Ukraine in focus as OSCE PA general committees begin work in Birmingham debating reports and draft resolutions

030722 first committee photoGeneral Committee on Political Affairs and Security meeting in Birmingham, 3 July 2022 (Photo: Kelly Cooper)BIRMINGHAM, 3 July 2022 – Meeting today at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 29th Annual Session in Birmingham, the committees on political affairs and security, economic affairs and environment, and human rights and humanitarian questions began work on the draft resolutions that will comprise the Birmingham Declaration to be adopted on 6 July.

Committee members heard presentations from the rapporteurs who focused largely on the war in Ukraine and its related political, security and humanitarian impacts. Other issues on the agendas of the general committees include economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, migration and displacement, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, human trafficking in a globalized economy, cybersecurity and cybercrime, nuclear security and the prohibition of nuclear weapons, pollution and climate change, independence of civil society, freedom of the media, and combating disinformation.

Chaired by Richard Hudson (United States), the General Committee on Political Affairs and Security took up a resolution authored by Rapporteur Laurynas Kasciunas (Lithuania) that “condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine” and “calls upon the Russian Federation to establish an immediate ceasefire and withdraw Russian troops from the whole of Ukraine.” It also expresses support for the work of the independent international commission of inquiry mandated by the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court, which is investigating alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine.

Introducing the report and draft resolution, Kasciunas argued that not only Ukraine but European security as a whole is under attack, as well as OSCE commitments, international law, human rights and democracy. He highlighted the weaponization of energy as a concern, regretted the brutal disregard for human life and dignity, and urged a recommitment to OSCE principles. It is important, he said, to ask what led to this situation and how to make the OSCE more resilient to respond effectively to future challenges.

In the General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, chaired by Pere Joan Pons (Spain), committee members took up a resolution authored by Rapporteur Gudrun Kugler (Austria), which covers issues including the economic and social repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate change. The resolution notes that “the war in Ukraine has significantly weakened stability, connectivity, and prosperity across the OSCE region.”

030722 second committeeRapporteur Gudrun Kugler presents her report. (Photo: Edwin Ladd)Referring to the committee as “the future committee,” Kugler emphasized the link of the issues it is tackling to security, noting that several of the key crises of our time concern the economic and environmental dimension. She highlighted the particular challenges of the war in Ukraine and detrimental effects on people, economy, and environment. Emphasizing that there is a need to focus on topics which are not on the front pages of newspapers such as demographic developments and and to develop new ideas in these areas, Kugler expressed hope that the resolution would be put to use in the national parliaments in relevant committees, noting that “parliamentarians are drivers of change.”

Chaired by Michael Georg Link (Germany), the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions met to consider the report and draft resolution put forward by Rapporteur Johan Büser (Sweden). In his opening remarks, Büser stressed that ensuring that democracies are inclusive, resilient and that they fully respect human rights and OSCE principles should be at the forefront of the OSCE PA’s work. Several crises in recent years have hindered respect for rule of law and put democracies at risk, Büser said, noting that governments took vast and unparalleled decisions to contain the spread of COVID-19, some of which may have exacerbated human rights concerns and inequalities, with a devastating effect on vulnerable groups and societies.

In order to strengthen the commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Büser’s resolution emphasizes the need for a vibrant civil society, independent of state structures and free from their interference. “Non-governmental organizations are important avenues for voicing public opinions and shaping policies and serve as key partners for parliamentarians,” the resolution states. In regard to the war in Ukraine, the resolution states that “international humanitarian law must be respected and that access to humanitarian aid is a fundamental right of people living in conflict zones and people on the move.”

030722 third committeeGeneral Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions voting on amendments. (Photo: Kelly Cooper)The committees will consider a number of amendments to the draft resolutions on Monday, and will also take up work on several supplementary items that have been approved for debate. Following an amendment and voting process the resolutions will be included in the Birmingham Declaration which will be adopted on Wednesday.

In addition to the general committees, Sunday’s activities in Birmingham also included meetings of the PA’s ad hoc committees on terrorism and migration, as well as a number of bilaterals between President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) and national delegations. Following decisions in the Standing Committee and Assembly Plenary Saturday to launch new regulations on sanctioning serious breaches of OSCE commitments, the Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Rules of Procedure and Working Practices also met today.

A proposal put forward by the Ukrainian Delegation was carefully considered by the rules committee members and found to be an acceptable basis for further work. The rules committee agreed to work together with experts from the Secretariat to develop specific text in the coming weeks. The committee will meet again in the months ahead to review work, with the intention of presenting a text for consideration by the Assembly’s Standing Committee at its next meeting in Sofia, in October.

The Annual Session opened yesterday with speeches from OSCE leaders and host officials.

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]

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