9610th Meeting (AM)

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe ‘an Indispensable Partner, Inclusive Platform for Dialogue’, Speaker Tells Security Council

During an era of “profound uncertainty” and as the international rules-based order “is being rigorously tested”, the Head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) told the Security Council today that belief in the multilateral system is at the core of the regional group’s agenda for 2024, as it focuses on resolving conflicts in the region including the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ian Borg, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta and current Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE, observed that a challenging security situation in the bloc’s region is dictating a major part of its agenda and complex demands on multilateralism are eroding the system’s effectiveness.  But, he said, “our resolve must be strengthened”, and rather than breeding despair, the challenges must serve to galvanize action and commitment to “effective, tangible and sustainable engagement”.

The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine is a top concern and the war there must come to an end, he said. The organization will keep working for the release of the three OSCE monitoring officials currently being detained, he underlined.  Conflicts in the OSCE region, including in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria, will be prioritized, with outreach to all sides for comprehensive resolutions.  Furthermore, the OSCE will continue engagement in Kosovo, Serbia and the Republic of Moldova to support peace through dialogue for sustainable political solutions.

He said that his chairpersonship aims to rebuild trust within the international system, upholding dialogue and cooperation as the most effective means of resolving differences.  The OSCE will be a platform for accountability when there are violations of the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris.  A focus will also be given to securing agreement on the organization’s financing and decisions concerning its leadership.

The women, peace and security agenda, cyberchallenges, transnational threats and arms control commitments will be given impetus. Recognizing the connection between citizens’ well-being, economic stability and environmental sustainability, the OSCE will prioritize fostering digital skills, climate resilience and food security, while combating corruption.  As media freedom is under threat, the organization is committed to enhancing media literacy and ensuring the safety of journalists, especially women journalists online and offline.  It will work on initiatives to combat violence against women and human trafficking.

In the ensuing debate, many Council members supported the role the OSCE plays as well as its firm focus on the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine — with dissent on the latter from Moscow’s delegation.  There were calls to maintain engagement on other regional conflicts and further enhance cooperation with the UN.

Saying that how OSCE operates in Ukraine is a “complete fiasco” and that the “Ukrainianization” of all its work is to the detriment of other crises, the Russian Federation’s delegate expressed disappointment that the Chairperson is spending time advancing the political agenda of the West to tarnish Moscow.  Rather, the Chairperson’s mandate should be consistent with positions agreed on and positions of all participating States.

The representative of the United States stressed that the OSCE has been instrumental in supporting accountability efforts in Ukraine in monitoring and reporting on atrocities and other abuses. It has done so through the effective use of its Moscow mechanism, which has been invoked multiple times.  He welcomed the OSCE’s joint initiative with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism to bolster Tajikistan’s defences against terrorist threats.

Switzerland’s representative said the OSCE’s strength lies in its “holistic approach to security”, including mediation, observer and investigation capacities.  The Helsinki Accords remain the benchmark for Europe’s common peace and security architecture, he added, and the OSCE as an inclusive platform for dialogue is an indispensable partner for the UN and the Council.

The representative of Malta, Council President for April, speaking in her national capacity, expressed strong support for enhanced cooperation between the UN and OSCE.  She asserted that the Council and the OSCE’s shared human rights commitments are an essential part of their comprehensive approach to peace and security.

Striking a similar tone, Slovenia’s delegate underlined the OSCE as a fundamental pillar of regional security and a prominent UN partner. The OSCE’s autonomous institutions and field missions contribute to reducing risks, promoting transparency and building confidence.  Monitoring the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine must remain a priority and an OSCE presence on the ground must continue, she said.

The delegate of France welcomed the Chairperson emphasizing opposition to disinformation and promoting a well-informed citizenry in the face of the Russian Federation’s disinformation campaign.  The OSCE should be further engaged in the South Caucuses, she said, adding that she deplores the fact that more than 100,000 Armenians have fled Nagorno-Karabakh due to Azerbaijan’s aggression.  People should be allowed to return safely.  Armenia and Azerbaijan were urged to make a lasting peace agreement by the representative of the United Kingdom, who also commended the OSCE’s vital work in protracted conflicts, for example in the Western Balkans, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova.

Three of OSCE’s 11 Mediterranean and Asian cooperation partners contributed their views.  Japan’s delegate said that since her country became the first such partner over 30 years ago in 1992, it has contributed to the OSCE’s election monitoring, assistance to Ukraine, counter-terrorism efforts, border control work, and support for women from the peace and security perspective.  “This longstanding cooperation is based on the firm belief that peace and stability in the OSCE region is directly linked to that of the international community, including the Asia-Pacific region,” she said, describing the organization as “a stabilizer or confidence-building mechanism”.

The Republic of Korea became an OSCE partner in 1994, said its representative, noting the value of partnership shown in both interregional Conference on Emerging Technologies and the Asian Partners for Co-operation Group meeting on the Indo-Pacific region.  “Regional organizations are well positioned to understand the root causes of conflict […] and promote confidence, trust and dialogue among concerned parties and civil society partners within their respective regions.”

Algeria’s delegate said that his country has contributed to the establishment of the OSCE’s Mediterranean partnership, stressing the need to overcome the current challenges the organization faces due to the antagonistic political dynamics.  “Dialogue is the very essence of effective multilateralism and must be used to identify common grounds that the different members could share,” he stressed.

Injecting an African perspective, the representatives of Sierra Leone and Mozambique both emphasized the importance of regional bodies in the maintenance of international peace and security.  The latter drew attention to the emerging issues — including violent extremism leading to terrorism, transnational organized crime, arms control and migration — that are common to the OSCE region and Africa.  In that regard, an African Union-OSCE platform could be created to address issues of mutual concern, including the participation of women and youth in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, post-conflict and transitional justice, he said.

Guyana’s delegate highlighted the OSCE’s comprehensive mandate covering not just political and military domains but often-overlooked dimensions, such as economic development, sustainable use of natural resources and promotion of human rights, stating that the bloc’s potential to manage and resolve conflicts is “deeply valuable” to global peace and security.  The speaker for Ecuador said his country shares the integrated, comprehensive vision of security shown by Malta’s Council presidency that incorporates the gender perspective and youth participation.  “Ecuador is convinced that peace and security are sustainable when they are inclusive,” he said.

China’s representative, expressing concern about the conflicts in Europe, said that the OSCE should encourage and promote respect for each other’s legitimate security concerns and jointly explore and develop a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture.  “The world does not need a new cold war,” he said, calling on all parties to act responsibly, intensify diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine and promote a political solution “so that the dawn of peace can come at an early date”.

For information media. Not an official record.