With strong focus on Ukraine, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s general committees meet in Vienna

VIENNA, 25 February 2022 – The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine dominated discussions of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s two-day Winter Meeting, held in a hybrid format this week in Vienna. Following yesterday’s opening session, in which more than two dozen OSCE parliamentarians took the floor to criticize the military operation, the OSCE PA’s general committees met for debates and briefings, with a strong focus on Ukraine.

250222 first committee smallRichard Hudson (United States) chairs the First Committee, 24 February 2022Committee Chair Richard Hudson (United States) opened the meeting of the Committee on Political Affairs and Security by recalling that the principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act have always been basis of the OSCE work, stressing that the forum provided by the OSCE PA could not be more relevant than it is today. “We cannot ignore the evidence before us,” the Chair said. “Fundamental underpinnings of our security order, including commitments to respect other countries’ territorial integrity, sovereignty, and choices of security alliances, are at this moment being breached, flagrantly and deliberately, by one of our participating States, which is – as we speak – conducting an unprovoked invasion of another participating State.”

Committee Rapporteur Laurynas Kasciunas (Lithuania) offered his preliminary ideas for the report and draft resolution he is preparing for the OSCE PA’s Annual Session this summer in Birmingham, United Kingdom, focusing his remarks on Ukraine. Kasciunas regretted the ineffectiveness of international law in preventing this attack, noting that for decades, there has been general agreement over a common security order, but this has been fundamentally undermined by open disregard for these principles.

Opening the general debate on Heightened Tensions in the OSCE Area and the Need for Interparliamentary Dialogue, Committee Vice-Chair Costel Dunava (Romania) emphasized the devastating impact of war on the citizens of Ukraine, and possibly on the entire OSCE region. More open and committed interparliamentary dialogue is needed, he said, because only by engaging to identify common interests and encouraging our governments to refrain from further divisive action is it possible to avert such crises.

The members of the committee also heard presentations by Ambassador Jocelyn Kinnear, Chair of the Security Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council; Ambassador Rovshan Sadigbayli, Chair of the Forum for Security Co-operation; and Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.

250222 second committeeMeeting of the General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, 25 Feb. 2022Chairing the Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, Spanish parliamentarian Pere Joan Pons said: “We are all appalled by the news coming from Eastern Europe. Large-scale invasions of free, independent countries should never be considered as legitimate means to pursue national security interests.” He also noted that what is happening in Ukraine will have a massive impact on economic and environmental security, which, along with the disruptive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, could negatively affect growth and development.

Committee Rapporteur Gudrun Kugler (Austria) began her remarks by arguing that “War is something for the history books, not for the 21st century.” She noted that the committee’s Vice-Chair, Ukrainian parliamentarian Artur Gerasymov, was not able to attend the meeting because he is currently in Kyiv, which is under attack.

Presenting her ideas for the draft resolution and report being prepared for the Annual Session, Kugler highlighted in particular environmental challenges such as pollution and climate change. She stressed that we cannot afford new forms of “energy poverty,” and should keep in mind that climate change must be tackled globally. She also highlighted the need for a strong science policy and noted that there are new emerging security threats that must be addressed within the context of the development of new technology.

Also addressing the committee was Ambassador Igli Hasani, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, who discussed his office’s work, and Katarzyna Wisniewska-Rosik, Head of the Second Dimension Unit for the 2022 OSCE Polish Chairmanship.

In a special debate on Human Trafficking in a Globalized Economy, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Valiant Richey focused his remarks on the growing reality that many goods and services are produced by victims of human trafficking and forced labor. OSCE PA Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues Chris Smith (United States) spoke about his work in Congress to prevent the use trafficking victims’ labor in the supply chain. Richey and Smith both emphasized the need for new legislation in the OSCE area to combat human trafficking and slave labor.

250222 third committeeOpening remarks by Sereine Mauborgne (France), Chair of the Third Committee, 25 Feb. 2022The Winter Meeting closed with a session of the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, which held a debate on Journalism as a Precondition for Justice and Rule of Law and heard presentations by Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Matteo Mecacci; Chair of the Human Dimension Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council Anne-Kirsti Karlsen; OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro; and Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov, Nobel Peace Prize 2021 Laureate and Editor-in-Chief of Novaya Gazeta. The debate focused on the role of impartial media in times of conflict, with speakers noting the particular relevance for the Ukraine conflict.

In her opening remarks, Committee Chair Sereine Mauborgne (France) discussed the importance of journalism in this context. “We as policymakers rely on accurate reporting also from the frontlines to inform our decisions,” Mauborgne said. “When lives are at stake, we cannot be casual with the truth, and must consider ways to combat dangerous fake news.”

Johan Büser (Sweden), Rapporteur of the Committee, presented his ideas and intentions for the 29th Annual Session in Birmingham. He noted that his report will address the situation in Ukraine, as it is impossible to uphold human rights when fundamental principles of the European security order are under attack. It is important for parliamentarians, he said, not only to work internationally, but also to hold their own governments accountable. “We can support governments in facing major social and political challenges, whilst ensuring that the implemented measures will not undermine values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” Büser said.

Vice-Chair Michael Georg Link (Germany) took the floor to express concern about challenges facing election observation, emphasizing that a new push is needed to defend and fund this instrument. He noted that the pandemic has posed obstacles to this endeavour and appealed to parliamentarians to support and participate in election observation missions.

Video of the two-day Winter Meeting is available at the OSCE PA’s YouTube channel.

Photos can be found at the PA’s Flickr page.



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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