Report Pursuant to Section 5 of 22 U.S.C. 3005 (1976), As Amended by Section 226 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2003 (As enacted in Public Law 107-228)
U.S. Policy Objectives That Are Advanced By the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
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 by Section 226 of the “Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2003” (P.L. 107-228), discusses U.S. policy objectives advanced through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This report reviews OSCE activities and initiatives in 2009, including those led by OSCE institutions and conducted by OSCE field missions. It covers the period from January 1 to December 31, 2009, and looks forward to 2010, presenting U.S. priorities for the OSCE for the coming year.
OVERVIEW OF U.S. POLICY OBJECTIVES
The OSCE affects change and advances U.S. interests in Europe and Central Asia by promoting the growth and spread of democracy, strengthening respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and controlling conventional arms. The OSCE also works to increase economic prosperity and promote sustainable environmental policies.
The pillars of the 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy – promoting freedom, justice, human dignity, and effective democracies – are the OSCE’s prime objectives and have been for years. The OSCE also has a role to play in helping to combat terrorism through a number of initiatives in the areas of arms control and border and travel document security, and, more generally, in advancing freedom, security, and prosperity throughout the OSCE region. By promoting these and other initiatives collectively, the OSCE acts as a force-multiplier in support of U.S. interests, allowing the United States to share costs and political responsibility with other OSCE participating States and, at the same time, to coordinate actions to avoid duplication of effort and maximize success.
Promoting democracy and respect for human rights is fundamental to achieving sustainable security in Europe and Eurasia. The OSCE’s core democracy and human rights mission is crucial to that effort. All OSCE participating States have accepted the same commitments to respect fundamental freedoms and human rights, and all are being held to the same standards on implementation of those commitments. The United States is committed to preserving OSCE democracy and human rights promotion activities, including the important election observation, democracy, rule of law, and tolerance and non-discrimination promotion work done by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The U.S. contribution (and related costs) to the OSCE’s field missions and extra-budgetary projects were funded in FY 2009 through the Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) and FREEDOM Support Act (FSA) accounts, which in 2010 were rolled into the Assistance to Eastern Europe and Central Asia (AEECA) account. The U.S. contribution to the OSCE was approximately $31.8 million in FY 2009, including funds from the Diplomatic and Consular Programs and AEECA accounts.
IMPLEMENTING THE U.S. AGENDA IN 2010 AND BEYOND
Priorities for 2010
In 2010, the United States will seek to do the following:
Promoting the Human Dimension
Focusing the Political-Military Dimension
Strengthening the Economic and Environmental Dimension
ISSUES AFFECTING OSCE ACTIVITIES AND EFFECTIVENESS
Concern over the OSCE’s inability to both prevent the August 2008 conflict in Georgia and resolve the protracted conflicts in Moldova or Nagorno-Karabakh led the process within the OSCE to examine, reconfirm, and renovate Europe’s existing security architecture. The “Corfu Process,” initiated at an informal OSCE Ministerial on the Greek island of Corfu in June 2009, has encompassed discussions on the status and future of European security, conducted in Vienna through regular informal PermRep meetings. Most participating States see the Corfu Process as an opportunity to revitalize the OSCE, stress the importance of a cross-dimensional approach to security, and focus on the need to improve the OSCE’s capabilities in preventing and resolving conflict. Our efforts will take on increased significance in 2010 to provide substance and deliverables for a Summit.
Russia and a number of participating States (mostly from the CIS) that host OSCE field missions have criticized the OSCE’s field operations and the work of ODIHR. They assert that there are double standards on human rights and complain about ODIHR interference in domestic issues, that there is a concentration of OSCE activities in the former Soviet republics, and that there is an over-emphasis on the human dimension over the economic and political-military dimensions. They have singled out for special mention the OSCE’s election-related activities, specifically its election observation procedures, and asserted that a lack of standardized election criteria (i.e., criteria that would not take into account the size of a country or the complexity or lack thereof of monitoring a particular election) has led to politicized election assessments. They also have attempted to prevent access by select NGOs viewed as hostile to their national interests to OSCE meetings where the implementation of human rights commitments by participating States is reviewed.
The United States strongly disagrees with these criticisms and efforts and works actively to counter them, while recognizing that no country’s human rights record is perfect. Supported by the vast majority of participating States, we have stressed continuously that there are no OSCE double standards on human rights. All OSCE States signed on to the same commitments to respect fundamental freedoms and human rights and to hold free and fair elections. We also have argued that there are no OSCE double standards on election assessments: OSCE observer missions have standard assessment methodology and criteria, listed in a publicly accessible election observation handbook, and standard advance training. In addition, ODIHR and its election observation mandate were designed specifically to aid countries in transition to democracy. The OSCE’s human dimension work is not concentrated exclusively “east of Vienna”; while the core mandate of the OSCE’s field missions is to help countries meet OSCE standards, efforts to combat trafficking in persons and other activities are directed toward the entire OSCE region. Criticism of ODIHR interference in domestic affairs is also unwarranted: participating States agreed in Moscow in 1991 that human dimension commitments are “matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating States and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned.”
