Accountability and transparency needed to build the OSCE’s human dimension, participants say at Parliamentary Assembly event

Anne Kirsti Karlsen 201021Anne-Kirsti KarlsenCOPENHAGEN, 20 October 2021 – Today’s Call for Action – Helsinki +50 meeting hosted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly focused on challenges in the human dimension of security, with participants offering ideas for ways forward to build accountability among OSCE countries and renew governments’ human rights commitments.

Polarization within the OSCE has made consensus more elusive over a number of issues, including the appointment of heads of institutions and the holding of mandated meetings, and to make the OSCE work properly, it is necessary to identify problems and find ideas for solutions, participants said.

Moderated by Ambassador Lamberto Zannier, OSCE PA High-Level Expert, the online event featured the participation of OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt; Sereine Mauborgne, Chair of OSCE PA’s human rights committee; Ambassador Anne-Kirsti Karlsen, Permanent Representative of Norway to the OSCE and Chair of the OSCE Human Dimension Committee; Ambassador Christian Strohal, former OSCE/ODIHR Director; Antanina Maslyka, Representative of the Civic Solidarity Platform Secretariat and Netherlands Helsinki Committee.

Former OSCE PA President Adrian Severin and Special Representative on Civil Society Engagement Kyriakos Hadjiyianni also actively participated in the discussion.

In her opening remarks, President Cederfelt underlined the challenges that have become commonplace in upholding OSCE human dimension commitments. “In the past several years and up until very recently, we have seen attempts by participating States to limit OSCE election observation missions,” she said. “There have been very tense discussions regarding the participation of civil society in OSCE meetings. Polarizing discussions about the work of OSCE institutions, ODIHR in particular, continue to delay the timely adoption of the budget year after year.”

Considering setbacks in recent years, including the inability to agree on an agenda for the 2021 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM), participants stressed that it is important to develop innovative methods to ensure that governments implement commitments in the human dimension agreed upon over the decades. Participants highlighted, for example, the possibility for civil society organizations to meet in appropriate fora and present to OSCE participating States their key concerns and expectations.

Ambassador Karlsen emphasized that to restore the OSCE’s human dimension, what is needed is real dialogue, confidence-building, and transparency, as well as adequate resources being devoted to the organization. OSCE parliamentarians have a particular responsibility, she said, to make sure there is political discussion about the work of the OSCE.

Mauborgne, who serves as Head of French Delegation to the OSCE PA as well as Chair of the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, pointed to the OSCE’s consensus rule as the reason that the was no HDIM this year. If one country can block with impunity, she noted that it is no longer a viable situation for the organization. “Governments should be held publicly accountable for such actions,” she said. Mauborgne also suggested that the HDIM could be replaced with a year-round human rights review at the OSCE Permanent Council, which should be open to the public.

Ambassador Strohal said that diminishing trust within societies and among governments is what has led to the current decline in the OSCE’s human dimension and that what is needed to emerge from this downward spiral is accountability – there must be ways to ways to bring these issues out into the open, he said. There must be more engagement, more dialogue, and more visibility, Strohal emphasized.

In this regard, civil society plays a key role, participants said.

To watch the full discussion, please click here.

For more information on the OSCE PA’s Call for Action – Helsinki +50 initiative, please click here.



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