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

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

March 2015

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 2014 through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and presents U.S. priorities for 2015.

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. U.S. leadership and robust engagement in the OSCE helps advance democratic reform and sustainable economic development, address regional and transnational threats, prevent and resolve conflicts, support civil society, promote tolerance and non-discrimination, and defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression exercised online and offline.

Preventing and Resolving Conflicts

In 2014, the OSCE played a pivotal role supporting the people of Ukraine’s desire to live in a free, stable, and democratic society and in addressing Russia’s blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The OSCE deployed a Special Monitoring Mission comprised of 500 international monitors following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and occupation of Crimea. Participating States sent inspection teams into Ukraine under provisions of the Vienna Document. The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group facilitated political dialogue and ceasefire efforts at the highest levels. The High Commissioner on National Minorities and Representative on Freedom of the Media supported civil society, documented abuses, and defended vulnerable populations in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) deployed its largest-ever Election Observation Mission to observe Ukraine’s May presidential election and monitored October’s parliamentary elections. ODIHR also conducted a Human Rights Assessment at the start of the crisis in and around Ukraine.

The United States supported key platforms of the OSCE: the 5+2 talks to address the Transnistrian conflict; the Minsk Group to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; and the Geneva International Discussions on the conflict in Georgia. At the 2014 OSCE Ministerial Council, participating States agreed to a regional statement on the Transnistrian conflict calling for progress toward peaceful settlement. The Heads of Delegation of the Minsk Group co-chair countries also issued a statement calling on the sides to refrain from violence and work actively towards a lasting settlement.

The Ministerial Council 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. The United States continued to seek updates to the Vienna Document in light of lessons learned during the ongoing crisis in and around Ukraine. We supported a widely-endorsed proposal to lower thresholds for notification of military activities, as well as proposals to increase inspections and evaluations. We also continued to support OSCE Vienna Document Chapter III (Risk Prevention) engagement in evolving crises, as demonstrated by extensive use of this measure with regard to the crisis in and around Ukraine.

Economic Development and Environmental Issues

Economic and environmental security in the OSCE region is a key objective for the United States. Toward this end, the United States advocated successfully at the 2014 Ministerial Council for the adoption of decisions aimed at preventing and countering corruption and reducing disaster risk. The United States supported the efforts of the Office of the Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) to build the capacity of participating States to combat corruption, money-laundering, and the financing of terrorism.

Human Rights and Democracy

The United States worked closely with OSCE institutions to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We engaged vigorously in the OSCE Permanent Council, at the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM), and through other OSCE meetings to address the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to defend the independence of ODIHR to pursue its mandate. The United States led efforts to push participating States to recognize the applicability of OSCE commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms in the digital age, including media freedom and the protection of journalists. We continued to advocate for civil society and for its more robust involvement in human dimension activities. We supported ODIHR’s full range of assistance to participating States and election monitoring missions by providing extra-budgetary support to ODIHR projects and recommending experts.

Fighting Intolerance and Discrimination

To underscore the importance of combatting anti-Semitism, the United States sent a Presidential Delegation to the OSCE’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Berlin conference on anti-Semitism. The participating States condemned all manifestations of anti-Semitism and committed themselves to enhanced efforts to combat anti-Semitism in a Ministerial Declaration in Basel in 2014. The Ministerial Council adopted decisions to prevent and combat violence against women and to develop the Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality.

The OSCE’s three Personal Tolerance Representatives visited Washington, D.C. in July 2014 and met with representatives from the Departments of State, Justice, and Education, as well as civil society and the Helsinki Commission. We worked closely with ODIHR and the OSCE’s Tolerance Representatives to condemn and combat anti-Semitism and other hate-motivated crimes and discrimination against members of vulnerable populations, including persons belonging to racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; LGBT persons; women; people with disabilities; and migrants. We worked with ODIHR’s Contact Point for Roma and Sinti issues to combat discrimination against members of the Romani minority.