As demonstrated by our active and constructive participation in negotiations on a Convention on Legal Personality, Legal Capacity, and Privileges and Immunities for the OSCE, the United States is open to constructive suggestions on ways to make the OSCE more effective, but adaptations or changes must not come at the expense of its democracy and human rights promotion activities. At the same time, we oppose revision of the OSCE’s democratic principles and election monitoring standards, as well as the placement of undue limitations on NGO participation in OSCE meetings. For the same reasons, we oppose creating a Legal Charter for the OSCE, which we believe would undermine the strength and nature of the political commitments that bind the 56 participating States together.
A handful of participating States oppose OSCE activities inside Afghanistan, arguing that security remains a major concern. This opposition limits OSCE engagement with Afghanistan, but the organization nevertheless can make valuable contributions in areas in which it possesses expertise, such as border security and management, police training, and the conduct of elections. We will seek to continue OSCE activities in these areas and look for ways in which the OSCE can constructively engage with Afghanistan across all three dimensions.
OSCE Budget and Scales of Contribution
Following U.S. consultations with major OSCE partners, OSCE participating States agreed in December 2009 to a 2010 budget of €150,765,000 (roughly $224 million, a reduction of 5.2 percent when compared 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 participating States agreed to rollover the OSCE scales of contribution for 2010 as they had for 2008-2009, a major victory for the United States, as most participating States believe the United States is capable of paying much more, rather than less, of the organization’s costs.
2009 Athens Ministerial Council
The seventeenth OSCE Ministerial Council, held December 1-2, 2009, in Athens, focused mainly on the ongoing European security dialogue known as the Corfu Process, which will continue in 2010 under the Kazakhstani Chairmanship. Participating States reaffirmed the value of existing security organizations and declared anew the importance of a comprehensive approach to security.
In addition, other important decisions were taken on the OSCE Chairmanship in 2012, FSC issues, countering transnational threats, energy security, small arms and light weapons, weapons of mass destruction, Roma-Sinti, and participation of women in political and public life.
ANNEX: DETAILS OF OSCE ACTIVITIES
Drawing on a time-tested standardized methodology, OSCE election observation missions enjoy worldwide respect for their objectivity, impartiality, and credibility.
In 2009, the OSCE/ODIHR deployed election operations to 26 participating States and conducted 15 election observation and assessment missions in Albania, Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Montenegro, Iceland, Bulgaria, Norway, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Romania, Croatia, and Moldova. ODIHR also sent an expert group to assess the June 2009 elections to the European Parliament and deployed an Election Support Team (EST) to partner state Afghanistan for the August 2009 presidential and provincial council elections. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly participated with ODIHR and other parliamentary assemblies in the International Elections Observation Missions in Moldova, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kyrgyzstan. In these countries and elsewhere, ODIHR provided expertise to help improve presidential and parliamentary elections and/or provided robust election observation missions that documented the degree to which elections met OSCE commitments and international standards. In Afghanistan, for example, ODIHR provided extensive recommendations on how to improve electoral processes, both to help Afghanistan meet its international commitments on elections and to help Afghan voters regain trust in the election process and fully exercise their democratic rights.
ODIHR’s election observation methodology is based on sound, standardized criteria applied in an objective and fair manner. Despite this, some OSCE participating States urge a review of election-related commitments and a revision of ODIHR’s methodology which would undermine ODIHR’s autonomy and effectiveness. The United States considers ODIHR’s methodology and practice to be sound and objective, and believes the real issue is not methodology but the lack of political will among some participating States to implement existing commitments and to allow the voice of the electorate to be heard. We will continue to lead by example and will call on States to act on ODIHR’s post-election recommendations and allow ODIHR to continue its important electoral work unhindered and undeterred.
The OSCE assists all branches of government of OSCE participating States in developing policies and legislation to meet their democratic commitments. In 2009, a Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) on Democratic Lawmaking offered a forum for discussions on practices and challenges and allowed OSCE participating States to take stock of their progress in the implementation of commitments in this area. The SHDM addressed the issues of transparency and efficiency of lawmaking processes and examined the methods through which legislation is adopted, and how these methods can enhance the quality of legislation and hence make it more responsive to the real needs of the wider public.
The OSCE continued trial monitoring work in Central Asia in 2009 and continued to provide legislative assistance, advising authorities in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan on legislation that impacted religious and media freedom, freedom of assembly, criminal justice, political party development, and election administration. In Turkmenistan, ODIHR conducted two seminars on tools for an effective legislative process, and in Kyrgyzstan, the OSCE continued efforts to strengthen the judicial sector by supporting training for the prosecutor general’s office and supporting projects to increase access to justice for socially vulnerable groups.
In the Balkans, the Criminal Justice Reform project, an initiative of the American Bar Association’s Europe and Eurasia Program, continued to work to improve inter-state cooperation in war crimes procedures by bringing prosecutors together to discuss issues of common concern. ODIHR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) launched a project to build and strengthen domestic capacity to hold war crimes trials fairly and efficiently.
