Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

HELSINKI COMMISSION LEADERSHIP SEES GOALS REALIZED AT INTER-PARLIAMENTARY MEETING

WASHINGTON —During the course of the Annual Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA), held in Belgrade, Serbia, from July 6-10, 2011, two resolutions introduced by Helsinki Commission Chairman Chris Smith (NJ-04) and one by Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD) were among the 26 resolutions adopted and incorporated in the session’s final declaration. Senator Cardin also fielded several amendments to various resolutions which were adopted, and he used the occasion of the meeting to comment on issues of importance in U.S. foreign policy.

The schedule for the U.S. House of Representatives precluded Representative Smith from attending the Belgrade meeting, but both of his resolutions were well-received by the parliamentarians and were successfully managed on his behalf by the heads of the Lithuanian and Italian delegations.

The first resolution dealt with combating labor trafficking in supply chains, urging governments to ensure that all goods they procure are free from raw materials and finished products produced by trafficked labor and to press corporations to verify that their supply chains are free of exploitation. Two amendments authored by Senator Cardin welcomed a recent OSCE meeting on the issue and urged diplomats to put it on the agenda for a meeting of foreign ministers later this year.

“Few of us have ever come face-to-face with a trafficking victim,” noted Chairman Smith in welcoming the resolution’s passage, “but all of us come into contact with products that have been tainted in whole or in part by forced and bonded labor. We must be vigilant to ensure that we do not profit those who enslave others. This resolution, adopted without opposition, promotes accountability, both in government and the private sector.”

The second Smith resolution focused on international parental child abductions and passed without amendment. Its core focus was to press OSCE states to become parties to the 1983 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and to implement its provisions.

“The growing incidence of international parental child abduction must be recognized for the serious human rights abuse that it is,” Chairman Smith remarked as he welcomed the passage of the widely supported resolution which “puts the issue on the agenda of the OSCE and helps to strengthen efforts to protect our children.”

Co-Chairman Cardin’s major initiative was a resolution on Mediterranean political transition, which directs the OSCE and its participating States to make their expertise in building democratic institutions available to Mediterranean Partner States: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. The Senator collaborated with the head of the Spanish delegation on numerous additional amendments to demonstrate the real priority this should be for the organization, and the initiative received wide praise among the approximately 300 delegates.  

“We have all been inspired by the movements for freedom and change sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa,” Senator Cardin noted while introducing the resolution, “and we support the citizens of the countries in the region as they demand respect for their basic human rights, economic opportunity, and open and responsive government…the OSCE and our Parliamentary Assembly have substantial capacity to assist our Mediterranean  Partners…we also must condemn in the strongest terms the unbridled violence unleashed by the governments of Libya and Syria against their own citizens.”

As Head of the U.S. delegation, which included fellow Helsinki Commissioner Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Senator Cardin also worked on several detailed issues, such as amending the final declaration to include welcoming the arrest in Serbia of at-large war crimes indictee Ratko Mladic and to discourage an investigation of trafficking in human organ from becoming a political rather than legal issue. He also successfully added language to the text urging Turkey to allow the reopening of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate’s Theological School of Halki without condition or further delay. During the course of debate, the Senator also suggested granting Mediterranean Partner countries a greater ability to participate in OSCE PA sessions, and highlighted U.S. policy on cyber security in light of OSCE work on this important issue.

Media contact

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Articles

United States Demonstrates Global Leadership on Ukra...

Jul 14, 2023

The Helsinki Commission’s four senior leaders helmed the United States’ bicameral, bipartisan delegation to the 30th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly last week in Vancouver, Canada. Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), serving as Head of Delegation, was joined by Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02) as Deputy Head of Delegation as well as Ranking Members […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Chair and Co-Chair Lead Delegati...

Jul 10, 2023

WASHINGTON—Helsinki Commission Co-Chair Senator Ben Cardin (MD) and Helsinki Commission Chair Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the 30th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) in Vancouver, Canada from June 30-July 4. As Head of Delegation and Deputy Head of Delegation respectively, Senator Cardin and Representative Wilson welcomed the […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

North Macedonia’s Leadership of the OSCE in a ...

Feb 28, 2023

North Macedonia has taken up leadership of the world’s largest regional security organization—the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—a year into Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. Much of the OSCE’s focus over the past year has revolved around responses to the war, including using the organization to condemn Russian aggression and hold the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

HEARING: NORTH MACEDONIA’S LEADERSHIP OF THE OSCE IN...

Feb 24, 2023

Tuesday, February 28, 2023 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Streaming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNgAOyC9f5g North Macedonia has taken up leadership of the world’s largest regional security organization—the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—a year into Putin’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Much of the OSCE’s focus over the past year has revolved around responses to the war, […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

U.S. Delegation to the OSCE PA presents Joint Statem...

Feb 24, 2023

WASHINGTON— Today, the U.S. Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) endorsed the “Joint Statement of Action on the One-Year Anniversary of Russia’s War Against Ukraine and the International Legal Order,” which was endorsed by the OSCE PA Bureau and published today at the conclusion of the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Steadfast Support for Ukraine: United States Delegat...

Feb 23, 2023

WASHINGTON – Today, the United States Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA), led by Senator Ben Cardin (MD), met with Mykyta Poturaiev, Ukraine’s Head of Delegation and additional representatives of the Ukrainian Rada in Vienna, Austria, along with the Heads of Delegation of Canada, Estonia, […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commissioners Urge Austria to Deny Visas to...

Feb 15, 2023

WASHINGTON – Helsinki Commission leadership, Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson, Co-Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin, and Rep. Steve Cohen, on February 10, sent a letter to Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg to reconsider granting visas to the Russian delegation to the Winter Meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, […]

screen-reader-text
Articles

OSCE’s 2022 Ministerial Council in Lodz: Russia Isol...

Dec 09, 2022

By Janice Helwig, Senior Policy Advisor, Demitra Pappas, Senior Advisor Department of State, Shannon Simrell, Representative of the Helsinki Commission to the U.S. Mission to OSCE Foreign Ministers and senior officials from the 57 participating States and 11 Asian and Mediterranean partners of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) convened the OSCE […]

screen-reader-text
Articles

NATO Refocused, Europe Reinforced

Aug 10, 2022

By Jessika Nebrat, Max Kampelman Fellow​ Following the escalation of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is playing a role it has not filled in years. Forced to reconcentrate its attention to Europe’s defense, NATO allies are demonstrating persistent resolve in countering Moscow’s expansionist tendencies. In doing so, NATO returns to a core […]

screen-reader-text
Publications

Helsinki Commission Digital Digest July 2022

Jul 29, 2022

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Co-Chairman Cohen Deplores Arrest of Ilya Yashin in ...

Jul 28, 2022

WASHINGTON—In response to the arrest of Ilya Yashin, a Russian politician critical of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman and OSCE PA Special Representative on Political Prisoners Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued the following statement: “Putin’s government has been engaged in a systematic assault on Russian citizens who dare speak the truth about […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Co-Chairman Cohen Condemns Execution of Democracy Ac...

Jul 28, 2022

WASHINGTON—Following the execution of four democracy activists by Myanmar’s military junta, Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman and OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Political Prisoners Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued the following statement: “I strongly condemn the execution of these courageous activists by Myanmar’s unelected and illegitimate regime. These men—Kyaw Min Yu, Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo […]

screen-reader-text