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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media to visit Tajikistan

OSCE - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 16:44

VIENNA, 30 September 2022- The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro will pay an official visit to Tajikistan from 3 to 7 October 2022. During her visit she will meet with high level authorities as well as civil society and various media stakeholders in the country.

Categories: Central Europe

Links between media freedom and democracy, safety of journalists, and encryption focus of OSCE Media Freedom Representative participation at Warsaw Conference

OSCE - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 16:41

WARSAW, 30 September 2022 - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, concluded today her participation in the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference, where she and her Office engaged in various discussions with OSCE participating States, civil society organizations, OSCE Institutions, representatives of inter-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders on a range of media freedom issues and challenges.

“The media and civil society have a hugely important role; we depend on them to ensure that OSCE participating States implement their commitments, and they alert us of misconduct and threats to media freedom,” said Ribeiro. “We all need to work together. That is why human dimension conferences like these are so valuable. Let me reiterate: without journalists being able to do their work there is no media freedom, without media freedom there is no security. More than ever we need to join forces to keep our democracies healthy and our societies secure.”

During a three-hour plenary session, the fundamental connection between democracy and media freedom was discussed. Following presentations by Damian Tambini, distinguished policy fellow in the department of media and communications at the London School of Economics and Gulnara Akhundova, regional director for Eastern Europe at International Media Support, participants discussed the current situation of freedom of expression, freedom of the media and media pluralism in the OSCE region and how OSCE participating States can better uphold their commitments in this regard.

During a roundtable on safety of journalists, the Representative discussed her Office’s new project on the topic. The roundtable also provided an opportunity to elaborate on diverse challenges to journalists’ safety and to identify common actions to promote and ensure it.

In another session, the role and impact of professional journalists and media in the context of international armed conflicts were discussed. The panel drew upon the courageous work and reflections of journalists covering the Russian war against Ukraine, including their role in enabling accountability for possible human rights abuses and war crimes. The session also explored personal goals, the remit of professional standards of war reporters, as well as their coping strategies in dealing with the horrors of the war.

Finally, the Office organized a side event that explored how encryption technologies and advancements such as end-to-end encryption have proven pivotal for protecting freedom of expression and privacy in the digital age. The participants discussed challenges arising from laws and practices that are leading to an erosion of encryption, risking weakening the role of the media and investigative journalism across the OSCE region. The session concluded that a lack (or perceived lack) of privacy can have a chilling effect and lead to self-censorship.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.

Categories: Central Europe

International election observers for Bulgaria’s early parliamentary elections to hold press conference on Monday

OSCE - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 15:22

SOFIA, 1 October 2022 – International observers will hold a press conference to present their preliminary conclusions following the early parliamentary elections in Bulgaria.

What:

  • A press conference of the international election observation mission for the early parliamentary elections in Bulgaria
  • The press conference can be attended in person or via Zoom (details below)
  • You can also follow the livestream on www.facebook.com/osce.odihr

Who:

  • Nina Soumalainen, Head of the ODIHR election assessment mission
  • Thórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir, Alternate Head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

When:

  • 14:30 local time  (GMT +3), on 3 October 2022

Where:

  • InterContinental Sofia, Ballroom, 4 Narodno Sobranie Square, Sofia

Registration:

  • No registration is necessary if you are attending the press conference in person, but only questions from journalists will be taken
  • To take part via Zoom, please register with Thomas Rymer, ODIHR election observation mission spokesperson, thomas.rymer@odihr.bg, and Inta Lase, media analyst, inta.lase@odihr.bg, by 11:00 local time on 3 October.
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chairman-in-Office Rau, Parliamentary Assembly President Cederfelt, OSCE Secretary General Schmid and OSCE PA Secretary General Montella condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory

OSCE - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 15:16

WARSAW/VIENNA/COPENHAGEN, 30 September 2022 – The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Margareta Cederfelt (MP, Sweden), OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid, and OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Secretary General Roberto Montella, unanimously and categorically condemn the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of territory in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts of Ukraine, as well as the continued occupation of Crimea.

