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Helsinki Commission Releases U.S. Opening Statement at OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

WARSAW, POLAND – The following opening statement was delivered by the United States at the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation currently being held in Warsaw, Poland:

Opening Plenary Statement

Delivered by Ambassador Chris Hill

U.S. Delegation to the

OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to apologize that the Head of our Delegation, Ambassador Joe Presel, could not be here due to the difficulties in transatlantic travel. He will join us as soon as possible. I would like, first of all, to express on behalf of my government and the U.S. delegation here today, our heartfelt gratitude at the support and sympathy we have received from so many participating States of the OSCE, some of which have also lost citizens in these hideous events. The attack against targets in New York and Washington was of course more than just an assault against innocent civilians. It was an attack against all the universal values that we have all embraced as States participating in this proud organization. As such, it was an attack against all of us by persons and organizations for whom our principles regrettably hold no meaning.

I would like to offer a special note of thanks to the hosts of this conference, the people of Poland whose outpouring of sympathy has moved us greatly. This is a country where the collective values of the OSCE are truly shared, and it is this so very appropriate that we should be gathering here in Warsaw.

The United States has heard and deeply appreciates the world’s genuine outrage, also expressed through international organizations. It was expressed so clearly in UNSCR 1368, the first resolution of the 56th United Nations General Assembly. The challenge in the weeks and months ahead will be to turn these words into concrete actions.

My government and my President are calling for all the countries of the world and all international organizations to join us in a great coalition to conduct a campaign against terrorists who wage war against our civilization. I hope that in the coming two weeks we can examine what role the OSCE can play in this. While other fora may be more appropriate to discuss political, security, and other aspects of directly combating terrorism, we believe it is important for us to keep in focus the underpinning of our governments strengths and abilities to address these issues. We rely on the rule of law to investigate crimes and bring criminals to justice.

Independent media and civil society are crucial to an open society. Protection of human rights, the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and freedom of religion are the best guarantee for more stable societies which can reduce the chances that groups will resort to violence.

These are the values that separate us from these criminals. Our commitment to these values should be strengthened, not weakened. At the same time, we must not be naive that these terrorists carried out their grim crimes over some kind of a regrettable misunderstanding about our principles, or that they didn’t have enough newspapers to read. We must be prepared for the fact that some people will pursue political aims through violence until we take action to stop them. There are those, perhaps in any society, who have no interest in political arrangements, and have no interest in political arguments, and for them we must marshal our rights and obligations under international law to remove terrorism as a threat to our way of life and to ensure that those who provide safe-haven and support terrorism are held accountable. This is a long-term project. We will not solve the problem in one drastic action.

Finally, a rededication to the principles for which the OSCE stands and to which we have committed ourselves as participating States should play a major part in this challenge. It is with that in mind that the U.S. delegation embraces enthusiastically a frank, open discussion of the implementation of OSCE commitments in the human dimension.

Thank you.

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