7 March 2005
OSCE Could Play Key Role in Kosovos Standards Review Process, Security Council Told
Chairman Briefs Council on Organizations Expertise in Minority Issues, Policing, Institution-Building, Conflict Resolution
NEW YORK, 4 March (UN Headquarters) -- As an integral part of the structure of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could play a key role in the provinces standards review process while remaining part of the international presence there, the regional bodys Chairman-in-Office told the Security Council this morning.
Dimitrij Rupel, who is also Sloveniaa Minister for Foreign Affairs, said in an open briefing to the Council that the OSCE had considerable expertise in national minority issues, policing and in building the effective public institutions that were so essential for Kosovos peaceful and sustainable development. In many tense situations, effective policing was needed rather than blue helmets. The OSCE ran police development units in the western Balkans, and no other international organization currently possessed the potential to strengthen long-term law enforcement capacity- and institution-building in the States most susceptible to crime, corruption and human rights violations.
The case of Kosovo highlighted the question of reconciling the desire for self-determination with the issue of preserving the territorial integrity of States, he said. And in parts of the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the OSCE was actively trying to resolve conflicts that were sometimes referred to as frozen, but which lately had started to thaw. The slow but steady progress being made in the dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan was encouraging, and it was to be hoped that recent changes in Ukraine and a new post-election environment in the Republic of Moldova would enable a new attempt to resolve the Transdniestrian conflict. The OSCE was also working with parties to reduce tensions in South Ossetia, Georgia, and to promote demilitarization, build confidence and achieve a lasting settlement there.
Urging the Security Council to support OSCE efforts in all those cases, particularly those Council members who were mediators in the conflicts or had influence over the parties, he pointed out that it was difficult for inter-State organizations to deal with non-State actors, even when they were de facto authorities, and that, sometimes, the leverage of powerful States, including permanent members of the Council, could be crucial. The OSCE was a regional arrangement in the sense of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter and it was to be hoped that bold decisions would be taken to enhance further the cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.
He said the Security Councils ability to more proactively prevent and respond to threats could be strengthened by making fuller and more productive use of regional organizations. The OSCE was well-positioned and well-equipped to do so with its well-earned reputation in early warning, early action and conflict prevention. There were areas, such as preventing ethnic conflict and regulating the marking and tracing, as well as the brokering and transfer of small arms and light weapons, where the organization was even more progressive than United Nations standards.
Regarding the clash between the concept of responsibility to protect and the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of a State, he said the OSCE was very clear and progressive when it came to human rights. Commitments undertaken in the organizations human dimension were of direct and legitimate concern to all participating States and did not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned. That legitimate intrusiveness was the basis on which participating States held each other accountable for the implementation of their commonly agreed commitments.
Others who spoke during the meeting included the representatives of Romania, United States, Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.
This mornings meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and adjourned at 11:10 a.m.
Statement by Chairman-in-Office of OSCE
DIMITRIJ RUPEL, Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, noted that there was a lively discussion about the future of the OSCE, which, unfortunately, was reflective of the emergence of new East-West fault lines. Some debates were reminiscent of the cold war. The discussion had come during a year when the organization was supposed to be celebrating its contribution to promoting security and cooperation in Europe - reflecting on 30 years since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act and 15 years since the Charter of Paris set out a vision for a Europe whole and free.
As to whether the OSCE was in crisis, he said it was certainly in transition. Some participating States had complained of double standards and called for a review of how it monitored elections. There was no agreement on extending the mandate of the Border Monitoring Operation in Georgia, and there had been no consensus among OSCE Foreign Ministers at the conclusion of the last two Ministerial Council meetings. In answer to calls for reform, a Panel of Eminent Persons had been appointed to make recommendations on strengthening the organizations effectiveness. That would be followed by high-level consultations and then a Ministerial Council in Ljubljana. The OSCE was also looking at how to strengthen its field operations. That process was more of an opportunity than a crisis.
The challenge to the organizations relevance and strategic direction had shaken some States out of their complacency and brought into the open some issues that had been festering below the surface for some time, he said. One of the OSCEs strengths was its ability to adapt to the challenges of the day. Changes in the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Council of Europe reflected a Europe in transition, partly as a result of European Union and NATO expansion, but also because of coping with new threats to security. Organizations must remain dynamic to remain relevant, and the OSCE was no exception.
Noting that the OSCE was a regional arrangement in the sense of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, he said that the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change had been read with interest and expressed the hope that bold decisions would be taken to make greater use of Chapter VIII and enhance further the cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. The Security Councils ability to more proactively prevent and respond to threats could be strengthened by making fuller and more productive use of regional organizations. The OSCE was well-positioned and well-equipped to do so.
Pointing out that the OSCE had a well-earned reputation in early warning, early action and conflict prevention, he said there were areas, such as preventing ethnic conflict and regulating the marking and tracing, as well as the brokering and transfer of small arms and light weapons, where the organization was even more progressive than United Nations standards. The OSCE also coordinated assistance on the ratification and implementation of 12 United Nations anti-terrorism conventions and protocols. It worked with the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) on addressing economic and environmental threats to security.
