|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6715th Meeting* (PM)
Ireland’s Foreign Minister, Chair of Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE), Briefs Security Council on Priorities for 2012
Outlining the priorities for the 2012 term as the Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade stressed today that his country would be a loyal steward of the regional organization’s concept of a “common, comprehensive and indivisible security” and work to enhance its cooperation with the United Nations.
“At a time of constrained resources and ever more complex transnational threats, a closer partnerships between OSCE and the United Nations is indispensable,” said Eamon Gilmore, adding that cooperation had advanced, both in the development of common approaches to global challenges and in field operations.
Describing an “ambitious” agenda for OSCE’s human dimension of security — one of three areas of security the 56-member body addressed in its comprehensive approach to that issue — Mr. Gilmore said that Internet freedom was a priority. He would work to ensure that existing OSCE commitments related to freedom of expression and of the media applied to all forms and means of their exercise. A conference would be held in Dublin in June, which aimed to move towards a common understanding of the issues at stake.
In the politico-military dimension, he said Ireland hoped to see progress on the updating of confidence- and security-building measures, and in the enhancement of the conflict-prevention capacity of OSCE. It would advance work to allow a deeper involvement in all phases of the conflict cycle. A shared challenge for the United Nations and OSCE was to ensure effective cooperation in tackling complex transnational threats.
In the economic and environmental dimension, the core theme of the Irish chairmanship would be the promotion of security and stability through good governance. “We firmly believe that weak governance undermines economic development and exposes States to greater security risks,” he said, adding that he saw potential for cooperation with the United Nations in that field. Ireland’s ratification last year of the United Nations Convention against Corruption signalled its determination to further cooperation in that area.
As for ongoing conflicts in the OSCE area, especially as related to Transdniestria, Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh, he said that, in all such efforts, Ireland would draw from its own experience of conflict resolution. He would host a conference in Dublin on 27 April that aimed to use Northern Ireland as a case study to explore aspects that might apply to conflict situations in the OSCE area.
Following the briefing, all 15 Council members took the floor to welcome the OSCE agenda for 2011, as well as the strengthened cooperation between OSCE and the United Nations, including with the Security Council on issues of peace and security. Some speakers emphasized OSCE’s unique abilities on a range of security concerns and underlined the importance of conducting cooperation in the context of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.
Speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, United States, Colombia, Azerbaijan, India, Guatemala, Germany, France, China, Portugal, Pakistan, Morocco, South Africa and Togo.
The meeting began at 3:09 p.m. and ended at 4:36 p.m.
EAMON GILMORE, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, noted that the body was the world’s largest organization under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, with 56 participating States. At the OSCE Permanent Council in January, he had underlined that Ireland would adopt a pragmatic, fair-minded approach to its chairmanship duties, with an aim of elaborating priorities to ensure a balanced, coherent approach to politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions. “I can assure you today that we will take forward work in all areas in 2012,” he said, noting that Ireland was firmly committed to the OSCE concept of a common, comprehensive and indivisible security, based on a cross-dimensional set of agreed principles.
Turning to the human dimension, an ambitious agenda had been set, he said. The Chair would work closely with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, among other bodies, to address areas where OSCE commitments were not being met. Internet freedom was a priority and he would work to ensure that existing OSCE commitments related to freedom of expression and of the media applied to all forms and means of their exercise. A conference would be held in Dublin in June, which aimed to move towards a common understanding of the issues at stake. Other human dimension events would address freedom of association and assembly, freedom of religion and belief, and trafficking in human beings. Ireland also intended to maintain the highest standards for OSCE election observation.
In the politico-military dimension, he said Ireland hoped to see progress on the updating of confidence- and security-building measures, and in the enhancement of the conflict-prevention capacity of OSCE. It would advance work to allow a deeper involvement in all phases of the conflict cycle. Further, it would work with the OSCE Secretary General on implementing the conflict-cycle decision, agreed at the Vilnius ministerial meeting, and examine options for achieving progress in the areas of arms control, conflict prevention and resolution and transnational threats. A shared challenge for the United Nations and OSCE was to ensure effective cooperation to tackle complex transnational threats, he said, citing counter-terrorism as one key area of shared interest. During its chairmanship, Ireland would build on joint efforts to tackle organized crime and cyber threats.
