At the OSCE: The Week in Review

Flags of the OSCE participating States outside the Hofburg Congress Center in Vienna, Austria (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

The Week in Review: September 25th to 29th

Tackling Online Abuse of Female Journalists

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media workshop on supporting safety of female journalists online, Vienna, Austria, September 27th, 2017. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

The OSCE’s top media freedom representative held a workshop for journalists and media experts on Tuesday and Wednesday to craft new ways to tackle the online abuse of female journalists. Female journalists across the OSCE region are being inundated with online threats of murder, rape, physical violence, and more – just for doing their job. The workshop is part of the Representative on Freedom of the Media’s ongoing #SOFJO campaign in support of safety of female journalists online.


Law enforcement experts met on Tuesday and Wednesday at the 2017 OSCE Annual Police Experts Meeting (APEM). This year’s APEM focused on an exchange of ways and ideas to counter crime and disrupt criminal networks by confiscating criminal proceeds and recovering criminal assets.


The OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department held a seminar on Passenger Data Exchange on Thursday and Friday. The seminar gave aviation and security experts from the private and government sectors the opportunity to share lessons learned and good practices establishing national passenger data exchange systems, working with airlines and other OSCE States, and more. These systems help states detect terrorists before they travel.


Gender Equality and Russia’s Aggression in Ukraine Top the Permanent Council Agenda

OSCE information leaflet on gender equality in the OSCE. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

Ukraine and gender equality were the two issues topping the agenda at this Thursday’s regular meeting of the Permanent Council. The OSCE’s head monitor in Ukraine, Ertugrul Apakan, and the Chairmanship’s special representative in Ukraine, Martin Sajdik, delivered reports on the situation in the conflict-affected areas. In our response, we called on Russia to use its influence with the militants it arms, trains, leads, and fights alongside in Ukraine to order a withdrawal of proscribed weapons, spoke out about Russia-led forces’ threats against OSCE monitors, and expressed our concern at the continuing human rights abuses in Russia-occupied Crimea.

OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger and the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office on Gender, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, reported to the Permanent Council on the OSCE’s work on gender equality. In response, we highlighted the importance of equal opportunity for women and men in building democratic societies and furthering international peace and security. We also expressed our view that the OSCE needs a systematic, strategic approach to advance gender equality within its policies and operations, and that this needs to be monitored and evaluated.

Current issues at Thursday’s Permanent Council included the recent, illegitimate “election” in Russia-occupied Crimea, with the United States and other national delegations again making clear their position that Crimea remains an integral part of Ukraine. We also exercised our right to reply following a statement by the Russian delegation repeating the Kremlin’s bogus claim that the United States hunts and kidnaps its citizens in foreign countries.


Countering Violent Extremism through the OSCE

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sebastian Kurz prepares to address the Permanent Council on countering violent extremism, Vienna, Austria, Friday, September 29th. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

The Permanent Council convened again on Friday for a special session on countering violent extremism through the OSCE. Austria’s Foreign Minister and current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sebastian Kurz introduced the session, which included reports on OSCE activities to prevent violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism by OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger and the Chairmanship’s Special Representative Peter Neumann. In our response, we underscored how the shift in ISIS’s strategy — from encouraging its followers to travel to Iraq and Syria to encouraging them to act on their own and in their home countries — makes countering violent extremism as important now as ever. We also stressed the need to address terrorists’ message and their ability to recruit new followers while respecting freedom of expression, and agreed with the speakers that the OSCE can do more to counter violent extremism.