Protection of Human Rights
Respect for human rights represents one of the key values of the OSCE, and the organization is active in assisting participating States in meeting their commitments.
In promoting freedom of assembly, ODIHR and the OSCE Centre in Bishkek, in cooperation with the Ombudsperson of Kyrgyzstan and other partners, convened a roundtable in October on freedom of association in Central Asia. The roundtable made recommendations for improving the situation in each country and in the region as a whole. In Armenia and Kazakhstan, ODIHR continued to monitor the situation of human rights defenders and to strengthen their capacity to monitor and report on freedom of assembly.
Gender mainstreaming was another area of focus. Following up on 2008 recommendations for reform, ODIHR supported the establishment of a network of female police officers in South-Eastern Europe and held seminars on integrating a gender perspective into national security policy and the armed forces.
The need to guarantee individuals’ freedom of movement, the use of public registers in the compilation of accurate voter lists and the observance of international privacy standards were the theme of a seminar held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in December. The seminar brought together experts from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Ukraine to address population-registration reforms in post-Soviet states.
The OSCE supported activities to promote the reform of freedom of assembly legislation in Kazakhstan and facilitated the provision of international expert opinions on draft legislation affecting freedom of religion, assembly, and association in Kyrgyzstan. Also in Kyrgyzstan, the OSCE continued its important work in humanizing criminal legislation and assisting with penitentiary system reform, including enhancing public monitoring of penitentiary institutions. In Tajikistan, the OSCE continued to host regular human rights roundtables and supported dialogue between the government and civil society on freedom of religion, respect for minority rights, and preventing torture. The OSCE also continued to support the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. In Turkmenistan, the OSCE organized training focusing on alternatives to detention at the pre-trial stage of legal proceedings.
Fight Against Intolerance
The OSCE tackles the challenges of intolerance and discrimination through programs and projects in the fields of legislative reform, capacity building for tolerance-focused NGOs, combating and reporting on hate crimes, education on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, and efforts to counter other forms of ethnic, racial, or religious prejudice. The United States has provided significant political and financial support to the activities of ODIHR in these areas and others.
With the support of the U.S. Government, the Greek OSCE Chairmanship reappointed the three Personal Representatives on tolerance issues. During 2009, these representatives – with a focus on combating anti-Semitism, intolerance and discrimination against Muslims and racism, xenophobia and discrimination, including against Christians and members of other religions – conducted country visits to raise awareness of OSCE commitments and to generate political will for the implementation of relevant OSCE commitments and of ODIHR’s programs. The representatives work closely with ODIHR in a cooperative environment, but are free to travel and are independent of ODIHR.
Several OSCE events were dedicated to the issues of discrimination and hate crimes in 2009. In March, a roundtable on intolerance and discrimination against Christians, focusing on exclusion, marginalization and denial of rights, was followed by a roundtable on combating Anti-Semitism. Preceding these events, in Dec 2008, ODIHR had convened an NGO roundtable on intolerance and discrimination against Muslims. ODIHR marked the international day for the elimination of racial discrimination on March 20 with a discussion of challenges and trends related to racism and xenophobia in the region. A Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) in May 2009 focused on the effectiveness of hate crime laws in OSCE participating States, providing a forum for a strong U.S. delegation to showcase our most recent hate crime legislation. In addition, the OSCE held an expert-level meeting in October 2009 aimed at improving hate crime data collection. ODIHR also published a guide to hate-crime legislation for policy makers and lawmakers. A second SHDM studied the implementation of OSCE commitments on freedom of religion with a strong focus on fundamental rights aspects. This event was attended by a large U.S. delegation, including five USCIRF Commissioners and the Director of the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Office.
In September 2009, the OSCE conducted law enforcement training to improve identification and prosecution of hate crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Poland. Three months later, the OSCE supported a workshop for civil society on how to prevent and respond to hate crimes in Kyiv.
We continue to encourage the OSCE to expand efforts to combat anti-Semitism via education (ODIHR’s teaching material on Holocaust remembrance and education for secondary schools is currently used in nine OSCE countries), the law enforcement officer program and the annual reports to counter hate crimes and discrimination.
The OSCE is well suited to combating the transnational problem of trafficking in persons, which requires engagement with multiple foreign governments and NGOs. The 2003 OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings includes provisions for specialized police training, legislative advice, and other assistance, which ODIHR and OSCE field missions provide. The OSCE’s Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and ODIHR’s Human Rights Department support these efforts, in particular by providing a framework within the OSCE to expand States’ combined efforts.
The OSCE also has crafted an economic component to its anti-trafficking plan directed toward at-risk individuals in source countries and at businesses that might be misused by traffickers, such as hotels and tour operators. The aim is to reduce demand in destination countries by raising awareness of the plight of victims trafficked for labor and commercial sexual exploitation purposes.
