U.S. Statements on the Human Dimension, 1996 OSCE Vienna Review Conference and Lisbon SummitFriday, November 01, 1996
This compendium of statements illustrates the U.S. perspective that one of the key and distinguishing features of the OSCE is the interlocking framework of critical, politically binding commitments which provide a common set of principles to which all participating States can aspire. The OSCE draws its real strength and practical flexibility from participating states' commitments to the values of the original Helsinki Act, rather than from a legalized, treaty-based institutional structure. A fundamental strength of the OSCE is the review process, which provides a regular opportunity to assess a participating states' efforts to further the realization of the Helsinki Accords within its own borders, and in its relations with other OSCE states. The OSCE is increasingly a pillar of European security. By facilitating honest implementation review the OSCE can strengthen security links based on common values.
The Legacy of ChernobylTuesday, April 23, 1996
Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) presided over this hearing, which marked the tenth anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, the worst of its kind. Ten years out, what transpired had grave implications for Ukraine and Belarus. More specifically, according to Smith, “The explosion of the reactor at Chornobyl released 200 more times more radioactivity than was released by the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.” Likewise, thyroid cancer in Belarusian children was extremely entrenched. Perhaps most worryingly, at the time of this hearing, the obliterated fourth nuclear reactor’s “sarcophagus” had developed serious cracks, which, if uncontained, could have released tons of radioactive dust into the environment.
Chernobyl: Five Years LaterFriday, April 26, 1991
Held as a fifth anniversary commemoration of the disaster at Chernobyl, the briefing featured a short film that was produced by an Australian film company on Chernobyl’s progress in the five years after the crisis. Afterward, Samuel Wise, staff director at the Commission, led the discussion on the damage Chernobyl continued to have on surrounding regions in 1991. Witnesses Dr. David Marples and Dr. Natalia Preobrazhensk addressed the environmental concerns and political authority over Chernobyl, along with how Ukraine’s judicial system had dealt with the situation. They also acknowledged the situation of Soviet nuclear power at the time.
Sofia CSCE Meeting on the Protection of the EnvironmentThursday, September 28, 1989
The purpose of this hearing, which Sen. Dennis DeConcini and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer chaired, was to examine the first meeting in CSCE history devoted exclusively to the environment. The hearing predated the Sofia Meeting itself, whose purpose was to address environmental problems that recognize no borders and threaten every individual’s right to a peaceful and secure life. Unfortunately, the Sofia Meeting had been marred by the Bulgarian government’s lack of tolerance in its treatment of its Turkish and Muslim minorities, specifically the Bulgarian government’s campaign to assimilate Turkish minorities, which constituted a serious violation of human rights. Needless to say, then, intersectionality existed and continues to exist among environmental issues and the Helsinki process’s other top priorities.
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Energy and Environment
The OSCE recognizes that sustainable management of energy resources is one of the key challenges of the day, not only in the OSCE region, but across the globe.
In Kyiv (2013), the participating States acknowledged the link between energy-related activities and the environment, and encouraged participating States to make best use of the OSCE as a platform for a broad dialogue on good governance and transparency in the energy sector renewable energy and energy efficiency, new technologies, technology transfer and green growth. The OSCE has also focused its work on security issues related to energy, including protection of energy networks from natural and man-made disasters.
Energy security is a key topic for the OSCE as is the climate debate. In particular, participating States have discussed modalities and norms to generate a free, fair, and diversified energy market. On climate, participating States have shared best practices on curbing emissions. Corruption looms large in both topics as energy markets are influenced and collective action against climate change is undermined by corrupt actors.
Staff Contact: Paul Massaro, policy advisor