Response to the Report of the Three Committee Chairs

As prepared for delivery by Ambassador Ian Kelly
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
September 5, 2013

We too welcome to the Permanent Council the three committee chairs, and thank them for their hard work since their last report to the Permanent Council.  We thank the committee chairs for outlining their plans for the remainder of the year and we recommit to the work ahead in each of these committees, recognizing that the OSCE’s multi-dimensional approach is at the heart of its comprehensive concept of security.

Let me start by thanking the Chair of the Security Committee, Ambassador Ildem, whose remarkable leadership has ensured the Security Committee is an effective tool in implementing our comprehensive and collaborative approach to combating new and emerging transnational threats that affect citizens across the globe.  Thanks to Ambassador Ildem’s leadership, member States and partners have been productive in bringing forward not only new ideas and means through which to address terrorism, narcotics, and police reform, but also ways in which to implement these proposals.  In the first part of the year, the Security Committee steered us to discuss pertinent issues such as cyber security, capacity-building efforts in Afghanistan, issues related to women, peace, and security, and on preventing terrorist financing through NGOs. The Annual Security Review Conference also provided a parallel forum in which to discuss future threats and challenges in the OSCE space, while also pursuing a dialogue on conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation. As we begin a new session following the August recess, we should continue to foster and build concrete counterterrorism and TNT initiatives, including capacity-building efforts.  As we participating States work together under Ambassador Ildem’s able leadership, we must also be sure that the Secretariat, including the TNT Department, has the human resources, management practices, and coordination mechanisms in place to ensure that we are collectively doing all we can to move forward on our shared vision for countering transnational threats.

On cyber security, we have both an opportunity and a challenge to finalize the OSCE’s initial set of confidence building measures, and we will continue to use the Informal Working Group as a mechanism to achieve this common goal.  A lack of consensus at the July expert-level meeting will not detract us from fully engaging in future consultations and discussions.  To that end, we plan to host a follow-on expert-level meeting in mid-October to finalize an initial set of confidence building measures.  We call for all participating States to commit the political will and focus necessary to bring this initial set of cyber CBMs to fruition in the very near term.

The United States reaffirms the importance of the OSCE’s focus on Afghanistan and enthusiastically supports the Chairmanship’s plan to have a Declaration of Support for Afghanistan at this year’s Ministerial Council meeting in Kyiv.  This declaration should reaffirm the OSCE’s strong commitment to support Afghanistan’s development in all three dimensions of security, in light of the impact that events in 2014 will have on Afghanistan’s ongoing security, political, and economic transitions.  Since 2007, the OSCE has supported a number of initiatives to assist Afghanistan with border security and transnational threats, democratic elections, and cross-border trade.  These OSCE projects have focused on increasing technical capacities and people-to-people linkages between Afghanistan and its neighbors in Central Asia.  However, funding for these projects remains limited.  The United States hopes that a Kyiv Declaration will encourage participating States to more fully fund these important OSCE efforts.

Moving to the Second Dimension, we welcome Ambassador Algayerova’s report on the activities of the Economic and Environmental Committee.  We commend the Ambassador’s work to make the committee’s discussions practical and focused.  These meetings have demonstrated to us all the real progress that has been and can be made on our commitments in the Second Dimension.

We would like to call particular attention to the committee meeting in June, which was focused on implementation of the Dublin Good Governance Declaration.  We, of course, reiterate our strong support for this declaration, but what really impressed us about this committee meeting was the makeup of the panel and the ensuing discussion.  It included valuable input from field missions, insightful remarks from an expert-level NGO on asset recovery, and interventions from delegations on what they have been doing and plan to do to implement the principles of this important declaration.  These are critical elements that create precisely the kind of discussion that should be occurring at our EEF and EEDIM events, and we encourage all here today to set this style of discussion as a model to make the Second Dimension even more dynamic.

We look forward to the continued work of the Economic and Environmental Committee, and we welcome the plans to discuss trade and transport issues in one of the remaining thematic meetings.  We see this as an additional opportunity for the OSCE to discuss the opportunities and challenges that will arise in relation to the drawdown of ISAF forces in Afghanistan, and efforts by many members of the international community, including the United States, to support Afghanistan’s efforts to integrate into the Central Asian economic and transport network.

In the Third Dimension, Ambassador Žugić has demonstrated patience and persistence in leading the Human Dimension Committee.  All too often, the work of the HDC has been focused on the agendas for meetings, rather than on the implementation of our commitments.  Ambassador Žugić, thank you for your plan of work in 2013.  Knowing, for example, that the focus of this week’s HDC was elections, we were able to plan and prepare a response to ODIHR’s recommendations to the United States General Elections in 2012.  It is precisely this kind of planning and coordination with ODIHR that allows for a meaningful discussion of our respective Human Dimension commitments. We have appreciated the thoughtful presentations by many participating States this year in the Human Dimension Committee on their challenges and successes in implementing specific Human Dimension commitments.  Additionally, your leadership, Ambassador Žugić, has enabled experts to think creatively about new approaches to make our future work focus more on commitments and less on the negotiation of agendas.

We hope your leadership and vision continues to inspire all participating States to refocus on the Human Dimension Commitments.  As we reaffirmed at the 2010 Astana Summit, security among states depends upon respect for human rights within states.  Participating States owe a duty to their citizens and to this Organization to uphold their commitments across the Human Dimension and ensure that fundamental freedoms are not restricted, that intolerance and discrimination are not allowed to thrive, and that elections are free and fair.  We urge continued support for strong Human Dimension institutions, and keeping our Human Dimension events focused on fundamental freedoms and on core human rights issues.

It is in the Third Dimension that we see the most troubling evidence of backsliding and failure of participating States to uphold the commitments they have made, as well as the greatest challenges to progress—both in reinforcing existing commitments and in breaking new ground.  Nevertheless, we look forward to the HDIM and the work the Committee will do this autumn to prepare for a productive Ministerial in Kyiv.  Moving toward the Ministerial, we know that the path ahead for Ambassador Žugić will not be an easy one, but he has our strong support.  We must redouble all our efforts in the Human Dimension, and remember its integral place in the OSCE’s vision of collective security.

Again, we extend our sincere thanks and our best wishes to all three committee chairs.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.