A September 2009 seminar on preventing human trafficking, have helped maintain focus on the importance of preventing child prostitution. In 2009, the OSCE supported a project to develop recommendations on the identification of child victims of trafficking.
The OSCE also organized a high-level conference on prevention of human trafficking which was opened with a video-address by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. To encourage the dissemination of knowledge and best practices in the area of trafficking for labor exploitation in the agriculture sector, the OSCE dedicated a technical conference to this topic in April 2009. The meeting was preceded by two conferences on labor exploitation, specifically on identification, prevention and prosecution of offenders, on legal responses, and on labor exploitation in the agricultural sector, respectively. The Office of the Special Representative on Trafficking published an analysis and compilation of data and best practices to accompany the events.
The OSCE plays a central role in Europe and Eurasia for the control of conventional weapons; the extension of confidence and security building mechanisms including military transparency and accountability regimes; and for addressing the threat to European security as a result of the availability, accessibility, and proliferation of all categories of weapons by state and non-state actors. The OSCE has taken the lead in many areas, such as in dealing with the challenges posed by Small Arms and Light Weapons and Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition in Europe.
In fall 2009, the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) agreed to publication of the first chapter of a U.S.-proposed best practice guide for national implementation of the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540, which is aimed at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Chapter on Export Controls and Transshipment in support of UNSCR 1540 will be followed in 2010 by a second Chapter on Physical Protection Measures. The United States will continue to seek additional ways to broaden the scope of support for UNSCR 1540 work at the OSCE by addressing non-military aspects of security in the Permanent Council’s Security Committee.
The FSC documents aimed at combating illicit trafficking and controlling stockpiles of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) as well as stockpiles of conventional ammunition (SCA), including export controls for man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and exchanges of national practices on arms brokering and end-use certificates and related mechanisms, are truly at the forefront of international efforts in this area. The United States is contributing to FSC efforts to develop a SALW Plan of Action by May 2010, in accordance with the OSCE’s 2009 Ministerial Decision on SALW and SCA. The United States also provided funding for a number of SALW destruction projects including for MANPADS in Cyprus and for mélange rocket fuel in Ukraine.
Confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) remain a vital component in support of long-term security in the OSCE region. Implementation of the Vienna Document 1999 of the Negotiations on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (VD99) continues and, through its regime of information exchange, military contacts, notification of military activities and inspections, contributes greatly to transparency on security issues and mutual confidence among participating States. The FSC was tasked by the 2009 Athens Ministerial Council to explore ways to strengthen the Vienna Document as part of a broader task to strengthen all of the instruments in the political-military toolbox in support of adapting to the new European security environment. Nonetheless, Russia’s decision of December 12, 2007, to “suspend” its implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) has generated a more challenging atmosphere in the arms control sphere of the political-military dimension.
In November, 2009, the OSCE organized a national cybersecurity workshop in Zagreb, Croatia. The workshop focused on terrorist misuse of the Internet and best practices regarding establishing a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. The workshop was attended by over a hundred Croatian representatives and included leading international cybersecurity experts. This is the second workshop of its kind organized by the OSCE’s Action against Terrorism Unit. The U.S. introduced a self-assessment tool in July, 2009 in Vienna for OSCE member states to assess their level of development in the realm of cybersecurity. The U.S. recently submitted a Corfu Process food-for-thought paper on enhancing confidence-building and cooperation in cyberspace.
The OSCE continues to make substantive contributions to addressing the threat of terrorism in Europe, including both as a security multiplier and in terms of cooperation among participating States and other international organizations. The OSCE’s Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) in 2009 helped train authorities in the region to implement tougher security and counterterrorism practices in areas such as law enforcement, shipping, and document issuance. The ATU also began to apply work it has undertaken in developing public-private partnerships that explore ways for governments to cooperate closely with the private sector and civil society to combat terrorism. This work included hosting workshops and training programs on terrorist financing and working with the media in fighting terrorism. A Ministerial decision in December 2009 outlined further priorities, including work to implement UN universal anti-terrorism instruments and ICAO's Public Key Directory.
Border Security and Management
At the 2005 Ljubljana Ministerial Council, OSCE participating States adopted a sweeping Border Security and Management Concept, by which they committed to promoting previously agreed OSCE standards for open and secure borders in a free, democratic, and more integrated OSCE area. At the 2007 Madrid Ministerial Council, the participating States tasked the OSCE Secretary General to examine the potential for greater engagement with Afghanistan on this and other issues. The OSCE continued to work in 2009 to facilitate capacity-building for border services, particularly in Central Asia, and to reinforce cross-border cooperation in the OSCE region. The United States will continue to work with the OSCE in 2010 to find ways to help targeted participating States and Partners, such as Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
The Strategic Police Matters Unit (SPMU) was founded in 2002 to help strengthen national criminal justice systems and fight organized and transnational crime, including trafficking in human beings, drugs, and arms. The SPMU continued in 2009 to promote democratic and accountable policing, with particular emphasis on the importance of commitment to the rule of law, police ethics and human rights standards, and police-public partnerships. Project activities included training for Tajik police in investigating trafficking in human beings and counternarcotics training for Afghan police at the Russian Advanced Police Academy at Domodedovo. The Annual Police Experts meeting focused on preventing and responding to hate crimes.
