Ambassador Berton: History has shown the Benefits of Cooperation

Multilateralism and co-operation lie at the core of the OSCE comprehensive concept of security, participants said today at the opening of a two-day OSCE meeting in Vienna.

This meeting, organized by the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship, with the support of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), focused on the mutually supporting role between the multilateral system and national human rights institutions, and the resulting benefits to the overall delivery of OSCE human dimension commitments.

Lukáš Parízek, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic and Special Representative for the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship, said that in our current complex security environment, dominated by transnational challenges which no one country can face alone, multilateral co-operation is needed more than ever, but that, at the same time, multilateralism is in crisis.

“We are witnessing more and more unilateral actions by some. And we are witnessing mistrust in our international and regional organizations,” Parízek said. “Our Slovak Chairmanship has chosen ‘effective multilateralism’ as a top priority. We are convinced that we need effective multilateralism to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, said: “The OSCE has multilateral co-operation written into its DNA, and thus plays a key role in bringing States to the table to resolve issues that affect all of us. Nonetheless, the multilateral order that has brought peace and progress to so many is under attack. From the populists, from the power hungry, but also through sheer neglect, from all those members of the public who do not realize just how much they have to lose if this system disintegrates.”

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli spoke about the need for broad multilateral diplomacy.

“Many different actors, beyond State governments, have a legitimate voice and we must listen to them if we want to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing us,” said Tsereteli. “This in no way diminishes the importance of classic diplomacy among governments. Quite the contrary; an inclusive approach adds strength and legitimacy to international relations that can otherwise appear distant from the real needs of the people we serve. A broad outlook to multilateral diplomacy – involving parliamentarians, civil society, academia and others – is therefore necessary to ensure that we safeguard a strong and principled approach to human rights.”

In his keynote address, Ambassador Bruce G. Berton, Head of OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, told participants that multilateralism works.

“History has shown the benefits of co-operation, and crises have shown the costs of discord.  By working through organizations like OSCE, countries and their citizens should realize that co-operation can enhance both national security as well as common security,” said Berton.

The Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting offers a platform to exchange views among OSCE participating States, OSCE institutions, other executive structures and a variety of international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders on the identification of good practices of effective multilateralism, with a view to improving the implementation of OSCE commitments.

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