17 January 2006
Chair of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Briefs Security Council on Institutional Reform, Conflict Resolution
NEW YORK, 16 January (UN Headquarters) -- Among the priorities for the Belgian Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was institutional reform, seeking a better balance between the various dimensions of its approach to security, promoting the rule of law, and resolving conflicts and crises, Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht told the Security Council this morning.
Noting that 2005 had been a year full of challenges, Mr. De Gucht, who is Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, said that the organization's contributions to peace and security were now more widely recognized. To better meet the challenges before it, the OSCE had agreed on a road map for institutional reform, when it met at the ministerial level in Lubljana, Slovenia, in December.
While the risk of a Europe-wide conflict had disappeared, he said, security was a main concern, as there could be no democracy without security. In that connection, the OSCE would be seeking a better balance between the three dimensions of its comprehensive approach to security -- political/military, economic and humanitarian -- with a particular focus on strengthening the economic dimension.
Another priority this year, he said, would be helping to prevent conflicts and to manage crises, with a special focus on Kosovo and "frozen conflicts" such as Transnistria, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. The OSCE did not have the resources to impose solutions, but could facilitate the emergence of a solution if the necessary will existed among the parties. Special attention would be given to Kosovo, where the OSCE mission was doing important work in the protection of minorities, democratization, promotion of human rights, police training and support for administration. It was important for the OSCE to fully play its role at an early stage in the process on Kosovo's final status.
The OSCE, he added, intended to play the role of honest broker for the benefit of all, for which good cooperation between his organization and the United Nations was crucial. To that end, he would seek to further promote complementarities and synergies between the two bodies.
Following the briefing, several delegations took the floor to commend the work of the OSCE, particularly in the Balkans. With the increasing recognition of the important role of regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security, speakers called for enhanced cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations, as the two shared the same values and common areas of action. Denmark's representative, who chaired the Counter-Terrorism Committee, welcomed the Chairman's intention to maintain strong cooperation between the OSCE and the Committee, which was a model for the kind of cooperation the Committee was striving to establish with other regional organizations.
Hailing the OSCE as "the model of a bold and innovative approach to diplomacy", France's representative said that those who remembered the division between the East and West and the division in Europe during major conflicts also remembered the creation of the OSCE, which had been a diplomatic revolution in its own way. He also noted that, just like the United Nations, the OSCE had undertaken a reform exercise in order to make itself better adapted to dealing with the challenges facing Europe in the areas of conflict prevention and crisis management.
Slovakia's representative said the OSCE had played an important role in turning Europe into an area of peace and stability and it was still needed for the consolidation of the achievements made in the past 30 years since its creation. Throughout its existence, the OSCE had accumulated enormous potential and expertise in institution-building, confidence-building and election monitoring, as well as protection of human and minority rights. Its valuable post-conflict and transformation know-how may be truly inspiring for other regional organizations.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Ghana, Greece, Argentina, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, United States and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The meeting began at 10:23 a.m. and ended at 11:34 p.m.
The Security Council met today to hear a briefing by the Chairman-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Briefing by OSCE Chairman
KAREL DE GUCHT, Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, said that as of 1 January, Belgium had assumed the Chairmanship of the OSCE. After 2005, a year full of challenges, the OSCE contributions to peace and security were now more widely recognized. The OSCE ministerial conference, held in Lubljana in December 2005, had been an opportunity for renewed dialogue. Belgium would shoulder its new responsibilities with optimism.
Highlighting the main points of its chairmanship, he said he would be playing an active role in the institutional reform of the OSCE. At Lubljana, members had reached agreement on a revision on the scale of assessment and a road map for the institutional reform of the organization to better meet challenges. The road map indicated areas where reform should be carried out. He intended to appoint a high representative to carry out that task.
Second, he would seek better balance between the three dimensions of the comprehensive approach of the OSCE to security -- political/military, economic and humanitarian. Security was a battle that was never won and which needed constant attention. The risk of a Europe-wide conflict had disappeared, but security was a main concern, as there could be no democracy without security. With regard to strengthening the economic dimension, Belgium intended to draw attention to the special situation of landlocked countries, and would help in the implementation of the 2003 Almaty Plan of Action. It also intended to strengthen cooperation between the Economic Council of Europe (ECE) and the OSCE to implement juridical norms.