The illegal annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory, announced today by Russian President Vladimir Putin, is unacceptable. It eviscerates the principle of territorial integrity, which is at the core of the OSCE’s founding principles and the international order. This action by the Russian Federation, which includes military mobilization and irresponsible nuclear threats, will only lead to greater escalation of conflict, putting further millions of lives at risk and causing more senseless human suffering. The step announced today is a blatant violation of the fundamental rules of international law, OSCE principles, and the UN Charter. It constitutes an affront to the commitments to which all participating States have agreed.

We once again call on the Russian Federation to withdraw all its forces from across Ukraine. We also reiterate our unwavering support to Ukraine’s population in these challenging times and its commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

Categories: Central Europe

Collective efforts needed to address all forms of intolerance, including hate crime, say ODIHR event participants

OSCE - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 15:10
527085 ODIHR experts address event participants. Warsaw, 29 September 2022. Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

Addressing intolerance in all its forms requires a collective effort from political and community leaders, policymakers, criminal justice officials, civil society actors and representatives of faith-based organizations, among others, concluded participants in an ODIHR event held in Warsaw on 29 September 2022.

The event, which gathered more than 40 participants, took place on the margins of the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference.

“Inclusion and tolerance among diverse groups are the hallmarks of peaceful, cohesive societies,” said Kishan Manocha, Head of the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination department at ODIHR. “Our Office works to realize this vision through comprehensive initiatives to counter intolerance and foster mutual respect and understanding.”

ODIHR presented its tools, activities and programmes to deepen participants’ knowledge of the Office’s work to help participating States meet their OSCE commitments on tolerance and non-discrimination. These include reviewing hate crime legislation, training police and prosecutors, building the capacity of civil society and developing mechanisms to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated response to hate crime.

Underpinning these efforts is ODIHR’s hate crime report, published each year on 16 November – International Day of Tolerance. The largest hate crime dataset in the world, the report helps inform policymaking and practices, making it instrumental in strengthening societies’ response to hate crime.

As part of its work, ODIHR provides a vital space for experts, practitioners and change-makers to convene and consolidate their experience in addressing hatred and exclusion. This dialogue is essential for shaping and guiding efforts to foster tolerance and inclusion throughout the OSCE region.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to Montenegro completes education programme for parliamentary staff, equipping them to deliver in-house training sessions

OSCE - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 13:45
527088 Marina Živaljević

As part of a comprehensive mentoring process the OSCE Mission to Montenegro has been implementing since 2020, five professional staff of the Parliament of Montenegro have been equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge as trainers to deliver in-house training sessions for their peers.

In co-operation with Parliament’s Human Resources Management Bureau, the Mission completed the process that consisted of 10 training sessions over three years on leadership, presentation and communication skills; time and stress management, and the last session on negotiation skills.

On 26 and 27 September, five parliamentary trainers worked with 12 colleagues on how to conduct negotiations and apply these skills in their work at the Parliament.

Parliamentary trainers agreed that the participants recognized the benefits of in-house training course, which is tailored to their specific interests and needs, and that these training sessions strengthen the capacities of parliamentary staff, as the negotiation skills are one of the most important tools necessary to achieve effective and positive results in a public administration.

The Mission-engaged experts, who provided guidance throughout the whole process, agreed that parliamentary trainers demonstrated solid skills and knowledge of the topic and were able to successfully pass it on to the participants. They are confident that the acquired skills will help parliamentary staff to increase their efficiency and professionalism and further support the Parliament as a democratic institution.

This activity is part of the Mission’s long-standing support to Parliament, enhancing its institutional capacity and transparency, and strengthening professional competency.

Categories: Central Europe

Creative ways to strengthen Holocaust education and commemoration among youth discussed at ODIHR event

OSCE - Thu, 09/29/2022 - 16:00
527052 Illustration from the ODIHR publication "Holocaust Memorial Days: An overview of remembrance and education in the OSCE region" Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

Creative approaches that harness the power of technology and the arts can strengthen youth engagement in Holocaust education and commemoration activities, agreed participants in an event organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on 29 September 2022. The event was held on the margins of the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference, organized by the Polish 2022 OSCE Chairman-in-Office (CiO) with the support of ODIHR.

