Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
February 22, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Foreign Minister Kurz, for your briefing on your planned activities under the Austrian Chairmanship. The OSCE’s track record clearly demonstrates the unique and significant role this organization plays in Europe. The United States fully supports this organization’s comprehensive approach to security. We look to the OSCE and its independent institutions and field missions to assist all 57 participating states with the full implementation of their OSCE commitments. And we look to the OSCE to hold these states accountable when they fail to do so.

Mr. Chairman, as Ambassador Nikki Haley made clear yesterday, the “United States is committed to the institutions that help keep Europe safe.” We commend the long-standing commitment and ongoing efforts of the OSCE in support of regional security. From promoting peaceful resolutions to conflicts, to working with governments on rule of law and anti-corruption, the OSCE plays a key role in strengthening security and stability, addressing humanitarian needs of conflict-afflicted populations, and promoting good governance in the region.

We believe the organization should also continue its focus on supporting civil society and independent media and promoting tolerance and nondiscrimination throughout the OSCE region. We urge you to make the full implementation of all human dimension commitments by all OSCE participating states a priority of your chairmanship.

The commitment and bravery of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine deserves particular recognition. As recent weeks have seen an increase in violence, including the use of heavy weapons, civilian casualties and damage to critical infrastructure have compounded a desperate humanitarian situation. The Special Monitoring Mission has worked with humanitarian organizations on both sides of the line of contact to ensure that civilians enduring freezing conditions, on top of the relentless fighting, have access to heat, water, and electricity. OSCE monitors risk their own safety to fulfill their mandate to document ceasefire violations and to provide critical information of the situation on the ground. They deserve our respect and support as they press all sides to bring an immediate end to violence. They must be granted full and unfettered access and safe passage to better perform their mission, particularly in areas held by Russian-backed separatists. We continue to be concerned about threats made to the Special Monitoring Mission and underscore the importance of all sides to protect them and their work in monitoring the situation on the ground.

The United States continues to support the Minsk agreements and their full implementation as the best path to resolve the conflict and alleviate the suffering in eastern Ukraine. This should remain a priority of the OSCE and we reiterate our call for Russia to adhere to its commitments. And we must also not forget the situation in occupied Crimea. We once again call for an end to the Russian occupation and attempted annexation of the peninsula.

Mr. Minister, the United States remains fully committed to supporting the OSCE’s efforts in other areas as well. In Georgia, the OSCE plays a positive role in keeping all sides accountable, and we encourage the organization to remain actively engaged as the conflict with Russia in Georgia’s occupied territories continues to undermine European security. As a participant in the Geneva International Discussions, the United States looks forward to continuing our work with the OSCE to find a peaceful resolution that guarantees Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

As one of the three co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States supports the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The sides have made progress over the years towards a comprehensive settlement through this process. We call on the sides to enter into negotiations and complete confidence-building measures agreed last spring. This conflict cannot be resolved by force.

We are firmly committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Transnistria conflict. We believe the 5+2 talks can play an important role in resolving the conflict but any 5+2 meeting must deliver concrete results. The OSCE Mission must have unrestricted access to all of Moldova, including the Transnistrian region, and we call on the Transnistrian authorities to grant OSCE monitors consistent, unfettered access.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, we would like to highlight the OSCE’s vital role in supporting implementation of our decisions here in the Security Council. The OSCE’s support for two UN Security Council resolutions, in particular: Resolution 1540, as part of the global effort to address weapons proliferation; and Resolution 1325, to end violence against women and ensure they are at the center of efforts to resolve conflicts and counter violent extremism.

Mr. Chairman, the United States applauds the OSCE for its work to reinforce security throughout Europe. The UN-OSCE relationship is central to this Council’s work in the region. We look forward to continuing and deepening the decades of dialogue and cooperation between the UN and the OSCE. Thank you.