OSCE Parliamentary Assembly advances peace, disarmament and sustainable development

Parliamentarians, meeting in Luxembourg for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, adopt a Declaration on Advancing Sustainable Development to Promote Security which calls for nuclear risk reduction measures and shifting budget priorities to support nuclear disarmament. The declaration also supports the nuclear ban treaty.  

Parliamentarians from across North America, Europe and Central Asia met in Luxembourg from July 4-8, 2019 for the Annual Meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Following five days of dynamic discussions, the Assembly today adopted a comprehensive Declaration on Advancing Sustainable Development to Promote Security (Luxembourg Declaration) and a number of supplementary resolutions which include reflections, recommendations and appeals to OSCE member governments on peace, human rights, environmental, economic, political and security issues.

Mr Miroslav Lajcak, OSCE Chairperson and Foreign Minister of Slovakia addresses the plenary session

The OSCE Assembly is the parliamentary dimension of the OSCE, whose 57 participating States span the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The primary task of the 323-member parliamentary assembly is to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue in support of common security, prevention and resolution of conflicts, strengthening of democratic institutions, addressing terrorism and nationalism, and promotion of human rights.

The focus this year on sustainable development demonstrates an increasing awareness that climate protection and making concrete progress on the sustainable development goals are vital to prevent armed conflict and build common security.

Voting at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

PNND role

PNND distributed a backgrounder for delegates entitled Dialogue, détente and disarmament: The role of parliaments and the OSCE (click here for the French version).

The backgrounder notes key developments of relevance to parliaments including the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,  affirmation by the UN Human Rights Committee that nuclear weapons violate the Right to Life, withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear non-proliferation agreement (JCPOA), collapse of the INF Treaty, and the Stepping Stones initiative of Sweden and 15 other countries (including some NATO members) on concrete nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament measures in support of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

PNND staff Alyn Ware and Elena Batani with the PNND backgrounder distributed at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Margareta Kiener Nellen speaking at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

In addition, PNND members took active roles in the OSCE PA as members of the participating parliamentary delegations and leaders of some of the committees.

Margareta Kiener Nellen (Switzerland), served as Chair of the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. In that role she chaired the deliberations on the draft resolution to the committee and supplementary items on Education to Prevent Children and Human Trafficking, Combatting xenophobia and Discrimination against Christians and other minority faiths in certain OSCE countries. She also presented the report on Human Rights and Humanitarian questions arising from the war in the Ukraine.

Hedy Fry (Canada), who serves as OSCE PA’s Special Representative on Gender Issues, presented her report to the Assembly Gender Mainstreaming and Intersectional Analysis of Key Issues Affecting the OSCE Region: Conflict, Migration and Climate Change, introduced a supplementary item on The Integration of Gender and Youth Perspectives in Efforts to Combat Climate Change and submitted numerous amendments on gender issues to the draft declaration, most of which were adopted.

Liliane Maury Pasquier (Switzerland), in her role as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, gave a plenary presentation on areas of common concern between the OSCE and Council of Europe, including to advance the European Convention on Human Rights and the Helsinki Final Act, uphold the rule of law in international relations and promote sustainable development.

Katja Keul speaking at the OSCE PA

Katja Keul MdB (Germany) submitted proposed text for the declaration, which was agreed, in which the Assembly calls on OSCE countries to support international negotiations to ban lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Contentious issues

There were a number of contentious issues where parliamentary delegations where unable to bridge differences. These included whether Russia or the USA was primarily responsible for the collapse of the INF Treaty, the Russia/Ukraine conflict (and charges of violation of the Minsk agreements) and the Armenia/Azerbaijan conflict. Regardless, the assembly was able to adopt a declaration which addressed these and other key issues.

Key points in the adopted declaration:

The declaration Advancing Sustainable Development to Promote Security: The Role of Parliaments calls for the following, amongst other things;

  • The end of military hostilities in Eastern Ukraine and full withdrawal of high calibre weapons by both sides, an immediate end to the use of landmines in the region and the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements;
  • OSCE countries to reduce all forms of violence and the illicit flow of arms as part of implementing SDG 16;
  • Implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 by ensuring participation of women in international conflict resolution and peace-building processes;
  • OSCE countries to support negotiations to ban lethal autonomous weapons;
  • Parliaments to pursue budgetary priorities to support non-proliferation and disarmament;
  • Parliaments to advance nuclear threat reduction and disarmament as priorities in nuclear posture reviews and national policies;
  • OSCE countries to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW);

The call for OSCE countries to sign the nuclear ban treaty (TPNW) surprised many delegates. In previous years the OSCE PA has overwhelmingly rejected proposals to support the treaty. Indeed, from the 57 member states of the OSCE, only 6 have signed the treaty (Austria, Holy See, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Lichtenstein and San Marino).

This year, delegates from USA and a number of NATO countries supported the text on the TPNW while at the same time opposing text to support the Non-Proliferation Treaty, prompting some observers to question whether the delegates were confused as to which text they were voting upon in the Committee on Political Affairs and Security where it was debated. The US delegation refused to comment when asked about this vote following the committee session.

The Luxembourg Declaration is not binding on member parliaments, but provides a guide and support for parliaments to take action on the issues addressed. It is also being presented to the OSCE Ministerial Meeting taking place in Slovakia tomorrow (July 9, 2019)