As delivered by Charge d’Affaires Gary Robbins
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
July 26, 2013
I wish to express the appreciation of the United States for the Chair’s patient efforts to facilitate a compromise enabling participating States to reach consensus on the agenda for the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM), which will take place in Warsaw from September 23 to October 4 of this year.
As the Chairmanship has stated, this year is exceptional in that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the High Commissioner for National Minorities (HCNM) as an institution. Moreover, we also have a new High Commissioner, Ms. Astrid Thors. And so, in a spirit of compromise, we agree as an exception to the standard order of discussion, to begin the first working session of the 2013 HDIM with a presentation by the newly appointed HCNM. We do so, however, despite deep reservations about the movement of discussions of fundamental freedoms in the OSCE region to later in the HDIM’s first week.
As we have underscored on numerous occasions, the United States believes that the fundamental freedoms enshrined in international instruments are the basis of all our human dimension commitments and the foundation of all of our work in the human dimension. Exercise of the fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, religion, and movement are closely intertwined. Where the exercise on line or off line of any fundamental freedom is impeded or denied, it is likely that the exercise of other fundamental freedoms also is obstructed. Without respect for fundamental freedoms, the human rights of members of minority groups may remain unprotected, the rule of law is compromised, independent media are stifled, accountability of government is hampered and democracy cannot thrive.
It is for this compelling reason that we have advocated starting each HDIM with the presentation by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media on issues related to freedom of expression and followed closely by sessions devoted to the other fundamental freedoms. Precedent in doing so has been clearly established over the past five years, and this precedent should be respected in all future HDIMs.
Our hope is that, with the contentious debate over the 2013 HDIM agenda behind us, we can work constructively on a standing agenda with fundamental freedoms at the forefront that would guide future HDIMs and allow us to focus less attention on procedure and more on substance.
I request that this interpretative statement be attached to the decision and to the Journal of the Day.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.