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Minister Thomas Byrne addresses Ministerial Council Meeting of the OSCE

The Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne T.D., is attending the 27th Ministerial Council Meeting of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Held online due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the two-day platform for dialogue brings together Ministers from the 57 participating States of the OSCE to make joint decisions on regional security issues.

Minister Byrne reaffirmed Ireland’s full and continued support to multilateralism, and the principles and commitments of the OSCE. Referencing Ireland’s experience of conflict, he called on the participating States of OSCE to live up our shared agreements and focus on the implementation of the comprehensive security and dialogue architecture of the OSCE:

“In Ireland’s experience, such agreements are the beginning, not the end, of efforts to consolidate and expand security. We must all refocus our efforts towards the implementation of the principles and commitments of the OSCE as agreed by each of us. Key to this is ensuring the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and girls, and a demonstrable commitment to gender equality.”

Referencing widespread recent peaceful protests in Belarus, the Minister drew attention to the concerning findings of the November 2020 report of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism Rapporteur. The report confirmed overwhelming evidence that the presidential elections of 9 August 2020 were falsified, and that “massive and systematic human rights violations have been committed by the Belarusian security forces in response to peaceful protests and demonstrations”, including  arbitrary arrest, detention, ill treatment, and torture of dissenting voices. 

Minister Byrne called for implementation of our shared commitment to democracy and human rights:

“Without credible and active participation by citizens, there is no fully realisable concept of security. Across the OSCE area, we must each recommit ourselves to our shared principles which include the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and democratic principles of government.”

He also highlighted the work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR) as an essential part of developing peace and security in a way that is meaningful to the average citizen. 

“Democratic values are inseparable from the OSCE concept of security. We commend ODIHR for maintaining its election observation activities throughout this challenging year, and for offering invaluable assistance to participating States in their efforts to ensure full and free participation by their citizens in national elections.”




Notes for Editors

  • The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is an intergovernmental regional security organisation comprising 57 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America.
  • A unique feature of the OSCE is that it embraces a comprehensive concept of security addressed across three ‘dimensions’: Politico-military; Economic and Environmental; and Human.
  • As a Chapter 8 organization of the United Nations, the OSCE is an integral part of Ireland’s commitment to multilateralism. Acting as a regional platform for dialogue, the OSCE plays an invaluable role in conflict prevention and resolution efforts, as well as acting as a bridge between global UN commitments and their regional/local implementation.  
  • The Chairpersonship-in-Office (CiO) is held for one calendar year by a participating State, responsible for coordinating the decision-making process, and setting the priorities for the activities of the OSCE. Albania is the current CiO and will be succeeded by Sweden in 2021, who will in turn be succeeded by Poland in 2022.

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