In the economic and environmental dimension, the core theme of the Irish chairmanship would be the promotion of security and stability through good governance. “We firmly believe that weak governance undermines economic development and exposes States to greater security risks,” he said, adding that he saw potential for cooperation with the United Nations in that field. Ireland’s ratification last year of the United Nations Convention against Corruption signalled its determination to further cooperation in that area. During its chairmanship, Ireland would promote dialogue within OSCE on the role it could play to encourage implementation of the Convention. It would focus particularly on measures to counter corruption, money-laundering and terrorist financing, and intended to spotlight the work of Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau as a model for participating States to consider.
Turning to ongoing conflicts in the OSCE area, he said that as regards the Republic of Moldova and Transdniestria, OSCE stood ready to build on momentum achieved by Lithuania with the resumption of official “5+2” talks. Ireland looked forward to hosting the first official talks in Dublin later in the month. The situation in Georgia was a matter of utmost concern, and Ireland strongly supported the Geneva Discussions in facilitating engagement and a way forward for all concerned. He commended the United Nations Representative for the Geneva International Discussions in that regard. He also commended the OSCE Minsk Group in addressing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and looked forward to working with the co-Chairs during the year. In such efforts, Ireland would draw from its own experience of conflict resolution, he said, adding that a conference would be held in Dublin on 27 April focused on Northern Ireland as a case study.
“At a time of constrained resources and ever more complex transnational threats, a closer partnership between OSCE and the United Nations is indispensable,” he said, adding that cooperation had advanced in the development of common approaches to challenges and at the field-operation level. He cited the OSCE mission in Kosovo in that regard. Close cooperation also existed in many of OSCE’s 16 field missions with United Nations agencies, notably the Offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and High Commissioner for Human Rights.
On Afghanistan, he confirmed that OSCE would promote implementation of the decision agreed at the Vilnius ministerial meeting, in cooperation with the United Nations and other international actors. The United Nations had shown strong leadership on the issue of women, peace and security. A dedicated military officer based at Ireland’s Permanent Mission to OSCE in Vienna would examine ways that the Forum for Security Cooperation could support implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
MICHAEL TATHAM (United Kingdom) fully supported the priorities set out by the OSCE Chair. He said that greater effort, however, was needed by all member States to meet their commitments and update them in such areas as freedom of expression in relationship to advanced communication technologies. In the resolution of conflicts, he agreed that important lessons could be learned from previous processes, such as that in Northern Ireland, and that efforts to update and revitalize key instruments of OSCE should continue. On the promotion and protection of human rights, he urged all OSCE member States to meet all their commitments in that area and extend them further, particularly in the area of freedom of expression. It was also critical for all Governments to listen to the demands of the people they serve.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that the OSCE Chair set a solid base for well-designed planning and more effective work to meet the needs of all member States. He stressed his country’s support for cooperation of the United Nations with regional organizations, within the provisions of Chapter VIII of the Charter and recognition of the responsibilities of the Security Council. An important challenge was developing confidence-building measures in communications and security areas. He added that the human rights dimension of OSCE required rebooting, and stressed that long-term conflict settlement was only possible on the basis of negotiation and compromise. Supporting continued reform of OSCE, he hoped that the philosophy of work laid out by the Chair would better adapt OSCE to the realities of the present, so that it could avoid the crises of the past.
ROSEMARY DICARLO (United States) said that OSCE had unique abilities in a range of security concerns and was an “effective regional multiplier” for the United Nations. She praised the role of the organization in democracy building, particularly in North Africa, support for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other United Nations agencies, its work in human rights, particularly in gender issues, the protection of fundamental freedoms in the digital age, cross-border threats, conflict resolution and response. In that context, she welcomed the resumption of the 5+2 talks and urged States to contribute to non-proliferation efforts supported by OSCE. She encouraged the organization to promote cooperation of Afghanistan with its neighbours, as well as a broadening of efforts in the Central Asian country.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said Chapter VIII provided for the contribution of regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council’s interaction with them would allow for a better understanding of specific situations by integrating human, political, economic and environmental dimensions into such work. Recognizing that OSCE played an important role in international peace and security, he said its interaction with the Council allowed for an open exchange of opinions and support mechanisms related to shared interests.
He said Colombia valued OSCE support to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), its participation in Afghanistan and creative initiatives to fight terrorism, cyber crime and other transnational issues. Colombia gave pride of place to regional efforts to prevent controversies from becoming confrontational. He also highlighted the role of multilateralism in solving ongoing conflicts and the importance of open communication between regional organizations and the United Nations.