“During the Holocaust, music was a way for people to express their humanity in inhuman conditions,” said Blandine Smilansky, Head of Communications and Partnerships at the House of European History, an initiative of the European Parliament. “Today, music and other forms of creative expression can act as a compelling reminder and reflection of their suffering and yearning for freedom.”

During the event, ODIHR launched the seventh edition of its Holocaust Memorial Days: An overview of remembrance and education in the OSCE region. The publication provides information on when, where and how OSCE participating States promote the commemoration and study of the Holocaust, including the genocide of Roma and Sinti, in line with their commitments.

The event brought together around 40 experts and practitioners from across the OSCE region to identify trends and highlight good practice examples shared with ODIHR by the 45 States that contributed to the publication. Rabbi Andrew Baker, the Personal Representative of the OSCE CiO on Combating Anti-Semitism, provided closing remarks.

Participants concluded that innovative approaches – such as virtual museum visits, recorded survivor testimonies and performing music connected to the Holocaust – can effectively enhance youth engagement in Holocaust education and commemoration.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to Montenegro brings young athletes to discuss their engagement in combating violent radicalization

OSCE - Thu, 09/29/2022 - 15:06
527040 Marina Živaljević

For the fourth year in a row, youth engagement in combating violent extremism and radicalization was the focus of a two-day workshop the OSCE Mission to Montenegro and the Ministry for Sports and Youth organized jointly on 27 and 28 September in Podgorica.

This year, 20 young sportswomen and sportsmen from different disciplines increased their knowledge on prevention of violent extremism and radicalization. Participating in sport, young athletes can play an important role in social integration and strengthening of intercultural dialogue. During this workshop, participants discussed basic concepts of violent extremism, that may lead to terrorism, how they can identify, react and tackle this issue.

Opening the workshop, Siv-Katrine Leirtroe, Deputy Head of the Mission, stated that the OSCE strongly believes in young people’s role as agents of change. “The power of sport in preventing radicalization, promoting gender equality, tolerance and mutual understanding is undeniable. Sports disseminate positive values, builds self-confidence, demands a high level of self-control and promotes strong teamwork,” said Leirtroe, adding that this workshop will not only increase their understanding about violent extremism and radicalization, but more importantly what they can do to prevent and combat it.

Amina Cikotić, the State Secretary in the Ministry of Sports and Youth, said that young people, as the group most exposed to extremism and radicalism in the country, should be a shield with a high degree of solidarity towards others. “In the moments when they are searching for themselves and exploring their possibilities, young people must be aware that they are the biggest target of various radical currents and ideologies. Precisely because of this, they must be aware of the danger of spreading such ideas and their harmfulness to the whole society. Young people, united, can effectively act against such and similar negative phenomena in society,” said Cikotić.

The Mission will continue to implement activities that involve youth as drivers of change, promoting their role and inclusion in the OSCE peace and security agenda.

Categories: Central Europe

Re-use and Social Re-use of Confiscated Assets at the centre of discussion of OSCE workshop in North Macedonia

OSCE - Thu, 09/29/2022 - 12:16
527030

On 27 September, the OSCE held the third workshop on the use and social re-use of confiscated assets in North Macedonia, which gathered government representatives, civil society, and national and international legal experts, to foster public discourse on this highly relevant topic.

This workshop in Skopje comes in a timely for North Macedonia, as the country is in the process of amending the law on the management of confiscated assets. The Deputy Minister of Justice, Agim Nuhiu, and the Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to Skopje, Jeffrey Goldstein, in their opening remarks reiterated the importance of asset recovery in countering organized crime and corruption.

The Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to Skopje thanked the Government of North Macedonia for the ongoing efforts in improving asset recovery processes in the country. “Your dedication shows readiness for further development of strong institutions that through an increased mutual support will ensure a higher level of security and safety in the country,” he said.

