Civic Solidarity Platform organized an online hand-over session of the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference

On 7 December 2020, Civic Solidarity Platform organized an online session in lieu of the annual in-person OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference, during which important civil society recommendations were presented to the current Albanian OSCE Chairpersonship, the incoming Swedish Chairpersonship, and representatives of OSCE institutions. The OSCE executive bodies were handed over two civil society documents, which were adopted with the coordination of the Civic Solidarity Platform ahead of the 27th OSCE Ministerial Council.

The Tirana Declaration on Human Rights, Democracy, and the Fight against Corruption emphasizes the connection between corruption and the erosion of human rights and democracy. It calls on the OSCE and its participating States to radically step up the fight against corruption. With the Agenda for International Support of a Human Rights Democracy Transition in Belarus, more than 60 national and international human rights NGOs provide recommendations to stimulate various international actors to take active, consistent, and coordinated steps to end the current severe human rights crisis in Belarus.

During the session Mr. Agron Tare, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, talked about the efforts that Albania’s 2020 OSCE Chairpersonship has made to ensure broad and open access for civil society in OSCE meetings, regardless of the challenges that were associated with working during the global pandemic. He also drew everyone’s attention to the fact that moving events online has made them more accessible than traditional in-person meetings and resulted in civil society’s higher participation throughout the year.

In her address to participants Ms. Katarzyna Gardapkhadze, ODIHR First Deputy Director, stressed the need for an inclusive approach while cooperating with the civil society organizations. As she underlined, it is the civil society that does “the actual work for human rights and democracy” and international organizations “are there to support them”. 

Mr. Jürgen Heissel, Director of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM), complimented the Tirana Declaration for linking the issue of corruption to the OSCE human dimension. He underlined that the significant role that investigative journalists and anti-corruption activists play in the fight against corruption often makes them subject to harassment, legal procedures, and criminal prosecution in many countries. Furthermore, Mr. Heissel assured the participants that the Office is carefully looking into all the recommendations provided in the Agenda on Belarus and expressed his hope to contribute to their implementation by sharing expertise and assistance. 

As a representative of the incoming chairpersonship, Mr. Robert Rydberg, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said that the Swedish Chairpersonship is ready to handle the follow-up of the Moscow Mechanism Report and to consider the tools available to the chair to help de-escalate the situation. Mr. Rydberg stressed that Sweden “will stand ready to facilitate a genuine and inclusive dialogue in Belarus”, showing commitment to the offer of the Albanian Chairpersonship made before to facilitate such a dialogue. Finally, he assured the participants that safeguarding civil society participation in all three dimensions of the OSCE will be a priority for Sweden during 2021.

The recommendations provided in the two presented documents were further discussed during the two additional online meetings which were held on 8 and 9 December for the delegations of OSCE participating States and OSCE institutions as well as experts and representatives of national and international NGOs.