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Helsinki Commission Hearing to Examine U.S. Policy Toward OSCE

WASHINGTON – The United States Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing to examine U.S. policy toward the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the institution which evolved from the Helsinki process.

The hearing will review U.S. priorities in the 55-nation OSCE region with a particular focus on longstanding human rights concerns. The terrorist attacks of September 11 have prompted discussions over what role the OSCE might play in combating terrorism. The hearing will explore the OSCE as an instrument for advancing U.S. interests and promoting shared values.

U.S. Policy Toward OSCE

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

485 Russell Senate Office Building

Scheduled to testify:

A. Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs

Lorne W. Craner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Ambassador

Robert Barry, former Head of OSCE Mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina

P. Terrence Hopmann, professor of political science at Brown University and research director of the Program on Global Security at the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies

Background:

Since the end of the Cold War, the OSCE has evolved into a singular instrument for advancing U.S. foreign policy goals in Eurasia. It remains the only pan-European forum for military-security negotiations; it has grounded multilateral conflict resolution efforts from the Balkans to Chechnya; and the OSCE’s annual human rights implementation meeting will be the first major human rights meeting for the United States since its ouster from the U.N. Human Rights Commission earlier this year.

“We are not going to stop talking about the things that matter to us – human rights, religious freedom and so forth and so on. We’re going to continue to press those things. We would not be America if we did not.”

— National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, September 19, 2001

The 1999 Istanbul Charter of the OSCE declares that “Participating States are accountable to their citizens and responsible to each other for their implementation of their OSCE commitments.” The Charter also states that “International terrorism, violent extremism, organized crime and drug trafficking represent growing challenges to security. Whatever its motives, terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is unacceptable. We will enhance our efforts to prevent the preparation and financing of any act of terrorism on our territories and deny terrorists safe havens.”

This hearing will examine U.S. priorities and human rights concerns in the OSCE region and how the OSCE can serve to advance those goals and address human rights violations; the pros and cons of the institutionalization and bureaucratization of the OSCE and field activities; and openness and transparency of the Helsinki process.

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