Ukraine, artificial intelligence and political prisoners top the agenda at OSCE PA’s Winter Meeting in Vienna



230224 WM photo 1OSCE PA President Pia Kauma addresses the Winter Meeting, Vienna, 23 Feb. 2024VIENNA, 23 February 2024 – At today’s closing joint session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 23rd Winter Meeting in Vienna, dozens of parliamentarians took part in a special debate on “European Security Today and Tomorrow: Parliamentary Perspectives on the Future of the OSCE.” In her opening remarks, OSCE PA President Pia Kauma (Finland) warned that the fabric of European security is being challenged by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

“We are ten years since the illegal annexation of Crimea and two years into the largest European conflict since the Second World War,” Kauma said. “This is a pivotal moment in history. Our institutions are being tested. We are responding, albeit not always decisively. But, as we acknowledge our shortcomings, we must make sure that we can rely on the pillars of our international system in the long term.”

Toward this end, Kauma called for safeguarding the core values upon which the OSCE was established. “These values are non-negotiable,” she said. “We therefore must take every measure to safeguard them across all dimensions of security.”

In the debate, OSCE parliamentarians raised points about the need to ensure the rule of law and accountability for war crimes in Ukraine, the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, counter-terrorism, conflict prevention, and the need for protecting civilian lives in the Israel-Hamas war.

Today’s special debate wrapped up two days of inter-parliamentary dialogue at the OSCE headquarters focused on issues such as OSCE work in Ukraine, artificial intelligence, and political prisoners.

Chaired by Rapporteur Laurynas Kasciunas (Lithuania), the Committee on Political Affairs and Security met Thursday and heard presentations from the chairs of the Security Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council and the Forum for Security Co-operation, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre. Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office – Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine Marcel Pesko also addressed the committee, noting that the continued presence of the OSCE in Ukraine through the extra-budgetary Support Programme enables the OSCE to contribute to strengthening resilience of the country in the face of military aggression.

Kasciunas presented his ideas and intentions for the report and draft resolution he is preparing for this summer’s Annual Session in Bucharest, focusing on how the OSCE can play a more effective role in restoring peace in Ukraine in full respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

230224 WM photo 2Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment meets in Vienna, 22 Feb. 2024The Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment was chaired by Azay Guliyev (Azerbaijan) and heard reports from the OSCE’s executive structures on the Organization’s approach to promoting economic and environmental security. Committee Rapporteur Gudrun Kugler (Austria) spoke about the need to recognize environmental crimes during conflict as war crimes and the imperative for a legally binding instrument on artificial intelligence, noting that AI can be weaponized in war and that there is a growing danger of an AI arms race.

The committee’s special debate, introduced by experts from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Microsoft, and, focused on the security challenges of AI. Duly regulating the technology’s development and its deployment with the aim of harnessing its full potential while mitigating associated risks is a necessary task for all legislators, it was stressed in the debate. Members of the committee also raised the need to address the climate crisis through urgent multilateral action.

In the OSCE PA’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, chaired by Lucie Potuckova (Czech Republic), members heard from the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the Chair of the Human Dimension Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council.

Rapporteur Malik Ben Achour (Belgium) highlighted several themes of the report and draft resolution he is preparing for the Bucharest Annual Session, stressing the need to renew dedication to the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the universality of human rights. The situation in Ukraine, he said, demands continuous attention and support. The special debate on “Political Dissidents and Political Prisoners” was introduced by Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who urged the OSCE PA to help create a truly democratic Belarus.

230224 WM photo 3The OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Migration meets in Vienna, 22 Feb. 2024Numerous bilateral meetings and side events have taken place on the margins of the Winter Meeting, including a meeting between President Kauma, Secretary General Roberto Montella and OSCE Chair-in-Office Ian Borg that explored avenues for intensified co-operation between the governmental and parliamentary sides of the OSCE.

The OSCE PA’s three ad hoc committees have met on the sidelines over the past two days to hear from experts and discuss ongoing activities. The Parliamentary Support Team for Ukraine announced the appointment of Carina Ödebrink (Sweden) as human rights rapporteur and expressed concern over the treatment of prisoners of war by Russian forces. The Ad Hoc Committee on Migration held a discussion on combating trafficking in human beings in the context of mixed migration flows, while the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism explored the impact of artificial intelligence on counter-terrorism with experts from Big Tech, think tanks, and the OSCE PA network of young parliamentarians.

Video of the meeting is available at the OSCE PA’s YouTube channel and photos are available for public use at the OSCE PA’s Flickr page.

For more information 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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