In Kosovo, he said, the OSCE was an integral part of the structure of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and in the present important year it could play a key role in the standards-review process and remain part of the international presence there. The OSCE had considerable expertise in national minority issues, policing and building effective public institutions that were so essential for the peaceful and sustainable development of Kosovo. The case of Kosovo highlighted the issue of reconciling the desire for self-determination with the preservation of the territorial integrity of States. In parts of the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, and in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the OSCE was actively trying to resolve conflicts that were sometimes referred to as frozen, but which lately had started to thaw. In those cases, the organization had clear mandates and was one of the lead agencies on the ground.
The OSCE was encouraged by the slow but steady progress being made in the dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, he said. It was to be hoped that recent changes in Ukraine and that a new post-election environment in the Republic of Moldova would enable a new attempt to resolve the Transdniestrian conflict. The OSCE was also working with parties to reduce tensions in South Ossetia, Georgia, and to promote demilitarization, build confidence and achieve a lasting settlement. In all of those cases, the OSCE urged the Security Council to support its efforts, particularly those Council members who were mediators in the conflicts or had influence over the parties. It was difficult for inter-State organizations to deal with non-State actors, even if - as in some cases -- they were de facto authorities. Sometimes the leverage of powerful States, including permanent members of the Council, could be crucial.
Another important issue in the Panels report was the clash between the concept of responsibility to protect and the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of a State, he said. The OSCE was very clear and progressive when it came to human rights. Commitments undertaken in the human dimension of the OSCE were matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating States and did not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned. That legitimate intrusiveness was the basis on which participating States held each other accountable for the implementation of their commonly agreed commitments. It was the justification for having OSCE missions in participating States, helping the host States to deal with specific challenges, and it was the reason why the organizations High Commissioner on National Minorities or Representative on Freedom of the Media could, respectively, go to any State throughout the OSCE region to prevent inter-ethnic conflict and ensure respect for free media.
Regarding the need for a comprehensive, multilateral approach, he noted the Panels highlighting of threats to global security from which no State or region was immune. In an interconnected world, security was indivisible. Multifaceted challenges required a multilateral response that took a comprehensive view of security. The OSCE was doing its part and had a proven track record in post-conflict rehabilitation or peace-building. Its 18 field missions represented an invaluable on-the-ground presence that offered concrete assistance to participating States, and it had quickly developed capabilities to deal with new threats to security, including in anti-trafficking, counter-terrorism, border management and policing.
When addressing the new threats to security, the bottom line for the OSCE was upholding the rule of law, he stressed. For example, the organization had to ensure that efforts to combat terrorism were not undertaken in a way that violated human rights, that border guards learned sophisticated techniques and a proper code of conduct or that human trafficking was tackled by effective investigation, law enforcement and prosecution. Policing was a classic example. In many tense situations, effective policing, rather than blue helmets, was needed. The OSCE ran police development units in the western Balkans and had launched a police development programme in Kyrgyzstan. Others were being prepared in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. No other international organization currently possessed the potential to strengthen long-term law enforcement capacity- and institution-building in the OSCE region in the States most susceptible to crime, corruption and human rights violations.
States should not underestimate or take for granted the quiet but useful work done by organizations like the OSCE to make the world safer, he emphasized. The organization should also be more open to sharing its experience and expertise with others. In 2004, the OSCE had sent an election support team to Afghanistan and, earlier this year, it had sent a needs-assessment team to the Palestinian territories to see what help it could offer on elections. In addition, Mongolia was now an OSCE Partner for Cooperation. The organization had an impact beyond its vast region and could develop such relations even further.
MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) welcomed an insightful and direct briefing given to the Council and noted Mr. Rupels energetic and straightforward approach to the activities of the organization he chaired. In particular, he appreciated the attention paid to the Kosovo issue.
Turning to the effectiveness of the multilateral handling of frozen conflicts, he said that protracted conflicts were a great challenge. Looking at the issue from a half-full glass approach, one could say that it was important that fighting had stopped. However, the international community was still facing constantly growing threats in that regard, for such conflicts became the areas of smuggling, arms proliferation and terrorism. The Security Council and regional organizations like the OSCE should do more to advance the settlement of such situations. He asked Mr. Rupel to elaborate on the objectives of the OSCE Chairmanship in that regard and to assess the possibility of cooperation with the United Nations in that area. He also asked about the Transdniestrian conflict in the Republic of Moldova.
REED JACKSON FENDRICK (United States) thanked Mr. Rupel for clearly outlining the capabilities of the OSCE, particularly in the area of international peace and security. He wanted to know how the two organizations could, in practical terms, improve their cooperation in response to threats. He also asked questions about the OSCE election teams sent to Afghanistan and the Palestinian Authority and OSCE activities outside of its immediate area of responsibility.
ALEXANDER V. KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said that his country supported the basic priorities proposed by the current Chairmanship of the OSCE, which were directed at the reform and revitalization of that organization, as well as the restoration of balance among its security, economic and humanitarian activities. He took particular note of the need to further develop the OSCE activities in the security sphere. Indeed, for the OSCE to be able to fully implement its original objective of being a forum for a wide dialogue on the most important issues, it was necessary to overcome artificially formed functional and territorial imbalances in its activities. His delegation supported a comprehensive development and improvement of cooperation of the United Nations and its Security Council with regional and subregional arrangements on the basis of the United Nations Charter, in particular its Chapter VIII, duly taking into account their existing comparative advantages.
