Posts Tagged ‘osce’



Intervention at the OSCE Ministerial Council First Plenary Session



Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Royal Dublin Society

Dublin, Ireland

December 6, 2012


Thank you very much and thanks to Foreign Minister Gilmore and the Republic of Ireland for hosting us today. We applaud your work as chair in office of the OSCE, to reaffirm this organization’s core principles and strengthen its capacities to promote peace and security, champion democracy, and defend universal human rights and dignity. And we join with all members in welcoming Mongolia as the newest participating state.

As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, it is important to remember that those accords and this organization that sprang from them affirmed an inextricable link between the security of states and the security of citizens. They codified universal rights and freedoms that belong to all citizens, and those commitments empowered and encouraged dissidents to work for change. In the years that followed, the shipyard workers of Solidarity, reformers in Hungary, demonstrators in Prague all seized on the fundamental rights defined at Helsinki and they held their governments to account for not living up to the standards to which they had agreed. We are the inheritors and the guardians of that legacy.

This year alone, the OSCE sent observer missions to monitor 17 different elections, including in my own country. In May the OSCE’s efforts to help dual national Kosovo Serbs vote in Serbia’s elections helped ensure a largely free, fair, and peaceful process. When High Representative Ashton and I visited the Balkans in October, we heard about what a difference that made. The OSCE also supported a successful election and a peaceful transfer of power in Georgia. It is, as we have already heard, deeply engaged on Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, and Georgia. And throughout the region, the OSCE continues to advance a comprehensive approach to security that makes a difference in people’s lives.

But I see a growing concern for the future of this organization and the values it has always championed. More than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the work of creating a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace remains unfinished. I just met with a group of the Civil Society Solidarity Platform leaders from a number of member states. They talked to me about the growing challenges and dangers that they are facing, about new restrictions on human rights from governments, new pressures on journalists, new assaults on NGOs. And I urge all of us to pay attention to their concerns.

For example, in Belarus, the Government continues to systematically repress human rights, detain political prisoners, and intimidate journalists. In Ukraine, the elections in October were a step backwards for democracy, and we remain deeply concerned about the selective prosecution of opposition leaders. In Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, there are examples of the restrictions of the freedom of expression online and offline as well as the freedom of religion. In the Caucasus, we see constraints on judicial independence, attacks on journalists, and elections that are not always free and fair.

And we have seen in Russia restrictions on civil society including proposed legislation that would require many NGOs and journalists to register as foreign agents if they receive funding from abroad. There are unfortunately signs of democratic backsliding in Hungary and challenges to constitutional processes in Romania and the ugly specter of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, discrimination against immigrants, Roma, LGBT persons, and other vulnerable populations persists.

So it is worth reminding ourselves that every participating state, including the United States, has room for improvement. The work of building a democracy and protecting human rights is never done, and one of the strengths of the OSCE has been that it provides a forum for discussing this challenge and making progress together. But there is even trouble here. This organization operates by consensus, so it cannot function when even a single state blocks progress. Forty-seven states have cosponsored the draft declaration on fundamental freedoms in the digital age, yet its path forward is blocked. The same goes for measures on media freedom, freedom of assembly and association, and military transparency.

The OSCE must avoid institutional changes that would weaken it and undermine our fundamental commitments limiting the participation of NGOs in our discussions, offering amendments and vetoing proposals to respond quickly to conflicts and crises, trying to exert greater central control over the field offices and field workers to curb their efforts on human rights, suspending implementation of treaties and agreements so there is less military transparency in Europe than a decade ago. These are not the way to progress in the 21st century.

The United States remains committed to the goal of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace and to the OSCE whose principles are sound. We welcome any and all efforts to strengthen this organization, but that means empowering the institutions we already have to function free from interference, not curtailing them. And it means implementing the commitments we have made to one another and to our citizens, not undermining them. So as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, this is a time for the OSCE to once again take up the mantle of leadership, to push forward the frontiers of human rights and dignity, and to reaffirm the values and principles that have guided this organization ever since its founding. Thank you.

