This report, submitted pursuant to Section 5 of the Act to Establish a Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 22 U.S.C. 3005 (1976), as amended, discusses U.S. policy objectives advanced in 2015 and 2016 through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and presents U.S. priorities for 2017.
U.S. Policy Objectives
The OSCE is the primary multilateral organization through which the United States advances comprehensive political-military, economic and environmental, and human dimension security and stability in Europe and Central Asia. U.S. leadership and robust engagement in the OSCE helps advance democratic reform and sustainable economic development, address regional and transnational threats, prevent and resolve conflicts, support civil society and independent media, promote tolerance and non-discrimination, and defend human rights and fundamental freedoms. The vast majority of the OSCE’s 57 participating States share the United States’ commitment to OSCE principles. The U.S. countered efforts by a few participating States to weaken the OSCE and its independent institutions, and thereby seek to evade their OSCE commitments.
Preventing and Resolving Conflicts
The OSCE plays a pivotal role in addressing Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea. The United States supports implementation of the Minsk agreements through the Normandy format process and the Trilateral Contact Group. The United States is the largest single contributor of financing and personnel to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), which provides critical information on the security situation in eastern Ukraine and efforts by the sides to implement the Minsk agreements. We continue to press Russia to use its influence with the so-called separatists it backs to ensure full unrestricted SMM access throughout territories not controlled by the Ukrainian government. The death in April 2017 of an American SMM member while in a non-government controlled area underscores both the importance and the danger of this mission.
The United States supports key platforms of the OSCE engaged in conflict management and resolution: the Minsk Group to resolve the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh; the Geneva International Discussions on the conflict in Georgia; and the 5+2 talks to address the Transnistrian conflict.
The United States continues to press for modernization of the Vienna Document to address modern security and military realities, as well as in light of lessons learned from Russian aggression in Ukraine. We support a widely-endorsed proposal to lower thresholds for notification of military activities, as well as proposals to increase inspections and evaluations, and other proposals to re-build military transparency in Europe.
The 2016 OSCE Ministerial Council approved the launch of a Structured Dialogue on current and future challenges and risks to security in the OSCE area. This forum seeks to foster open and productive discussion on security issues of importance to OSCE participating States. The Structured Dialogue was formally launched in April 2017 with a discussion on threat perceptions. Future discussions will include developments in military doctrines and trends in force postures, as well as military activities that have the potential to cause concern for any participating State, core issues such as active and protracted conflicts in the region, and other transnational and multidimensional issues.
Countering Transnational Threats
In 2016, the United States played a key role in negotiating a Ministerial declaration on strengthening the OSCE’s efforts to prevent and counter terrorism, as well as Ministerial decisions to reduce cybersecurity risk, and enhance the use of national advance passenger information (API) systems and establishing cross-checks of API data against relevant watch lists. In 2015, the United States supported Ministerial declarations on reinforcing the OSCE’s counterterrorism efforts and preventing and countering violent extremism. We also assisted participating States to implement relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. The United States supported OSCE’s participation as a partner to the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), and promoted OSCE border security initiatives throughout the OSCE region, including addressing foreign terrorist fighter challenges.
Economic Development and Environmental Issues
The United States advocated successfully at the 2016 Ministerial Council for the adoption of a decision to strengthen good governance and promote connectivity, as essential conditions for economic growth, trade, investment, and sustainable development, as well as the stability and security of participating States. The United States supported the OSCE Office of the Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) in efforts to build the capacity of participating States to combat corruption, money-laundering, and the financing of terrorism.
Human Rights and Democracy
The United States works closely with OSCE institutions – Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFOM) and the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) – to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. In the OSCE Permanent Council and at the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting we advocate for more robust involvement of civil society in human dimension activities. The U.S. pushed participating States to meet their OSCE commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms in the digital age, including freedom of expression by the media and the protection of journalists. The U.S. supported ODIHR election observation missions, including observation of our 2016 election. U.S. extra-budgetary funding for ODIHR supports human rights and governance projects, including projects on election observation capacity and media freedom.
Defense of Civil Society
In 2015 and 2016, U.S. delegations continued to defend and champion participation and access for civil society representatives at HDIM, Ministerial Council meetings, and other OSCE venues. U.S. delegates at HDIM engaged bilaterally with NGOs as well as in dozens of side-events to demonstrate U.S. support for civil society and to highlight priority concerns in the human dimension.
