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Diplomacy in Action

2008 Report to Congress: U.S. Policy and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe


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Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
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March 2008

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 overall U.S. policy objectives that are advanced through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This report reviews OSCE activities and initiatives in 2007, including by OSCE institutions such as the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and in the OSCE field missions. This report covers the period from January 1 to December 31, 2007, and looks forward into 2008, presenting U.S. priorities for the OSCE for the coming year.

OVERVIEW OF U.S. POLICY OBJECTIVES

The OSCE institutionalizes in Europe and Central Asia the contemporary American concept of “transformational diplomacy,” to effect real change and advance American interests in promoting the growth and spread of democracy, strengthening respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and controlling conventional arms. The OSCE works to improve economic prosperity and sustainable environmental policies. The pillars of the March 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 win the war against terrorism through a number of initiatives in the areas of arms control, border and travel document security, and, more generally, in advancing freedom, security, and prosperity throughout the OSCE region. Promoting these and other initiatives collectively through 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 expanding activities in the security dimension and to preserving OSCE democracy and human rights promotion activities, including the important election observation 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 OSCE extra-budgetary contributions in the region were funded in FY 2007 through the Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) and FREEDOM Support Act (FSA) accounts. The U.S. contribution to the OSCE was approximately $36 million in FY 2007, including funds from Diplomatic and Consular Programs (D&CP), FSA, and SEED accounts.

DETAILS OF OSCE ACTIVITIES

Election Observation

Drawing on a time-tested standardized methodology, OSCE election observation missions enjoy worldwide respect for their objectivity and credibility. The United Nations has no comparable institution. The electoral workload has been challenging, even for an organization with as much experience as the OSCE. In 2007, the OSCE conducted 16 election observation and assessment missions, most notably in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan. In those countries and elsewhere, ODIHR assisted with expertise to improve presidential and parliamentary elections and/or to provide robust election observation missions that documented the degree to which elections met OSCE commitments and international standards. In Ukraine, for example, the OSCE continued its cooperation with the Government of Ukraine to improve the reliability of voter lists and improve electoral laws; these and other changes greatly contributed to the 2007 parliamentary elections’ transparency. In Georgia, the OSCE carried out important pre-election monitoring before the January 5, 2008 Presidential elections. Russia, however, in the run-up to its December 2007 parliamentary elections, impeded preparatory work by ODIHR, imposed artificial limits on the number of observers ODIHR was allowed to send to the elections, and did not issue visas in a prompt manner. For these reasons, ODIHR concluded that it would be unable to conduct an assessment in accordance with its guidelines and decided not to send a monitoring mission.

ODIHR’s election observation methodology is based on sound, standardized criteria applied in an objective and fair manner. It served as the model and inspiration for the UN’s 2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and its accompanying Code of Conduct. Despite that success, there continue to be calls by a few OSCE participating States, most notably Russia, to review election-related commitments and revise ODIHR’s methodology in an effort to undermine ODIHR’s autonomy or effectiveness. The United States considers ODIHR’s methodology and practice to be sound and objective, needing at most minor fine-tuning to build on its accumulated experience. 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 call on states to act on ODIHR’s post-election recommendations and to allow ODIHR to continue its important electoral work unhindered and undeterred.

Promoting Democracy

The OSCE assists all branches of government of OSCE participating States in developing policies and legislation to meet their democratic commitments. The 2007 seminar on Effective Participation and Representation in Democratic Societies provided valuable insights and recommendations on democratic governance. Building on this experience, the OSCE provides support to NGOs, as well as independent policy research centers, to contribute to policy debate and the legislative process. The OSCE conducted a series of workshops and roundtables in targeted countries to improve interaction between governments and civil society on reviews of draft legislation.

The OSCE continues to provide legislative assistance in the criminal justice sector in the Kyrgyz Republic, including two assessments of draft laws on jury trials in 2007. The OSCE issued a Trial Monitoring Reference Manual in 2007 to enhance the quality of trial monitoring projects. It held a workshop on trial monitoring in Kazakhstan to support the work of 21 trial monitors. In Moldova, over 2,700 trials and hearings were monitored to raise awareness on the right to a fair trial. The Criminal Justice Reform project, an initiative of the American Bar Association’s Europe and Eurasia Program, works in the Balkans to improve inter-state cooperation in war crimes procedures by bringing prosecutors together to discuss issues of common concern. For example, in cooperation with that project, 50 renowned legal practitioners and academics conducted a roundtable in Bosnia/Herzegovina to discuss the prosecution of war crimes. The OSCE conducted projects in Georgia and Azerbaijan to increase the participation of women in democratic processes. The Democratic Governance Project worked in Georgia to promote multi-party dialogue and increased capacity building among six participating political parties. The Parliamentary Reform project conducted a needs assessment of the Georgian parliament and helped strengthen the Georgian parliamentary budget office.