The Deputy Minister of Justice highlighted the recent efforts by the Government and stressed the important work done by the Agency for Management of Confiscated Property and the Working Group drafting the amendment of the law on the management of confiscated assets as well as the need to meet international commitments in this area.

“Within the framework of the amendment process (of the law), which involves several stakeholders, I would like to emphasize the need to affirm the principle of re-using confiscated property for social purposes. I am convinced that this process (of the amendment of the law) will be finalized by applying all international standards and best practices from countries that have experience in social re-use,” the Deputy Minister added.   

The workshop also included presentations of practices and experiences from Italy, Romania, Spain, and the UK who also shared examples and challenges related to social re-use from their jurisdictions. OSCE asset recovery experts closed the workshop with an overview of international practices of re-use and social re-use, as well as the importance of good governance, incentivisation of relevant government agencies, and public communication in re-use efforts.

This initiative was organized within the framework of the OSCE’s extra-budgetary project Strengthening the fight against transnational organized crime in South-Eastern Europe through improved regional co-operation in asset seizure, confiscation, management and re-use – jointly implemented by the Transnational Threats Department (TNTD) and the Office of the Co-ordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA). The project is financially supported by the United States, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Categories: Central Europe

ODIHR opens election observation mission to the United States

OSCE - Thu, 09/29/2022 - 09:43

WASHINGTON D.C., 29 September 2022 – The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened an election observation mission for the 8 November midterm congressional elections in the United States, following an invitation from the national authorities.

As one of the OSCE’s 57 participating States, the United States has committed itself to holding elections in line with OSCE standards and inviting international election observers, and ODIHR has assessed elections in the country since 2002. This Election Observation Mission is led by Tana de Zulueta Owtram and consists of 17 international experts based in Washington D.C. and 40 long-term observers, who will be deployed throughout the country. ODIHR has also requested 400 short-term observers, to arrive in the country some days before election day. 

The mission will assess the elections for their compliance with OSCE commitments and other international obligations and standards for democratic elections, as well as with national legislation.

Observers will closely monitor all aspects of the elections, including pre- and post-election developments. Specific areas of focus include the legal framework, the election administration, which also covers voter registration and voter identification, alternative voting mechanisms and measures to ensure secrecy of the vote, constituency delimitation and the mechanisms for delimitation, new voting technologies, the campaign environment, campaign finance, and coverage of these elections by the media, including online.

Meetings with representatives of state authorities, political parties and candidates, civil society, the media and the international community form an integral part of the observation.

On election day, the ODIHR mission will join efforts with a delegation from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to observe the opening of polling stations, voting, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of results.

An interim report will be published some two weeks prior to the elections to update the public and the media on the observation mission’s activities. The day after the elections, the mission’s preliminary findings and conclusions will be presented at a press conference. A final report with an assessment of the entire election process and containing recommendations will be published some months after the elections.

Media contacts:

Ivan Godarsky, Mission Media Analyst: ivan.godarsky@odihr.us or +1 771 210 9548

Katya Andrusz, ODIHR spokesperson: Katya.Andrusz@odihr.pl or +48 609 522 266

Categories: Central Europe

Ensuring and monitoring the right to freedom of peaceful assembly during pandemic the focus of ODIHR event

OSCE - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 16:32
527012 Event participants (left to right): Denis Shedov, civil society activist, Anete Erdmane, ODIHR Human Rights Adviser, and Clément Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Warsaw, 28 September 2022. Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

Challenges and good practices in ensuring the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, including at times of pandemic, were discussed at an event organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on 28 September 2022 on the margins of the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference.

“Crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic should not be used by governments as a pretext to unduly restrict fundamental freedoms,” said Clément Voule, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. “It’s more important than ever for states to respect and facilitate the right to freedom of assembly in difficult times, as it provides an important avenue for people to participate and share their concerns and views on effective responses to the crisis. With the inclusion of civil society and communities’ voices, we can achieve a human rights-oriented and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Among the 40 participants were representatives of OSCE participating States’ delegations, civil society organizations and academia. Following the presentation of ODIHR’s new report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, speakers and participants reflected on the developments over the last two years, noting the restrictions on assembly rights, as well as proportionality of the state response. Speakers also identified positive practices where states found innovative ways to facilitate the right to assembly peacefully, despite the challenging circumstances.

