Interpretative Statement on the Decision on the 2017 Unified Budget

Interpretative Statement on the Decision on the 2017 Unified Budget

As delivered by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Kate M. Byrnes
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
June 1, 2017

The United States wishes to make an interpretative statement under paragraph IV.1 (A) 6 of the Rules of Procedure of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The United States commends the efforts of the Austrian Chairmanship during difficult budget discussions this year.  Without such leadership, today’s decision on the 2017 Unified Budget would not have been possible.

We have joined consensus on the 2017 Unified Budget because we believe in the OSCE and the OSCE must have a budget to move forward with its critical programs and activities.  But this budget is far from ideal and we believe it falls short in several vital areas.

We are disappointed that the budget does not sufficiently meet the resource needs of the OSCE’s three independent Institutions: the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM), and the Representative for Freedom of the Media (RFoM).  These institutions have been underfunded for many years, hampering their ability to implement their mandates to assist participating States to meet their OSCE commitments under the Helsinki Final Act and subsequent instruments.  As responsible stewards of the OSCE’s financial resources, we must ensure that these Institutions receive adequate funding.

Russian aggression in Ukraine continues to place tremendous pressure on the resources of the Project Coordinator in Ukraine (PCU).  We regret that the budget does not provide for the additional funding requested to allow the PCU to provide the appropriate level of support to the government of Ukraine in its pursuit of a democratic, secure, and prosperous future for the country and its people.

We equally regret the impending closure of the OSCE Office in Yerevan – the OSCE’s last field operation in the South Caucasus – the OSCE Program Office in Bishkek’s Osh presence, and the OSCE Office in Tajikistan’s field offices.  Field operations provide invaluable support to their host countries by providing early warning and crisis management, and promoting dialogue between government and civil society.  Field operations further contribute to regional security cooperation, regional economic integration, democratic reforms, good governance, and promoting human rights and freedoms.

For another year, we are disappointed that the Border Management Staff College, one of Central Asia’s only forums for regional border security and cooperation with neighboring Afghanistan, was excluded from the unified budget.

Finally, we continue to be concerned about rising administrative costs.  We therefore encourage the Secretariat to fully implement cost-containment measures and to offset future budget increases with additional efficiencies.

The OSCE region has many growing security challenges.  We call on all participating States to take a renewed look at the unique role of this Organization to meet security threats head on and to ensure that it has the resources necessary to carry out its vital mandates.

The United States requests that this statement be appended to the adopted decision and recorded in the journal of the day.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.