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. The OSCE conducted a roundtable in Kazakhstan on inspecting detention centers and eliminating torture. A project to monitor places of detention in Central Asia resulted in the first report of the Armenian Monitoring Board for police detention facilities. In June 2007, the OSCE conducted a conference in Kazakhstan on Public Control over Places of Detention and Prevention of Torture in Kazakhstan. The OSCE conducted a research project on labor migration in Kazakhstan to encourage migration policies that are in line with OSCE commitments with expertise provided by the United States, the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. The OSCE conducted an expert meeting on freedom of assembly, association and expression and produced a report on the plight of Human Rights Defenders. Achieving consensus on new or reiterated commitments in this field, however, was more problematic. For the second year in a row, Russia and Belarus blocked the adoption of several OSCE draft decisions in this field, such as those on human rights defenders and on civic participation in democratic societies.

Fight Against Intolerance

The OSCE tackles the challenges of intolerance and discrimination through programs and projects in the fields of legislative reform, law enforcement training, capacity building for tolerance-focused NGOs, education on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, and projects to counter other forms of ethnic, racial or religious prejudice. The United States has provided significant political and financial support to the activities of the OSCE’s ODIHR in these areas and elsewhere.

Thanks to intense efforts by the U.S. Government, in close collaboration with Members of Congress and NGO partners, the OSCE in 2005 appointed three Personal Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office on tolerance issues. Throughout 2007, these Representatives – with a focus to combat Anti-Semitism; Intolerance Against Muslims; and Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, Including Against Christians and Members of Other Religions – traveled to OSCE States to raise awareness of OSCE commitments and to assist them in implementing these commitments. The United States strongly supported their reappointment by the incoming Finnish chairmanship in early 2008. The representatives work closely with ODIHR in a cooperative environment, but are free to travel and are independent of ODIHR. They also take part in NGO roundtables and OSCE expert meetings throughout the year. The United States supported the 2007 review of the role of the three representatives to enhance their effectiveness.

The OSCE held a high-level conference on Combating Discrimination, Promoting Mutual Respect and Understanding, Following Up On the Cordoba Conference on Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Intolerance, in Bucharest in June 2007. This helped keep the focus on OSCE activities in the field of tolerance on anti-Semitism, as well as on racism, xenophobia, and discrimination against Muslims, Christians, and members of other religions. The Chairman-in-Office also convened a Chairmanship Conference on Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims in October 2007.

The tolerance decisions approved at the 2005 Ljubljana, 2006 Brussels and 2007 Madrid Ministerial Council meetings called for strengthened implementation of OSCE tolerance commitments in participating states and provided enhanced commitments in the fields of legislation, law enforcement, education, and the media, underscoring the need for governments to speak out against all acts and manifestations of hate. We continue to encourage the OSCE to step up ODIHR education programs to counter intolerance against Muslims and to increase its tolerance work and its training on media freedom in, and with the full cooperation of, the Mediterranean partner states.

Anti-Trafficking Efforts

The OSCE is well suited for combating the transnational problem of trafficking in persons, which requires engagement with multiple foreign governments and NGOs. The Maastricht Action Plan of 2003 on combating trafficking in human beings has provisions for specialized police training, legislative advice, and other assistance, which are being provided by ODIHR and the field missions. The OSCE’s Special Representative for Trafficking and the Anti-Trafficking Assistance Unit are supporting these efforts, in particular by providing the framework and coordination within the OSCE to expand states’ combined efforts. The OSCE has taken the lead in the international community in establishing a strong code of conduct for its mission personnel to ensure that they do not encourage trafficking. This issue was addressed on a broader scale with the adoption at the 2005 Ljubljana ministerial of steps to prevent international mission members and peacekeeping troops from contributing to trafficking in persons. The OSCE has also crafted an economic component to its anti-trafficking plan directed toward at-risk individuals in source countries and businesses that might be misused by traffickers, such as hotels and tour operators exploiting the sex trade. The aim is to reduce demand in destination countries by raising awareness about the plight of victims trafficked for purposes of labor and commercial sexual exploitation.

Based on initiatives taken by the U.S. Government, in conjunction with France and Belgium, the OSCE is also at the forefront of the fight against the sexual exploitation of children. In 2007, the OSCE gathered together 75 law enforcement and civil society experts from more than 30 countries and international organizations to discuss new investigation technology and ways to improve cooperation between countries. OSCE participating States decided at the December 2007 Madrid Ministerial Council to continue law enforcement training and focus on this area. In 2008, the OSCE will hold its first-ever online workshop on the topic of sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.

Political-Military Dimension

The OSCE is at the forefront of counterterrorism efforts in the region and has made progress in this area both as a security multiplier and in terms of cooperation among countries from the Balkans to the Baltics. The OSCE has proven responsive and effective in coordinating with other international organizations to help train authorities in the region to implement tougher security and counterterrorism practices in areas such as law enforcement, shipping, and document issuance. The U.S. and Russia worked together on the Public-Private Partnership Conference in 2007 in a continued effort to explore ways for governments to cooperate closely with the private sector and civil society to combat terrorism. The United States and Russia also worked together on a decision within the OSCE’s Forum for Security and Cooperation (FSC) in support of the Global Initiative to combat Nuclear Terrorism that will provide an endorsement for all participating States for further cooperative action in this critical effort.

