2011 Report to Congress: U.S. Policy and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

March 2011

This report, submitted pursuant to Section 5 of the “Act to Establish a Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe,” 22 U.S.C. 3005 (1976), as amended, discusses U.S. policy objectives advanced through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and presents U.S. priorities for the OSCE for the coming year.

U.S. Policy Objectives

The OSCE’s comprehensive security concept, linking security, economics and the environment, and cooperation among states to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms within states, makes it a unique regional platform of 56 participating States (pS) for advancing American interests in Europe and Central Asia. Our leadership and concerted action with likeminded partners within the OSCE promotes the growth and spread of democracy, strengthens respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and helps to control conventional arms and counter transnational threats. The OSCE also works to increase economic prosperity and promote sustainable environmental policies. The OSCE can be a force-multiplier in support of U.S. values and interests, allowing the United States to partner with democratic allies and friends to marshal political strengths and share costs and responsibilities while at the same time, coordinating actions to avoid duplication of effort and maximize success. Increasingly, the value of OSCE niche capabilities (like elections monitoring and democratization expertise) is being recognized outside the OSCE space, such as in North Africa.

The United States is committed to the OSCE’s ongoing democracy and human rights promotion activities, including its important election observation and the work of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in promoting democracy, rule of law, and tolerance and non-discrimination.

Specific U.S. Policy Objectives linked to implementation of OSCE commitments include:

Democracy Promotion

We openly strive to ensure the independence of ODIHR and to support its assistance to pS through the observation of elections, the development of competitive political parties, legislative assistance, citizen participation, and the rule of law (independence of the judiciary, criminal justice, the legal profession, and public law).

Human Rights Protection

Within the OSCE, the United States works closely and constantly with other pS and OSCE Institutions, particularly ODIHR, to promote the protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights for each individual.

Media Freedom

The United States is one of the leading voices in the OSCE on behalf of media freedom, and works closely with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. We have championed the cause of decriminalizing defamation laws in all OSCE pS and will continue to do so throughout 2011. Frequently raising cases at the Permanent Council of states that have failed to implement their media freedom commitments fully, we also fund two annual conferences hosted by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in the Caucasus and in Central Asia. We are working towards achieving a 2011 Ministerial Decision on Media Freedom.

Energy Security Cooperation

The United States works with the OSCE’s Office of the Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Affairs (OCEEA) to shape OSCE policies and projects on energy security. We focus on transport security and border management in an effort to maintain cooperation among supplier, consumer and transport states, especially those in Central Asia. Additionally, we are backing an emphasis on early warning mechanisms to avoid energy-related threats to peace and security.

Good Governance/Transparency

Because strengthening good governance, combating money laundering and fighting corruption are important priorities, the United States supports the OCEEA and many of the Field Missions as with their projects and initiatives that establish concrete, agreed upon criteria and best practices among pS for transparency. The extractive industries and the weak financial systems are areas of particular concern where the opportunities and potential for corruption are rampant.

Fight against Intolerance

Given U.S. emphasis on fighting hate crimes and violent extremism, we are working closely with ODIHR to develop a comprehensive approach to combating religious discrimination, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance in the OSCE area. ODIHR’s efforts to assist pS in preventing hate motivated crimes help them meet their commitments to prevent and respond effectively to such crimes and violent manifestations of intolerance.

Combating Trafficking in Persons

As an integral part of U.S. international outreach in the battle against trafficking in persons, we support the work of the OSCE’s Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. This office helps pS meet their OSCE anti-trafficking commitments by assisting governments and civil society with capacity building, providing training for public officials and the media, and promoting national action plans and legal reforms.

Field Missions

Southeast Europe

These Field Missions are regarded as OSCE success stories and are beginning to contemplate completion of their mandate and the transfer of responsibility to local and/or EU mechanisms. U.S. objectives in the region – rule of law, democratization, freedom of the media and human rights – are being actively addressed in each of the Field Missions. In some areas, the OSCE presence remains essential to stability in the region.


