2015 VISIT RSO Danish Hels CommLeft to right:Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Secretariat Head Philip Maschke, Chairperson Karsten Fledelius, Member Hanne Severinsen, OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver, Copenhagen, 1 August 2015COPENHAGEN, 4 August 2015 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Secretary General Spencer Oliver discussed the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act and the current state of the OSCE at an event hosted by the Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights on 1 August.

“At this milestone, it is important to take stock of the OSCE’s past, present and future. We recall the profound importance of the Final Act and the Helsinki Process, which ensured that human rights was a central component of the foreign policy of every nation,” Oliver said at the Copenhagen event, which was held four decades to the day since the OSCE’s founding document was signed in the Finnish capital.

“Since 1975, there have been many OSCE anniversaries, but I can say in complete earnestness that this anniversary of the Final Act comes at one of the most critical junctures in the Organization’s history. In short, the OSCE faces a crisis moment, for the 40th anniversary has arrived at a time when world events and violations of the Helsinki Final Act do not merely present a challenge, but threaten to destroy our Organization and make this the ‘final act’ of the Helsinki Final Act,” he said.

Helsinki 40 OSCE PA LogoHELSINKI, 6 July 2015 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s International Secretariat has released the Final Report of its Helsinki +40 Project, presenting concrete proposals for reforming the OSCE to ensure its relevance and efficiency in the years ahead.

The report was presented today to parliamentarians from three continents attending the OSCE PA’s 2015 Annual Session, during a special event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the OSCE’s founding document, the Helsinki Final Act.

A resolution based on the report and sponsored by Project Chair Joao Soares (MP, Portugal) is also under consideration at this year’s Annual Session, which is being held in Finlandia Hall, the site of the signing of the Final Act on 1 August 1975.

In presenting the report, OSCE PA President and Finnish parliamentarian Ilkka Kanerva said:

“We pay tribute to the Helsinki Final Act and the OSCE for advancing human security over the last four decades. But make no mistake: This is by no means the time to sit back and be satisfied. Today, the only fitting way to commemorate the Final Act is to strive with new urgency toward realizing its vision of respectful interstate relations and adherence to commitments -- and that requires reforming the way we work."

2015   Belgrade compositeParticipants in the Belgrade seminar included:Top (left to right): OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver, President Ilkka Kanerva, Serbian Delegation Head Dijana Vukomanovic, BFPE President Sonja LichtBottom (left to right): Serbian Ambassador Dejan Sahovic, OSCE PA human rights committee Rapporteur Gordana Comic

COPENHAGEN, 28 May 2015 – The OSCE needs a strengthened presence on the ground, closer co-operation with civil society and a rededication to human rights commitments to help realize its goal of achieving comprehensive security, said participants in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Helsinki +40 seminar today in Belgrade. (PHOTOS available here.)

OSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) joined other leading parliamentarians, representatives of the Serbian OSCE Chairmanship, think-tank experts, civil society actors and academics for the two-day event, which was hosted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in co-operation with the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE).

The seminar followed events in Moscow, Washington, Stockholm and Copenhagen as part of the OSCE PA's Helsinki +40 Project, which aims to evaluate the OSCE's past and inspire reform on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its founding document, the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.

"People from the 57 participating States [of the OSCE] are expecting us to deliver our promises that peace has no alternative," said Dijana Vukomanovic, the Head of Serbia's Delegation to the PA, in her opening remarks on 27 May.

2015 H40 DIIS CompositeSeminar participants included (top left to right): OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver; John Bernhard, Special Advisor of the Chairperson-in-Office on the Legal Framework; OSCE PA Amb. Andreas Nothelle; Lisa Tabassi, the Head of Legal Services at the OSCE Secretariat; Miodrag Panceski, the Deputy Head of Serbia’s Mission to the OSCE; and OSCE PA Helsinki +40 Project Chair Joao Soares.

COPENHAGEN, 28 April 2015 – The OSCE's lack of a clear, international legal status and the challenges that result for its personnel, particularly during crisis situations, was the topic of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's latest Helsinki +40 seminar, held on 27 April in Copenhagen.

Participants in the event, including diplomats, legal experts and leading OSCE parliamentarians, noted that the situation in Ukraine, and the problems faced by the Organization in trying to respond rapidly, had brought the longstanding problem to the fore: The question of granting a legally binding character to the Organization must be tackled once and for all if the OSCE is to fulfill its potential, they said.

The seminar, hosted by the Danish Parliament and in co-operation with the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), was the fourth leg of the OSCE PA's Helsinki +40 Project. The Project aims to evaluate the OSCE's past and inspire reform on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its founding document, the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.

2015 UI CompositParticipants gathered at the Swedish Parliament for the OSCE PA's third Helsinki +40 seminar on 11 March. (photo courtesy of Melker Dahlstrand/The Riksdag Administration)

The third event in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Helsinki +40 seminar series took place on 11 March in Stockholm, with experts, policy-makers, ambassadors and OSCE parliamentarians considering how the European security architecture, and the OSCE's inclusive security community in particular, can better prevent conflicts and respond to new threats.

Among key ideas to emerge was the need for the Organization to rededicate itself to work on the ground and field presences in order to better mitigate economic, governance and human rights challenges before they escalate into conflicts. Other suggestions included the development of a specific mediation mandate for the PA; the need for greater civil society involvement in the Organization's work; the promotion of active self-evaluation by participating States; and the need to boost co-operation with other international organizations.