In the spring of 2007, the FSC agreed to the U.S. proposal to prepare Best Practice Guides for national implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 aimed at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. To better monitor weapons trade in recent years, the FSC has adopted documents aimed at controlling stockpiles of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and conventional ammunition. The U.S. has provided funding for a number of SALW destruction projects in Tajikistan, and mélange rocket fuel conversion in Armenia and Georgia. The U.S. also serves as the Coordinator for the Editorial Review Board charged with preparing Best Practice Guides for safeguarding SALW and ammunition stocks.

Confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) remain a vital element in the long-term security of the OSCE region; however, Russia’s decision to “suspend” its implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) as of December 12, 2007 has contributed to a more challenging atmosphere in the political-military dimension, especially in the arms control sphere.

Border Management and Security

At the 2005 OSCE Ministerial Conference in Ljubljana, OSCE states adopted a sweeping “Border Security 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 Ministerial in Madrid, the participating States tasked the OSCE Secretary General to examine the potential of greater engagement with Afghanistan on this issue. The OSCE is working to find new ways to facilitate capacity building for border services and reinforce cross-border co-operation in the OSCE region. The United States will continue to work with the OSCE throughout 2008 to find ways to help targeted states, such as Tajikistan.

Combating the Threat of Illicit Drugs

In 2007, the OSCE conducted, together with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), an expert conference to exchange information on production of and trafficking in illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Along with identifying current best practices in law enforcement, the experts discussed challenges and threats posed by the links between illicit drug trafficking, terrorism and transnational organized crime. The United States used the forum to highlight the need for improvements in the sharing of real-time intelligence between drug enforcement agencies and to promote increased international cooperation through existing tools. A follow-up conference is planned for 2008; it will most likely focus on ways to interdict the production of and trafficking in Afghan heroin.

OSCE Field Missions

In 2007, the OSCE, through its 18 field missions and its institutions, carried out, with the concurrence of the host governments, an ambitious range of activities that support political stability and democratic and economic development.

Ukraine: The Yushchenko Administration, which took office after the dramatic events of the Orange Revolution in 2004, has been more willing than its predecessors to expand the scope of OSCE activities in Ukraine. The OSCE’s Project Coordinator in Ukraine (PCU) continues to develop and implement projects in all three of OSCE’s dimensions. The PCU was actively involved in promoting transparency, civil society, and the rule of law for the parliamentary elections held on September 30, 2007. In close cooperation with ODIHR and at the request of the Ukrainian Central Election Commission, the PCU trained more than 80,000 election officials, carried out a nationwide voter education program and promoted a better understanding of the election law among the media.

The PCU and the regional centers continue to build on their efforts to help the government of Ukraine in its anti-trafficking efforts by providing legislative assistance to Ukrainian authorities, helping with the development of 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 has also continued its efforts to further strengthen democratic governance by providing capacity building to civil society, with the goal of improving cooperation with government authorities. The PCU continues to implement projects to support the transition of former Ukrainian military personnel to civilian life through seminars on entitlements and retraining opportunities, and to assist the Ukraine judicial system and legislature to resolve contradictions between civil and commercial codes. In September 2007, the PCU completed its project to destroy dangerous stockpiles of old ammunition at Novobogdanovka. All equipment (such as mine detectors and protective gear) was handed over to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, while training sessions were conducted to enhance the Ministry’s capacity to effectively deal with unexploded ordnance in the future.

Georgia: The OSCE Mission helps Georgia to continue its development into a liberal, market-based democracy fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community of nations. The Mission’s election reform efforts continue, with training for the election commission and NGOs as well as support for strengthening local self-government. The Mission assists with the integration of persons belonging to national minorities. The Mission supports the monitoring of official anti-corruption initiatives, the development of small- and medium-size enterprises by offering entrepreneurial training, and water management in the Black Sea and Caspian basins. The Mission supports the professional capacity of regional media outlets and is assisting in the establishment of a public broadcasting service. The Mission offers human rights training at state institutions, monitors and handles human rights cases, and assists authorities and civil society in fighting trafficking and torture. The Mission has major programs to help reform the justice and penal systems.

The United States supports a peaceful resolution of the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. Resolution of the South Ossetia conflict remains a major OSCE priority, and the Mission participates in the work of existing conflict resolution mechanisms, such as the Joint Control Commission and meetings in Vienna. The Mission’s winter 2006 Needs Assessment Study for South Ossetia led to a donors’ conference that raised pledges for short- and long-term projects, now being implemented, that bring ethnic Georgians and Ossetians together and benefit all residents of the conflict zone. The Mission supports weapons destruction and recycling throughout Georgia. Reform of policing in Georgia will continue, with a special focus on coordinated international efforts.

Unfortunately, the OSCE’s effort to monitor the weapons trade, enhance border security and combat terrorism in Georgia’s conflict regions remains severely restricted due to political constraints placed on the Mission. Russia vetoed the extension of the Border Monitoring Operation in 2004 and has thus far refused to grant OSCE monitors access to the Roki tunnel on Georgia’s northern border, and at a crucial by-pass road near the South Ossetian town of Didi Gupta. The OSCE Mission to Georgia has expressed serious concern about the presence of heavy military equipment, as well as the continuing influx of armed personnel, weapons, and ammunition into the region, and has requested additional monitoring officers to help expand its observation capacity. To date, Russia has blocked this initiative.

