OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Steinmeier receives civil society recommendations ahead of the Ministerial Council in Hamburg
Hamburg, 7 December 2016 – In his capacity as Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today attended the closing session of the Parallel Civil Society Conference, held in Hamburg on 6 and 7 December just ahead of the Ministerial Council meeting. During the two-day event, organized by the OSCE-wide NGO coalition “Civic Solidarity Platform” more than 100 civil society representatives discussed and adopted concrete recommendations directed at the OSCE, its Institutions, field presences and participating States. The participants also adopted a “Hamburg Declaration” that calls for protecting and expanding civil society space.
“Civil society plays a crucial role in ensuring full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law – and it has done so ever since the beginning of the CSCE process some 45 years ago,” said Steinmeier in his closing remarks. He emphasized that the German Chairmanship put much effort into maintaing close contact with civil society. “Including the views of the civil society has benefited our work considerably”, Steinmeier said when he received the two concluding conference documents from representatives of the Civic Solidarity Platform, Yuri Dzhibladze and Rasul Jafarov.
Referring to the “Hamburg Declaration” Steinmeier deplored that space for civil society is shrinking in a number of OSCE participating States: “We note with concern increasing restrictions on freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. Growing threats to the security of human rights defenders are alarming.” He called on participating States to find solutions to these challenges together with experts from civil society.
Yuri Dzhibladze, member of the Coordinating Committee of the Civic Solidarity Platform, underlined: “It is our hope that the recommendations will be taken aboard by OSCE participating States, institutions and field presences. In times of growing mistrust among participating States civil society plays a stronger role in the OSCE work. 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.
In addition to the Chairperson-in-Office, the closing session of the conference was attended by the Austrian Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Linhart, speaking for the incoming OSCE Chairmanship 2017, as well as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, and the First Deputy Director of ODIHR, Katrazyna Jarosiecicz-Wargan.
The Chairmanship invited the Civic Solidarity Platform to also present the outcomes of the two-day conference on the following day (8 December) to delegates of the Ministerial Council and representatives of the media, civil society, youth and academia in the framework of the “Hamburg Forum for Dialogue”. This innovative forum in the media and NGO centre of the Ministerial Council provides the possibility for the presentations of OSCE-related projects and topics.
The Parallel Civil Society Conference has been held each year on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council meetings since 2010.