At the OSCE: The Week in Review

The Week in Review: October 9th to 13th

Rights of the Child

More than a hundred government, international organization, and civil society representatives gathered in Warsaw, Poland, on Wednesday and Thursday for an ODIHR hosted seminar on the rights of the child. The seminar focused on the rights of children in situations of risk. Working groups at the seminar focused on the issues of children deprived of liberty, trafficking in children, and strategies for preventing situations of risk.


At the Permanent Council This Week: FM Dimitrov of Macedonia, Christine Beerli of the ICRC

Macedonia’s Foreign Minister, Nikola Dimitrov, briefed the OSCE Permanent Council on his government’s first months in office. In our response, we welcomed Macedonia’s pursuit of a stable, prosperous, and inclusive democracy, and urged the government to implement the reforms needed to keep the country moving on its path to NATO and EU integration, especially in the areas of rule of law, judicial independence, and media freedom.

The Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Christine Beerli, updated the delegations on the ICRC’s work in the OSCE area. Responding to her report, we commended the ICRC’s efforts to ease the suffering Russian aggression has brought to the conflict-affected areas of Ukraine. We also stressed the importance of the ICRC’s efforts to mitigate the effects of the conflicts in Georgia and over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Current Issues at the Permanent Council: Russia’s Violation in Ukraine, LGBTI Rights in Chechnya and Azerbaijan

Under Current Issues, we spoke out on Russia’s ongoing violations in Ukraine, on the continued abuse of LGBTI persons in Russia’s Chechnya region, and on police abuse of LGBTI persons in Azerbaijan.

On Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, we reiterated our concern about Russia-led forces’ deployment of heavy weapons in the security zone, the increasing presence of explosive remnants of war, and the lack of follow through on mine action commitments by both sides. We also called out Russia-led forces for their continued obstruction of OSCE monitors in their work, including on October 6 when the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported that its camera in the militant-controlled area south of Stanytsia Luhanska was disabled by a beam of light emanating from a position where a so-called “LPR” militant had just been observed installing and adjusting a laser. We underscored again our deep concern about the large number of Crimeans imprisoned for nothing more than their opposition to Russia’s occupation of Crimea, and repeated that our Crimea-related sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.

We also voiced our deep concern about the lack of progress in the investigation of reports of a brutal campaign of abuse against gay men in the Russian region of Chechnya, and attempts by local authorities to cover them up. Recent reporting by credible NGOs and media outlets suggests that local authorities in Chechnya attempted to stage false meetings, cover up the real causes of death of victims, fabricate evidence to suggest that individuals who had been killed had instead gone to Syria, and pressure victims’ families to cease cooperation with the Russian federal human rights ombudsman. Violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons occurs in many parts of the OSCE area, and we all must condemn and combat it.

This week, we again spoke out about alleged police abuse of LGBTI persons in Azerbaijan. Last week, Azerbaijan claimed that we should not raise concerns on this issue at the Permanent Council, because OSCE States have not agreed to “definitions” with respect to “sexual minorities”. We rejected this assertion, reiterated the importance of recognizing that all persons are born equal in dignity and in rights, and encouraged Azerbaijan to live up to its international legal obligations to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons.


Securing Internet Freedom

On Friday, the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship and the Czech Chairmanship of the Council of Europe (CoE) Committee of Ministers held a joint conference in Vienna on the role and responsibilities of Internet intermediaries. Participants took stock of Internet freedom across the OSCE and CoE regions, and examined how Internet service providers, search engines, and social media platforms can best secure Internet freedom while tackling unlawful third-party content and performing their role as a distributor of news and information. The conference also looked at the nature and scope of Internet intermediaries relationship with state and other non-state actors, such as traditional media and civil society.