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Senator Sam Brownback, Chairman
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
May 10, 2006


(Washington) – U.S. Senator Sam Brownback and Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, announced that the Commission will hold a hearing to examine programs within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that focus on the development of human rights and democracy. The hearing will have a specific focus on the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and its role in monitoring elections in OSCE countries. The hearing will also commemorate the work of the ODIHR as it marks its 15th anniversary.

Advancing the Human Dimension in the OSCE: The Role of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
2:00 PM
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226

Panel I
Mr. Kurt Volker
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Panel II
Ambassador Christian Strohal

Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Panel III
Mr. Carl Gershman

National Endowment for Democracy

Mr. Jeff Fischer
Senior Director
Center for Transitional and Post-Conflict Governance

Mr. Patrick Merloe
Senior Associate and Director
Programs on Election Processes
National Democratic Institute

Mr. Lorne Craner
International Republican Institute

The ODIHR has played an important role over the last fifteen years in advancing human rights and the development of democracy in the OSCE participating States. ODIHR is engaged throughout the OSCE area in the fields of democratic development, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and promotion of the rule of law and has set the international standard for election observation. This hearing will examine the unique role played by the ODIHR in election observations and will address the current challenges faced by the OSCE as it seeks to define and strengthen the role the organization plays in election monitoring.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

Media Contact: Shelly Han
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