Matteo Mecacci's speech to the Special Human Dimension Committee Meeting
Speech by Mr. Matteo Mecacci (Italy), Chair of the OSCE PA Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, Special OSCE Human Dimension Committee Meeting
Dear Chair, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first express my gratitude to Amb. Greminger and the Swiss Chairmanship for organizing this special meeting of the Human Dimension Committee. I am pleased to be here today to discuss the work of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in the third dimension, and I believe that the task we have before us is an important and timely one. Moreover, I believe strongly that our cooperation in this regard will benefit everyone involved and created a stronger, more consistent, and more applicable set of deliverables for Vilnius.
Many of you undoubtedly heard PA President Petros Efthymiou’s speech to the Permanent Council on November 3rd, in which he emphasized the need for better coordination between the bodies of the PC and the PA. President Efthymiou has asked me to address a session of the human dimension committee, which was kindly organized by the Swiss Chairmanship of the Human Dimension Committee. As Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly General Committee which deals with Human Dimension issues, I am delighted to have the opportunity to brief you on our activities and main concerns.
This summer’s Annual Session in Belgrade culminated in a number of specific recommendations related to these issues and I am confident that these recommendations can contribute to the discussions which are currently taking place in the run-up to the Vilnius Ministerial.
We live in a time in which the intuition which led to the creation of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1975 (the year in which I was born) and which highlighted the interdependence of security, the economy, human rights, and democracy, is not only real but also is felt as real and relevant by a vast majority of our citizens and the public opinion of our countries.
The consequences for the people of our region of a security crisis, or of the economic downfall of one of our countries, or of a mass migration of people provoked by repression and intolerance, now have a much more direct effect than before on the work of national and international institutions and on the life of our citizens.
Globalization offers more opportunities, but also requires radical improvements of coordination among all actors and requires the decision-making process of institutions in order to face the new challenges posed by an interconnected world.
These words are not meant merely to be a theoretical reflection on the tough times that national governments and international institutions are facing in solving global problems, but instead is intended to be a call for all of us to make the best use of the knowledge and the experience developed in the OSCE in order to make sure that the political priorities identified for the work of our organization are in direct connection with the problems faced by our people.
Our Parliamentary Assembly is a body where we strive to respond to these new challenges and, as we are used to do in our national parliaments on foreign policy issues, we try to bring the results of our work to the attention of the governments and the people.
It is with this spirit that I am addressing you today on the work of the Parliamentary Assembly in the field of human rights and democracy, knowing that in a time of profound changes, institutional cooperation is not only to be welcomed, but is essential to make our organization effective.
I would also like to give some general examples of fruitful cooperation between parliaments and government in the field of human rights: from the campaign for the ban of landmines, to that for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, to the campaign for the moratorium on the death penalty or for the ban on female genital mutilation, we all know how important the role of parliaments and parliamentary assemblies has been to making these issues an integral part of the foreign policy debate on human rights.
We all know the importance of the respect for human rights and democracy to guarantee security in our region and that the adoption by the UN of the Doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect codifies a new concept which puts on international institutions the legal obligation to intervene to protect civilians.
Having said this, I would like to offer some examples that prove how the cooperation between the Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE has been effective. For example, since 1993, more than 3,600 parliamentarians have taken part in a total of 113 election observation missions in OSCE participating States and this year also in one of our Partners for Cooperation, Tunisia. I would also like to call on you to make sure that a clear political commitment emerges from the Ministerial Council in Vilnius to help the countries of the Mediterranean region in their transition to democracy. Most recently, the OSCE PA also sent a parliamentary delegation to observe the presidential election in Kyrgyzstan.
When it comes to press freedom, we should not forget that the post of the Representative on the Freedom of the Media, a post which we all agree has become integral to the comprehensive work of the OSCE – and a subject matter which features heavily in this year’s draft proposals – was created following a Parliamentary Assembly initiative. My predecessor as Chair of the PA’s 3rd Committee, Freimut Duve, was the first to serve in that important post.
Another theme in this year’s drafting process – combating intolerance and discrimination – is a subject which the PA has initiated. Over the past decade, nearly every OSCE PA Annual Session has debated various aspects of this issue and included recommendations on combating intolerance and discrimination in our Final Declarations.
Gender mainstreaming is another area the PA has added an important perspective. It was following a recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly’s 1998 Copenhagen Declaration that an OSCE Gender Advisor was appointed in order to ensure that the Organization fully realized the importance of gender mainstreaming and continued to focus on creating better opportunities for women in all OSCE participating States.
As you know, the PA has been a long-time supporter of the important work done by the OSCE field operations, with strong cooperative relationships established with field presences throughout the OSCE region. Most recently, the OSCE PA’s Dutch delegation, together with PA Vice-President Walburga Habsburg Douglas of Sweden, worked with the OSCE Centre in Bishkek and the Kyrgyz Parliament to organize a parliamentary forum in Kyrgyzstan. Third Committee Rapporteur Coskun Coruz and OSCE PA Special Representative on Migration Kathleen Ferrier led discussions about the role of parliaments in ensuring election transparency, and specifically how parliamentarians can contribute to conducting free, fair and inclusive elections. In the past, under the leadership of Roberto Battelli, our Special Representative on South East Europe, several parliamentary forums have been organized in countries of the region, in cooperation with the missions, whose heads participated in a fruitful debate in our recent Fall Session in Dubrovnik.
