OSCE Permanent Council No. 589
EU Statement in Response to the Report of the Director of ODIHR, Ambassador Christian Strohal
- On behalf of the EU, I would like to warmly welcome Ambassador Strohal to the Permanent Council and thank him for his presentation. The OSCE can look back on a rich and successful year in the area of human dimension activities. We express our gratitude to the ODIHR director and staff for their dedicated and essential work.
- 2006 promises to be an equally busy year, with many new taskings given in recent Ministerial Council decisions. Through the Road map decision adopted at the Ljubljana Ministerial Council, ODIHR was tasked to submit a report on a number of issues for discussion to the next Ministerial Council, thus contributing to the work of strengthening the effectiveness of our organisation.
- During the past year, ODIHR election observation activities have again been a crucial part of the OSCE’s work. The EU values ODIHR’s professional, impartial approach to international election observation and appreciates its increased efforts devoted to developing domestic non-partisan election observation. ODIHR has in numerous elections used its expertise to identify improvements as well as shortcomings. We extend our appreciation to all those who took part in the past year's election observation missions. 2006 will be another important year with elections coming up in many countries. We welcome the fact that Participating States in line with their Copenhagen commitment invite ODIHR to observe elections. The EU takes careful note of ODIHR’s request for observers to upcoming elections and is committed to supporting ODIHR’s work by continuing to contribute observers to election observation missions. The EU encourages all participating States to continue seconding observers, thereby contributing to a geographically balanced composition of our election observation missions.
- The promotion of Tolerance and Non-Discrimination continues to receive great attention by our organisation and the EU will actively implement the relevant Ministerial Decision adopted in Ljubljana. We thank ODIHR for its valuable support and assistance in the past year's Tolerance events and for its continuing efforts in this field. The EU welcomes the recent re-appointment by the Chairman-in-Office of the three Personal Representatives on combating discrimination and promoting tolerance for a further year and underlines the importance of their cooperation with ODIHR, in particular with its programme on tolerance and non discrimination.
- The Human Dimension meetings calendar is presently being elaborated. The EU welcomes the choice of topics for 2006 and is ready to participate actively in all seminars and meetings. In the course of 2006, the EU stands open to discussions on ways to further increase the effectiveness and attraction of the HDIM and its capacity to ensure follow up of the commitments of Participating States. The HDIM has proven to be a very valuable platform for an in-depth exchange of views especially with NGOs. The EU continues to fully support this platform.
- We emphasise the need for implementation of the three OSCE Action Plans, namely on: improving the situation for Roma and Sinti, combating trafficking in human beings and promoting gender equality.
- We are encouraged to hear that planning and programming of all ODIHR activities now include an enhanced element of gender mainstreaming. We support the concept of mainstreaming gender issues into the human dimension events and look forward to the ODIHR report on the implementation of the Action Plan on the Promotion of Gender Equality.
- The overarching objective of ODIHR's thematic programmes is to support the participating States in implementing their Human Dimension commitments. We encourage all participating States to take full advantage of the expertise provided by ODIHR. The EU gives its full support for the continued work of the programmes as outlined by Ambassador Strohal.
- The EU continues to be concerned about the Human Rights situation in some participating States. In this context, we appreciate the efforts by ODIHR in monitoring the trials which followed the unrest in Andijan, Uzbekistan, last May. We look forward to the delivery of an ODIHR report from these proceedings.
- The EU would like to use this opportunity to stress again the importance of adhering to international obligations on human rights and the rule of law under all circumstances, including the fight against terrorism. The EU would also like to reiterate its strong support for legitimate and peaceful activities of civil society. States should not abuse the rule of law as a pretext for politically motivated pressure on NGOs. We therefore fully support the proposal by the Chairman-in-Office to devote a Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting to the crucial topic of human rights defenders and appreciate the continuing efforts of ODIHR to address problems faced by civil society and to further co-operation between NGOs across the OSCE area.
- Finally, we wish the Director and his staff all the best as they continue their highly demanding tasks within the human dimension. As in the past, Ambassador Strohal and ODIHR can continue to count on the full support of the EU. In challenging times as these, we need continuity especially at the helm of this Institution. We expect timely agreement on the renewal of the Director’s mandate for the next three years.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, the EFTA country Iceland, a members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process