Fighting Intolerance and Hate Crimes
The United States continued to work closely with ODIHR, and with the OSCE’s respective Tolerance Representatives, to condemn and combat anti-Semitism, anti-Christian and anti-Muslim sentiment, racism and other forms of intolerance and hate-motivated crimes against members of vulnerable populations, including LGBT persons; women; persons with disabilities; and migrants. At the Hamburg Ministerial the U.S. supported the adoption of a working definition of anti-Semitism, and the U.S. and Finland advanced a widely supported decision on strengthening the OSCE’s engagement on the human rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities; Russia blocked both decisions from reaching consensus. The Ministerial Council adopted decisions to prevent and combat violence against women and to develop the Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality.
Combating Trafficking in Persons
The U.S. strongly supported the work of the OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (OSR). The Department of State’s TIP Office provided funding support and technical expertise for an extra-budgetary OSCE project to help prevent human trafficking in supply chains, focusing on government procurement.
OSCE missions in South-Eastern Europe continued to help bring stability and democratic development to their respective host countries and the region. In 2015 and 2016, the missions helped facilitate elections, supported local authorities in building strong independent institutions, promoted media freedom, and focused on anti-corruption and anti-money laundering efforts. The OSCE Mission to Moldova continued to coordinate the 5+2 negotiations on settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, help implement confidence-building measures, promote a free and pluralistic media environment, and fight trafficking in persons. The United States advocated for increased OSCE engagement in Ukraine, including the Project Coordinator in Ukraine, to help advance reforms and resolve the current crisis.
The OSCE Office in Yerevan focused on justice- and security-sector reform, democratic institution building, gender issues, public participation, and anti-corruption efforts. Non-renewal of the Office’s mandate will force its closure in 2017. In 2015 the OSCE Project Coordinator in Baku carried out initiatives to prevent domestic violence, counter terrorism financing, protect the environment, train journalists, and protect victims of human trafficking. The United States continues to press for a meaningful OSCE presence in the South Caucasus.
OSCE activities in Central Asia strengthened border security, bolstered civil society, promoted democracy and the rule of law, and improved regional trade and transport. The OSCE Border Management and Staff College in Dushanbe trained border guards from throughout the region, including Afghanistan. The OSCE Academy in Bishkek graduated 55 master’s-level students in December 2016.
OSCE Budget and Scales of Contribution
On December 30, 2015 the OSCE participating States reached consensus on the 2016 unified budget of €141.3 million (an increase of 0.2 percent from the 2015 level). This included an increase of 0.3 percent for ODIHR and increases for the Project Coordinator in Ukraine (20 percent) and the Central Asian field missions (2.8 percent), as well as a decrease of 1.8 percent for Southeastern European field missions to reflect rightsizing and improved national capacities. Under the 2017 OSCE unified budget, the United States maintained its levels of contribution at 11.5 percent (Standard Scale) and 14.0 percent (Field Operations Scale).
Advancing U.S. Priorities in 2017 and Beyond
We will implement our specific goals by:
- Continuing to leverage the OSCE and its institutions to resolve the crisis in Ukraine in a way that upholds Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence, and promote Ukraine’s long-term security through democratic reform, rule of law, and economic development;
- Seeking full, unfettered, and secure access, especially in non-government controlled territories of Ukraine, for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission;
- Pressing for strong, independent OSCE institutions and leadership that will advance the OSCE’s core human dimension mandate;
- Supporting OSCE field missions, including newly mandated field presences in Central Asia, and seeking a new OSCE presence in the South Caucasus;
- Strengthening respect for the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, online and offline;
- Defending and promoting the role of civil society in advancing OSCE goals;
- Increasing the focus on combatting all forms of intolerance;
- Maintaining the focus on transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption in advancing economic and environmental security;
- Deploying OSCE resources where they are most needed;
- Achieving concrete steps toward resolving the protracted conflicts regarding Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia;
- Updating the Vienna Document to take into account lessons learned during the crisis in and around Ukraine and to reflect the current security environment in Europe;
- Supporting the OSCE’s work to counter transnational threats and challenges such as terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism, the financing of terrorism, organized crime, threats to cyber security, and trafficking in persons;
- Supporting the Structured Dialogue, including a robust schedule of meetings to create a flexible, productive process that builds understanding without preconceived outcomes , such as the process leading a priori to new arms control discussions, or premature deadlines.