He welcomed a close and fruitful interaction between the OSCE as a regional organization, and the United Nations in a number of key areas, first and foremost linked to security and resolution of regional conflicts. Among the examples in that connection, he mentioned Abkhazia (Georgia) and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The OSCEs contribution to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) on Kosovo (Serbia and Montenegro) deserved particular note. As part of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the OSCE played an important role there.
In that context, he asked what additional steps must be taken to ensure equal implementation of the human rights of all inhabitants of Kosovo, particularly those belonging to non-Albanian minorities. He also wanted to know what the OSCE was planning to undertake in the light of the negative experience of March 2004, in order to prevent future extremist manifestations in the mass media and organizations of civil society.
PAUL JOHNSTON (United Kingdom) said his country was a strong supporter of the organization and wished to see an active and effective OSCE covering the whole range of its mandate. The organization had made a very important contribution to the building of democracy in Kosovo and across the region.
He asked how the Chairman-in-Office saw the OSCEs ability to take on new areas of activity while remaining as effective in those areas where it had specialized up to the present time. Given the expansion of the European Union, how could the OSCE achieve a complementary and effective relationship with the European Union?
Response by OSCE
Responding to comments and questions, Mr. RUPEL said that, in general, the OSCE was strongest at conflict prevention, but also had a role in conflict settlement. Obvious destinations of its activities included South Ossetia, Transdniestria and Nagorno-Karabakh. As for the cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE, it was less a case of what the United Nations could do for the OSCE, and more of what the OSCE could do for the United Nations. That had been his motive for coming to the United Nations today.
Effective settlement of conflicts should be attempted first at the regional level, without burdening the United Nations, he said. The OSCE could do more to increase information sharing on early warning, followed by early action. Regarding further steps to achieve synergy between the OSCE and the United Nations, he said that his organization attached great importance to such links. As a regional organization, the OSCE contributed substantially to the maintenance of peace and security in its area of responsibility, implementing United Nations documents and principles. The connection between the two organizations was close and continued to strengthen in many areas, including the fight against terrorism. He hoped it would be reflected in the General Assembly resolution on the cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE, which could not be agreed upon at the fifty-ninth session. He was happy with the initiatives to deepen such cooperation and noted the recommendation of the Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change to deepen contacts with regional organizations.
Turning to the Transdniestrian conflict, he said that it had to be addressed in the near future, for it was a dangerous source of instability for the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. He hoped that recent changes in Ukraine and a new post-election environment in the Republic of Moldova would have a positive effect on the situation. It was important to convince Tiraspol that the current situation was not sustainable. Decentralization and strong self-government would offer a chance for Transdniestria to solve many of its problems.
He agreed with the representative of the Russian Federation regarding the issue of balancing the activities of the OSCE. The Slovenian Chairmanship believed that the organization needed reform, revitalization and rebalancing between the three components of its activities: economy and ecology, the human dimension and the military aspects. In that regard, he had already proposed some steps, including holding conferences and workshops. Among the possibilities, were regional conferences on energy security and military doctrines.
We should pause and try to see what is in the interest of the majority, he said. He hoped the OSCE could resolve its differences on contributions, for it should not be conceived as an organization that was mainly preoccupied with its own internal problems.
He also agreed with what had been said on the protection of human rights in Kosovo. He had visited the area several times, including after the events in March 2004 and several weeks ago. He was impressed by the progress he had seen regarding the attitudes of the provisional leadership of Kosovo. His interlocutors there realized that there was no good solution without taking everybody on board, including Serbian and other minorities, as well as international community partners. It was important to prevent the events of March 2004 from being repeated or even attempted. The United Nations was doing good work in that regard.
He had his worries, as everybody else, regarding possible consequences of the indictment of the prime minister of the Provisional Government in Kosovo, he continued. He hoped that would not result in mass protests. It was not in the interest of the people of Kosovo to go in that direction. He hoped a tense situation would not be used for provocation. The situation in Kosovo should not be dramatized. The status quo did not suit anybody in Kosovo, but there were some radical elements in the region and criminal structures in Kosovo itself that would like to keep it. It was necessary to deliberate on the issue carefully. The role of the United Nations was key, and a new resolution by the Council would be needed. There were plenty of good ideas and concepts around.
Responding to a question by the United Kingdom representative, he said that it was necessary to develop synergies not only between the OSCE and the United Nations, but also between the OSCE and the European Union. As far as conflict prevention was concerned, there were many similar concepts. For instance, in the area of conflict prevention, the two organizations could address the situation in Georgia, where a border-monitoring project had been stopped for the lack of a new mandate. The issue of border guards training was being discussed in Vienna, and the European Union could help with some ideas of its own. If the Union could step in that situation, that would be of great importance to Georgia, and there would be no jealousy as far as the OSCE was concerned.
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