Response to the Three Committee Chairs

2018 OSCE Committee Chairs, L to R: Ambassador González Román of Spain, Security Committee Chair; Ambassador Sarybay of Kazakhstan, Economic and Environmental Committee Chair; Ambassador MacLeod of the United Kingdom, Human Dimension Committee Chair. Vienna, Feb. 1, 2018. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

Response to the Three Committee Chairs

As delivered by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Michele Siders
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
February 1, 2018

The United States warmly welcomes each of our distinguished Committee Chairs. Thank you for your leadership in guiding our Organization and promoting a collaborative, cross-dimensional approach to regional security.

Ambassador González Román, thank you for your leadership of the Security Committee, whose challenges affect all our countries. We must all work together and do more to address trafficking in cultural artifacts and dangerous materials. The Security Committee also can look at cross-dimensional aspects of human trafficking, such as intensifying international cooperation among law enforcement agencies. We would also welcome a spotlight, from a first dimension perspective, on preventing and combating trafficking in children and their sexual exploitation, in line with the Vienna Ministerial Council decision, as well as on UN Security Council Resolution 2388 of last year.

No less important is the Committee’s work on countering terrorism. With the fall of ISIS’s last strongholds, the Committee should consider what more the OSCE could do to counter the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters returning from conflict zones, including supporting States’ implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2396. The OSCE could facilitate greater cross-border cooperation and information sharing, and serve as a platform for exchanging best practices in prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating foreign terrorist fighters and their accompanying family members. In pursuing these goals, we must remember that respect for human rights is not a distraction from the fight against trafficking, terrorism, or security sector reform. Rather, it remains central to their success.

Ambassador, the United States appreciates your focus on potential conflicts that stem from information and communication technologies. As the OSCE continues its ground-breaking work on cyber confidence-building measures, we welcome your efforts to increase awareness on how the use of these technologies may affect international peace and security.

In the Second Dimension, the United States thanks you, Ambassador Sarybay, for your close coordination with the Austrian and Italian Chairmanships. We have examined with interest your Committee’s work plan for 2018, including the focus on connectivity as a means to grow our economies. Central to this effort is the promotion of business environments and trade that are based on the rule of law, which we value. We also appreciate the Chairmanship’s attention to anti-corruption activities, and welcome the naming of Paola Severino as Special Representative on Combating Corruption.

The Second Dimension is fundamental to the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security. At last week’s Economic and Environmental Forum, there was broad support among participating States to address technology issues, including the internet. The use of information and communication technologies has the potential to accelerate economic growth, fight corruption, make governments more responsive to citizens, and green the economy. However, when misused, connective technologies can threaten financial markets, put intellectual property and personal information at risk, and create opportunities for terrorists and organized criminals. These technologies themselves are not the problem, but rather the terrorists and other criminals who use them to engage in violence and criminal activities are the problem. Ambassador, the United States looks forward to collaborating with you and the Chairmanship on these important issues.

Ambassador MacLeod, the United States appreciates your leadership of the Human Dimension Committee, in particular, your principled and inclusive management of negotiations at the Vienna Ministerial. The 2018 work plan you described is rightly focused on OSCE commitments regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms. We look forward to advancing respect for freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and the right of peaceful assembly; to renewing efforts to fully implement the Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti as we mark the 15th anniversary of its adoption; and to productive engagement on promoting tolerance and non-discrimination. We believe every one of us can find elements of interest in your plan.

Ambassador, the space for civil society in many parts of the OSCE region continues to shrink. We therefore commend your intention to continue producing detailed “Concept Notes” and involve OSCE institutions, field missions, and civil society in our discussions. The United States shares your perspective on the importance of voluntary reporting, which helps gauge progress, as well as on the continuing challenges participating States face in implementing Human Dimension commitments. We stand ready to support you with our active engagement, resources, and expertise.

Once again, the United States joins other delegations in expressing its appreciation to each of the distinguished Chairs for your leadership. The OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security is embodied in your committees’ work. You have our full support.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.