HomeUnited KingdomSpeech: Report by OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights: UK...

Speech: Report by OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights: UK response

Madam Chair,

I wish to thank the Director of OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), dear Matteo, for your presentation. It was a reminder, at the end of another challenging year, of the importance of ODIHR’s work in helping participating States implement the OSCE’s unique concept of comprehensive security.
As we said in Warsaw in October when congratulating ODIHR for its 30 years of achievements – your work to strengthen democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights across the OSCE region has made, and continues to make, a tangible, positive difference to many.

ODIHR’s deployment of its 400th election observation mission this year was a noteworthy milestone. That landmark is testament to the success of ODIHR’s impartial and facts based approach to observing elections which, rightly, treats elections as more than a one day event. The UK continues to support ODIHR’s election observation methodology which ensures you can provide independent advice to help all participating States live up to our commitments – dating back to Copenhagen in 1990 – to hold periodic, genuine, free and fair elections.
We disagree with the criticism of ODIHR’s methodology. We have, as 57 participating States, provided ODIHR with a mandate to decide how to credibly and effectively observe elections. For example, the use of expert Needs Assessment Missions as part of ODIHR’s methodology allows the Organization to decide in a transparent, professional and impartial manner, the requirements for election observation missions. The consequence is that they will decide on different observation missions to meet different circumstances.

Whilst we congratulate ODIHR for deploying its 400th mission, we regret that not all participating States have cooperated as appropriate, and required, under our human dimension commitments. As the UK Foreign Secretary noted at the Ministerial Council, there has been a lack of political will to follow through on our shared principles, and freedom and democracy have been under attack.

That makes it all the more important that ODIHR continues to have the staunch support of the overwhelming majority of participating States. Political support and cooperation is, of course, crucial. But so is support for ODIHR’s budget, which ensures that ODIHR has the funds needed to implement its mandate. If participating States are serious in our commitment to the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security, then we must truly value what ODIHR delivers. Not attack its budget as part of an a la carte approach to the OSCE’s commitments and institutions.

Matteo – we look forward to your report in the Spring on ODIHR’s 2021 activities. In the meantime, thank you for the update to this Permanent Council, and for the continued hard work and dedication of all ODIHR staff, and to helping us participating States uphold our human dimension commitments.

Thank you.

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