OSCE Field Operations
In 2009, the OSCE, with the concurrence of host governments, carried out through its institutions and 18 field operations an ambitious range of activities to support political stability and democratic and economic development.
Ukraine: The OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine (PCU) continued in 2009 to develop and implement projects in all three OSCE dimensions and remained involved in promoting transparency, civil society, and the rule of law for the 2010 presidential elections. In close cooperation with ODIHR and at the request of the Ukrainian Central Election Commission, the PCU assisted in training more than 80,000 election officials during 800 planned training seminars, carried out a nation-wide voter education program, and promoted a better understanding of the election law among the media.
The PCU and its regional centers continued to help the government of Ukraine in its anti-trafficking efforts by providing legislative assistance to Ukrainian authorities seeking to develop a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, which will establish legal mechanisms to prevent and prosecute trafficking in human beings as well as assist victims in accordance with international human rights standards. The PCU also conducted a round table discussion to promote cooperation between Ukrainian authorities and Kyiv-based embassies and consulates to help prevent human trafficking.
In addition, the PCU supported OSCE efforts to assist Ukraine in the implementation of a project to safely dispose of its stockpiles of the toxic rocket fuel mélange, with 470 tons shipped out for disposal in 2009.
Georgia: The OSCE Mission to Georgia formally closed on June 30, 2009, following Russia’s refusal to join consensus on a new mandate for a modified OSCE presence. Despite this, the OSCE remained involved in efforts to reduce tensions in the region and continued as one of the three co-chairs of the Geneva Process, actively supporting efforts to resolve lingering humanitarian concerns and to ensure the effective functioning of the Joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms for Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. OSCE participating States simultaneously continued to urge the re-establishment of an OSCE presence in Georgia and to call for an international presence in the breakaway regions, while urging respect for human rights from all sides and calling on Russia to honor the terms of the cease-fire agreement that ended the August 2008 war.
Moldova: The OSCE Mission to Moldova continued efforts to find a long-term solution to the conflict in the separatist region of Transnistria. The United States strongly supports OSCE efforts in this regard, which further our own strategy – and that of the EU – of finding a resolution that respects Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The United States has urged all sides to work transparently with the OSCE to make concrete progress toward a political settlement and has urged Russia to fulfill the commitments it made during the OSCE’s 1999 Istanbul Summit to withdraw its forces and munitions from Moldova.
Representatives of the 3+2 group of mediators and observers (Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE, plus the United States and the EU as observers), met periodically in 2009 to consider ways of moving the sides toward formal negotiations on the final status of the Transnistrian region. At an informal meeting of the 5+2 (the 3+2 mediators and observers, plus Moldova and Transnistria) in November, the sides’ chief negotiators took a small step forward, agreeing to meet regularly to discuss practical matters. The first such meeting was held in late November.
In addition to these efforts, the Mission offers valuable advice and expertise on democratization and electoral matters and does important work promoting human, minority, and language rights; encouraging freedom of expression and of the media; and combating trafficking in human beings.
Belarus: Repression of fundamental freedoms and human rights by the government of Belarus remains a significant concern of the United States and many other OSCE participating States. The United States remains deeply concerned by the Belarusian authorities' harassment and use of force against to silence the political opposition, independent newspapers, and civil society. Partially because of the constraints imposed on it by the Belarusian authorities', the OSCE Office in Minsk (OOM) has struggled to monitor effectively the human rights situation and to further the international community’s efforts to address the Belarusian authorities’ restrictions on the Belarusian people's basic rights.
The OOM has offered to help Belarusian authorities meet OSCE commitments, but has been criticized by some NGOs for distancing itself from civil society. Reporting by the OOM of violations of human rights has been spotty, and OSCE observation of political trials and demonstrations has declined. The OOM has found areas of cooperation with the authorities, such as projects on the environment or trafficking in persons. We hope the OOM will find more opportunities of engagement and partnership with civil society, rather than almost solely focusing its projects on the ground with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice, the entities that have been responsible for human rights violations.
The United States continues to coordinate closely with the EU on our sanctions policy against Belarusian leadership, in response to their human rights abuses. We continue to reiterate in public and in private to Belarusian officials that sanctions pressure will only ease in response to concrete improvements in the Belarusian authorities' respect for the Belarusian people's basic rights.
South-Eastern Europe: In 2009, the OSCE devoted nearly 47 percent of its total budget to its seven field missions in the Balkans, although this figure has continued to decline over the past several years. In general, missions in the Balkans, many of which originated as part of immediate post-conflict international stabilization efforts, are much larger than OSCE field presences in the former Soviet Union. Overall, the OSCE’s work in the Balkans is a success story. Problems that still require assistance in the form of resources and attention from the international community include interethnic tensions, politicization of civil service, corruption, lack of transparency and independence in rule of law institutions, trafficking in drugs, weapons, and human beings, organized crime, and imperfect electoral systems.
