From September 10 to September 21, OSCE participating States will meet in Warsaw, Poland, for the 2018 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM). Organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), HDIM is Europe’s largest annual human rights conference, bringing together hundreds of government and nongovernmental representatives, international experts, and human rights activists for two weeks to review OSCE human rights commitments and progress.
During the 2018 meeting, three specially selected topics will each be the focus of a full-day discussion: freedom of the media; the rights of migrants; and combating racism, xenophobia, intolerance, and discrimination.
The OSCE participating States have a standing agreement dating to 1998 to hold an annual two-week meeting to review the participating States’ compliance with the human dimension commitments they have previously adopted by consensus. In the event that the OSCE convenes a summit of heads of state and government, the summit is preceded by a Review Conference which absorbs the work of the HDIM. (The last summit was held in Kazakhstan in 2010.)
The HDIM allows participating States to assess one another’s implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments, identify challenges, and make recommendations for improvement. The HDIM agenda covers all human dimension commitments, including freedoms of expression and the media, peaceful assembly and association, and religion or belief; democratic elections; the rule of law; tolerance and non-discrimination; combating trafficking in persons; women’s rights; and the rights of national minorities, including Roma.
One of the most notable features of the HDIM is the strong participation of non-governmental organizations. The United States has been a strong advocate for the involvement of NGOs in the HDIM, recognizing the vital role that civil society plays in human rights and democracy-building initiatives. OSCE modalities allow NGO representatives to raise issues of concern directly with government representatives, both by speaking during the formal working sessions of the HDIM and by organizing side events that examine specific issues in greater detail.