Civil society recommends OSCE’s greater engagement with Mediterranean Partner States
Civil society in the OSCE Mediterranean Partner States could benefit from greater OSCE engagement in strengthening capacity at a time of rapid change and transition in the Middle East and North Africa, participants said at the end of a two-day conference in Vilnius on 5 December 2011.
More than 80 civil society representatives from OSCE participating States and the Mediterranean Partners of Co-operation came to share ideas on electoral good practice, political participation, justice and legal reform in democracies in transition at the OSCE Mediterranean Partner Countries’ Civil Society Conference.
“Noting the changes that have taken place in many Mediterranean states recently, we observe with concern that consolidation of democracy in both our regions remains far from assured, and that civil society groups in particular will need to maintain a leading role in ensuring that transition processes move forward towards greater participation, equality, justice, rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” participants told the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, when they presented the conference recommendations.
Participants called on the OSCE participating States to provide for greater involvement with the OSCE Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation countries. This should include a range of support programmes, such as providing expertise, training and other activities aimed at increasing the capacity of civil society organizations, including those observing elections, and working on issues concerning gender equality, young people and minorities.
Their recommendations highlighted the need for OSCE participating States and Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation to create a conducive and secure environment for the political interaction of civil society organizations to work effectively on promoting and protecting human rights.
The conference was jointly organized by the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). It builds on the OSCE’s experience and aims to encourage international contacts and partnerships among civil society representatives.