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Video Message for OSCE Northern Ireland Event

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 30, 2012

I am delighted to send greetings to all of you in Dublin. You have gathered here with an important mission in mind. There is a lot to be learned by examining the pieces that came together to achieve a peaceful political settlement in Northern Ireland.Conflict resolution and mediation is one of the most difficult issues that we have to grapple with as a society. Building trust between parties and achieving and sustaining a peaceful settlement is an onerous task. But, it is also one of the worthiest challenges that you can choose to take on.

Over the course of the conference, you will engage in a series of high-level discussions involving some of the chief architects of the peace process. I hope that these discussions will inspire you. The Good Friday Agreement shows us that peace is a formidable goal, but it is an achievable one.

I also encourage you to consider the important role that women play in resolving conflict. In my visits to Northern Ireland and other places around the world, I have seen first-hand how women can be powerful mediators who build coalitions and foster compromise.

I admire your resolve in tackling these challenges, and I look forward to learning about what you discover throughout the course of this conference. Good luck.

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Remarks at the OSCE First Plenary Session


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
LitExpo Conference Center
Vilnius, Lithuania
December 6, 2011

Thank you and the president of the Republic of Lithuania and the government and people of your country for hosting this year’s for hosting this year’s OSCE Ministerial and for your steadfast global leadership in support and defense of human dignity and democracy.

I appreciated your reference to the continuing importance of human rights – not simply as a moral imperative, but as an essential component of international security and stability. That is especially important and timely in a year in which ordinary citizens – across the Middle East and beyond – have shown that dignity, freedom, and opportunity are aspirations for all people.

Their power to change the course of history demonstrates, once again, the rightness of the comprehensive security concept that is at the heart of the OSCE: lasting peace and stability depend just as much on meeting our citizens’ legitimate aspirations as they do on military security.

As we reaffirmed last year at the Astana Summit, our commitment to this human dimension of security is—and should be—at the core of everything we do together. And when we put commitment into practice, more people will live in dignity, prosperity, and security, from Vancouver to Vladivostok, Minsk to Tashkent, Cairo to Kabul.

Today, across our region, we are witnessing a wide range of serious human rights concerns that go to the heart of our OSCE commitments. There are growing restrictions on the exercise of fundamental rights through the OSCE region.

In Belarus, less than 40 kilometers away from here, human rights defenders face unremitting persecution: people like Ales Bialiatski – sentenced to four and a half years in prison for tax evasion, but whose real crime, in the eyes of the state, was helping victims of state repression; former presidential candidates from the democratic opposition, Andrei Sannikau and Mikalai Statkevich, still in prison a year after the government crackdown, along with other political prisoners.

The OSCE region has seen independent journalists attacked and even killed with impunity. And we applaud Lithuania’s leadership on the safety of journalists and media pluralism.

We also see growing intolerance, xenophobia, and hate crimes against religious and ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups, such as LGBT individuals. Violence against women knows no geographic boundaries, and human trafficking remains an urgent problem in the OSCE region.

We see setbacks for democratic institutions, the rule of law, and electoral processes. We witness prosecutions, such as that of Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine, which raises serious questions about political motivations. And when authorities fail to prosecute those who attack people for exercising their rights or exposing abuses, they subvert justice and undermine the people’s confidence in their governments.

And as we have seen in many places, and most recently in the Duma elections in Russia, elections that are neither free nor fair have the same effect. We have serious concerns about the conduct of those elections. Independent political parties, such as PARNAS, were denied the right to register. And the preliminary report by the OSCE cites election day attempts to stuff ballot boxes, manipulate voter lists, and other troubling practices.

We’re also concerned by reports that independent Russian election observers, including the nationwide Golos network, were harassed and had cyber attacks on their websites, which is completely contrary to what should be the protected rights of people to observe elections, participate in them, and disseminate information.

We commend those Russian citizens who participated constructively in the electoral process. And Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation. And we recognize the Russian Government’s willingness to allow the OSCE to observe these elections, we now hope and urge them to take action on the recommendations that will be forthcoming from the OSCE electoral observer mission.

The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. And that means they deserve fair, free, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.

