Statement on the Decision on the 2014 Unified Budget Proposal

As delivered by Political Counselor Christopher Robinson to the Permanent Council,
Vienna, May 22, 2014

The United States wishes to make the following interpretative statement under paragraph IV.1A (6) of the Rules of Procedure of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The United States sincerely thanks the Chairmanship, and particularly the efforts and hard work of the ACMF Chairs Alexander Hoffet and Mathew Quinn on helping us to achieve the adoption of the 2014 Unified Budget. This is an extraordinary year for the OSCE. As the crisis in Ukraine continues to capture much of our attention, your focus and dedication made it possible for the budget to be adopted today.

The United States has agreed to join consensus on the 2014 Unified Budget not because we are satisfied with the budget we have just passed, but because we are now more than five months into 2014, and the Organization needs a budget to allow it to move forward with its operations and implement programs and activities. The United States, along with the majority of the participating States, were in fact prepared to accept the Chairmanship’s budget proposal of January 2014, but due to the unwillingness of very few participating States to engage in constructive negotiations, the adoption of the budget was delayed until now.

We regret that consensus was not found on funding a number of important activities that would position the OSCE to more effectively address today’s challenges and to move the Organization in a direction that would promote the comprehensive security of its participating States. Most disappointing is the exclusion of funding for the Border Management Staff College (BMSC) from the budget, blocked by one participating State despite repeated appeals from the host country, the fund manager, a large number of participating States, the Secretary General, and the Swiss Chairmanship to secure long-term financial sustainability for the college. The BMSC is a valuable OSCE institution, and we should secure its future, particularly ahead of the security challenges that are likely to come with Afghanistan’s security and political transitions in 2014. It is imperative that participating States come together and move to include the BMSC in the unified budget.

In the Western Balkans, which currently represents more than sixty percent of total field missions’ budget, we believe that further reductions should be sought. As the countries in the Balkans make progress towards greater Euro and Euro-Atlantic integration and consolidate democratic reforms, the logical evolution of OSCE operations in the region would be to work toward the handover of successful reform programs to other international and local actors. To this end, Western Balkans missions as well as field missions should look to the Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a model to right-size their funding and resource usage. Further funding reductions in Southeastern Europe, where the security situation has improved significantly over the years of OSCE engagement, will make way for necessary budgetary increases in Central Asia, where challenges continue to grow.

Of serious concern are the inadequate funding levels for Institutions – the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Representative on Freedom on the Media – to properly carry out much needed work in line with their mandates. ODIHR, in particular, is now at Zero Nominal Growth, that is to say real cuts, for the fourth year in a row. This is unacceptable, and the trend cannot be sustained.  Particularly for those who are critical of ODIHR, they should see reason in resourcing it properly, or else silence their criticisms. These institutions need the appropriate funding and resources to effectively carry out their work, which grows each year while their funding does not. We must, as responsible members of this important Organization, help them achieve the work in the Human Dimension, as well as in the other dimensions, that we have tasked them to do.

We stress our deep disappointment with the dramatic reduction in the funding and staffing levels for the new office in Baku, which has severely limited the Project Coordinator in Baku’s (PCB) ability to carry out its activities, and also undermined the mandate that participating States worked so hard to reach consensus on last year. We hope the PCB can still continue to conduct meaningful programmatic work in important areas of democratic development and greater governmental transparency.

We will continue to press for these priorities as we prepare for the 2015 Unified Budget negotiations, which will begin in just a few short months. We urge all delegations and their capitals to take a sincere look at the future of this organization and the resources it needs to accomplish what we all know it can and must do to ensure our comprehensive security.

The United States requests that this statement be recorded to the journal of the day.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.