Kosovo: Since Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK) has operated in a “status neutral” manner because of requirements imposed by OSCE participating States which do not recognize Kosovo. As a result, OMIK is limited in the amount of direct support it can provide to Kosovo government institutions. Other international actors are now playing increasingly significant roles: the EU Rule of Law Mission reached full deployment in 2009 and has assumed from UNMIK responsibility in the areas of policing, justice, and customs; the International Civilian Office (ICO) engages directly with Kosovo’s government and community leaders to advance implementation of the Ahtisaari plan. OMIK still exercises monitoring functions. Its network of five regional centers and 33 municipal teams plays an important role in building transparency and capacity at the local level and in ensuring non-discriminatory access to municipal services for minority communities.
In 2009, OMIK continued to perform capacity-building activities through its Security and Public Safety Program, including providing advanced and specialized training and leadership and management development. It also continued to work with the Central Elections Commission in a limited way to support work in preparation for the November 2009 municipal elections. OMIK also remained active in promoting oversight, transparency and accountability in the parliament (“Assembly”), political party capacity development and in facilitating human rights compliance in central and local government institutions.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: In 2009, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina successfully implemented a restructuring plan to streamline its operations and better coordinate its lines of work. The mission continued to help strengthen government institutions and facilitated efforts to build the capacity of the State Parliamentary Assembly, including by increasing the involvement of citizens in the legislative process and by strengthening the ability of the Assembly to oversee budgets and expenditures. Much of the Mission’s staff and resources were devoted to promoting the rule of law. The Mission played a key role in monitoring the disposition of war crimes cases transferred to Bosnian courts from The Hague Tribunal. It also engaged in trial monitoring throughout Bosnia and as a result of this observation was able to assist domestic authorities to amend flawed criminal codes related to the prosecution of human trafficking, child exploitation, and hate crimes cases. The Mission also focused on the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes as a crucial part of its human rights program. The Mission continued to promote much needed state-wide education reform.
Macedonia: Monitoring and assisting with the implementation of the 2001 Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) remains one of the primary tasks of the OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje, and in 2009 the Mission reviewed its activities to increase focus on aspects of the OFA which have not yet been fully implemented. Many of the Mission’s activities focused on preventing ethnic tensions through the implementation of confidence-building measures and the training of a multi-ethnic police force. It continued to carry out programmatic activities to strengthen the rule of law and judicial capacity and to increase the independence of the media. A new initiative works directly with municipalities to assess and reduce politicization of the civil service. The Mission also carried out grassroots projects promoting inter-ethnic cooperation and confidence, including projects in primary and secondary education. The Mission continued to monitor a number of ethnically divisive war crimes cases that were returned by the ICTY for trial by Macedonian courts. The remaining field office in Tetovo, an area of past tension, continues to play an important monitoring role. The mission’s work on advocacy for non-violent elections helped contribute to generally incident-free Presidential and local elections in March.
Serbia: Among the OSCE Mission to Serbia’s most important achievements has been its vital work to promote overall police reform, accountability, and transparency, and to further the capacity of the Serbian police to fight organized crime. The Mission promoted community policing principles and cooperative relationships between the police and the local communities in multi-ethnic areas such as southern Serbia and Vojvodina. The Mission also helped build greater legislative oversight and transparency in both the National Assembly and at the municipal level, and promoted greater involvement of the public in the legislative process at both levels. Additionally, it facilitated the decentralization process and contributed to building more effective local government. The Mission continued to play an important role in 2009 in helping Serbia live up to its international human rights commitments (including by monitoring domestic war crimes cases), in fighting discrimination and intolerance, and in combating human trafficking. The Mission continued to facilitate dialogue between Belgrade and the various ethnic communities in southern Serbia, through a training center that serves as a platform for confidence-building activity and for assistance to key institutions of local governance and rule of law. Through all of its lines of work the mission promotes the integration of ethnic Albanians and other minorities into state institutions.
Montenegro: The OSCE Mission to Montenegro continues to make a positive contribution to the country’s democratic and economic development. It provided institutional and expert support to Montenegrin judges and prosecutors as well as assistance in helping to monitor the courts, in the process raising judicial standards and strengthening judicial independence. The Police Affairs Program did vital work in helping Montenegro develop a more professional, democratic, and capable police force and in raising the levels of forensic expertise. The Mission is in the third year of a four-year effort to help Parliament modernize, improve its capacity to review legislation, and exert effective oversight over the government and other state institutions. The Mission also facilitated the involvement of civil society actors in decision-making processes at the central and local levels and worked to strengthen the competencies of local governments.