As we work to address human rights and other challenges, we also must recognize that rights exercised in cyber space deserve as much protection as those exercised in real space. Fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and religion apply as much to a Twitter conversation and a gathering organized by NGOs on Facebook as they do to a demonstration in a public square. And today’s activists hold the Helsinki Accords in one hand and a smart phone in the other.

That is why we and 27 co-sponsors of the draft Declaration on Fundamental Freedoms in the Digital Age believe it is important for the OSCE to reaffirm that our earliest commitments made in the Helsinki process apply on the internet. Or as we might put it in 21st century language: enduring freedoms, new apps.

We urge all participating States to join us and our co-sponsors in adopting the declaration. In keeping with OSCE’s comprehensive concept, we seek a substantive ministerial outcome, not just in the human, economic and military security dimensions but on issues that cut across all three, and in the outreach to states in the Middle East and North Africa as they undergo democratic transitions.

Now, in Egypt, new actors will be seated in the parliament, including representatives of Islamist parties. Transitions require fair and inclusive elections, but they also demand that those who are elected embrace democratic norms and rules. We therefore expect all democratic actors and elected officials to uphold universal human rights, including women’s rights, to allow free religious practice, to promote tolerance and good relations among communities of different faiths, and to support peaceful relations with their neighbors. Democracies are guided by the rules of the game, including the inevitable transfers of power from one party to another. And the Egyptian people deserve a democracy that is enduring.

We urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure that free and fair voting continues through the next election rounds and to adhere to their commitments to move toward a new civilian government. Over the next few months, the Egyptian Government must protect peaceful protestors and hold accountable those responsible for previous incidents of violence.

Many participating OSCE states, which have made the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, have expertise that is uniquely relevant for the work ahead in our Mediterranean partner states. And we hope this ministerial will open new channels of engagement between the OSCE and those partners – in both directions.

Yesterday in Bonn, we welcomed the commitments that Afghanistan’s regional partners had made at the Istanbul conference. And I encourage the OSCE to find more ways to support the Istanbul process and the Bonn outcomes as Afghanistan pursues peace and reconciliation, transitions to responsibility for its security, and prepares for elections in 2013 and 2014.

Even as the United States seeks cooperation with governments in the Central Asian region on Afghanistan, trade, energy and other matters, we will continue to encourage our Central Asian partners, both governments and civil society, to pursue democratic reforms and better respect for fundamental human rights.

With regard to the security dimension, we support France’s efforts to promote transparency measures regarding military activities across the OSCE region, and we believe this should be Topic A at next year’s Forum for Security Cooperation.

And with regard to Russia and the CFE Treaty, we are ready to find a way forward on conventional arms control that is consistent with core principles important to all OSCE members. While not all OSCE members are CFE signatories, all are affected by its fate.

We remain committed to efforts to strengthen OSCE capabilities in the conflict cycle, so we can respond quickly and decisively to emerging crises.

Concerning the protracted conflict in Georgia, we applaud the good work taking place in Geneva and via the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism toward a peaceful settlement. We remain committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. And we encourage progress in Geneva to resolve the conflict through direct dialogue between Georgia and Russia, greater transparency regarding Russian militarization of the separatist regions, and establishing an international monitoring presence.

On the conflict in Moldova, we welcome the resumption of formal 5+2 talks. We believe the 5+2 should meet early next year, in order to make progress toward a comprehensive settlement.

And we and our Minsk Group co-chair colleagues and the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan have reconfirmed our shared commitment to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As Presidents Obama, Medvedev and Sarkozy said in Deauville, only a negotiated settlement can lead to peace, stability, and reconciliation.

So, Mr. Chairman, we must never lose sight of the truth at the core of our comprehensive security concept: Respect for human rights and human security is essential to the progress and security of all countries, here in the OSCE region and across the globe. That is why, after I leave the plenary hall today, I will meet with civil society representatives from Belarus and with civil society leaders from across the region who took part in the Parallel Conference. And they have called attention to these human rights challenges and are discussing ways they can be addressed. I look forward to reviewing their recommendations. And I welcome the announcement that 35 leading civil society groups from more than 20 countries throughout the OSCE are creating a Civic Solidarity Platform that will combine in-person human rights advocacy with a cutting-edge online presence.

