OSCE PA’s Annual Session opens in Birmingham with expressions of support for Ukraine and appeals for ending war

020722 Margareta CederfeltOSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt speaks at the opening of the Birmingham Annual Session, 2 July 2022BIRMINGHAM, 2 July 2022 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 29th Annual Session opened today in Birmingham, United Kingdom, with calls by OSCE leaders and host officials to end the war in Ukraine with full respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Addressing nearly 250 parliamentarians gathered for the event, speakers at the opening plenary denounced the Russian Federation’s invasion, shared their observations from visiting Ukraine and meeting Ukrainian refugees, and urged full investigations and accountability for alleged war crimes and atrocities.

In her speech, OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) highlighted her visit on Monday to Kyiv, Bucha and Irpin – the sites of some of the worst violence in Russia’s war against Ukraine. She described the destruction that she witnessed and regretted that as the war continues many more innocent people will be killed. “To our dear friends in the Ukrainian Delegation,” she said, “my message is clear: We stand with you. We will continue to defend your right to live in peace.”

President Cederfelt emphasized that the OSCE PA’s position has been consistent since the onset of hostilities in Ukraine in 2014: “We have denounced the illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol since the beginning of military confrontation in eastern Ukraine. We have consistently urged a resolution of the conflict through the full and good-faith implementation of the Minsk Agreements.”

Host officials also spoke at the opening plenary, with speeches by John Whittingdale, Head of the UK Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South and Central Asia, North Africa, UK, the Commonwealth and the OSCE. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, also offered welcoming remarks.

020722 John Whittingdale 2John Whittingdale addresses the opening plenary in Birmingham, 2 July 2022“Now more than ever, co-operation on security is of paramount importance,” said Whittingdale. “I am looking forward to a productive series of meetings and discussions with counterparts from across the OSCE. The organization’s founding principles are the renunciation of the use of force, respect for sovereign and territorial integrity and protection of human rights and freedoms. These are especially important today as we work to create a safe and secure environment for all.”

Lord Ahmad emphasized that the United Kingdom stands resolutely with Ukraine, highlighting the financial and humanitarian support provided by the UK government and stressing that support for Ukraine cuts across party lines. “When it comes to the issue of Ukraine, we are absolutely at one,” Lord Ahmad said. He also emphasized that the war is not only an attack on Ukraine but on the fundamental pillars of the OSCE. Regarding war crimes that may have been committed, it is essential that evidence is systematically collected and that justice is pursued for the victims, he stressed.

In her address, OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid underlined the importance of the OSCE continuing to provide practical support to OSCE participating States in upholding the principles of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act.

“The core principles that we agreed to unite around in Helsinki nearly 50 years ago remain vital to our common security,” SG Schmid said. “And though these principles are currently being trampled on with the war being waged against Ukraine, we are resolved. Resolved in our belief that the Helsinki Decalogue remains the essential foundation for peace and security in the OSCE region.”

020722 plenaryDelegates gathered for the plenary session in Birmingham, 2 July 2022Following the opening speeches, the plenary took up consideration of the supplementary item “The Russian Federation’s War of Aggression Against Ukraine and Its People, and Its Threat to Security Across the OSCE Region.” Principally sponsored by Vilija Aleknaite Abramikiene (Lithuania), Mykyta Poturaiev (Ukraine), and Roger Wicker (United States), the resolution was adopted with several amendments.

This morning, the Assembly’s Standing Committee met and approved ten supplementary items for debate in the general committees and plenary. Three were allocated to each of the general committees, and one was sent to the plenary. The Standing Committee also unanimously approved the budget for fiscal year 2022/2023.

During the Standing Committee meeting, the Ukrainian Delegation proposed an amendment to the Rules of Procedure, which would provide mechanisms for suspending the mandate of an OSCE PA delegation whose country had violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another OSCE participating State. The committee gave its general support to the principles behind the proposal and agreed to refer the matter to the OSCE PA’s Rules Committee, chaired by French parliamentarian and OSCE PA Vice-President Pascal Allizard.

The largest event on the Assembly’s calendar, the 2022 Annual Session is the first to take place in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is the first time in almost two decades that the UK Parliament has hosted the event.

Following several days of intense debate and committee work, the Assembly will adopt the Birmingham Declaration and elect Assembly officers on 6 July. The Annual Session also includes numerous bilateral meetings and side events, as well as reports by Special Representatives and Chairs of Ad Hoc Committees. The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, is expected to address the General Committee on Political Affairs and Security on 4 July.

The Annual Session is streaming on the OSCE PA’s YouTube and Facebook channels, and photos of the meeting can be found on Flickr. Please visit the Annual Session’s web page for more information.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

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

  • Facebook
  • twir
  • in
  • inst
  • two
  • video