Responsibility of participating States to uphold the OSCE principles and commitments that underpin the security and safety of our populations

OSCE Gavel (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

Responsibility of participating States to uphold the OSCE principles and commitments that underpin the security and safety of our populations

As delivered by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i Courtney Austrian
to the Special Permanent Council, Vienna
July 30, 2021

Thank you, Madam Chair.

The United States appreciates the hard work of the Swedish Chair-in-Office to find consensus on technical decisions related to the Annual Security Review Conference, the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, and the 2021 Unified Budget.  That we are still here discussing these issues late on Friday, July 30 is the result of obstructionism impeding the Organization’s efficient functioning and effectiveness.  Frankly, Madam Chair, this is outrageous.

We recognize the concerns of certain participating States regarding these decisions.  However, participating States had sufficient time to work through their issues and ultimately reach consensus.  The Swedish Chair has gone above-and-beyond trying to find a way to get all participating States to reach a reasonable compromise.  But without the spirit of collaboration and a genuine commitment to our comprehensive security goals, we cannot fulfill the mandates set by our respective Ministers when they decided the OSCE would hold certain events each year.  That the review meetings be held was the Ministers’ clear intent.  Speaking for our own equities, I know the United States wanted many things included in the decisions for the Unified Budget, the ASRC, and HDIM that were not included in the decisions before us today.  But, for the good of this Organization, we will accept the current decisions rather than fighting tooth-and-nail for ones that perfectly reflect our priorities.  The fact that some participating States are still obstructing this process hours before the planned summer recess can only be seen as their disregard for the intent of the Ministers and for the entire OSCE process.

Without a Unified Budget, we cannot provide for the smooth operation of this Organization, including the Secretariat, autonomous institutions, and the field missions.  Without the ASRC, the world’s largest regional security organization cannot conduct the critical review of our efforts to implement our security commitments at the meetings which our Ministers agreed to hold annually.  In the last twelve months there have been significant events in the region, including open hostilities and ongoing military threats and intimidation.  The ASRC is the place to discuss these threats to regional security.  Without HDIM, the world’s largest annual human rights review conference, the participating States unwilling to join consensus at this eleventh hour send a clear signal that their international obligations to respect and protect human rights are not important to their governments or to the OSCE.  If a State insists on having all its demands met before reaching consensus, that is not compromise; that is hostage-taking.  Now is the time to stand with the rest of us and move forward to a compromise that is reasonable and that shows your commitment to the OSCE.

Madam Chair, like many other participating States, I reiterate the United States made significant compromises in the language in today’s draft decisions.  We are deeply frustrated and disappointed these compromises were unreciprocated by certain other participating States, who continue to advocate an all-or-nothing approach.  The United States would be prepared to agree here on dates for these upcoming events and continue to discuss agendas.  What we do not support is a situation where the organization fails to fulfill core mandates of its ministers.  That means the ASRC and HDIM need to be held.  Let us set the dates today and continue to sort out remaining concerns.  I am sure that in the spirit of cooperative security, this can be done.  We cannot allow ourselves to reach a point where the OSCE’s inability to conduct its daily business is overshadowing our shared commitments for the better future we envisioned when we signed the Helsinki Final Act.

These decisions today come down to whether or not we uphold the OSCE principles and commitments that underpin the security and safety of our populations.

Madam Chair, the United States is deeply appreciative of your leadership on finding a way to compromise, especially when certain States embrace brinksmanship over collaboration.  We support your continued negotiations and endorse working through recess if required to achieve consensus on agendas and procedural details, but we need to set dates for these events.  There will never be a perfect decision, but it is totally unacceptable for inaction by the Permanent Council to de facto overrule the Ministerial Council.

Colleagues, it is time for all of us to show our commitment to the OSCE and get this done.

Thank you, Madam Chair, and I request that my statement be attached to the Journal of the Day.