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

Report
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

March 2014

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 in 2013 through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and presents U.S. priorities for 2014.

U.S. Policy Objectives

The OSCE is the primary multilateral organization through which the United States advances comprehensive political-military, economic and environmental, and human dimension security and stability throughout Europe and Central Asia. Leveraging the political will of the OSCE’s 57 participating States, U.S. engagement in the OSCE helps prevent and resolve conflicts; encourages development; fosters civil society, good governance, and rule of law; and promotes human rights and fundamental freedoms exercised online and offline. OSCE institutions, including the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM), the Representative on Freedom of Media (RFOM), and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and field missions, perform critical tasks to promote tolerance and non-discrimination, freedom of expression, and democracy while holding participating States accountable for their OSCE commitments.

Preventing and Resolving Conflicts

Building on the OSCE’s focus on political-military security, the United States supports the 5+2 talks to address the Transnistrian conflict; the platform provided by the Minsk Group to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; and the Geneva International Discussions on the conflict in Georgia. At the 2013 OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, participating States agreed to regional statements on the Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistrian conflicts calling for progress toward peaceful settlement.

The Ministerial Council also adopted a decision that provides impetus to OSCE work to secure or reduce inventories of small arms and light weapons and stockpiles of conventional ammunition, and it endorsed the updated OSCE Principles Governing Non-Proliferation that commit participating States to full implementation of their nonproliferation obligations. The United States continues to seek updates to the Vienna Document that will increase military transparency; we support a widely-endorsed proposal to lower thresholds for notification of military activities, as well as proposals to increase inspections and evaluations. We also support OSCE Vienna Document, Chapter III (Risk Prevention) engagement in evolving crises, as exemplified by the rapid mounting of a monitoring mission to Ukraine.

Economic Development and Environmental Issues

We continue to support the work of the OSCE’s Office of the Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Affairs (OCEEA). Good governance, transparency, and the fight against corruption are crucial to sustained development and remain at the forefront of U.S. engagement in the OSCE to promote economic and environmental security in the OSCE region. In 2013, the Ministerial Council adopted decisions that advance U.S. priorities by underscoring the importance of the relationship between energy, the health of the environment, and economic growth.

Human Rights and Democracy

The United States works closely with ODIHR, the Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the High Commissioner on National Minorities to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We engage vigorously in the OSCE Permanent Council, at the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, and through other OSCE meetings to address violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The United States leads efforts to recognize the applicability of OSCE commitments on fundamental freedoms in the digital age, and we strongly support the RFOM’s focus on media freedom and the protection of journalists. The United States continued in 2013 to advocate for the defense of civil society and for its more robust involvement in human dimension activities. The United States firmly defends the independence of ODIHR, values its commitment to election monitoring missions, and supports its full range of assistance to participating States.

Fighting Intolerance and Discrimination

The 2013 Ministerial Council reached consensus on the Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion or Belief decision, a top U.S. priority reaffirming participating States’ commitment to combat intolerance against members of religious groups and non-believers. It also adopted a decision to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti, reasserting the OSCE role in assessing strategies to improve integration, inclusion, and empowerment of these populations. The United States works closely with ODIHR and the OSCE’s three Personal Representatives on intolerance to prevent and respond to anti-Semitism and hate-motivated crimes and discrimination against vulnerable populations, including persons belonging to ethnic, religious and racial minorities; LGBT persons; women; people with disabilities; and migrants. We will continue to push back against efforts by Russia and others to weaken OSCE commitments on tolerance and non-discrimination by promoting their concept of “traditional values.”

Combating Trafficking in Persons

Advancing another top U.S. priority, the 2013 Ministerial Council adopted the Addendum to the 2003 OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings. The United States played a key role in negotiating a robust text that includes recommendations on government procurement of goods and services; training for personnel employed in the transportation industry, including airline attendants; and prevention of domestic servitude including in diplomatic households. We continue to support the work of the OSCE field missions and the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.

Countering Transnational Threats

Following a U.S.-led effort, the Permanent Council adopted in 2013 the first ever cyber security confidence-building measures for a regional security organization. The United States also supported critical OSCE projects, particularly in Central Asia, to combat transnational threats and improve regional security. The United States assists participating States in implementing their UNSCR 1540 non-proliferation commitments and supports OSCE’s participation in the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).