On May 30, 2005, Georgia and Russia agreed on a Joint Statement addressing key remaining issues relating to the 1999 OSCE Istanbul Summit commitments on Russian forces in Georgia. Russian forces completely withdrew from two bases by the end of 2007, but issues remain regarding the withdrawal from a third Russian base at Gudauta.

Moldova and Transnistria: The OSCE and its Mission in Moldova are working to find long-term solutions to the situation in the breakaway region of Transnistria. The United States strongly supports the work of the OSCE in Moldova, which assists our own strategy -- as well as that of the EU -- of finding a peaceful resolution that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova. 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 complete withdrawal of its forces from Moldova.

“Three plus Two” talks, involving the mediators Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE plus the United States and EU as observers, met in 2007 but made little progress due in large part to Transnistrian intransigence and Russia’s thus-far unsuccessful efforts to move the Transnistrians to agree to a solution. There were no official “Five plus Two” talks (3+2, Moldova, and Transnistria) in 2007.

There was no progress during 2007 on fulfillment of Russia’s 1999 Istanbul commitment on military withdrawal of its forces from Moldova. During negotiations to prevent Russian suspension of its implementation of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the United States made proposals to generate progress on Russian withdrawal; these proposals received support from NATO Allies and the Government of Moldova. Thus far, however, U.S. proposals have been rejected by Russia.

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 attacks by the Belarusian government against the political opposition, independent newspapers, and civil society. Despite the constraints imposed on it by the government of Belarus, the OSCE’s Office in Minsk (OOM) has played a crucial role in the international community’s efforts to address Belarusian authorities’ harassment and detention of the opposition and independent media.

The OOM has offered to help Belarusian authorities meet OSCE commitments and to help NGO groups work for the benefit of the country; it has also been able to meet with political prisoners in jail and report on developments in the country. However, the government continues to stymie the OOM’s work. It insists on a cumbersome government approval process for all projects and has criticized its reporting activities. Despite that, the OOM has found some areas of cooperation, such as on projects for the environment or trafficking in persons. The United States coordinated closely with the EU and other concerned partners to bring public pressure to bear on the Belarusian government to live up to its OSCE commitments.

The Balkans: In 2007, the OSCE still devoted fifty percent of its total budget to pay for its seven field missions in the Balkans, although this figure has been gradually declining 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 the 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 of the international community include trafficking of drugs, weapons, and human beings, and organized crime.

Kosovo: Perhaps the highlight of the work done by the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMiK) in 2007 was helping to successfully organize and oversee the November 17 elections. With three separate ballots – parliamentary, municipal and mayoral – these elections had an unusual number of moving parts and were more complicated than in the past. Despite the short time lines given to prepare for these elections, they went off smoothly, thanks in many respects to the preparatory work done by the Mission. OMiK’s network of 30 municipal teams played an important role in building transparency and capacity at the local level, and ensuring non-discriminatory access to municipal services, which is essential for the protection of minority communities. The Mission also was successful in transitioning the Police Education and Development Program into a new Security and Public Safety Program. During the course of the year, OMiK handed over responsibility for basic police training to the Kosovo Police Service and is now concentrating on providing advance and specialized training, and leadership and management development. OMiK was also active in political party capacity development and facilitated the “institutionalization” of human-rights units in each of Kosovo’s sixteen ministries. At the end of 2007, however, the future of OMiK was in question, as Russia and Serbia forced OMiK’s mandate to move to a month-by-month renewal and indicated they would shut it down in the event of a declaration of independence by Kosovo.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: In 2007, the OSCE Mission in Bosnia helped strengthen the institutions of government at all levels.  The Mission facilitated important strides in developing and strengthening the State Parliamentary Assembly, including increasing the involvement of citizens in the legislative process.  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.  This essential function provides the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with confidence in the quality of these trials, allowing the ICTY to lower its caseload, at an overall cost savings.  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 was also instrumental in fostering state-wide education reform.

Macedonia: Among the primary tasks of the OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje are monitoring and assisting with the implementation of the 2001 Ohrid Framework Agreement. Many of the Mission’s activities focus on preventing ethnic tensions through the implementation of confidence-building measures and the training of a multi-ethnic police force. It has expanded its focus to include programmatic activities that strengthen the rule of law and judicial capacity, increase the independence of the media, and improve the administrative structures of local-governments. The Mission designs, or identifies and supports grassroots projects that promote inter-ethnic co-operation and confidence, including projects in primary and secondary education.

The Mission has largely succeeded in its most resource-intensive projects, and as Macedonia moves closer toward Euro-Atlantic integration, it has scaled back its field work and presence over the last several years.  The Mission closed down one of its two field offices outside of Skopje at the end of 2007.  The remaining field office in Tetovo, an area of past tension, will continue to play an important monitoring role during 2008. 

Serbia: Among the OSCE Mission in Serbia’s most important achievements in 2007 was 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 helped to 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.  It also facilitated the decentralization process and contributed to building more effective local government.  The Mission continued to play an important role in helping Serbia to 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.  Finally, the Mission helped stimulate dialogue between Belgrade and the various ethnic communities in southern Serbia, and promoted the integration of ethnic Albanians into state institutions.

