OSCE PA General Committees discuss wide-ranging impacts of Russia's war against Ukraine

VIENNA, 24 February 2023 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s three general committees have met in Vienna at the 22nd Winter Meeting for discussions focusing on the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, its political-security aspects, economic and environmental impacts, and human rights implications.

240223 HudsonRichard Hudson opens the Committee on Political Affairs and Security, 23 February 2023Committee Chair Richard Hudson (United States) opened the meeting of the Committee on Political Affairs and Security by recalling that one year ago, at the 2022 Winter Meeting, he warned that Russia’s actions could have tremendous consequences for the security and safety of the citizens of the OSCE area, possibly for generations to come.

“I do not need to remind anyone in this room that this is exactly what has happened,” Hudson said. “On February 24 of 2022, Russia launched a full-scale and unprovoked invasion against Ukraine, a war of choice that continues even today. This war has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and upended the lives of millions. It was launched by Russia in direct contravention of all of the principles of the Helsinki Final Act.”

The panelists – Chair of the Security Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council Ambassador Stelian Stoian (Romania), Chair of the Forum for Security Co-operation Ambassador Siniša Bencun (Bosnia and Herzegovina), OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, and Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre Ambassador Tuula Yrjölä explained the role, functioning, and contributions of the OSCE one year into Russia’s war against Ukraine. They briefed the parliamentarians on how the OSCE is responding to the war, in particular the “no business-as-usual” approach to its work.

It was emphasized that the Helsinki Final Act cannot be subject to negotiation or interpretation, and that the war constitutes an unprecedented assault on OSCE values and principles. Strengthening the organization’s capacity to deal with this challenge is more important than ever, it was stressed. In this regard, Amb. Yrjölä expressed appreciation for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s International Secretariat, including its Vienna Office, which she said substantially contributes to early warning, regional developments and policy issues.

Chair Azay Guliyev (Azerbaijan) opened the meeting of the OSCE PA’s economic and environmental committee by noting that one year into Russia’s unjustified war in Ukraine, the full picture of its economic and environmental impacts are still coming into focus. He noted that the war came as the world was still recovering from the disastrous economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has inhibited recovery and destabilized energy markets.

240223 second committeeGudrun Kugler addresses the economic and environmental committee, 23 February 2023Committee Rapporteur Gudrun Kugler (Austria) presented her ideas for the report and draft resolution for the 30th Annual Session in Vancouver, noting that the war is a crisis for each and every woman, man, child in Ukraine, but is also felt more broadly. “This war is a crisis for all people and countries in the OSCE region we are all suffering from fear, insecurities, from less co-operation, from inflation and who knows what else is to come,” she said.

The committee heard presentations by Chair of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Committee Florian Raunig, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities Igli Hasani, Wei Huang from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Prof. Steven Koonin, Department of Civil and Urban Engineering at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. Panelists presented OSCE plans and projects to overcome the economic and environmental crisis stemming from the conflict, which has severely impacted socio-economic conditions, food security, energy security, and environmental protection.

Discussion in the economic and environmental committee focused in particular on ensuring affordable, secure, clean and sustainable energy in the OSCE region in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Members underlined the significant development potential in decarbonizing and making more independent energy systems while safeguarding the reliability of networks, especially against the backdrop of this complex geopolitical context. While many stressed the urgency to resolve the conflict, the need to keep working towards ensuring comprehensive economic and environmental security in our region was also emphasized.

240223 SamkharadzeNikoloz Samkharadze addresses the human rights committee, 23 February 2023Chair Nikoloz Samkharadze (Georgia) opened the meeting of the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, describing the tools that the committee uses on a regular basis to promote human dimension commitments. Samkharadze noted that he and his fellow committee officers, Johan Büser and Farah Karimi, regularly speak out on thematic issues and utilize in-person interactions to promote OSCE PA work. “All of us have maintained an open dialogue with human rights defenders and analysts as well as with state authorities in various countries,” Samkharadze said.

Rapporteur Johan Büser (Sweden) presented his ideas for the report and draft resolution to be presented at the Annual Session in Vancouver. “Pandemics, military conflicts, social-economic inequalities, a refugee crisis, racism, and harassment against women, against journalists and against human rights defenders, are just a few of the seriously concerning issues facing us,” he said.

Speaking about the war in Ukraine, Büser noted that it violates the right to life as well as other fundamental rights. “Russia’s war is a grave breach of the international human rights law and there is mounting evidence of war crimes affecting both civilians and combatants,” Büser said.

The committee heard presentations by Matteo Mecacci, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights; Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media; Chair of the Human Dimension Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council Anne-Marie Callan, President of the Appeals Division at the International Criminal Court Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, Professor Veronika Bílková, Head of the Department of Public International Law at Charles University.

Judge de Brichambaut and Professor Bílková discussed the legal challenges of ensuring accountability for war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine. They noted that there have been serious violations of international human rights law, including unlawful killing of civilians and sexual violence. Under rules of state responsibility, Russia is obligated to stop these violations and ensure reparations for victims, it was pointed out. There can be no impunity for war crimes or crimes against humanity, participants said.

OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Valiant Richey also participated in the discussion, calling on OSCE participating States to step up their efforts in combating trafficking in human beings, particularly in relation to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

The Winter Meeting continues today with a joint session of the general committees and a meeting of the Standing Committee.

The Winter Meeting is streaming live on the OSCE PA’s Facebook and YouTube channels, as well as at www.oscepa.org. Photos are available for public use at the PA’s Flickr page. For more information on the Winter Meeting, please click here.



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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