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Today we are looking back at two weeks of intensive exchanges between the OSCE participating states and civil society organizations on the 3rd dimension of the OSCE. Our thanks go to ODIHR and the Italian chairmanship for their tremendous work in preparing and managing this conference.
The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting is the flagship of the third pillar of the OSCE’s comprehensive security approach. For some this might have become an unpleasant routine: too long, too clumsy, too resource intensive, too little noticed by the public. And yes, we can discuss if the modalities of the HDIM live up to nowadays speedy life and expectations.
But what is undisputable in my view is the need for a discussion on human rights issues as a one of the most relevant factors for our common security. And not only do we need to discuss them, we have to monitor their implementation on a regular basis. This is what HDIM stands for.
If we look back at the foundations of ODIHR in the early 1990ies we take note that some participating states are not willing anymore to implement commitments they themselves subscribed to: be it in the field of democratic institutions, press freedom, protection of journalists and human rights activists, fight against tolerance and discrimination.
Moreover new challenges have emerged like hate speech or new nationalism and populism.
What makes this conference so valuable is the participation of civil society organizations. Those who work closely with disadvantaged groups, who advocate human rights within shrinking spaces, can point out at deficiencies and weaknesses we as state representatives may not be aware of.
They can help or sometimes even push us to take certain issues more seriously. Therefore, we should not shy away from this dialogue, but carefully listen and make the best use of criticism.
Ladies and gentlemen,
when talking about the link between human rights and security, we have to mention the conflict areas in the OSCE region. Let me focus on two examples only:
This year, we are marking ten years of the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia. Today, we see a country that is torn apart by a conflict that left one fifth of its territory beyond control of the government in Tbilisi.
We underline once again our full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.
We have regularly condemned and will further critically assess obstacles on the road towards a resolution of the conflict, be it the signing of the so-called “treaties” between the Russian Federation and the breakaway entities, or the ongoing “borderisation” efforts along the administrative boundary lines.
These measures not only complicate the ongoing efforts for conflict resolution in the framework of the Geneva International Discussions, but have a direct impact on the lives of people in the area of the dividing lines.
In order to gain a full picture of the human rights situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it would be crucial to allow international bodies to assess the situation on the ground. We call upon the authorities in effective control of these regions to grant unrestricted access to international human rights monitoring institutions.
The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine remains one of the most serious threats to peace and stability in Europe. We are extremely thankful for the OSCE engagement in the conflict area. The courageous civilian and unarmed members of the Special Monitoring Mission are indispensable. As independent observers, they provide the international community with first-hand, unbiased information. Therefore, we strongly condemn the relentless attempts to interfere with their work or to threaten them with bodily harm.
As far as political solutions to the conflict are concerned, Germany and France will continue their intensive work within the Normandy format. This includes a framework for a potential UN peacekeeping operation in the Donbass region.
However, such a UN mission can only serve as an instrument to implement the Minsk agreement. The situation on the ground remains tense and many challenges lie ahead. But we remain firmly committed to a peaceful solution acceptable to all sides.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Protecting human rights goes hand in hand with guaranteeing security in the OSCE context and beyond.
This is why it will be of major importance for Germany’s work as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the coming two years to strengthen this link between human rights and security.
We will work towards enhancing the mainstreaming of human rights aspects into the international security topics that are under consideration of the Security Council, in particular with regard to the women, peace and security agenda.
To conclude, let me express my sincere appreciation for the work of the institutions and committees in the OSCE human dimension which Germany has regularly supported with extra budgetary funding.
We are looking forward to an intensive and fruitful exchange in all dimensions ahead of the Ministerial Council in Milano for which we wish the Italian Chairmanship good luck and success.