Montenegro: The OSCE Mission in Montenegro, the Organization’s youngest field mission, quickly established a strong and cooperative relationship with its host government, and had a meaningful and positive impact on the country’s democratic and economic development in 2007.  Over the course of the year, for example, it helped Montenegro to develop and adopt a considerable amount of high-quality legislation which will promote the country’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.  It also 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 force. The Mission helped parliament modernize and improve its capacity to review legislation and to exert effective oversight over the government and other state institutions, and assisted local self-government become more responsive and accountable to their constituents.  The Mission also helped more fully involve civil society actors in the decision-making processes at the central and local levels.

Albania: The OSCE Presence in Albania continued to focus on fighting corruption and promoting reform, helped to build capacity of the Albanian Assembly, and supported the development of the border police.  The Presence helped to improve voter lists and registration procedures and assisted with the establishment of an effective address system country-wide.  It also assisted Albania in promoting the rights of the Roma community and in combating trafficking in human beings.

Croatia: On December 31, 2007, the OSCE Mission was downgraded to an OSCE Office in Zagreb, with 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. The completion of the Mission mandate was possible due to progress made on issues such as electoral reform, minority rights and the return and integration of refugees.

Armenia: The OSCE’s focus in Armenia in 2007 remained on advancing democratization and respect for human rights, and peacefully resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through negotiations between the sides. The OSCE field presence carried out programs to combat corruption and trafficking in persons, and to reform the penal system. A major project to ensure the safe disposal of surplus toxic rocket fuel (mélange) left over from the Soviet era was successfully concluded, on time and under budget.

Azerbaijan: As in Armenia, the OSCE’s focus in Azerbaijan in 2007 remained on advancing democratization and respect for human rights, and resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The OSCE Office in Baku used its monitoring of trials high profile cases to develop recommendations for judicial reform in Azerbaijan. The office continued to track Azerbaijan’s efforts to address election shortcomings. The Office is active in promoting freedom of expression for the media and protection of journalists, and has worked in front of and behind the scenes to reverse a negative trend on media freedom in Azerbaijan.

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Meetings of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (United States, Russia, and France), with the participation of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and with the foreign ministers and presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, continued throughout 2007. In 2007, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs traveled to the region seven times to meet with the presidents and foreign ministers, in addition to numerous meetings with the foreign ministers outside of the region. In June, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in St. Petersburg on the margins of a CIS summit. In November, on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial in Madrid, U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov presented to the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers, for transmission to their presidents, a document containing a set of proposed “Basic Principles for the Peaceful Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.” Both sides have pledged to continue negotiations on the basis of this document throughout the course of 2008.

Central Asia: U.S. goals in Central Asia are to support the development of democratic, market-oriented, and fully sovereign states, and to increase regional stability and security. The United States seeks to create new links in energy, trade, transport, and communications within the region by strengthening the relationships among the Central Asian states and by revitalizing ties between Central and South Asia.

The OSCE plays an important role in advancing these goals. The OSCE works with the Central Asian states across all three dimensions, assisting in the creation and implementation of democratic and economic reforms. Field missions help host governments and civil society improve electoral systems, strengthen freedom of expression of the media, consolidate rule of law, and curb corruption. Several of the OSCE missions in Central Asia also play a key monitoring role, informing OSCE participating States of current developments in the host countries and providing early warning of political or ethnic tension.

The OSCE also is helping to improve regional relations. By bringing the Central Asian states together for topical regional conferences, the OSCE is helping to provide 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 issue of water management.

A promising growth area for OSCE programming in Central Asia in support of U.S. goals are those activities focused on transnational issues, such as terrorism, trafficking, and border security. 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 implementation of the Bucharest Plan of Action for Combating Terrorism. A few of the Central Asian states have already agreed to work with the border management unit of the Conflict Prevention Center on national border assessments. In 2008, Tajikistan will be the first country to begin implementing the results of such as assessment, and the government invited the OSCE to implement three projects intended to help tighten its borders, especially with Afghanistan.

Several Central Asian governments have expressed an interest in increased activities in the Economic and Environmental Dimension. The OSCE is doing excellent work through its Environment and Security program to address environmental hot spots that could be destabilizing. The Central Asians have shown enthusiasm for this program, which centers on promoting technical and scientific cooperation between states.

Kazakhstan: Participating States continue to press the Kazakhstanis to bring their country in line with OSCE standards and commitments, given Kazakhstan’s pending Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010. The OSCE Center in Astana works to assist Kazakhstan in upholding OSCE core principles through programs promoting free and fair elections, providing assistance on drafting of legislation on elections, media, gender and religion issues, and promoting legal education for lawyers, police training, and civil society development. Kazakhstan’s record on human rights and democratic development remained mixed in 2007. The parliamentary elections in August 2007 did not meet OSCE standards; the OSCE observer mission noted numerous irregularities as well as biased media coverage. Significant thresholds precluded any opposition party from entering parliament. Libel laws in Kazakhstan still restrict freedom of expression, and have been the cause of concern expressed by the OSCE’s Freedom of the Media Representative. At the Madrid Ministerial Council meeting, Foreign Minister Tahzin announced Kazakhstan’s commitment to a series of political and democratic reforms the country will undertake prior to assuming the Chairmanship.

