Extension of the Mandate of the Representative on Freedom of the Media: Statement to the PC

Flags of the OSCE participating States outside the Hofburg Congress Center in Vienna, Austria (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

In connection with the adoption of the decision on the extension of the mandate of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the United States would like to make the following interpretive statement under paragraph 4.1 (A) 6 of the OSCE Rules of Procedure:

We very much appreciate the efforts of the German Chairmanship in guiding the selection process for the next Representative on Freedom of the Media, after the Serbian Chairmanship launched it last year.

This decision was necessitated by the failure of one participating State to constructively engage in the process of identifying the next Representative on Freedom of the Media. Many hundreds of hours were invested into a transparent, thorough, open process which produced a clear candidate around whom consensus should be built. Yet because of the obstructionism of a participating State, we were unable to complete the process and nominate a successor to Ms. Mijatović. ‎

There is no substantial reason for this obstructionism, which unfortunately sends a negative message to other delegations and the institution of the Representative on Freedom of the Media.

The Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media is a highly visible and effective independent institution of the OSCE, and we should ensure continuous, strong leadership of that institution.

The United States has the utmost respect for the institution, and its current leader, Ms. Dunja Mijatović, and thus we are grateful for the generosity and flexibility of the current Representative in agreeing to extend her mandate for an additional year, as we seek to complete the task of identifying a replacement.

The decision adopted today calls for our engagement to identify a successor by the end of this year. It also foresees – if we cannot nominate someone by the end of 2016 – asking for Ms. Mijatović’s forbearance once again to serve for another substantial extension beyond March 2017.

Some are fond of calling for “mutual respect” when speaking around this table. The best way to ‎demonstrate and earn mutual respect in the months ahead is to move forward in good faith to do what is foreseen in this decision.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I ask that this statement be attached to the Decision and to the Journal of the Day.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna