On the Ministerial Council decision on the OSCE’s Role in the Governance of Large Movements of Migrants and Refugees | Interpretative Statement

An OSCE flag and a gavel before the start of a meeting at the Hofburg in Vienna. (OSCE/Mikhail Evstafiev)

In connection with the Ministerial Council decision just adopted on the OSCE’s Role in the Governance of Large Movements of Migrants and Refugees, the United States would like to make the following interpretative statement under paragraph IV.1(A)6 of the OSCE Rules of Procedure.

The United States believes that this phenomenon is truly a multi-dimensional, cross-cutting challenge that will affect security throughout the OSCE for the foreseeable future. As we have made clear throughout our negotiations, we would like to have seen a stronger decision adopted by the Ministerial Council today.

Many of the OSCE executive structures and field missions are already active, within their mandates, on humane migration management and combatting trafficking in human beings.

We believe the CPC and OSCE field missions should intensify their migration-related work, including through joint regional activities with other international organizations, as well as monitoring and early warning.

The Secretary General should engage with participating States to recruit secondees to work on migration-related projects, reprioritize to have staff dedicated to coordinating migration-related activities, and create a network of migration focal points.

The OSCE, and in particular ODIHR, can assist participating States with the integration of migrants and refugees.

As recommended in the Report by the Chairperson of the Informal Working Group on Migration and Refugee Flows, OSCE executive structures should, within their respective mandates, mainstream the issue of migration into the larger OSCE agenda, assist with sharing of best practices, strengthen cooperation and coordination among themselves, increase outreach to OSCE Partners for Cooperation as well as to civil society, and contribute to capacity building efforts to improve governance of large movements of migrants and refugees.

The Special Representative and Coordinator for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings should increase engagement in the protection of victims of trafficking in the context of refugees and migration. We would note, however, that we do not support any alteration of her mandate to encompass human smuggling.

The United States strongly urges the incoming Austrian Chairman-in-Office to appoint a Personal Representative on this issue, in order to strengthen coherence across the OSCE and increase engagement with Partners for Cooperation, international organizations, and civil society.

Mr. Chairman, we ask that this statement be attached to the decision we have just adopted and also included in the journal of the day.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Closing Session of the 2016 OSCE Ministerial Council, Hamburg, Germany