Field Activities

South-Eastern Europe

OSCE missions in South-Eastern Europe have helped bring stability and development to their respective host countries and the region. In 2013, the missions facilitated elections, helped local authorities build strong independent institutions, promoted media freedom, and fostered youth and women’s engagement in political processes. The OSCE Mission in Kosovo successfully facilitated two rounds of mayoral elections in North Mitrovica and Zvecan, helping to normalize relations with Serbia. As the host countries advance their Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations, national and/or EU mechanisms can play an increasing role in ensuring continued progress and stability in the region.

Eastern Europe

The OSCE Mission to Moldova coordinates the 5+2 negotiations on settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict, helps implement confidence-building measures, promotes a free and pluralistic media environment, and fights trafficking in persons. In Ukraine, the OSCE helped improve government efficiency, and it coordinated with educators to instruct students and professionals in human rights law. The OSCE aided the Ukrainian government in combating human trafficking by helping establish a National Referral Mechanism and training social workers, educators, and law enforcement personnel. We will continue to support maximum engagement in Ukraine by OSCE and its institutions in resolving the current crisis, fostering security and stability, and monitoring the implementation of OSCE commitments.

South Caucasus

In Armenia and Azerbaijan, the OSCE focuses on justice- and security-sector reform, democratic institution building, and anti-corruption. In 2013, the Office in Baku carried out initiatives to prevent domestic violence, counter terrorism financing, protect the environment, train journalists, and protect trafficking victims. The Office in Yerevan held community forums to promote trust between the police and the public and to encourage civic engagement. We continue to seek the re-establishment of a meaningful OSCE presence in Georgia, and we value ODIHR’s efforts to strengthen rule of law through the trial monitoring project.

Central Asia

OSCE activities strengthen border security, bolster civil society, promote democracy and rule of law, and improve regional trade and transport. The OSCE Border Management and Staff College (BMSC) in Dushanbe trains border guards from throughout the region, including Afghanistan, and from other participating States. In 2013, the BMSC conducted its first ever training course for women’s leadership in border security and management. The OSCE can play an important role in preparing Central Asia for the transition to full Afghan security responsibility by the end of 2014. We support an increase in financial resources to Central Asian missions to address issues including terrorism, trafficking, and environmental degradation.

OSCE Budget and Scales of Contribution

At the time of writing, OSCE participating States are nearing consensus on a 2014 budget of €142,437,632 (a decrease of 1.6% from the 2013 level). In support of top U.S. priorities, the budget reflects increases of 3.2% and 2%, respectively, for Central Asian field missions and the RFOM, a modest addition to the ODIHR budget, and a decrease of 4.4% for South-Eastern Europe field missions. The United States will maintain its scales of contribution at 11.5 percent and 14.0 percent on the Helsinki and Vienna scales, respectively, for 2013-2015.

Advancing U.S. Priorities in 2014 and Beyond

We will continue to press OSCE participating States to uphold their commitments in all dimensions and promote cooperative, comprehensive security throughout the OSCE region. Our specific goals include:

• Continuing to leverage the OSCE and its institutions to resolve the crisis in Ukraine and promote its long-term security, stability, and development;

• Achieving concrete steps toward resolving the protracted conflicts regarding Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia;

• Strengthening the OSCE’s capacity to respond to crises and to prevent conflicts from erupting or reigniting;

• Supporting the OSCE’s work to counter transnational threats and challenges such as terrorism, organized crime, threats to cyber security, and trafficking;

• Increasing focus on transparency and good governance in advancing economic and environmental security;

• Strengthening respect for the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on line and off line and protecting the safety of journalists;

• Promoting the role of civil society in advancing OSCE goals and supporting the participation of civil society in OSCE meetings;

• Redoubling a focus on anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, including by marking the 10th anniversary of the historic Berlin Conference;

• Renewing efforts to combat violence against women and advance implementation of UNSCR 1325 in marking the 10th anniversary of the OSCE Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality; and

• Ensure that OSCE resources are deployed where they are most needed.

Looking ahead, 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act. In “H+ 40” discussions, the United States continues to emphasize that adherence by participating States to Helsinki Final Act Guiding Principles and their fulfillment of existing OSCE commitments are the best means of ensuring a robust and effective OSCE. We remain prepared to engage in discussions about OSCE modalities, institutions, and procedures, but we will not support any proposals that result in weakening the OSCE, including by watering down existing principles and commitments or undermining its institutions.