Mr. Chairman, while governments alone bear the responsibility of meeting their commitments, governments alone cannot tackle the complex challenges we face in the 21st century. That requires engaged citizens, freely exercising their God-given rights and empowered by the latest technologies. They can and must be our partners in finding solutions to the great issues of our time.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Just want to point out that all emphasis here is mine. I have seen articles accusing Mme. Secretary of “supporting” the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. She (and we) do not “support” political parties in elections held in other countries. That is not our foreign policy. We do support freedom of communication and assembly as well as fair elections. As Mme. Secretary always says, democracy is more than elections. It may begin with an election but it is far more a matter of day-to-day inclusion of citizens in the operation of their society, transparent government, and equitable treatment of all citizens. She and we expect no less of any members of the Muslim Brotherhood elected in Egypt. As long as they comply, we should have no problem working in partnership with them.

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Well, as everyone here knows, Hillary Clinton is, in fact, always charming, even when she is angry or distressed, or anything other than cheerful and happy which is how we are accustomed to seeing her as SOS. If anybody really thought WL (I will no longer even type out the whole name … too arduous) did any real damage, today’s photos show the error of underestimating a few things:

1. The toughness of diplomats inured to being spoken of out of earshot in perhaps not the most complimentary terms.
2. The global disdain for stateless entities attempting to affect and even destroy their collective work.
3. The toughness, brilliance, wit, and native charm Hillary Clinton has at her disposal to address any given crisis that visits her door.

She’s a keeper!

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Remarks at OSCE Intervention

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Palace of Independence
Astana, Kazakhstan
December 1, 2010


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SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President, and I thank you, the chairman in office and the government and people of Kazakhstan for your gracious welcome to this beautiful capital city and for hosting this important summit.

This is a significant meeting for the OSCE. It is not only the first summit since 1999; it is also the first-ever summit east of Istanbul. And we have the opportunity, if we seize it, to reconnect today’s organization with the history-making spirit of Helsinki and carry it forward into the 21st century.

The Helsinki Final Act was based on respect for territorial integrity, self-determination, and peaceful relations among states. But also, it brought to the forefront of international dialogue the revolutionary idea that true security demands democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms for individuals within states. Since 1975, this concept of comprehensive security has been a rallying cry for generations of reformers who have claimed their rights and left their mark on our history. And in this globalized, interconnected world, comprehensive security also means that insecurity anywhere in the OSCE region is a challenge for all of us.

Yet I think as we’ve already heard from so many of the preceding speakers, the principles and commitments enshrined in the accords face serious challenges. Regional crises and transnational dangers threaten our people. Democracies are under pressure and protracted conflicts remain dangerously unresolved. Therefore, we meet at a time when the OSCE, which was designed to tackle multidimensional challenges, can only be effective if participating states back its institutions and missions with political will. That is why we are seeking not only a strong document that reaffirms our commitment to Helsinki’s founding ideals and their implementation, but also a forward-looking framework for action that translates Helsinki principles into concrete steps to advance security in all its dimensions.

In my brief time, I would like to outline three of our priorities. First, an increased role supporting our mutual interests in Afghanistan. I thank the leaders at this table who have recognized that instability in Afghanistan is dangerous not only for Central Asia, but for the OSCE region as a whole. Individual nations have been important partners in helping the Afghan people rebuild their country and pursue comprehensive security. Forty OSCE nations already contribute to the coalition and our host, Kazakhstan, will soon join them. But the OSCE itself should play a greater role. OSCE participating states have 1,200 miles of borders with Afghanistan. And we should expect OSCE efforts to improve border security, counter illicit trafficking, boost legitimate trade, and promote economic development.

Afghanistan is just one conflict where the OSCE can and should play an expanded role. In fact, we believe the organization needs to be empowered to respond more effectively to crises within the OSCE itself. It is encouraging that Russia also recognizes the need to improve on our existing capacity. And we are working to find a framework that will allow for timely, impartial OSCE reporting during emergencies like those we have seen in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. And again, I commend Kazakhstan for the leadership role that it played in responding to the situation in Kyrgyzstan.