Kyrgyzstan: The Kyrgyz Republic has achieved a more developed civil society and independent media than the other Central Asian states. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media commended the Kyrgyz Government’s announced plan in 2007 to abolish criminal libel and insult laws, for example. Nevertheless, the country stalled on some of this progress -- the president did not sign the removal of libel from the criminal code into law -- and took a few steps backward in the fields of political reform.

Pre-term parliamentary elections were held in Kyrgyzstan in December 2007, following the adoption of a new Constitution – the fourth version in two years – and a new Election Code by referendum in October 2007. ODIHR concluded that neither the referendum nor the election, for which it conducted a full observation mission, met international standards. Significant obstacles in the new electoral legislation limited the ability of opposition parties to enter parliament. The Head of the OSCE Center in Bishkek voiced concern over the disproportionate use of force against NGO and human rights activists after the election.

Despite this recent backsliding, the OSCE has played an important role in Kyrgyzstan and the Head of Center meets regularly with the government as well as with civil society. The Head of Center also has played an important monitoring role and reports regularly to the OSCE participating States on current events. 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 Center’s programs on anti-terrorism, police training and interethnic relations are also considered successful. The Center also supports media resources centers and implements projects on media capacity building that include legal support to journalists. The Government, encouraged by Kazakhstan’s chairmanship bid, has expressed its desire to assume the OSCE Chairmanship in 2014.

Tajikistan: Tajikistan hosts the largest of the OSCE Central Asian field presences. Under the new Head of Center, the mission has streamlined OSCE field activities and scaled down two of the five field offices, with the goal of having fewer but more effective programs. The Center focuses much of its work in the first and second dimension, including assistance in political reform and a large de-mining program, but has also been able to make some progress in the third (human) dimension. The mission, for example, hosts regular roundtables on various reform issues that include participants from government, NGOs, media and civil society.

Tajikistan has been an active supporter of OSCE counter-terrorism and border initiatives, including efforts to strengthen travel document security. As a follow-up to the OSCE border assessment of Tajikistan completed earlier in 2007, the government has agreed to several additional projects, which will help strengthen human surveillance along the border and improve the customs administration at key border crossings. The government is developing a national border management strategy with OSCE assistance, and is also considering an OSCE proposal to open a regional border management center in Dushanbe, with the eventual aim of training border management officials from all of the Central Asian states and Afghanistan.

The OSCE Center in Dushanbe’s Small Arms/Light Weapons (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, such as the controversial draft religion law. 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 has banned some religious communities, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and has made it difficult for NGOs to register and operate effectively. The media is not free, and independent television programming reaches a very small portion of the population.

The Government of Tajikistan asked at the end of 2007 to extend the mission’s mandate for only six months in order to open up negotiations on the mission’s mandate, with the probable aim of reducing activity in the human dimension and increasing emphasis on economic and security issues. The government also suggested that the “Center” be renamed a “Project Coordinator’s Office.”

Uzbekistan: The OSCE continued to play an important niche role in 2007 in supporting international efforts to address the poor human rights and democratic reform situation in Uzbekistan. The government invited ODIHR to observe the presidential election in December 2007 but placed restrictions on the number of monitors allowed in. There were no true opposition candidates and the president won with 88.1 percent of the vote. ODIHR determined that the election failed to meet international standards and noted that Uzbekistan had not yet implemented ODIHR’s recommendations from previous elections.

During 2007, the government continued to pressure international NGOs and to repress civil society and opposition activities. In addition, the government continued to be overly selective with the OSCE projects it approved, and the OSCE Project Coordinator in Tashkent was prevented from conducting about half of its planned projects, especially those in the human dimension. Nonetheless, in the second half of 2007, the government expressed its desire to improve relations with the west and western institutions. The Project Coordinator’s office was able to implement more projects than in 2006 and completed some programs in the political and economic dimension. The Project Coordinator still serves as an important resource and venue for human rights and democracy supporters. Late in the year, the Government began making some positive overtures, indicating that it is willing to reengage with the OSCE on some anti-TIP and anti-torture programs, and to partake in projects to reform the prison system. The government has also expressed willingness to work with the OSCE on a border management assessment in the coming year. The incoming head of the OSCE Mission was granted a three-year accreditation, a positive step forward from the six-month durations routinely given in recent years.

Turkmenistan: The OSCE Center in Ashgabat offers the government and citizens opportunities for concrete cooperation to build a democratic future and reminds the government of its human rights obligations. In 2007, 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 addition, the Government of Turkmenistan has expressed interest in expanding its cooperation with the OSCE. The United States will continue to work with other OSCE members to improve the situation in Turkmenistan. The change in leadership following the death of the former president in December 2006 presented opportunities for additional engagement with Turkmenistan in 2007, particularly on border security issues and combating drug trafficking.

