— OSCE Press Release–
— For more information refer to http://www.osce.org/ —
BASEL, 03 December 2014 – In his capacity as Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE, Didier Burkhalter attended the closing session of the Parallel Civil Society Conference, held in the margins of the Ministerial Council meeting on 02 and 03 December. In Basel, more than 100 civil society representatives discussed and adopted concrete recommendations directed at the OSCE, its Institutions, field presence and participating States. In addition to the CiO, the closing session of the conference was attended by Ambassador Dejan Šahović, Head of the Serbian Chairmanship Task Force, and Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The Parallel Civil Society Conference has been held each year on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council meetings since 2010. This year, a special focus was given to the topic of intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes, which are reflected in the so-called “Basel Declaration”. The other set of recommendations include thoughts and analyses by civil society actors on freedoms of expression, assembly and association, security of human rights defenders, prevention of torture, independence of the judiciary, protection of privacy and the right to free and fair elections.
“The body of OSCE commitments is pretty solid, but the number of recommendations made here today underlines that there is a need to strengthen implementation,” said CiO Didier Burkhalter. “Co-operation is crucial and I am convinced that together we can achieve progress. Our constructive and positive co-operation with civil society during the Swiss Chairmanship gave the possibility for mutual learning through dialogue”, he added.
During the conference, participants noted the relevance of the recommendations to the work of all OSCE structures and, above all, to ODIHR. “The Basel Declaration contains many valid points relevant to our work in the human dimension,” said Michael Georg Link, ODIHR Director. “In particular, we are pleased that the Declaration acknowledges the importance of existing OSCE commitments in addressing and combating all forms of discrimination, racism, xenophobia, intolerance and hate crime, while also calling for a review of their effectiveness and implementation in light of current political developments in the region,” he added.
Ambassador Dejan Šahović, Head of the Serbian Chairmanship Task Force, on behalf of Ivica Dačić, the incoming OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, underlined the continuing support provided by the OSCE Chairmanship to civil society. “As you know, the incoming Serbian OSCE Chairmanship identified strengthening links with civil society and promotion of its active involvement as one of our priority activities. We did so, in co-operation with our Swiss colleagues, believing that civil society has a prominent role in assisting participating States to implement their commitments, especially in the area of the human dimension”, he added.
Yuri Dzhibladze, member of the Coordinating Committee of the Civic Solidarity Platform underlined the consultative process of elaboration of this comprehensive set of recommendations by various civil society activists throughout the year. “It is our hope that the recommendations will be taken aboard by OSCE participating States, institutions and field presence. It is important that the many negative trends in the human dimension will be addressed by the OSCE actors in co-operation with civil society.”
Link to the Swiss Press Release (with photo)
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