NGOs Advise the Ukrainian Government on Priorities during its OSCE Chairmanship

Civil society organisations from Ukraine and other countries have agreed to monitor the activities of the Ukrainian government during the country’s chairmanship in the OSCE in 2013. This was announced on 27 September 2012 at a briefing in Warsaw during the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting. A coalition of 27 non-governmental organisations from 11 countries, including many members of the Civic Solidarity Platform, presented their common vision on what human rights issues the Ukrainian authorities should solve during the country’s chairmanship in the OSCE. The NGO coalition also stated it is ready to assist the country and to monitor Ukraine’s performance in its role. The areas suggested deal with activities of the Ukraine government aimed at solving problems of the OSCE region as a whole, as well as topical issues inside of the country. “A chairmanship country is responsible for one year for processes that take place within the OSCE, but at the same time the international community will pay close attention to the situation inside the country itself. That is why we believe the government should make use of the next year to solve the problems with human rights in Ukraine to become a worthy example for other OSCE states. Our coalition defined five main issues: fighting against torture and inhuman treatment; supporting freedom of peaceful assembly; ensuring the right for fair trial; fighting persecution of civic activists and journalists for their profession; supporting independent media and freedom of expression. We are ready not only to state these problems exist, but also to help the Ukraine government to solve them,” Vadym Pyvovarov, the head of one of the coalition members, Association UMDPL, said after the briefing. Fighting torture through the development of national prevention mechanisms, supporting the freedom of peaceful assembly and association, implementation of the right to a fair trial and the defence of human rights defenders through the creation of special mechanisms are among the priorities for the NGO coalition for the whole OSCE region. The coalition also plans to monitor how open the OSCE work is for non-governmental organisations as several participating states have begun to favour significant restrictions on the participation of civil society in the activities of the OSCE. That is why one of the objectives of the coalition as well as other NGOs is ensuring the opportunities for non-governmental organisations remain in line with OSCEcommitments. Besides, NGOs aim at expanding the range of possibilities for civil society to participate in OSCE events and to set the agenda. Representatives of the official delegation of Ukraine to the OSCE stated during the briefing that they are open to dialogue and further cooperation. This was reiterated by the Swiss delegation who will chair the OSCE in 2014 and will actively watch the activities of its predecessor, Ukraine. The coalition that unites 27 organisations from 11 countries is open to new members from other organisations and networks. The coalition can be contacted via email: osce.ua2013@gmail.com