Albania: The OSCE Presence in Albania continued to focus in 2009 on fighting corruption and promoting reform, helping to build the capacity of the Albanian Assembly and supporting the development of the State Police, the Border Police, and the Ministry of Defense. The Presence also was active in good governance activities, introducing anti-corruption initiatives and training tax officials on the legal framework of conflict-of-interest declaration requirements. In the area of democratization, the Presence focused on electoral and civil registry reform, particularly in the lead-up to June parliamentary elections. In the aftermath of these fiercely contested elections, the OSCE presence made a major contribution to the overall efforts by the international community to keep the rivalry between the two major parties from spiraling out of control. It also assisted Albania in promoting the rights of the Roma community and in combating trafficking in human beings.
Croatia: The OSCE Office in Zagreb has a limited mandate to monitor war crimes trials, including those transferred to Croatia by the ICTY, and report on residual aspects of the implementation of the housing care program. Croatia continues to make progress on issues such as electoral reform, minority rights, and the return and integration of refugees. In recognition of this progress, OSCE participating states agreed to continue reducing the size of this office in 2009.
Armenia: The OSCE’s focus in Armenia in 2009 remained on advancing democratization and respect for human rights, particularly in light of the trials related to the March 1 events, and on peacefully resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through negotiations between the sides. The OSCE Office in Yerevan carried out programs to promote good governance and combat corruption, improve democratic policing, and reform the criminal justice system. Projects and activities promoting free and fair elections, respect for freedom of assembly, and freedom of the media received particular attention in 2009.
Azerbaijan: As in Armenia, the OSCE’s focus in Azerbaijan in 2009 remained on advancing democratization and respect for human rights, and on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The OSCE Office in Baku continued implementation of its policing reform program, assisting the authorities in implementing the revised training curriculum and expanding the community policing program throughout Azerbaijan. The Office has created a wide range of assistance programs to address weaknesses identified during the October 2008 elections, including technical training and projects to increase the level and visibility of public debate. The Office was also active in promoting freedom of expression for the media and protection of journalists, and promoting media freedom in Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Meetings of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (the United States, Russia, and France), with the participation of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and the foreign ministers and presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, continued throughout 2009. After several years of stagnation, there was a significant increase in the frequency and constructiveness of meetings of the presidents and foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan. In December, U.S. Deputy Secretary Steinberg met French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial in Athens. At that meeting the parties reaffirmed their commitment to “work intensively to resolve the remaining issues, to reach an agreement based, in particular, upon the principles of the Helsinki Final Act of Non-Use of Force or Threat of Force, Territorial Integrity, and the Equal Rights and Self-Determination of Peoples.”
Central Asia: The United States supports the development of democratic, market-oriented, and fully sovereign states in Central Asia and seeks to increase regional stability and security. The United States also seeks to improve regional cooperation on water and energy and to create new links in trade, transportation, and communication. In addition, the United States seeks to improve Central Asia’s relationship with its southern neighbor, Afghanistan, and to counter trafficking in weapons and narcotics by improving border management and control.
The OSCE plays an important role in advancing these goals, working with the Central Asian states across all three dimensions and assisting in the implementation of democratic and economic reforms. OSCE field operations help host governments and civil society improve electoral systems, strengthen freedom of expression and of the media, consolidate the rule of law, and curb corruption. Several OSCE missions in Central Asia also play a monitoring role, informing OSCE participating States of current developments in the host countries and providing early warning of political or ethnic tension. Additionally, the OSCE plays a key role in SALW/CA storage and destruction and in de-mining former conflict zones.
The OSCE also is helping to improve regional relations. By bringing the Central Asian states together for topical regional conferences, the OSCE provides a neutral forum for dialogue and cooperation. Several Central Asian states have shown increased willingness to cooperate with each other as an outcome of such discussions, including on the critical issues of education and water management.
Transnational issues, such as terrorism, trafficking, and border security, are a promising area of growth for OSCE activities in Central Asia in support of U.S. goals. Several Central Asian states have shown willingness to cooperate with the OSCE on these issues, including on projects related to border security and management and on the implementation of the Bucharest Plan of Action for Combating Terrorism. Several Central Asian states have worked with the borders team of the OSCE’s Conflict Prevention Center on national border assessments. In 2008, Tajikistan was the first country to begin implementing the results of such an assessment, and the OSCE is now working with Tajik border guards to improve border patrolling, strengthen customs administration, and enhance border management training for mid- to senior-level border guards. In 2009, a Border Management Staff College opened in Dushanbe and began offering training to senior border security personnel from Central Asia, Afghanistan, and other OSCE participating States and Partners.
Several Central Asian governments have expressed an interest in increased economic and environmental dimension activities. The OSCE expanded its work to improve the environment for SME development and growth and worked with local populations to encourage entrepreneurship. Through its Environment and Security program, the OSCE has addressed environmental hot spots that could be destabilizing, including large storage areas of mélange. The Central Asian states have shown enthusiasm for the program, which centers on promoting technical and scientific cooperation between states.
Kazakhstan: The OSCE Center in Astana and its field office in Almaty worked in 2009 to assist Kazakhstan in upholding core OSCE principles through programs promoting free and fair elections, and by providing assistance on drafting legislation on elections, political parties, local government, media, and religion. The Center was only partly successful. The Center also promoted legal education for lawyers, police training, and civil society development.
