On the Annual Progress Report of the OSCE Action Plan on the Promotion of Gender Equality

OSCE Gender Equality

Response to the Annual Progress Report on the Implementation of the OSCE Action Plan on the Promotion of Gender Equality

As delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Gregory Macris
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
July 18, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair,

I would like to extend our condolences to Turkey for the death of their diplomat in Erbil yesterday, and to Poland for the death of the SMM Monitor. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both.

Thank you, Secretary General Greminger, for this year’s evaluation report on gender issues. 

The United States is committed to advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls.  Women around the world should have essential roles in conflict prevention and resolution, security provision, peace processes, and countering terrorism.  Achieving greater gender parity will help the OSCE in these key objectives.  

For over a decade, the United States has been a leader in promoting global peace and stability by empowering women and addressing the challenges they face in conflict- and disaster-affected areas.  In June, we reaffirmed this commitment through the release of the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security. The Strategy focuses both on increasing women’s participation in political, civic, and security endeavors to prevent and resolve conflicts, and on creating conditions for long-term peace around the world.  It aims to ensure women are no longer absent from, or overlooked at, the negotiating table, and it modernizes international programs to improve equality for, and the empowerment of, women. We look forward to working with our OSCE partners in advancing the Strategy and our shared objectives. 

Turning to the work of the Organization, the United States takes careful note of the activities and progress outlined in this year’s Progress Report on the Implementation of the OSCE 2004 Action Plan on the Promotion of Gender Equality.  We support the programs and projects outlined in the report conducted by OSCE structures in all three dimensions that promote gender equality or include a gender perspective. We welcome the general policy that OSCE events will not have all-male panels.  However, we remain concerned about the continued poor representation of women in senior positions within the Organization.

Of even greater concern, Mr. Secretary General, are the results of the survey released earlier this year on sexual harassment within the OSCE, which are simply not acceptable.  We question how the OSCE could promote gender equality elsewhere without getting its own house in order first. And this encompasses not only regular OSCE staff here and in the field, but also short-term mission members, including election observers. 

There must be zero-tolerance, full accountability, and appropriate consequences for sexual harassment within the OSCE.  There also must be a clear mechanism that protects victims from retaliation. As such, we welcome and will examine the recent proposal to revise the OSCE’s internal justice system.  We also welcome the action plan you distributed with the results of the harassment survey and look forward to regular updates on its implementation. One of your planned responses is to require annual online training for staff.  We would support expanding this effort to ensure the general orientation – or GO – program and training conducted before OSCE election observations also contain thorough, detailed components concerning zero-tolerance and consequences for sexual harassment. 

Thank you again, Mr. Secretary General, for your report and for highlighting the important work that remains for the OSCE and its participating States.  Together, we can improve gender equality at the Organization and throughout the OSCE region, and thereby create more peaceful, stable, and secure societies.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.