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV (Azerbaijan) supported the OSCE concept of comprehensive, cooperative and indivisible security, considering it the most appropriate framework for discussions on pan-European security. OSCE had the potential to play a more consistent role in encouraging participating States to comply with their obligations and the 1974 OSCE Helsinki Final Act. OSCE provided a forum for discussions towards a settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “dispute” over Nagorno-Karabakh or the “conflict” in Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict was being addressed by the OSCE Minsk Group, as noted in four Security Council resolutions adopted in response to the illegal use of force against Azerbaijan and occupation of its territories, as well as the General Assembly resolution on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
He said Azerbaijan was committed to a negotiated conflict settlement, based on a formula of ending the illegal occupation of its territories, restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the return of forcibly displaced persons and ensuring peaceful coexistence of Azerbaijanis and Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan. The lack of agreement on political issues could not be used as pretext for disregarding international law. He was concerned that recommendations made by the OSCE 2005 and 2010 fact-finding missions to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan remained “only on paper” and nothing was being done to translate those into deeds. He expected the OSCE chairmanship to continue work on all conflict cycle elements. Better interaction between OSCE and the United Nations would serve the greater unity of purpose in addressing transnational threats. Also, OSCE might provide a forum for addressing safety standards and timely decommissioning of ageing nuclear power plants.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) stressed the support of his country for the role of regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security under Chapter VIII of the Charter, which enjoined those organizations to keep the Council fully informed of their activities. Noting the “wide canvas” of issues touched upon by the Chair, he noted that several concerned India’s immediate neighbourhood and were of great interest to his country. He said that the work of OSCE for the promotion of security in its politico-military, economic and environmental and human dimensions had contributed to managing some of the most important problems in the post-cold war period. He welcomed OSCE’s growing cooperation with Asian organizations and its partnership with Afghanistan in border security management and electoral assistance. He hoped that OSCE would continue its important work.
GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) said regional and subregional organizations contributed to a great extent to enhancing international peace and security, through dialogue and cooperation with the United Nations. Cooperation with OSCE had indeed helped to promote peace and security in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In particular, he noted with appreciation the close coordination with the United Nations in Afghanistan and in Kosovo. He was pleased that, along with efforts to resolve conflicts, attention would be given to the rule of law, human rights and freedom of expression in the digital age and other critical matters. Agreeing that each conflict situation was different, he also affirmed the utility of benefiting from lessons learned. He looked forward to further fruitful cooperation between OSCE and the United Nations.
MIGUEL BERGER (Germany) welcomed the recent decision to strengthen OSCE conflict-management capability. That, along with newly enhanced capacities to deal with transnational threats, would provide parameters for work in the coming months. On the Transdniestrian conflict, he welcomed the resumption of 5+2 talks and supported efforts to facilitate steady progress on that issue. He also welcomed OSCE’s role in pursuing a settlement of the “Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” within the framework of the Minsk Group, as well as the Russian initiative of meetings with conflict parties at the highest political level.
On Georgia, Germany was committed to re-establishing an OSCE presence throughout Georgia, he said. All parties should implement the 2008 ceasefire agreements. On the human dimension, Germany was concerned at the restriction of fundamental freedoms by many States, especially on the media and the freedoms of expression and of assembly. OSCE election observation missions were vital. On the economic and environmental dimension, he welcomed the promotion of security and stability through good governance, saying that good environmental governance would be discussed at the upcoming Rio+20 Conference. As for the politico-military dimension, it was important to develop more synergies between OSCE and the United Nations and he welcomed the first Memorandum of Understanding agreed last year providing a framework for intensifying joint programming.
EMMANUEL BONNE (France) supported the priorities of OSCE in the coming years, as well as its work in human rights, rule of law and other areas that related to important values, such as the maintenance of fundamental freedoms in matters related to the Internet. OSCE’s work in conflict resolution was also critical and its work in conflict prevention should be strengthened. He also supported the organization’s work in the 5+2 talks and the Georgia crisis, and advocated strengthened efforts on cross-border problems, such as illicit trafficking. Seminars on Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asian security cooperation were an important feature of the coming year, he added, noting one being held in Paris. He counted on the new Chair to strengthen cooperation with the United Nations in peace and security, and other priority areas.
TAO YANG (China) said he valued OSCE’s work in regional security, counter-terrorism and other areas. He encouraged the organization’s efforts in resolving problems through dialogue and peaceful negotiation, strategies his country highly valued. Cooperation between regional organizations and the United Nations was important, and strong efforts should be made to ensure that such cooperation took place in a complementary manner, with each organization contributing its comparative advantages.
