Absence of human rights decisions at OSCE Ministerial Council has troubling implications, says PA’s Santos

COPENHAGEN, 9 December 2015 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions Chairperson, Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), today expressed deep disappointment at the inability of governments to agree any decisions or declarations on promoting human rights at the recently concluded OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade.

“What does it say when more than 40 foreign ministers and hundreds of high-level diplomats come together to take action on today’s pressing challenges and cannot agree on a single word regarding human rights? It says that narrow-minded political interests are too often replacing shared commitments. It means that the OSCE, which was first to recognize human rights as the core of overall security, is being prevented from fully living up to its founding principles,” Santos said.

The annual Ministerial Council, which brings together foreign ministers and delegations from the OSCE’s 57 participating States, is the Organization’s highest-level, regularly-held decision-making forum. Decisions and declarations must achieve support by consensus in order to be adopted.

Santos noted that diplomats meeting in Belgrade on 3-4 December considered a range of human rights-related draft decisions, including on the prevention of torture, the safety journalists, the establishment of national human rights institutions, freedom of assembly and association, intolerance against Christians and Muslims, interfaith dialogue, and freedoms in the digital age. None of these items was adopted.

“When torture still exists, when activists and journalists remain jailed for their work, and when minorities face daily discrimination, how can our leaders justify this group silence? Some countries do fight for human rights and the OSCE continues its efforts on this front -- but we have a problem when the most egregious rights-violators can use their veto to hold the majority hostage and avoid accountability,” the Chairperson said.

Santos noted the recommendations for OSCE reform contained in the Parliamentary Assembly’s Helsinki +40 Project Final Report, including modification of consensus-based decision-making. The PA has also recommended convening regular, open-press sessions to review countries’ records in implementing human rights commitments.

Santos further noted that the Assembly has consistently issued bold calls for the protection and promotion of human rights, in line with OSCE commitments, in its annual declarations, including this year’s Helsinki Declaration.



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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