Third, he said Belgium would focus on combating international crime and the promotion of the rule of law. Cross-border crime, along with terrorism, was one of the most serious new threats to security, as recognized by the United Nations World Summit. Combating organized crime was not new for the OSCE, as could be seen in its plans and actions in human trafficking, money-laundering and corruption, among other areas. The OSCE had instruments to strengthen the rule of law and wanted to build on that, as well as introduce new ideas. The central international juridical instrument in combating organized crime was the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. The OSCE provided a framework for its ratification and support for its implementation.
Fourth, Belgium would help to prevent conflicts and to manage crises, with a special focus on Kosovo and "frozen conflicts" such as Moldova, South Ossetia in Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The OSCE did not have the resources to impose solutions, but could facilitate the emergence of a solution if the necessary will existed among the parties. Kosovo would be given special attention by the OSCE. The OSCE mission in Kosovo was the largest among the OSCE missions, with some 1,600 staff. In cooperation with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the OSCE mission was doing important work in rebuilding Kosovo, especially with regard to the protection of minorities, democratization, promotion of human rights, police training and support for administration. Under the Belgian Chairmanship, the OSCE would assess its future role in Kosovo.
The United Nations Secretary-General had appointed Mr. Ahtisaari to lead the process on the final status of Kosovo, he noted. The OSCE would be called on to help implement the final status. It was important for the OSCE to fully play its role at an early stage in that process.
He said in Moldova the OSCE was playing an important role in determining the future status of Transnistria. It would contribute effectively on the negotiations on that issue. In 2005, there had been a rapprochement between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh. The OSCE wanted to contribute to ensure that that rapprochement was reflected in the settlement of the conflict. In Georgia, the OSCE was playing a vital role in bringing about a solution to South Ossetia.
The OSCE, he continued, was also very active in the area of democratization, for which electoral observation was an important instrument. It intended to see to it that those electoral missions played the role for which they were created. It was important for States to have recourse to appropriate instruments to ensure the transparency of electoral processes. He appealed to the Government of Belarus to invite the OSCE to observe the upcoming elections there. Those were some of the priorities of the OSCE, but the programme of the Chairmanship was broader and included the development of initiatives on, among other things, tolerance and combating human trafficking. With regard to the political/military dimension, the OSCE would organize a major seminar on military doctrines. On the issue of non-proliferation, the OSCE had adopted a decision committing itself to monitoring implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) by all its member States.
Also, the OSCE would be giving special attention to the link between environment and security, and strive to promote the environment security initiative, bringing together the United Nations, the OSCE and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to destroy dangerous products. One of the major new threats was terrorism. Members of the OSCE were committed to ratifying and implementing United Nations conventions and protocols in that connection. Within the OSCE secretariat, the action against terrorism unit would supervise implementation of instruments and provide assistance in carrying out anti-terrorism measures.
The United Nations and the OSCE shared the same values, as well as common areas of action, such as democratization, observance of human rights, conflict prevention, combating international crime, fighting terrorism and environmental protection. As Chairman-in-Office, he said Belgium would seek to further promote complementarities and synergies between the organizations. The OSCE intended to play the role of honest broker for the benefit of all. Good cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE was crucial in that regard.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said the OSCE was the model of a bold and innovative approach to diplomacy. Those who remembered the division between the East and West and the division in Europe during major conflicts also remembered Helsinki, which had been a diplomatic revolution in its own way. First, it was an exercise in "successful constructive ambiguity", which was sometimes extraordinarily useful. Helsinki was also important as the first time that human rights had been regarded as a major element, in and of themselves, in the relations among States. Human rights were important above and beyond States and sovereignty.
