Swiss OSCE Chairmanship, ODIHR and Civic Solidarity provide a platform for civil society dialogue on prevention of torture, right to privacy and non-discrimination issues

A three-day Civil Society Forum in Vienna opened yesterday, gathering civil society representatives from North America, Western, Central and Eastern Europe. The topics to be discussed include the prevention of torture, the right to privacy and non-discrimination. 

Some 50 representatives of civil society organizations are taking part in the discussion, organized jointly by ODIHR and the Civic Solidarity Platform, with the support of the 2014 Swiss OSCE Chairmanship. 

“We believe that this is a worthwhile and relevant exchange, so that solidarity may translate into common thoughts and actions in favour of a “Security Community for the benefit of everyone” across the OSCE region”, stated the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OSCE, and Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, Ambassador Thomas Greminger in his welcoming remarks. “Civil society organizations are multipliers of the much needed attention that human rights deserve in all of our States’ agendas.”

"This forum is being held in the run-up to the meeting this week in Vienna on the prevention of torture. Despite its absolute prohibition in OSCE commitments and international instruments, torture continues to be perpetrated in the OSCE area," said Snježana Bokulić, Head of ODIHR's Human Rights Department. "Renewed efforts are needed to fight and eradicate this scourge, and civil society has to be our main partner if we are to succeed."

“The forum provides civil society organizations with an excellent opportunity to develop recommendations on several key human rights issues which are a matter of concern for both civic activists and governments,” added Yuri Dzhibladze for the Civic Solidarity Platform. “We look forward to discussing how NGOs can work more closely with actors in the OSCE community to ensure more effective implementation of human dimension commitments.”

The Vienna event is the second in a series of four regional workshops that are taking place in Belgrade, Vienna, Dushanbe and Tbilisi. The outcomes of the workshops will be compiled in a set of recommendations addressed to OSCE institutions and OSCE participating States to be adopted as an outcome document of the Parallel Civil Society Conference in the context of the Ministerial Council in Basel, in December 2014.  Under the leitmotiv: “Creating a Security Community for the benefit of everyone,” the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship is engaged in a dialogue with civil society to steer the implementation of OSCE commitments with a view to improving people’s lives.