Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

U.S. Helsinki Commissioners Urge Focus on Implementation of OSCE Commitments, Avoid “Tinkering”

WASHINGTON – Reacting to two reports on the future of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), several of the Commissioners of the U.S. Helsinki Commission urged today that the focus of the OSCE remain on advancing human rights and democratization.

“Those insisting on the need for OSCE ‘reforms’ are the very countries ignoring their commitments to human rights and democracy.  Clearly, Russia, Belarus and others are not interested in strengthening the OSCE, but in scuttling the organization’s human rights and democracy promoting activities,” said Commission Chairman Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). “We should not allow our attention to be diverted from effective implementation.”

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords.  The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

Two reports were issued on possible strengthening of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  The first, issued by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, argues that problems in the OSCE are largely political and not structural.  The second report, issued by a Panel of Eminent Persons appointed by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, emphasizes organizational changes. 

“Overall I think the Parliamentary Assembly report is closer to the mark,” added Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).  “What makes the Helsinki Process work is not a question of which organizational box goes where.  It is a question of whether we can make sure that all participating States have the political will to meet their obligations under the Helsinki Final Act.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was created as an outgrowth of the Helsinki Process.  The Helsinki Process began with adoption of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975, which enshrined the concept that human rights are integral aspects of international security.

“The OSCE should not become the Trojan horse for Russian foreign policy preferences.  The history of the Helsinki Process is that there has always been a strong focus on basic human rights and democracy.  The historical record shows that was the right way to go, and whatever structural changes might be made at the OSCE, we can’t let those changes become a pretext for ignoring the mission,” said Smith.

“Our assessment of any recommendations for strengthening the OSCE will be made based on how the proposal will help improve implementation of Helsinki commitments and enhance European security.  Tinkering with structures will not generate political will on the part of those determined to repress the rights of their people and maintain their undemocratic hold on power,” said Brownback.   

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