ST. PETERSBURG, 10 July 1999 - The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE will send a 'Democracy Team' to Kosovo to contribute to the rebuilding of civil society, protection of human rights, development of democracy and the rule of law. This is one of the outcomes of the 8th Annual Session of the OSCE PA that was held from 6-10 July in St. Petersburg.
The concept of sending a 'Democracy Team' to Kosovo was welcomed by the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, who addressed the Assembly on the opening day of the Annual Session and stated, "Nobody is better equipped to develop modern political parties and political institutions than politicians from democratic countries. I therefore urge the Parliamentary Assembly to play an active role in addressing our new tasks in Kosovo."
In St. Petersburg more than 300 parliamentarians of the OSCE PA adopted the St. Petersburg Declaration covering a wide range of political, economic and human rights issues. In addition resolutions were adopted on Kosovo, the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, correcting the democratic deficit of the OSCE, the role of the OSCE in crisis prevention and conflict settlement, the trafficking of women and children, the assassination of Galina Starovoitova, the development of the rule of law and human rights in the Russian Federation and a resolution on the situation in Belarus.
The resolution on the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe calls upon the OSCE participating states to mobilize the necessary resources to assist the people of South-Eastern Europe, including Serbia, in their quest to achieve lasting peace as well as political and economic stability.
The main theme of the conference was, "Common Security and Democracy in the Twenty-first Century." The OSCE PA proposed the creation of an OSCE civilian rapid reaction capability through the identification of suitable, qualified and trained civilian personnel who could be rapidly deployed when necessary to work on democracy building within the OSCE area. The Danish experience of contracted members of a "Humanitarian Task Force" will be studied in order to establish whether this could serve as a model for the OSCE.
The resolution on correcting the democratic deficit recommends that before making major decisions, to be defined in future consultations, the Ministerial Council of the OSCE should be obliged to ask the opinion of the Parliamentary Assembly. The Assembly also proposes that the Secretary General of the OSCE be approved by a majority vote of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly during its Annual Session. Furthermore, the Assembly requests that the Secretary General, Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, High Commissioner on National Minorities and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media report on their activities and budgetary expenditures to the Standing Committee of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
The Assembly advocates that "approximate consensus" be adopted in the OSCE decision-making process, as advocated by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly since the 1994 Vienna Annual Assembly.
In the Resolution on Belarus the Assembly notes the continuing polarization of political entities and urges all political forces to co-operate in constructive talks and to look for solutions to the political impasse.
In the St. Petersburg Declaration the Assembly emphasizes that the OSCE participating States should incorporate in the Document-Charter on European Security, and eventually into other components of the Security Model, as appropriate, recommendations contained in its 1996 Stockholm Declaration and subsequent Declarations. Particular attention should be paid to the parliamentary and inter-parliamentary dimensions of security in the OSCE region.
The Assembly emphasizes the need to develop more effective followup of election monitoring reports. A mechanism should be established whereby each participating State, whose elections have been monitored, would be obliged to respond to the observations and recommendations of the OSCE observers. The governments are also expected to inform to what extent they intend to implement the recommendations of the observers.
In the resolution on the development of the rule of law and human rights in the Russian Federation, the Assembly notes that the case of Aleksandr Nikitin involves violations of several provisions in the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights and recommends that the authorities of the Russian Federation ensure proper implementation of necessary legal reforms related to the rule of law. As to the assassination of Galina Starovoitova the Assembly calls upon the Russian Government to use every appropriate avenue to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
On the trafficking of women and children, the Assembly adopted a resolution urgently appealing to the Governments of the OSCE participating States to adopt or strengthen existing legislation and enforcement mechanisms to punish trafficking perpetrators.
On the final day of the Annual Session the Assembly re-elected Mrs. Helle Degn, Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee in the Danish Parliament, as its President for a second one-year term. The Assembly's Secretary General, R. Spencer Oliver was likewise re-elected by the Assembly for a five-year term.