Let me now turn to the more recent work of our Assembly. I will start by discussing the findings of our equivalent Third Committee during our recent Annual Session and then I will briefly look at the draft ministerial decision from a parliamentary perspective. Reading over the findings of the 3rd committee in Belgrade this year, a number of salient points emerge which suggest themselves as possible topics for future discussion with this committee. This year, the 3rd committee addressed the following issues:
-The “consensus minus one” approach (48, 58).
-The strengthening of the Mediterranean dimension (50, 59).
-Human Dimension Implementation mechanisms, especially regarding the missions and the Moscow Mechanism. (53, 69, Missions: 63, Moscow Mechanism: 65)
-The issue of Transparency (54,56 Civil Society:69)
-The creation of a Rapid reaction force (60)
-The subject of establishing Parliamentary fact-finding missions (66)
As regards the issues being discussed for Vilnius, much of what is now on the table in terms of possible deliverables covers ground which has been addressed in PA Annual Sessions in recent years. I would like now, with your permission, to discuss some of these common endeavors, in order to further the discussion.
The draft decision on “Enhancing the Safety of Journalists”, as it now reads, contains a reference to the PA “Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement on Freedom of Opinion and Expression” from the 2009 Vilnius session. It might, however, be strengthened with a reference to the “Resolution on the Protection of Investigative Journalists” from the 2010 Oslo session, or from the follow-up report which was discussed at our 2011 Winter Meeting here in Vienna.
Also in the realm of media freedom, the draft decision on “Fostering Freedom of Expression and Pluralism in Digital Media” which arose out of a Chairmanship conference on the same topic, has strong links to former PA resolutions. The 2009 Vilnius session contained the “Resolution on Freedom of Expression on the Internet”, a topic which lies at the heart of the debate on new media. The Vilnius Annual Session also included a “Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement on Freedom of Opinion and Expression” and a follow-up on that report during the 2010 Winter Meeting. Moreover, the findings of the 3rd Committee during the 2007 Kyiv session offered language designed to protect media freedom which might be applicable in terms of possible Ministerial Council decision, recognizing “the crucial importance of freedom of speech, press and information in any society, considering these freedoms to be a sine qua non tool for guaranteeing the effectiveness and credibility of democracy in the OSCE participating states.”
We have also noted the reference to 2007 Kyiv session in the draft decision on “National Human Rights Institutions”. We believe that this is an important reference to keep in the text, as it reinforces the long-standing position of the PA that engagement with civil society is necessary to produce comprehensive solutions in the human dimension. This was manifest in the “Resolution on Cooperation with Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations” from the 2005 Brussels session, and has been a leitmotif of the work of the PA, even surfacing in this year’s Belgrade Declaration, as I mentioned previously.
Finally, the “Draft Decision on Countering the Manifestations of Intolerance and Discrimination in Public Discourse” is a subject which is very near to the heart of the PA. In some ways, the Parliamentary Assembly was the first in the OSCE to call for issues of discrimination and intolerance to be addressed, and this call has been repeated countless times in our sessions. In Washington in 2005, the PA adopted a “Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism”. In 2006, in Brussels, the PA adopted the “Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Intolerance”. In Brussels, our Human Dimension Committee also adopted a resolution which called for “strengthening the protection of persons belonging to national minorities in OSCE participating States (section 4)” and one which called for “promoting the freedom of religion and belief in the OSCE participating States.” Issues of intolerance were also addressed in the 2007 Kyiv Human Dimension Committee resolution, the “Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism, Racism, Xenophobia and other Forms of Intolerance, including against Muslims and Roma”, the “Resolution on Anti-Semitism” from the 2009 Vilnius session, the “Resolution on the OSCE’s Commitments in Favour of Religious Freedom and the Separation Between Religious Communities and the State” from the 2010 Oslo session, and the list goes on.
I mention all of these resolutions not to simply give you a laundry list of the work the PA has done on these crucial issues. I mention it in order to give you an idea of what a wealth of substance, legitimacy, and intellectual capacity exists in the Parliamentary Assembly. We encourage you to think of us as an integral part of the discourse in the run-up to Vilnius.
Through our annual resolutions, we aim to foster debate among legislators from the 55 participating States to advance the capacity of our institutions to learn from each other. Democracy is a work in progress. No country can say that it has reached the perfect democracy and it was our choice, for example, to extend the election observation of our Assembly following their invitation to some of the nations that have establish the modern form of liberal democracy: the US and the UK.
I know all of you are very busy coming up with draft decisions for Vilnius. This is a big enough task on its own, and so I appreciate all of you inviting me to speak with you today. As you embark on the road to Vilnius, I would ask you to think of the Parliamentary Assembly as a resource, and one which can make our common work both easier and more comprehensive. I am convinced that sustained cooperation between our two committees will enrich and enhance the human dimension and contribute to our common project of establishing an OSCE area which is prosperous, democratic, and free.
I thank you for your cooperation and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Vienna, 14 November 2011
Members and contributors 2013
|Giuseppe R. Roma||590 €|
|Salvatore P. Capistrello||200 €|
|Giancarlo B. Torino||30 €|
|Marco B. Merano||20 €|
|Davide B. Prato||50 €|
|Giuseppe P. Grottammare||50 €|
|Maurizio T. Roma||1.000 €|
|Rosa A. Firenze||590 €|
|Giuliano G. Sondrio||590 €|
|Sergio Pasquale R. Cremona||500 €|
|Total SUM||326.746 €|