In Armenia and Azerbaijan, OSCE field efforts are mainly directed at democratic institution-building, anti-corruption, conflict resolution, and justice and security sector reform. In 2010, the OSCE Office in Baku held workshops to promote electoral reform and border management and conducted training sessions for legal professionals. The Office in Yerevan actively supported the introduction of community policing throughout Armenia, and helped Armenia bring its election-related legislation and administration more closely in line with international standards. The OSCE’s Minsk Group, of which the United States is a co-chair, continued its work to advance dialogue between the parties to the conflict and promote a permanent and peaceful settlement in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

We continue to support the OSCE’s efforts to reduce tensions in Georgia, its role as one of the three co-chairs of the Geneva Discussions, its work to resolve outstanding security and humanitarian concerns, and a project to facilitate the supply of water and gas between the South Ossetia region and the rest of Georgia. Although a majority of OSCE individual member states urge the re-establishment of an OSCE presence in Georgia and call for an international presence in the breakaway regions, as well as for Russia to fulfill its commitments under the 2008 cease-fire agreement, consensus cannot be reached.

Eastern Europe

The OSCE Mission to Moldova arranges regular informal meetings of the 5+2 (Moldova, Transnistria, Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE, plus the United States and the EU as observers) to help lay the groundwork for a return to formal negotiations on the region’s final status. Additionally, the Mission assists in implementing confidence-building measures; promotes democratization and electoral matters, human, minority, and language rights; encourages freedom of expression and of the media; and combats trafficking in human beings. The Project Coordinator in Ukraine (PCU) implements and monitors projects agreed upon between the OSCE and the relevant Ukrainian authorities. These projects cover all aspects of OSCE activities and may involve governmental as well as non-governmental bodies. The OSCE Office in Minsk was active in all three dimensions, especially in its outreach to civil society and efforts to strengthen democratic processes. Nonetheless, in December 2010 the Belarusian government forced the Office to close in 2011.

Central Asia

OSCE field operations help improve electoral systems in the region, bolster independent civil society, strengthen freedom of expression and of the media, consolidate the rule of law, and curb corruption. Several Central Asian states have shown increased willingness to cooperate with each other on such critical issues as education, water management, terrorism, trafficking in persons and in contraband, and border security. In 2011, the United States will seek to increase project activity across all three OSCE dimensions throughout Central Asia. Through engagement with OSCE field offices in all five Central Asian states, we seek to improve Central Asia’s relationship with neighboring Afghanistan, primarily through projects focused on improving border management and promoting licit commercial activities.

OSCE Budget and Scales of Contribution

OSCE pS agreed to a 2011 budget of €150,764,700 (roughly $197 million, down 0.1 percent in Euro terms from the previous year), a budget that is sufficient for the OSCE to carry out its core activities to promote democracy and human rights. The pS agreed to rollover the OSCE scales of contribution for 2011 as they had for 2008-2010, a victory for the United States, as many pS believe the United States should pay much more of the organization’s costs.

2010 Astana Summit

The Commemorative Declaration agreed to in Astana by all 56 pS represented an important reaffirmation of core commitments, especially on human rights and was the first Summit reaffirmation by the countries of the former Soviet Union. A separate Action Plan was not adopted. Standing on principle, the USG and likeminded others were unwilling to accept a plan that did not address Georgia and other protracted conflicts in a meaningful way due largely to Russia’s intransigence.


Looking ahead, the United States remains determined to ensure that the OSCE plays a vital role in cooperative security for all 56 pS. To that end, we will continue to pursue U.S. goals in the following areas:

  • We will continue to use OSCE as a platform for defending and amplifying the voices of human rights activists and civil society groups and advance fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including their exercise via new media and digital technologies. We support the independence of human rights institutions and encourage a focus on ensuring civil society can operate freely throughout the OSCE region and participate in OSCE events, consistent with OSCE commitments. We will also work with others to ensure that OSCE commitments and institutions are not weakened. While our priority must always be to promote the human dimension with the OSCE member states, we will support reasonable outreach to OSCE partner countries (such as North Africa and the Middle East) in transition.
  • We will continue to look for new ways to support the resolution of the protracted conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, and to advance efforts to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peacefully under the auspices of the Minsk Group.
  • We seek a greater capacity for the OSCE to respond to crises and to prevent conflicts from erupting or reigniting.
  • We are committed to increasing our efforts to strengthen conventional arms control and to promote confidence and security building measures.
  • We will look for innovative ways for the OSCE and the pS to counter new and unconventional transnational threats and challenges, such as terrorism and violent extremism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, threats to cyber security, organized crime, and illicit trafficking in weapons, drugs, and people.
  • We will try to expand the OSCE’s programs in Central Asia and for Afghanistan.
  • In the economic and environmental dimension, we support a focus on energy security, coupled with measurable progress in enhancing good governance.