Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
The OSCE deals with a wide range of issues, including arms control, preventive diplomacy, confidence and security building measures, election monitoring, human rights and economic and environmental security. It has a network of 16 field operations in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
In 2012, Ireland assumed the Chairmanship of the OSCE for the first time. As Chairperson-in-Office, the Tánaiste was responsible for the executive action of the organisation and the co-ordination of its activities. From the outset, Ireland’s objectives were to ensure balance and coherence across the three main policy areas of the OSCE, namely its politico-military dimension, its economic and environmental dimension and the human dimension, which covers human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The overarching goal was to strengthen security across all dimensions and to enhance the Organisation’s capacity to fulfil its fundamental objectives.
Within the Human Dimension, freedom of the media was a particular priority, with a focus on digital media and Internet Freedom. A Chairmanship conference on Internet Freedom took place last June at Dublin Castle. The aim of that conference was to move towards a clearer understanding of existing OSCE commitments regarding the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the media, and their application to the Internet.
In the Economic and Environmental dimension, Ireland prioritised good governance issues. In the Politico-Military Dimension, Ireland sought to make progress on updating confidence and security building measures and enhancing the conflict prevention capacity of the organisation.
Drawing on Irish conflict resolution expertise in order to facilitate efforts to resolve protracted conflicts was also a priority. A one-day conference took place on 27 April, focusing on Northern Ireland as a case study, aiming to draw on common themes applicable to conflict situations in the OSCE area.
The culminating event of the Chairmanship year was the OSCE Ministerial Council, which was hosted by the Tánaiste at the RDS from 6-7 December. This was the largest ever Ministerial to take place in Ireland. It was attended by over fifty Ministers, including the then US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Secretary William Hague and the EU’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton.
It is a particular achievement of the OSCE Ministerial that agreement was reached on the Helsinki +40 process. On the initiative of the Irish Chairmanship, a strategic roadmap has now been agreed for a process of reflection on the work of the OSCE, to be undertaken between now and 2015, the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act.
Other significant agreements included, for the first time in ten years, a joint statement on the Transdniestrian settlement process; a declaration on strengthening good governance; and a decision on transnational threats, which consolidates work over the past year.
Ireland remains in the OSCE Troika this year, with Ukraine, the current Chair and Switzerland, the incoming 2014 Chair.”