ISSUES AFFECTING OSCE’S ACTIVITIES AND EFFECTIVENESS

Russia and a number of participating States (mostly from the CIS) that host OSCE field missions continue to be strongly critical of the OSCE’s field operations and the work of ODIHR. They assert that there are “double standards” on human rights, ODIHR “interference” in domestic issues, excessive concentration of OSCE activities in the former Soviet republics, and lack of balance in OSCE activities that emphasize the human dimension over the economic and security dimensions. They have singled out for special mention the OSCE’s election-related activities, specifically election observation procedures, asserting that a lack of standardized election criteria (i.e., uniform one-size-fits-all criteria that would not take into account the size or a country or the complexity or lack thereof of monitoring a particular election) has led to politicized election assessments. They have also stepped up their efforts to try to prevent access by NGOs 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. Supported by the vast majority of participating States, we have continuously stressed 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. Also, 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. 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 are directed toward the entire OSCE region, and several events in 2007 on anti-Semitism and racism were concentrated in western European capitals. 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 witnessed by our active and constructive participation in negotiation of 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 rights promotion activities. At the same time, we oppose revision of the OSCE’s democratic principles and election monitoring standards or placing undue limitations on NGO participation in OSCE meetings.

OSCE Scales of Contribution and Budget

Following U.S. consultations with its major OSCE partners, the OSCE’s 56 participating States agreed in early 2007 to a 2007 budget of €168.2 million (roughly $230 million, or zero nominal growth from the adopted 2006 budget), a budget that is sufficient for the OSCE to carry out its core activities to promote democracy and human rights. Negotiations on the 2008 budget are deadlocked, but will likely result in an overall budget decrease of some two percent from 2007 levels. The OSCE Scales of Contribution for 2008-2010 will need to be renegotiated over the course of 2008. Most participating States believe that the United States is capable of paying much more, rather than less, of the organization’s costs. Due to strict budgetary constraints on the part of the U.S. Government as well as a need to ensure that the OSCE strengthens its budgetary discipline and that its resources support core values and activities effectively, the United States has rejected any notion of an increase in its scales of contribution. The United States has argued that if any State seeks a decrease in its contribution, then the U.S. will demand a decrease in its scales of contribution as well. A proposal to simply roll over the current scales has been rejected only by the Russian Federation.

Madrid Ministerial

November 29-30, 2007

After several years of debate, OSCE participating States were finally able at the Madrid Ministerial Council to resolve the difficult issue of future Chairmanships-in-Office (CiO) through a package deal that grants the CiO to Greece in 2009, Kazakhstan in 2010 and Lithuania in 2011. Kazakhstan achieved participating States’ support by delivering a forthright intervention in which it committed itself to further domestic reforms, defending ODIHR, and upholding OSCE principles. Russia’s ambitious agenda for the OSCE Ministerial Council ended up falling short as its major objectives – overhauling ODIHR’s election observation, forming a working group to draft a charter and limiting NGO participation – found little traction among other participating States. Consensus was reached on tasking the OSCE to begin work on a project to improve security along Afghanistan’s borders, a major U.S. objective. There were also decisions on tolerance, a follow-up meeting on public-private partnerships (PPPs) to combat terrorism (which Russia had also wanted), and a decision on energy transport security.

Another main topic of discussion during the Ministerial Council was the impending Russian suspension of implementation of its obligations under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty as of December 12, 2007. Despite considerable effort by the United States and its NATO Allies to engage Russia in intensive dialogue on generous, constructive proposals, Russia carried out its decision to “suspend.” This unilateral action, to which the U.S. has registered objections with the CFE Depositary, has no legal basis in the CFE Treaty or in customary international law. Russia also blocked approval of the draft Convention on Legal Personality, Legal Capacity and Privileges and Immunities For the OSCE, supported by all other participating States, in an effort to gain approval of its proposal to discuss a charter for the OSCE.

IMPLEMENTING THE U.S. AGENDA IN 2008 AND BEYOND

Priorities for 2008

In 2008, U.S. priorities for the OSCE include:

  • Increase the OSCE’s effectiveness in transformational diplomacy, to help OSCE participating States reach their objectives to become fully democratic and prosperous nations at peace and helping to improve collective security;
     
  • Continue to promote final settlement talks and resolution of regional conflicts in Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia, including:
    • In Georgia, continue to support the OSCE Mission’s implementation of projects identified by the needs assessment survey for South Ossetia; continue to develop broader international support for resolution of the conflict; achieve consensus to increase the number of mission monitoring officers for South Ossetia, establish a monitoring post at Didi Gupta and international monitoring of the Roki Tunnel;
    • In Moldova, work through the Mission to engage the parties to the Transnistria conflict in the negotiating process, while working with the mediators to press the Transnistrian authorities to return to the negotiations;
    • In the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the United States will work with its fellow Minsk Group Co-Chairs (France and Russia) to further narrow differences between the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides in pursuit of a settlement agreement;
       
  • Enhance OSCE activities in Central Asia and the Caucasus, including efforts at regional cooperation on border management, combating terrorism and illicit drugs, and implementation of confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs). Press for fundamental democratic reforms and protection of human rights, including freedom of assembly, freedom of expression for the media, and freedom of religion;
     
  • Seek ways to utilize OSCE expertise in developing and implementing programs aimed at combating terrorism, particularly through the strengthening of border security management;
     
  • Increase the OSCE’s outreach to partner countries, particularly Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. With the support provided by the Madrid Ministerial decision on Afghanistan and the newly-created Partnership Fund, identify ways in which the OSCE could become more actively engaged with the partners. In Afghanistan, this should include designing a program to strengthen border management and security, and encouraging participation by Afghanistan in OSCE programs aimed at promoting religious and ethnic tolerance and democratic institution-building;
     
  • Consider areas where the OSCE could lend particular expertise on current problems, such as on providing a forum for dialogue on countering violent radicalization, and addressing the pressing issue of energy security within the OSCE’s Security Committee.
     
