Statement in Response to the Report on Progress Made Under the Helsinki +40 Process

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
November 21, 2013

The United States thanks the Ukrainian Chairmanship for its report on its continuing efforts to advance the Helsinki+40 process and to foster an interactive and substantive dialogue on the future of the Organization.

Throughout the Helsinki+40 discussions this year, the United States emphasized that before we can effectively address “new threats and challenges,” we must first acknowledge and redouble efforts to address longstanding and ongoing threats and challenges. Indeed, when existing OSCE commitments are not fulfilled, or are outright violated, and when longstanding threats and challenges are not addressed, it invariably leads to new problems.  Therefore, of the many sessions held so far this year, we especially welcomed the focus on implementation of existing commitments, in particular Human Dimension commitments, in the October 25 session of the Informal Helsinki+40 Working Group. As the Chairmanship’s report on that session shows, participating States exchanged views and ideas during that session but, unfortunately, left the discussion without clear agreement on the need to strengthen our collective resolve and capacity to fully implement existing commitments, or a common view on the tools and means by which we could do so.

Our concerns about the implementation of existing OSCE commitments go beyond the Helsinki+40 Informal Working Group.  We are also disappointed when here, in the Permanent Council, some participating States argue that raising specific cases of concern is inappropriate.  As I said recently in the PC, the United States feels strongly that when participating States offer a factual description of failures by other participating States to implement their commitments, that is a principled holding-to-account that must be at the very core of our efforts and goes to the relevancy and credibility of the OSCE process. Indeed, part of demonstrating respect for one another is holding one another responsible.

While the implementation of commitments is clearly a priority for us, we note that valuable debate occurred in all of the H+40 sessions noted in the Chairmanship’s comprehensive report.  But what was true of the session on implementing commitments was true throughout the other sessions.  Following each of the sessions, there was little the Chairmanship could present as a common view among participating States, and little consensus on the way forward.  At the most, this year has allowed participating States to lay out views and priorities on some critical issues, ranging from the participation of civil society in our work, to our valuable field operations, to effectiveness and efficiency, to a yet-to-come session on conflicts in December, showing where the divides are and where there are challenges ahead.

The protracted conflicts are a prime example of a difficult issue that has to be addressed in the Helsinki+40 process. The OSCE must continue to address the conflicts in Georgia, Moldova, and Nagorno-Karabakh. The difficulty of the discussions cannot deter us from having them. We encourage the chairmanships tasked with moving this process forward to ensure that the conflicts are taken into account.

As we mentioned in the Reinforced Permanent Council on Tuesday, the United States does not see the need for a declaration on Helsinki+40 at the upcoming Ministerial Council.  Should others wish to pursue such a document, however, we will participate in negotiations and focus on reflecting our Dublin agreement to use Helsinki+40 to achieve practical results in all three dimensions, including on implementation of commitments.

In closing, I’d like to thank the Chairmanship again for its report and for its efforts throughout the year to foster dialogue and exchanges in the Helsinki+40 process.

We’ve taken note of the initial roadmap and look forward to further discussions and consultations, and, of course we look forward to working with Ambassador McDonagh and other colleagues as we move ahead.

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.