Thank you, Madame President. I, too, would like to welcome OSCE Chairperson-in-Office President Didier Burkhalter to the Security Council and thank him for today’s briefing on OSCE activities under Swiss leadership.
We commend the Chair for his efforts to promote security and stability, and strengthen the OSCE’s capacity to combat transnational threats, address protracted conflicts, ensure security after natural disasters, and advance human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We also commend Chair-in-Office Burkhalter’s continued engagement on Ukraine and note that he has repeatedly confirmed the OSCE’s readiness to assist Ukraine in securing a peaceful way forward. The United States is closely monitoring developments in Ukraine. We have consistently advocated a de-escalation of violence, constitutional change, a coalition government, and early elections. The unshakeable principle guiding events must be that the people of Ukraine determine their own future. We welcome constructive work in the Rada and continue to urge the prompt formulation of a broad, technocratic government of national unity.
Going forward, we will work with other states, and appropriate European and international organizations to support a strong, prosperous, united, and democratic Ukraine. We urge Ukrainian authorities to seize on these opportunities for OSCE assistance, including offers from the Chair-in-Office, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Representative on the Freedom of the Media for mediation, fact-finding missions, election monitoring, legislative review, or other assistance. Welcoming these measures, without any delay, would provide transparency to citizens in desperate need for answers and accountability.
Madame President, the UN-OSCE agenda is ambitious and robust, with the two organizations working together on a wide range of issues, from counterterrorism and counter-trafficking to early-warning and conflict settlement to democratization and good governance.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the OSCE and the UN on joint projects to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime and OSCE Joint Action Plan to address transnational threats represent two concrete examples of the organizations’ work together to tackle key issues of global importance. We look forward to the full implementation of these agreements.
Madam President, the United States views the OSCE as a strong partner in international counterterrorism efforts. The organization has strengthened counterterrorism capacities by conducting training programs that promote norms and standards of responsible state behavior, by sharing and helping implement best practices, and by providing assistance to participating States as they develop human rights-compliant counterterrorism policies. The OSCE has also led efforts to examine the role of women’s empowerment in countering violent extremism through a series of expert roundtables, most recently at the International Symposium on Terrorism and Transnational Crime in Turkey in December. We welcome the OSCE’s deepened collaboration with the Global Counterterrorism Forum, established by the United States and other concerned governments with a core mission to promote the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
Madam President, good relations between neighbors is a vital indication that our shared objective of cooperative and indivisible security is being realized. Therefore, we encourage the Chair’s Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Ambassador Stoudmann, to be ambitious in his efforts to promote reconciliation and cooperation in the region. We have already seen encouraging progress in Kosovo, where the OSCE has been instrumental in helping to implement the historic April 19 agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, in particular through the facilitation of local elections in northern Kosovo.
We welcome the OSCE’s longstanding commitment and leadership in trying to find solutions to Europe’s protracted conflicts. The international community should not allow the status quo in Georgia, or the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, or the Transnistrian conflict to persist. The two Special Representatives for the south Caucasus and Moldova, respectively, whom the Chair jointly appointed with Serbia, should assist the parties in these conflicts to identify and implement steps that will promote peaceful settlements.
Outside its region, the OSCE provides expertise that benefits Asian and Mediterranean partner countries. The OSCE Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe, for example, provides specialized training for border security agencies from across Central Asia, the wider OSCE region, and Afghanistan.
The United States strongly supports the Organization’s special relationship with Afghanistan, an OSCE Partner for Co-operation, and values the OSCE’s continued active engagement during this crucial year of transition. The organization’s work in Afghanistan complements the UN’s own efforts, including its support for Afghanistan’s upcoming elections. Credible, transparent, and inclusive elections are critical to Afghanistan’s stability and democratic development.
For this reason, the United States has contributed approximately $2 million dollars to the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights for the deployment of an Election Support Team in Afghanistan. We would welcome additional contributions for the Team from OSCE participating and partner states.
In the area of human rights, we share the Chair’s focus on implementing the OSCE’s existing commitments in the Human Dimension. The OSCE is a premier organization in protecting human rights, promoting tolerance and non-discrimination, advancing gender equality, and supporting citizens’ rights to exercise their fundamental freedoms of assembly, association, expression, and belief.
We welcome the Chair’s goals to work closely with civil society counterparts and strengthen OSCE efforts to ensure participating States uphold their human dimension commitments.
Madame President, the United States is an active member of the OSCE, and we remain fully committed to its important work.
The continued and renewed dialogue and collective efforts of the OSCE and its participating States remain as important as ever, and we welcome these goals and actions in coordination with the United Nations.
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