  • Participate actively in efforts to gain Ministerial approval of the draft Convention on Legal Personality, Legal Capacity and Privileges and Immunities For the OSCE, without agreeing to Russia's demand to discuss development of an unneeded and destructive “charter” for the OSCE.

Promoting the Human Dimension

  • Work to keep the annual OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) an effective forum for raising human rights concerns, supporting human rights defenders, defending U.S. positions and practices on issues such as human rights and capital punishment, and integrating follow up on issues raised at the HDIM into the OSCE Ministerial agenda; ensure that NGOs remain able to participate fully in the HDIM and the OSCE’s other human dimension events.
     
  • Ensure the OSCE responds flexibly following Kosovo’s declaration of independence. This means ensuring that an OSCE presence in post-independence Kosovo will reinforce implementation of the Ahtisaari plan and will be in synch with the goals of the International Civilian Office.
     
  • Intensify efforts to strengthen implementation of existing OSCE election standards, and ensure that the OSCE continues to be able to provide election-related assistance and effective monitoring and recommendations, including:
    • Support OSCE election observation missions: Russia, Georgia, Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, the United States, and others will hold elections in 2008;
    • Continue to defend the OSCE’s frank and public assessments of whether elections meet OSCE standards;
    • Support ODIHR follow through on recommendations from election observation missions;
    • Continue to work with Russia and other CIS countries to increase their participation in election observation missions; such participation carries the potential for strengthening support for improved election procedures in these countries;
       
  • Intensify efforts to promote rule of law, not “rule by law;”
     
  • Combat the growing trend of using restrictive NGO legislation to repress civil society;
     
  • Develop more effective ways to help human rights defenders;
     
  • Promote the review of Freedom of Religion in the OSCE region through a Human Dimension event;
     
  • Promote implementation of the OSCE’s Action Plan to Combat Trafficking and engagement by the Anti-Trafficking Assistance Unit;
     
  • Work to ensure the implementation meetings on tolerance agreed to in Madrid address anti-Semitism, as well as intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, Christians and members of other religions, and racism, xenophobia and related intolerance;
     
  • Continue efforts in the Balkans to build democratic institutions; promote human rights, including inter-ethnic tolerance and protection of national minorities; fight organized crime and corruption, and bring persons indicted for war crimes to justice.
     
  • Work closely with EU members and other OSCE participating states to maintain emphasis on a Belarusian democracy and to press the Belarusian Government on accountability;

Focusing the Security Dimension

  • Continue to strengthen the OSCE’s work in the security dimension;
     
  • Continue to engage Russia actively on security issues, including discussing new initiatives on counter-terrorism and fighting illicit drugs and on practical ideas for strengthening the security dimension while tempering engagement on arms control issues in the context of Russia’s actions on CFE;
     
  • Encourage Russia to reverse its CFE “suspension” and work constructively to resolve the current CFE impasse through fulfillment of remaining Istanbul commitments relating to the Russian military presence in Georgia and the resumption of Russian withdrawal of military forces and munitions from Moldova. The United States remains committed to moving ahead with ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty and fulfillment of Russia’s remaining Istanbul commitments on the basis of the parallel actions package put forward by the U.S. and supported by Allies. On numerous occasions the United States has proposed helping Russia to complete the withdrawals it agreed to at the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul;
     
  • Increase counter-terrorism work by using the Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC), the newly created Security Committee and the Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC) to encourage participating States to meet existing commitments and to identify additional measures that the OSCE can take to fight terrorism;
     
  • Counter proliferation of weapons, by promoting implementation of political-military agreements, such as those on small arms and light weapons (SALW), stockpiles of conventional ammunition, and Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS); encourage addressing MANPADS controls at the 2008 seminar with OSCE Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation, and continue to coordinate the development of best practice guides for stockpiles of conventional ammunition;
     
  • Support full implementation by the participating States of UNSCR 1540, which bars non-state actors from obtaining weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and activities by the OSCE to work in cooperation with the UN 1540 Committee in New York; press for additional support from participating States to complete elements for the Best Practice Guide on UNSCR 1540, and promote OSCE participating States signing on to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism;
     
  • Promote full observation of all political-military commitments, including Vienna Document 1999 and the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, to maintain security and stability in the OSCE region;
     
  • Work closely with the Russian Federation on the follow-up event to the 2007 high-level conference on the role of public-private partnerships (PPP) in combating terrorism.

Strengthening the Economic and Environmental Dimension

  • Press the Economic and Environmental Subcommittee to focus more on a concrete program of activities;
     
  • Convince the incoming Chairman-in-Office to abandon the practice of designating an over-arching, annual Second Dimension theme, identifying instead practical and achievable areas of economic and environmental work which does not duplicate the efforts of other international organizations.
     
  • Examine more closely the work that economic and environmental officers are doing in the field presences and replicate these successes.



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