JOÃO MARIA CABRAL (Portugal) supported full promotion of the OSCE agenda, saying that the outcome of the Vilnius ministerial meeting showed that OSCE comprehensive concept of security must be defended and developed. As an OSCE member, Portugal gave special importance to advancing cooperation between OSCE and the United Nations in addressing security challenges. On the human dimension, he welcomed the aim to prioritize issues when international commitments were not being met. The Council had recently dealt with situations of human rights and fundamental freedoms not being respected in Libya and Syria.
He also agreed that the freedoms of expression and the media applied to all forms and means through which those rights were exercised, and supported the idea to focus on racism. He urged taking stock of international efforts to enhance arms control and ensure stability at regional and global levels. On the politico-military front, it was crucial to address terrorism, human trafficking and cyber threats. Portugal was concerned at protracted conflicts in the OSCE area, urging more cooperation with the United Nations. He also welcomed the Vilnius Decision on the conflict cycle.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) supported the role of regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security, and their cooperation with the United Nations, as they could effectively help strengthen the multilateral system. The predecessor to OSCE had been a forum for dialogue during the cold war. Today, OSCE continued to be relevant on matters of security, conflict resolution and promotion of human rights. Lately, it had focused on post-conflict peacebuilding. OSCE helped to advance peace and stability in Europe through conventional arms control. Pakistan advocated peace and stability through a conventional arms control approach. On capacity-building, he appreciated OSCE efforts in Afghanistan.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) said his country accorded particular importance to cooperation between regional organizations and the United Nations. OSCE played a particularly important role in conflict resolution. In today’s briefing, he had been pleased to note progress in many areas since the last briefing. He welcomed the priority areas listed by the OSCE Chair, recalling Morocco’s discussions with the organization. He noted that his country was one of its Mediterranean partners, having a particular interest in such topics as migration and development, security, combating crime, discrimination and intolerance, and work in economic areas. He supported a review of such partnership arrangements in order to allow a greater role for partners such as his country. He reiterated his appeal to enhance cooperation between OSCE and the Alliance for Civilizations initiative. The United Nations could draw benefits from OSCE in many areas, he said, and he welcomed Ireland’s intention to strengthen such coordination.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa) took note with appreciation of the range of challenges addressed by OSCE. Affirming that cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations was a priority for his country, he welcomed all efforts made to strengthen the relationship between OSCE and the United Nations. He reiterated that each regional organization was unique in terms of its role in international peace and security, and stressed that the efforts of such organizations did not absolve the Security Council of its responsibilities in that area. Efforts of both must complement each other. In particular, regional organizations were in a good position to advise on the situation on the ground and to tackle some of the challenges faced.
Council President KODJO MENAN (Togo), speaking in his national capacity, saluted the efforts of OSCE in many varied areas and noted that some of the priorities outlined by the Irish Chair broadly matched the priorities of the Security Council’s thematic discussions in February, as both were concerned with transnational organized crime, the effects of armed conflict on women and girls, and other common issues. He also expressed appreciation for OSCE’s work in democracy, rule of law, human rights, tolerance and other human dimensions. Among those, he also spoke of the importance of work on racism and intolerance in sport, along with the conditions of ethnic minorities and conflicts involving them. Initiatives to strengthen capabilities in conflict prevention were particularly important. He hoped that OSCE would share its expertise in conflict prevention and resolution with other regional organizations, particularly in Africa.
Addressing some issues raised in today’s meeting, Mr. GILMORE said the philosophy of the Irish chairmanship of OSCE was one of inclusion and a balanced approach across that body’s dimensions. It applied to a range of issues, from OSCE reform and transnational threats to ensuring respect for commitments “across the board”. He looked forward to close cooperation with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and noted the importance of strong links between OSCE and the United Nations. He would work to ensure that such cooperation was enhanced.
Looking ahead, said he hoped the sequence of OSCE chairmanships up to 2014 would soon be confirmed, and he looked forward to an early engagement with the future chairs on top issues for the region. Ireland’s approach to protracted conflicts was influenced by its own. Even the most intractable conflicts could be solved and he was committed to working within existing structures and processes to do so. He would prioritize the issues of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In many parts of world, threats were multiplying.
Speaking as Foreign Minister of Ireland, he said the situation in Syria was “completely intolerable”, and expressed concern at the worsening crisis, both there and in that region. He strongly supported the Arab League plan to bring the violence to an end. Recognizing that the Security Council had not spoken with a unified voice, he expressed hope it would deliver a united response soon.
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* The 6714th Meeting was closed.