Working Group on Reform of International Organizations

Coordinators: Harry Hummel, Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Yuri Dzhibladze, Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights 

The working group is tasked with conducting advocacy to improve international institutions’ mechanisms and operations for protecting human rights. While recognizing that there are relevant and important issues related to the reform of other institutions, including the UN and EU, the working group focuses its attention on the OSCE, and aims to develop work with respect to the Council of Europe as well.

The OSCE has developed an impressive set of standards on human rights, rule of law, and democracy. Many of these have been accepted by OSCE participating states as human dimension commitments, but monitoring and review of states’ compliance with these commitments remains weak and uneven. With respect to the OSCE, the working group assists NGOs in developing activities at OSCE human dimension events. The working group also elaborates and presents views on how to improve the OSCE’s procedures for monitoring and reviewing governments’ compliance with their human dimension commitments, and on developing the procedures of the OSCE to interact with civil society.

The working group engages with the yearly rotating OSCE Chairmanship (Switzerland 2014, Serbia 2015, Germany 2016) and with NGO coalitions from the Chairmanship countries, a.o. in stimulating ‘self assessment’ of Chairmanship states against OSCE commitments.

With respect to the Council of Europe, the aim is to develop work with respect to the European Court of Human Rights, the main human rights protection mechanism in Europe, the operation of which has come under threat. Some governments, primarily but not exclusively in Central and Eastern Europe, have failed to implement structural reforms in response to Court decisions, leading to a large number of repetitive appeals being lodged with the Court and thus a huge backlog of cases. The working group would conduct advocacy to pressure governments to faithfully implement Court decisions and engage the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) regarding governments’ faulty compliance with Court decisions.