Just like the United Nations, the OSCE had undertaken a reform exercise in order to make itself better adapted to dealing with the challenges facing Europe in the areas of conflict prevention and crisis management. While not all activities of the OSCE overlapped fully with those of the United Nations, both were involved closely in Kosovo. The OSCE also dealt with frozen conflicts, which provided evidence that while Europe may appear to be very stable in comparison to other regions, it had its own deep-seated tensions which went far back into history.
One of the basic tasks of the OSCE was human rights, which was also a major focus of the United Nations, he said. The rule of law had been a major concern of the Security Council for a number of years, as had transnational organized crime. France strongly supported the Belgian chairmanship of the OSCE and welcomed the Chairman's declared intention to be an honest broker. The chairmanship could depend on French support in strengthening the ties between the two organizations in all the areas mentioned.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) welcomed the priority consensus on continuing institutional reform to strengthen the OSCE in the face of the new challenges to security. Issues such as the observance of human rights, terrorism and crime were of concern to all United Nations Member States. The rights and concerns of minorities had generated conflicts in many areas of the world, not only in Africa, but in certain areas of Asia and Europe. The OSCE had considerable experience in national minorities' issues. He welcomed the Chairman's planned visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan. Also, he hoped his visit to Kosovo would ensure that the OSCE would play its expected role there. In addition, he hoped the OSCE would take advantage of the World Summit's endorsement of the need to strengthen the links between the United Nations and regional organizations.
PETER BURIAN (Slovakia) said the OSCE had played an important role in turning Europe into an area of peace and stability and it was still needed for the consolidation of the achievements made in the past 30 years since the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act. Slovakia also agreed with the necessity of institutional reform of the OSCE, in order to strengthen its ability to face new challenges and threats to security.
He said that the priorities of the Belgian OSCE programme, including the advancement of the rule of law, the fight against terrorism, defining a global and coherent approach to combating organized crime, and new ways to strengthen mechanisms of non-proliferation and disarmament coincided with the United Nations priority to build a more stable and secure world. Throughout the years of its existence, the OSCE had accumulated enormous potential and expertise in institution-building, confidence-building and election monitoring, as well as protection of human and minority rights. Its valuable post-conflict and transformation know-how may be truly inspiring for other regional organizations.
Slovakia particularly appreciated the special attention paid by the Chairman-in-Office to the frozen conflicts in the Republic of Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia, as well as developments in Central Asia and post-conflict stabilization in the Western Balkans, including the issue of the future status of Kosovo, which was another important area of cooperation and interaction between the United Nations and the OSCE. Slovakia appreciated also the work that the OSCE had done and continued to do in Kosovo and expected the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, which was a component of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), would remain focused on problems of democratization, respect for human and minority rights, free media, elections, formation of law enforcement authorities and functioning democratic institutions.
ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece) said it was true that the OSCE would have to meet many challenges in the next 12 months. Thirty years after the creation of the OSCE, Europe was a new continent, broadly at peace and involved in the development of new cooperative structures. The OSCE had been central in the construction of a new European security architecture, as well as in the protection of human rights and other areas. In the last few years, the OSCE had been trying to better adapt itself to a changing and increasingly complex environment. Despite the difficulties, one thing was clear: the OSCE had not lost its usefulness, and there was a need for a strong, efficient regional organization. An illustration of that was the extensive experience and input of the OSCE in the Balkans, covering the fields of good governance, institution-building and election monitoring. The cooperation of the OSCE in various areas of crisis could only contribute to peace and stability and to a better division of labour. He asked the Chairman about his plans to give more attention to the economic and environmental dimensions of the OSCE approach to security.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said it was important to highlight the approach whereby peace and stability were based on respect for democracy, civil liberties and human rights. It was crucial to also highlight the fact that the OSCE was promoting the rule of law in all countries, especially those where there had been conflicts in the past. The organization's role in combating organized crime and terrorism should also be highlighted.