ODIHR report findings highlighted at the event include bans on public assemblies, limitations on the number of participants and use of COVID-19 measures to restrict some assemblies such as those carrying anti-government messages. Also discussed was the unjustified and excessive use of force, arrests and prosecution against organizers and peaceful participants of gatherings held during the pandemic in some OSCE participating States.

Participants also learned more about ODIHR’s peaceful assembly monitoring work and reflected on their monitoring experiences across the OSCE region during the height of the pandemic.

Categories: Central Europe

Eighth OSCE Dialogue Academy for Young Women concludes in Mauerbach

OSCE - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 16:29
527000 Jeff Bieley Edita Buçaj

Mauerbach, 25 September 2022

The 8th OSCE Dialogue Academy for Young Women, co-organized by the Mission in Kosovo and the Mission to Serbia, concluded on 25 September in Mauerbach, Austria. Twenty-four participants from Prishtinë/Priština and Belgrade attended the Academy.

The intensive 10-day leadership development programme focused on confidence building and networking among young women, and enhanced dialogue and exchanges. It aimed at strengthening participants’ capacities in key areas, such as gender equality, politics, negotiation and mediation, via thought-provoking discussions with distinguished lecturers and guests, which further strengthened the learning process.

Speakers and guests of the programme came from different fields, ranging from politics, civil society, activism and diplomacy, to business and media, from both Prishtinë/Priština and Belgrade, but also from the Western Balkans region and beyond.

Participants had the opportunity to exchange with the Deputy Secretary General of the OSCE and Director of the Conflict Prevention Centre (CPC), Ambassador Tuula Yrjölä. She discussed with participants about  the role of the CPC and its work in the OSCE region and emphasized the importance of including women at all levels and in all stages of mediation and dialogue processes in order to secure sustainable and lasting stability.

Ambassador Yrjölä also highlighted the importance of the OSCE’s work with and for young people, especially young women, and of developing and maintaining solidarity and trust across communities and societies for jointly overcoming present and future challenges.

Participants also visited the OSCE Secretariat and Hofburg, where they met with Ambassador Igor Djundev, Permanent Representative of North Macedonia to the OSCE, and the Permanent Representatives of Germany, Norway and EU, to learn about priorities, opportunities and challenges of the incoming Chair and about gender equality and diplomacy.

“My experience at the Dialogue Academy was eye-opening. I got to learn and grow in many different ways and I made lifelong friendships with women who truly inspire me,” said Leontina Gačić, a participant from Belgrade.

Dea Fetiu from Prishtinë/Priština shared her impressions from the programme: “The Dialogue Academy surpassed all of my expectations. I got to interact with fantastic people who will always hold a special place in my heart and I learned so much from the incredibly motivating women who were a part of it.”

During the programme, participants identified ideas of common interest, to be shaped and implemented under the scope of the Dialogue Academy Alumnae Network, supporting the role of young women in promoting peace-building and dialogue between and within both societies.

As a follow-up, participants will meet in November for an alumnae exchange visit to further develop their ideas and activities within the Dialogue Academy Alumnae Network, which now counts more than 180 members.

The Academy is organized annually under the auspices of the ‘Follow Us’ Initiative of prominent women from Belgrade and Prishtinë/Priština. The initiative has been supported by the OSCE Mission in Kosovo and the OSCE Mission to Serbia since 2012, as part of their work to enhance women's participation in dialogue, conflict resolution and decision-making processes.

Categories: Central Europe

Promoting Women Peace and Security Agenda focus of OSCE event in Uzbekistan

OSCE - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 12:30
526976 International roundtable on the topic 'The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda and its relationship with human rights.', 26-27 September, 2022.

Between 26 and 27 September, an international roundtable was held in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, on the topic: "The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda and its relationship with human rights."

The event was organized by the OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan  jointly with the National Human Rights Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Commission for Ensuring Gender Equality of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Senate Committee of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Women and Gender Equality, and in close collaboration with the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe.