Second, a greater capacity to respond to urgent conflicts would be a big step forward, but an even more essential task is to strengthen OSCE’s role in preventing conflict from erupting or reigniting. There is no other regional organization as well positioned to do so. We can start with Georgia, whose sovereignty and territorial integrity the United States strongly supports. It is regrettable that a participating state has proposed to host a mission and the OSCE has not been allowed to respond. We here at this table must let this organization do its job and restore a meaningful OSCE presence to Georgia. We also call on all parties to fully respect and implement the August and September 2008 ceasefire arrangements. In this regard, we particularly welcome President Saakashvili’s pledge not to use force unilaterally. And we hope this pledge can help us break new diplomatic ground.

We hope that this summit’s framework for action will also call for the resumption without delay of formal 5+2 talks to resolve the conflict in Moldova and identify specific steps to promote transparency and demilitarization of the conflict consistent with OSCE goals, statements, and commitments. And we must also renew our efforts toward a settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh based on basic principles elaborated under the auspices of the Minsk Group. Let me reiterate on behalf of the Minsk Group co-chair countries that the foundation of any lasting and fair settlement must be the Helsinki principles as well as the six elements articulated by Presidents Medvedev, Sarkozy, and Obama on July 10, 2009 at L’Aquila and repeated at Muskoka on June 26, 2010.

These proposed elements were conceived as an integrated whole and any attempt to select some elements over others would make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution. We can also contribute to stability across the OSCE region by expanding and updating the military-to-military confidence and security-building measures of the Vienna Document to bring it in step with the realities of today’s security environment.

Finally, we must address serious shortcomings in implementing our commitments to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Empowering civil society is key to the future of this region and the OSCE as a whole. Last night, I was privileged to attend a town hall meeting with NGO leaders from across the OSCE at Eurasian University. I was impressed by their commitment to build a better life for their fellow citizens and we all must recognize civil society as a partner that challenges our governments to do better.

The essential human dimension of the OSCE’s vision of lasting security demands that we do more to make good on the promise of Helsinki. It is not enough to design a national human rights plan if it isn’t implemented. It is not enough for governments to empower only the civil society organizations they agree with while crippling others with legal restrictions and red tape. And is it not enough for a constitution to guarantee freedom of the press if in reality, journalists are put under pressure and even assaulted.

In fact, it is not enough just to hold elections. The whole process must be free and fair with the benefit of monitoring by the OSCE. And once in office, elected officials must govern democratically and build strong institutions. Yes, the list is long, but we’re not asking participating states to accept new principles or rights – only to honor existing commitments.

As President Gerald Ford famously said in Helsinki at the signing of the Final Act, history will judge this conference not by what we say here today; by what we do tomorrow. Not by the promises we make, but the promises we keep. That is why I believe our reaffirmation of Helsinki principles ought to be accompanied by a focus on implementation. Let’s take an honest look at where implementation is weak and build our framework of action to address those areas where we need to do more.

The legacy of Helsinki is a road we have committed to travel together, not a destination. But it is a road that must be open to all people wherever they live. Consensus is our organizing procedure and our guiding principle, but we must not allow it to be an impediment to effective action. Our goal here in Astana should be to move forward on democracy, human rights, economic growth, and strengthening our security community. In other words, let’s embrace the vision of Helsinki and apply it faithfully in this new century. And if we can do that, then we will not only have a successful summit; we can indeed create a safer, freer, and more prosperous future together. Thank you. (Applause.)

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed an OSCE conference on preventing human trafficking held in Vienna, Austria, on 14-15 September 2009.

Secretary Clinton thanked OSCE Special Representative on combating trafficking, Eva Biaudet, and the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons for organizing what she called “this very important conference”.

Noting that the US was eager to share its own experiences and learn from those of others, she encouraged the 56 OSCE participating States to consider preparing their own national reports on human trafficking.

For more details, visit the conference website:

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