He said the OSCE could play a key role in the negotiations on the final status of Kosovo. Argentina welcomed the announcement by the Chairman-in-Office of his intention to establish close contact with the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the final status of Kosovo. Argentina wished to see how the work of the OSCE would fit in with that of other organizations involved in that process.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said the Security Council had increasingly recognized the importance of regional organizations. Both had shared interests in how conflicts were tackled, and in preparing and coping with generic issues associated with threats to international peace and security. It was necessary to tackle the security, political and economic dimensions of issues. The rule of law and democratization were basic to that process, and it was much more than just holding elections, which were a "symptom" of the rule of law. Elections were not enough unless they were accompanied by the creation of institutions that went along with the rule of law and the establishment of democratic societies.
That was why the OSCE contribution in Kosovo was so important, he said. The United Nations, the European Union and the OSCE had a shared interest in an outcome in Kosovo which addressed the aspirations of its people and regional stability. New challenges such as terrorism were key issues not just for the OSCE, but for the entire United Nations family. It was necessary to enhance cooperation, as well as "practical working together", not just to put in place theories, but to produce practical contributions wherever there was a need.
ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) said his country was prepared to cooperate constructively with the Belgian chairmanship and had consistently supported the all-round improvement of cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations. The OSCE had established close and fruitful relationships with the United Nations in resolving regional conflicts, particularly in Kosovo and Serbia and Montenegro.
He said important work was being done regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and it was to be hoped that the OSCE would continue to help in resolving other conflicts within its area of competence, in partnership with the United Nations.
GORDON OLSON (United States) assured the Chairman of the continued support of his delegation and the Council in carrying out complementary agendas. He asked the Chairman for information on the role the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights could play in the further establishment of such institutions.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark) endorsed the priorities outlined for the Belgian Chairmanship of the OSCE. She welcomed the stress put on cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations in the fight against terrorism. As Chair of the Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee, she welcomed the Chairman's intention to maintain strong cooperation between the OSCE and the Committee, which was a model for the kind of cooperation the Committee was striving to establish with other regional organizations. She also welcomed the enhanced focus on the economic dimension of the OSCE approach to security. Recalling that the United Nations had recently established the Peacebuilding Commission, she expressed confidence that in getting the Commission's work under way, the United Nations could be inspired by the work undertaken by the OSCE in that area. She looked forward to intensified cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations in that regard.
AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the activities of the OSCE complemented those of the United Nations, even though the latter had encountered serious difficulties during the course of the past year. The OSCE had also been able to prevent an escalation of conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Its activities were promising for other similar organizations around the world and the organization provided a model for Africa to follow.
Responding to questions, Mr. DE GUCHT said that the OSCE was in the driver's seat with regard to South Ossetia, and hoped its initial judgement was correct, namely that "the conflict may be ripe for treatment". The same went for Nagorno-Karabakh, on which the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan would be meeting in February. Before that meeting took place, he would go to the region and meet with both Presidents to prepare for their meeting. The Transnistria issue was a complicated one and the OSCE would try to have a road map on how to include Transnistria in a federal set-up of Moldova and to set up conditions that allowed for the removal of all foreign troops from Transnistrian soil.
On Kosovo, the Chairman said he had met with Mr. Ahtisaari and would continue to do so after his visit to the region in February. He had met him on Friday in Vienna, and Mr. Ahtisaari put a lot of emphasis on the role of the OSCE, which would be very important because it had the most representatives on the ground. Once those conflicts were resolved, the OSCE should be there for the long term to establish sustainable societies.
On the treatment of the three dimensions of the OSCE approach to security, he said it would be beneficial for the OSCE to recalibrate the relationships between the three dimensions. That was why it would strengthen the economic dimension with concrete proposals, such as promoting cooperation in the field of transportation. On the future role of the OSCE, he said that role depended on the participating States and the extent to which they provided such possibilities. During his Chairmanship, he wanted to create an environment that allowed all members to participate within the OSCE. That meant that the OSCE should also get more political prominence than it had in the past.
Monitoring elections, he continued, was a valuable contribution to peace and stability and democratization of the region. The OSCE Office on Democratic Institutions and Human Rights would be undertaking a self-evaluation in that regard. He wanted to create conditions to allow that Office to fulfil its tasks and come to consensus on how to put that into practice.
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