry (MP, Canada) reported to the plenary session on Saturday, focusing her remarks on the gender aspects of the integration of refugees and migrants. She stressed that to be effective, integration policies must recognize the diversity of migrant identities, including by gender mainstreaming and promoting understanding of the experiences of women and girls.

On 5 July, the Assembly’s heads of national delegations agreed to establish a new OSCE PA ad hoc committee to counter terrorism.

For more information about the Annual Session, please visit www.oscepa.org. Photos are available for public use on the PA’s Flickr page at www.flickr.com/oscepa and the Belarusian Parliament's Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/houseofrepresentatives/. A video playlist is available here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWSg38GfTQV-ERQzAAw8I_CiFcGui-Yac 

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is comprised of 323 parliamentarians from 57 countries spanning Europe, Central Asia and North America. The Assembly provides a forum for parliamentary diplomacy, monitors elections, and strengthens international co-operation to uphold commitments on political, security, economic, environmental and human rights issues.