Quiet diplomacy has an important role in addressing the root causes of conflicts, stressed the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) Knut Vollebaek in his address to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Winter Session 2012 on 24 February 2012.
In his speech “Building an HCNM for the future”, Vollebaek described how the HCNM was established in the early 1990s after the fall of the Iron Curtain – an era characterized by warfare for many countries in Europe – to prevent conflicts involving national minorities in the OSCE area. Since then, the Institution has been providing early warning “in regard to tensions involving national minority issues” and issuing recommendations that help inform policy, fill normative gaps and provide a basis for discussion across the OSCE area.
“Now, 20 years later, the mandate of the HCNM is more relevant than ever,” said Vollebaek. “Many issues remain as topical today as they were when the mandate was formulated,” he said.
“Far too often, conflicts are not really resolved; their root causes are not properly addressed,” Vollebaek stressed. “Left unaddressed, the underlying grievances still simmer, only to re-emerge later when circumstances change.”
“In an environment where the political attention spans are short and where superficial changes too often pass for real, I believe it is of fundamental importance that we do not allow ourselves to forget that the root causes still need to be addressed,” Vollebaek emphasized. “And it is here that I see a valuable role for the quiet, old-school diplomacy of my Institution.”
The full text of Vollebaek’s speech is available at: http://www.osce.org/hcnm/88552