This was an opportunity for Representatives from the Parliament, judiciary, law enforcement, and civil society organizations to discuss ways to improve the status of women in the security sector and shared good practices at the national and regional levels.

"It is impossible to achieve sustainable development without ensuring respect for human rights, gender issues, and maintaining peace and security and Uzbekistan fully supports this statement," said Akmal Saidov, Director of the National Human Rights Centre and the first deputy speaker of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Acting Head of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator Office in Uzbekistan, Hans-Ullrich Ihm, stressed the importance the OSCE has played in advancing the "Women, Peace, and Security" Agenda by supporting the implementation of the United Nations Resolution 1325 and sharing international experience in the field of its implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

The roundtable continued in four plenary sessions focused on: ensuring access of women, including victims of gender-based violence to justice; enhancing the role of women in the security sector; and participation of Civil Society organizations in the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

As a result, the participants presented recommendations for establishing a regional platform to exchange best practices and knowledge about the promotion of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 at the regional level.

Categories: Central Europe

Only women’s full, equal and meaningful participation can provide hope of sustainable security, says Belgian Foreign Minister at FSC Meeting

OSCE - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:35

VIENNA, 28 September 2022 – The role of women in peace and security was the focus of today’s Forum for Security Co-operation meeting hosted by Belgium. Delivering remarks to the Forum, Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib emphasised the importance of this issue.

Since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security in 2000, 103 countries enacted national action plans on women and peace and security, including 43 OSCE participating States. At the OSCE, this information is exchanged voluntarily among participating States. Belgium is at the forefront of this issue. In February, the country adopted a fourth national action plan on "Women, peace and security" (2022-2026).

“While the Women, Peace and Security Agenda will soon celebrate its 22nd anniversary, it remains as relevant as ever and much more needs to be done,” said Lahbib. “Despite all our efforts, we, the international community, are still far from achieving the goals we set out for ourselves over two decades ago, at the expense of women and girls in conflict situations.”

Lahbib also drew attention to the continuing effect that the ongoing war against Ukraine has on women and girls, and how this must be addressed.

“It is important to recognize that armed conflict has a different impact on women and girls than on men and boys. They are more often victims of gender-based and conflict related sexual violence, as horrifying testimonies from Ukraine illustrate. This is the case both for women and girls fleeing the war, as for those staying behind” she added.

The Minister emphasised the continued importance for the OSCE to incorporate Women, Peace and Security into its comprehensive approach to security. “The Women, Peace and Security Agenda is a priority for Belgium, and one of the many topics which must also be discussed in the Forum for Security Co-operation. Without the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all FSC-related issues, no real comprehensive security can be achieved,” she said.

Categories: Central Europe

Election observers to the US midterm congressional elections to hold press conference on Thursday

OSCE - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 09:35

WASHINGTON D.C., 28 September 2020 – Observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will hold a press conference on the opening of the observation mission to the US midterm congressional elections on Thursday, 29 September.

What: 

  • An introduction to the role of the ODIHR election observation mission and its planned activities

Who: 

  • Cayetana de Zulueta Owtram, Head of the ODIHR observation mission

When: 

  • 14:00 ET (GMT -4) on 29 September 2022

Where:

  • The press conference will be held online via Zoom

Registration:

  • Please register by 11:00 local time on 29 September using the following link

For further information on all ODIHR’s election observation activities in the United States of America, please visit: http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/usa

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Presence organizes study visit to Croatia for Albanian institutions on missing persons from communist past

OSCE - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 19:21
526943

Croatia’s vast experience in the investigation and adjudication of cases of enforced disappearances can be useful to Albania’s authorities in advancing with the issue of identification and recovery of remains of missing persons from the Communist past.

With this aim, from 21 to 23 September 2022, the OSCE Presence in Albania organized a study visit to Croatia of representatives of key relevant institutions, such as the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents, the Forensics Institute and the Scientific Police.

