A Better OSCE for Civil Society, With Civil Society

Roman Udot of the Russian election monitoring movement "Golos" delivers remarks at the start of the Democracy Defenders Workshop, September 12th, 2017. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

Strengthening OSCE Engagement with Civil Society

The OSCE’s openness to civil society sets it apart from other international organizations. A good example of this is the role human rights defenders play at the OSCE’s annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM).

But with civil society activists facing increasingly tough reprisals just for doing their job, the OSCE must become better at helping them achieve their goals.

Our common security counts on it.

Given this, the United States and other like-minded OSCE delegations took advantage of the large civil society presence at the HDIM to hold a workshop on strengthening the OSCE’s engagement with civil society.

Civil society, OSCE delegates, and OSCE institution representatives discuss freedom of the media and countering disinformation in Working Group 2.
          Civil society, OSCE delegates, and OSCE institution representatives in “Working Group 2”.

The aim of the workshop (held on Tuesday, Sept. 12th) was to get civil society’s ideas on how we can make the OSCE a more effective tool for them. What made this workshop special was that, rather than simply asking civil society for their suggestions, we worked with them to craft concrete recommendations we can act on.

Participants split into four “working groups” to discuss specific areas of concern. These areas were: supporting grassroots activism in difficult environments; promoting free media and countering disinformation; reducing barriers to civil society participation at the OSCE; and involving civil society in the OSCE’s politico-military work. We asked the groups to come up with three recommendations each.

"Working Group One" discussing how the OSCE can do more to support grassroots activists in difficult environments.
      “Working Group 1” discussing OSCE support for grassroots activists in difficult environments.

It’s now up to us, as their representatives at the OSCE, to put as many of these ideas into practice as we can.

To track our progress, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and VKontakte.