Combating Trafficking in Persons

In 2014, the OSCE organized the 14th High-level Alliance against Trafficking in Persons conference to continue to advance the implementation of OSCE commitments and relevant international obligations to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings in all its forms. We contributed expertise and financial resources for the development of a handbook on methods to counter trafficking of domestic workers in diplomatic households and a report on how to leverage existing anti-money laundering tools to fight trafficking.

Countering Transnational Threats

The United States played a key role in negotiating two Ministerial declarations on countering foreign terrorist fighters and kidnapping and hostage-taking committed by terrorist groups. The United States assisted participating States in implementing their UNSCR 1540 non-proliferation commitments, supported OSCE’s participation in the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), and supported OSCE border security initiatives throughout the OSCE region.

Field Activities

South-Eastern Europe

OSCE missions in South-Eastern Europe continued to help bring stability and development to their respective host countries and the region. In 2014, the missions facilitated elections, helped local authorities build strong independent institutions, promoted media freedom, and fostered youth and women’s engagement in political processes.

Eastern Europe

The OSCE Mission to Moldova continued to coordinate the 5+2 negotiations on settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, help implement confidence-building measures, promote a free and pluralistic media environment, and fight trafficking in persons. The United States also advocated successfully to increase engagement in Ukraine by the OSCE and its institutions, including the Project Coordinator in Kyiv, in advancing reforms and in resolving the current crisis.

South Caucasus

In Armenia and Azerbaijan, the OSCE focused on justice- and security-sector reform, democratic institution building, and anti-corruption efforts. The strong mandate of the Office in Yerevan allowed it to implement meaningful programs in community policing, regulatory reform, and the new human rights action plan. The Project Coordinator in Baku carried out initiatives to prevent domestic violence, counter terrorism financing, protect the environment, train journalists, and protect trafficking victims. The United States continued to press the Project Coordinator in Baku to conduct programs in important areas of democratic development and governmental transparency and to engage with civil society. We continued to press to re-establish a meaningful OSCE presence in Georgia.

Central Asia

OSCE activities in Central Asia strengthened border security, bolstered civil society, promoted democracy and the rule of law, and improved regional trade and transport. The OSCE Border Management and Staff College in Dushanbe trained border guards from throughout the region, including Afghanistan. The OSCE Center in Almaty was downgraded to a Program Office in 2014, at the Government of Kazakhstan’s insistence. The United States made clear that the OSCE Office should continue activities across all dimensions, and we are tracking the impact of the revised mandate with that concern in mind.

OSCE Budget and Scales of Contribution

On December 30, the OSCE participating States reached consensus on the 2015 unified budget of €141.2 million (a decrease of 0.8 percent from the 2014 level). The unified budget reflected an increase of 1.2 percent to ODIHR -- a top U.S. priority. The unified budget included increases for the Project Coordinator in Ukraine (4.2 percent) and the Central Asian field missions (0.9 percent). The budget for South-Eastern European field missions decreased by 4.4 percent to reflect rightsizing and improved national capacities. The unified budget also included additional positions to support the OSCE’s work in anti-trafficking. The United States planned to maintain its levels of contribution at 11.5 percent for the Standard Scale and 14.0 percent for the Field Operations Scale for 2016-2018.

Advancing U.S. Priorities in 2015 and Beyond

The United States 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 Ukraine’s long-term security, stability, democracy, and economic development;

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

• Defending and promoting the role of civil society in advancing OSCE goals;

• Increasing the focus on combatting anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance throughout the OSCE region;

• Increasing the focus on transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption in advancing economic and environmental security;

• Deploying OSCE resources where they are most needed;

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

• Updating the Vienna Document to take into account lessons learned during the crisis in and around Ukraine and to reflect the current security environment in Europe;

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

• Drawing on the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act to emphasize the need for full implementation of existing OSCE commitments by participating States.