The programme included a visit to the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs and the Croatian Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminology. Addressing the meeting at the Ministry, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Veterans’ Affairs of Croatia, Tomo Medved, offered his institution’s unreserved support to the Albanian authorities in their efforts to make progress with the identification and recovery of missing persons’ remains. Officials of the Ministry informed the Albanian delegation of the Croatian model for the search of the missing persons, whereas representatives of the Croatian Ministry of Interior, Zagreb County Prosecutor’s Office and the Croatian State Archives informed of their roles in the searching process. The visit also served the Albanian experts, including the ones from the Forensics Institute and the Scientific Police, to liaise with their Croatian counterparts for future co-operation in the issue of search for the missing persons.

The visit was financed by Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and was organized by the OSCE Presence in Albania in collaboration with the Croatian Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs, KAS and the International Commission on Missing Persons.

Categories: Central Europe

Improving the investigation and prosecution of election-related criminal acts in focus of OSCE workshops

OSCE - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 15:28

SARAJEVO, 27 September 2022 – A series of workshops on the effective investigation and prosecution of criminal acts threatening the integrity of elections concluded today in Mostar.

These OSCE-organized workshops provided a valuable platform for exchange of experiences on prosecution practices between Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH CEC) officials, over 70 prosecutors and over 80 representatives of law enforcement agencies from across BiH. The ensuing discussions yielded recommendations on how to improve the investigation and prosecution of election fraud cases.

“Trust in elections is a cornerstone of democracy, yet in the current system, there is too much space for mistakes, irregularities and abuse. As a result, there is broad public distrust in the electoral process, both in the run up to and after the elections,” said Dr. Susan Penksa, Acting Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH. “Trust cannot be regained without accountability, whether for political subjects, election administration bodies, or the judiciary. Looking ahead to the upcoming elections and beyond, BiH will need the strong commitment and resolute determination of judiciary and law enforcement agencies to prevent and prosecute different types of election fraud,” she added.

“The Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina is permanently committed to preventing all abuses related to the election process. In order to achieve better inter-institutional co-operation, it is necessary to organize as many joint workshops, conferences and meetings as possible and exchange experiences and data, as well as to share information that can be used for the prevention of criminal acts in the electoral process”, said Suad Arnautović, President of the BiH CEC.

"The public's perception is that the electoral process is not legal, regular and fair and that it is marked by electoral fraud. The prosecution and police agencies are obliged to contribute to the regularity and fairness of the electoral process by ensuring that those who commit electoral fraud will be detected, prosecuted and convicted. Good results in this area will strengthen citizens' trust in the election process, and at the same time strengthen the public reputation of prosecutor's offices and police agencies”, said Zekerija Mujkanović, the Brčko District Chief Prosecutor.  

The OSCE Mission to BiH will continue to support the BiH CEC to implement improvements in the administration of elections with the aim of increasing their integrity and transparency, ultimately restoring the trust of citizens in the process.

Categories: Central Europe

Head of OSCE Mission to Moldova Claus Neukirch completes his four-year mandate

OSCE - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 11:36

CHISINAU, 30 September 2022 – Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Dr. Claus Neukirch completes his mandate as Head of Mission and OSCE mediator in the Transdniestrian Settlement Process today.

“Keeping peace and stability on both banks of the Dniester/Nistru River is what will count in the days, weeks and months to come, and I am confident that the Mission will continue providing its remarkable contribution to this process. I wish my successor, the Sides and people on both banks of the Dniester/Nistru River every possible success in the most important endeavor in these times: to maintain peace and stability,” said Neukirch.

“I am truly grateful to my colleagues in the OSCE Mission, all counterparts and participants of the negotiation process, partners and all the delegations for the tremendous support, active co-operation and interest they showed towards the Mission throughout all these years. No mediation efforts would have been successful without their extraordinary support and co-operation," he emphasized.

The key priority of the OSCE Mission to Moldova is to help achieve a lasting, comprehensive political settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict based on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognized borders, with a special status for Transdniestria.

The mandate of the OSCE Mission to Moldova is endorsed and renewed every year by all 57 OSCE participating States, including the Republic of Moldova.