Kazakhstan’s record on human rights and democratic development remained mixed in 2009. Kazakhstan is viewed as having fallen short of fulfilling the commitments it made at the 2007 Madrid Ministerial Council as a condition to taking the OSCE Chairmanship in 2010. New laws adopted by parliament at the end of 2008 were seen as steps forward in Kazakhstan’s democratization, but they fell short of meeting OSCE commitments and have since been eroded by new legislation on the Internet that further restricts media freedom. The imprisonment of one of the country’s leading human rights advocates, Yevgeny Zhovtis, after a trial lacking basic elements of due process, was largely seen as a step backwards by Kazakhstan. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and ODIHR have been critical of Kazakhstan’s progress, even as Kazakhstan has assumed the OSCE Chairmanship position. Journalists have continued to be prosecuted and jailed at a troubling rate, and charges against media outlets followed by exorbitant fines are still commonplace. Thus far in 2010, the government has censored/prohibited all political reporting by the OSCE Center in Astana during its Chairmanship.
Kyrgyzstan: The Kyrgyz Republic continued its backward spiral on key OSCE commitments in 2009. Freedom of assembly and religion laws, for example, were heavily criticized by ODIHR and OSCE participating States. At least eight journalists were physically attached, and two were killed in Kyrgyzstan in 2009. Two Kyrgyz journalists were also killed in Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, the government continued to allow the OSCE Center in Bishkek much autonomy to conduct activities in all three dimensions and to work with civil society representatives. The OSCE continued to play an important role in Kyrgyzstan in 2009, regularly reporting to OSCE participating States on current events. Additionally, the Center supported media resource centers and implemented projects on media capacity-building that included legal support to journalists.
The OSCE Academy in Bishkek, which serves as a regional center for students across Central Asia, is the first of its kind and has helped bridge a regional divide through training and research. The Academy also successfully conducted programs on human rights, media development, conflict prevention, management, resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation in 2009.
Tajikistan: Tajikistan hosts the largest of the OSCE Central Asian field presences. In 2009, the Office continued streamlining its activities under the direction of a new Head of Mission, and maintained the goal of having fewer but more effective programs. The Office focuses much of its work in the first and second dimensions, as requested by the Tajik government, and assists with political reform and a large de-mining program. It also has been able to make some progress in the human dimension, regularly hosting roundtables on various reform issues that include participants from government, NGOs, media, and civil society.
Tajikistan has been an active supporter of OSCE counterterrorism and border initiatives, including efforts to strengthen travel document security. As a follow-up to the OSCE border assessment completed in 2006 (and amended in 2008), the government agreed to several additional projects, which have helped strengthen surveillance along the border and improve customs administration at key border crossings. The government also developed a national border management strategy with OSCE assistance and potentially will formally adopt and begin implementing the strategy in 2010.
The Office’s SALW and conventional ammunition programs, under the guidance of the OSCE SALW and Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition Documents, is a major success story, with at least seven countries, including the United States, making financial and in-kind contributions to infrastructure and capacity-building, as well as destruction of surpluses.
The OSCE has succeeded in bringing representatives of the government, civil society, and international experts together to discuss important human rights issues. Despite the good work of the OSCE field mission, however, the overall human rights situation has continued to deteriorate. Government policies have unduly restricted basic civil rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of association. The government of Tajikistan continues to ban some religious communities, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The media is not free, and independent television programming reaches a very small portion of the population.
Uzbekistan: The OSCE continued to play an important niche role in 2009 in supporting international efforts to address the poor human rights and democratic reform situation in Uzbekistan. Although operating with only a small staff, the OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan has been able to work with the Police Academy, the national security service, and government-approved NGOs, lawyers, and Parliament to create small but effective programs.
In 2009, like the previous year, the government continued to refuse admission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (or Red Crescent) to Uzbekistan to visit prisons. Despite several requests, the Project Coordinator has also been denied permission to visit prisoners in Uzbek jails. Although more OSCE projects were approved in 2009 than in 2008, the government continued to be overly selective with the OSCE projects it approved and took an exceptionally long time to respond to OSCE requests.
Turkmenistan: The OSCE Center in Ashgabat offers the government and its citizens opportunities for concrete cooperation to build a democratic future and reminds the government of its human rights obligations. In 2009, the OSCE continued to work with Turkmenistan to improve respect for human rights, particularly through work related to access to prisoners, freedom of association and religion, public access to the Internet, and loosening restrictions on NGOs. There was limited progress on areas such as registering religious groups, increasing the number of mandatory years of education, and restoring pensions. In 2009, the government refused to permit students attending western universities to leave the country. After most students lost at least one semester, many were permitted to depart, but hundreds of others remain stuck in Turkmenistan with no explanation provided by the government. The government of Turkmenistan has expressed an interest in expanding its cooperation with the OSCE, particularly on border security training, and the United States will continue to work with other OSCE members to improve the situation in Turkmenistan.