Reply to Russia on Child Rights in Norway: Statement to the PC

United States nameplate in the Hofburg Congress Center's Neuer Saal, the location of many OSCE Permanent Council Meetings, Vienna, March 9, 2016. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

The U.S. would like to join this conversation on the issue of child rights in Norway — I thank the distinguished Norwegian ambassador for his presentation of the Council of Europe study, and I’d also like to call to colleagues’ attention a recent report by UNICEF, which covered the conditions for children, focusing really more on socio-economic conditions—and given the Russian Federation’s interest in economic, cultural, and social rights this report may be particularly interesting to our distinguished colleague from the Russian Federation— focusing on socio-economic conditions, the conditions for children in 30 to 40 wealthy countries. Russia is not covered in this report, but Norway is, and Norway ranks second overall for conditions for children; they are tied for second, falling only behind Denmark in this ranking. And I thought it might be of interest.

Mr. Chair, while I have the floor I’d like to say that I think it would be useful for our distinguished colleague from the Russian Federation to be able to communicate to Moscow that when a number of delegations heard that the Russian Federation was going to raise its concern with child rights in Norway this week, the most common response was laughter. Because it’s such a preposterous — in the list of concerns about meeting OSCE commitments in the OSCE area, it’s such a preposterous prioritization to think that conditions for children in Norway are high as a priority concern. Of course, the Russian Federation has the prerogative to raise whatever issues it wants, however we have to recognize how cynical it is to raise concerns where concerns don’t exist. And that if the Russian Federation claims to care in general about the rights of children, and then instrumentalizes the rights of children for political aims, that cynicism is very, very disappointing.

Colleagues, I think we need to recognize that the only reason the Russian delegation has made this statement, is as a childish reaction to a statement by our Norwegian colleague last week.

Again, the Russian Federation has every prerogative to raise whatever issues it wants, but raising statements or rather deploying statements, as a kind of ‘retribution’ in a political form, is a difficult thing to respect.

This was not a statement delivered in good faith. It demeans the dialogue around this table, and it was an embarrassment to the Russian Federation.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna