Remarks before the General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment

As prepared for delivery by Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael C. Camuñez
to the 12th Winter Meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly, Vienna
February 21, 2013

Madam Chairwoman, distinguished parliamentarians, ladies and gentlemen:

I am delighted to have the opportunity to join you this morning.  I have come to Vienna as part of the United States Delegation led by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, who is the Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, which directs our government’s engagement with the OSCE.  I am grateful that Senator Cardin, together with Representative Alcee Hastings (a former President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly) through their leadership have consistently stressed the importance of the work of the Second Dimension to the OSCE’s broader mission.  In addition to my service as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce, I was named by President Obama as one of his representatives to the Helsinki Commission, with a particular emphasis on economic, trade and environmental issues.  My participation in this delegation, and my ongoing work with the OSCE, reflect the commitment of our government as a whole to the Second Dimension, and the importance we place on it.

I am pleased to share the dais today with so many distinguished leaders, including the newly appointed OSCE Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities, Mr. Yigitguden.  His appointment, in conjunction with the passage of the Declaration on Good Governance at the Ministerial Council meeting in Dublin last year, mark an excellent time to take a fresh look at where we are, and, perhaps more importantly, where we are going in the Second Dimension.  I know my time is limited, so let me make just three simple points.

First, the work of the Second Dimension is more important than ever before, and we need a truly 21st Century approach to our engagement here.

As you know, embedded in the OSCE founding documents is a commitment to a comprehensive view of security that recognizes the fundamental role of economic and environmental concerns to the broader notion of peace and security.  As the Helsinki Final Act so convincingly noted, “efforts to develop co-operation in the fields of trade, industry, science and technology, the environment and other areas of economic activity contribute to the reinforcement of peace and security in Europe, and in the world as a whole.”  The Maastricht strategy document also strongly reinforced this view.  Accordingly, the OSCE is in a unique position to strengthen the connection between human rights, accountable and responsive government, and economic prosperity.  That connection has never been more important than it is today, a point again made clear to me on our delegation’s travels this week en route to Vienna.

We have just come from Jerusalem, where we met with the leadership of both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, including President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Fayyad.  We were also in Ankara, where we met with President Gul and the leaders of the Turkish government, and on the Syrian border in Gaziantep, where we saw dislocated Syrians living in Turkish camps, yearning for freedom, peace, security and hope.  Our journey in that troubled region has affirmed for me the absolute importance of keeping a close eye on the economic dimension of our security and human rights discussions, and the importance of focusing our dialogue—and our actions—on those initiatives that create economic opportunity, give people jobs and the capacity for self-determination, and that create hope.  More than military might, we know from the lessons of our shared history that these are the forces that facilitate relations among nations and people, can help to strengthen democratic institutions, and ultimately can help to create and sustain the peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, the work of the OSCE’s Second Dimension has never been more important than it is today, and not just in regions gripped with conflict.  The rise of global markets has profoundly changed our economies and our prosperity.  With the distributed, internationalized approach to research and development, the global sourcing of supply chains and manufacturing, the cross-border flows of data, capital and intellectual property, we see an ever increasing need for greater economic integration and enhanced cooperation on issues such as standards, regulations, trade facilitation and investment policy.  The reality is that we need to move from a view of the world where states act alone, to one of increasing interdependence.

And so we need a Second Dimension that understands and sees the relationship between these changed circumstances—these tectonic shifts in global markets—and our broader agenda to advance peace, security and human rights.  We need, in short, a 21st Century perspective and approach to our work in this critical dimension.  And while the OSCE need not duplicate the important work of other multilateral organizations—like the WTO for example—it should endeavor to find its distinctive role and to leverage its unique platform to advance our work.

My second point is that we must together work to elevate our collective engagement in the Second Dimension, and to move from mere dialogue to informed action, empowering participating States with information, best practices, and capacity building that can help them create and sustain world-class competitive economies.  The United States believes that a continued focus on transparency and good governance is central to this objective.

I am delighted that the Ukrainian Chairmanship has selected energy security and sustainability as a central focus for the Second Dimension this year — for we know that energy is the lynchpin to economic development and growth in all of our countries.  And there is much that we can do together in that space.  We can, for example: promote sustainable economic growth in the OSCE region through better, more transparent management of existing natural resources; we can better use and deploy innovative technology to increase energy efficiency to reduce our collective carbon foot print; and, lastly, we can promote the development of new, cleaner, renewable sources of energy that can reduce our dependence on a carbon based economy.

Each of these areas presents extraordinary opportunities for collaboration, information sharing, and capacity building that can drive economic growth and job creation, promote innovation, and increase trade among our nations in environmental goods and services, all while allowing us to address the critical challenge of climate change, which remains an existential threat to the peace and security of us all.  The United States looks forward to contributing our part to advancing this important agenda.  But as we convene to share ideas and facilitate dialogue, we must also be mindful of the need, at times, for concrete action and tangible initiatives that help us translate our shared values and aspirations into reality on the ground.  And as we pursue our work, we believe we should recognize the centrality of transparency and good governance as a cornerstone of these efforts.

The Good Governance Declaration adopted last year in Dublin, which I was very proud to work hard for, is an excellent starting point.  It provides an overarching framework that reflects our understanding that good governance and transparency are foundational to economic growth, the rule of law, and, thereby, the strengthening of democratic values and institutions.  Our challenge this year must be to take that important declaration and, in effect, operationalize it, engaging civil society and the business community, and incorporating it into our efforts on energy security and sustainability under the Ukrainian Chairmanship.

A good example is the Declaration’s recognition of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The EITI is a groundbreaking model for bringing together governments, civil society and businesses as equal players in bringing transparency to a very opaque industry.  Enhancing transparency in the energy sector also helps promote and institutionalize the rule of law and strengthen public institutions in a way that is consistent with the OSCE’s values and objectives.  OSCE participating States such as Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Norway, the UK, Ukraine and the United States, are all implementing EITI, albeit at different stages of progress.  While the EITI is not applicable to all OSCE states, the principles embodied in this type of inclusive dialogue are precisely the type we should adopt in other areas of public life.

My third and final point today is simply to affirm the important role that each of you, as parliamentary leaders, can play in elevating the work of the Second Dimension in both the OSCE and in your respective governments.  As elected leaders you bring a critical voice to the process, and you have a distinctive opportunity to advance the legal and policy framework that is necessary to promote economic growth, transparency, and stability, thereby creating the “enabling environment” for peace and prosperity at home and throughout the OSCE region.  I appreciate the leadership you bring and the commitment you have shown for the OSCE’s work.  And I hope you will encourage your government and its delegation to join us as we work with the Ukrainian Chair, the Office of Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities, this distinguished committee, and one another to elevate and enhance our engagement in the Second Dimension.

Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to your comments or questions.