Read Dr. Neukirch’s blog sharing his experience on challenges, achievements and lessons learned during his four years as the Head of Mission.
Categories: Central Europe

Defence of human rights and democracy focus of Human Dimension Conference opening in Warsaw

OSCE - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 15:16

WARSAW, 26 September 2022 – The Warsaw Human Dimension Conference started today, bringing together international organizations, governments and civil society for a 10-day event to discuss the condition of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the OSCE region.

During the opening session, speakers highlighted the crucial position of the human dimension in the OSCE’s comprehensive security approach and the importance of creating opportunities for stakeholders to exchange views on this wide-ranging subject.

“Human rights are inalienable, and their articulation and defence are among the greatest achievements of humanity. Denying human rights to anyone, especially the vulnerable and weak, is to take away their dignity and their sense of freedom and security. Such willful disregard for individual freedom and choice is a basic characteristic of a totalitarian regime,” said OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Foreign Minister of Poland, Zbigniew Rau. “This totalitarian ideology bears the name today of Russkij mir,”  he added.

“We are facing a number of global crises today that are making it even more demanding to uphold democratic principles and human rights – not only in the newer or more fragile democracies, but in all our countries,” said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. “The OSCE remains in a unique position to offer solutions to these complex challenges, and ODIHR will continue to fulfil its mandate to promote the rights and freedoms of each individual across our region, placing civil society voices at the centre of our collective response,” he concluded.

“Sustainable security cannot be achieved without human rights, democracy and rule of law. That is why the OSCE integrates issues in the human dimension into all that we do,” OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid said. “We do it in close co-operation with civil society, a key partner for facing the unprecedented challenges across the OSCE region. When we – the OSCE, our participating States, civil society, and other partners – combine efforts, we can improve security, rights, freedoms, and opportunities today and for generations to come.”

“Human rights depend upon a rule-based order regarding borders. For using force to change borders perforce leads to violence, the violation of human rights,” said the special guest of the Conference, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia from 2006 until 2016. “It’s no surprise then, that all OSCE participating States have agreed that lasting security cannot be achieved without respect for human rights and functioning democratic institutions. They have committed themselves to a comprehensive catalogue of human rights and democracy norms,” he underlined.

In the upcoming days, the more than 1,500 participants will engage in plenary sessions devoted to fundamental freedoms, democratic institutions, tolerance and non-discrimination, rule of law and humanitarian issues. Furthermore, there are almost 100 side events hosted by OSCE participating States, civil society organizations and OSCE institutions, designed to address broad aspects of the human dimension commitments.

The Warsaw Human Dimension Conference continues until 7 October. More information on the Conference is available here. Follow #WarsawHDC on Twitter.

Categories: Central Europe

Current security challenges, war against Ukraine, at heart of OSCE Secretary General participation in 77th United Nations General Assembly

OSCE - Fri, 09/23/2022 - 16:13

NEW YORK CITY, 23 September 2022 – OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid concluded her visit to New York City today, where she attended the high-level meeting and the general debate of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Throughout the week, she met with senior officials from the United Nations and OSCE participating States in order to strengthen co-operation in the face of security challenges across the OSCE region – not least Russia’s war against Ukraine. Enhanced co-operation to address challenges to regional and global security was at the center of her meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.  

Secretary General Schmid reiterated the OSCE’s commitment to strengthening the long-standing and fruitful cooperation with the UN to address the complex security challenges facing our region and the world.

“It is so important that we work with the UN and its agencies to co-ordinate our efforts. We each bring unique strengths and expertise, and this co-operation ensures that we can work efficiently and effectively for the benefit of all affected by security challenges – whether traditional conflict or terrorism, climate change, human trafficking, or sexual violence. Security means putting people first,” said Schmid.

Secretary General Schmid also met with Ministers from participating States and officials from other international and regional organizations to discuss how best to tackle a broad range of challenges to security, including Russia’s war against Ukraine, border disputes, terrorism, climate change and environmental degradation, human trafficking, sexual violence, and more.

Schmid also participated in side-events on sexual violence in conflict, avoiding humanitarian crises through mediation, and human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the context of the war against Ukraine.

Categories: Central Europe

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