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Migration, counter-terrorism, corruption and more debated at OSCE PA’s Winter Meeting in Vienna

In addressing the ongoing threat of terrorism, Voridis discussed a number of initiatives.

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The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 18th Winter Meeting concluded today in Vienna with lively debates on migration, counter-terrorism, gender issues, and combating corruption. With nearly 300 OSCE parliamentarians in attendance, Chairs of OSCE PA ad hoc committees, Special Representatives, and leaders of recent election observation missions presented reports at today’s closing plenary session.

Tsereteli Kazakhstan bilateralGeorge Tsereteli-Kazakhstan bilateral meeting in Vienna, 21 February 2019PA President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia) and Secretary General Roberto Montella held a series of bilateral meetings while in Vienna, including with the U.S. and Russian delegations, as well as the delegations of Albania and Armenia, and the Chairman of the Kazakh Mazhilis Nurlan Nigmatulin. They also met with the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, and Secretary General Thomas Greminger.

Chaired by Filippo Lombardi (MP, Switzerland), Artur Gerasymov (MP, Ukraine) and Margareta Kiener Nellen (MP, Switzerland), the general committees of the OSCE PA have met over the past two days for discussions on issues such as restrictions on human rights during emergencies; fighting corruption, money laundering and the financing of terrorism; and how to best leverage the tools and mechanisms of the OSCE to resolve protracted conflicts.

Rapporteurs of the general committees presented their ideas and intentions for the reports and draft resolutions they will be preparing for this summer’s Annual Session in Luxembourg. Alan Farrell (MP, Ireland), Rapporteur of the Assembly’s Committee on Political Affairs and Security, stressed the role of parliaments in promoting sustainable development, democratic institutions and security.

“Parliaments have a fundamental role in ensuring governments remain accountable to their citizens, that their actions are transparent, and that all actions which work towards building and developing sustainable peace are both inclusive and people-centered,” Farrell said.

Hoxha presentingElona Hoxha presents her report in Vienna, 21 February 2019Elona Gjebrea Hoxha (MP, Albania), Rapporteur of the Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, focused her remarks on economic good governance, the fight against corruption and financing terrorism, connectivity, migration management, food and water security, and climate change.

“Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent,” she said. “It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities, and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.” She urged action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb the worst effects of global warming.

Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions Rapporteur Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (MP, Cyprus) noted that 71 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 44 years after the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act, there is a need to reaffirm and update these international commitments.

He focused on growing trends of neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism, the use of states of emergencies to suspend democratic commitments, and the needs of children in areas of military conflict. “Children living in conflict zones around the world continued to suffer extreme violence and serious human rights violations in 2018,” Hadjiyianni regretted. “Schools, students and teachers often become targets. Displacement of children all too often results in separation from their parents.”

He noted that 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and on this occasion, stressed that protection of children should become a top priority.

Lanjri report to the plenaryNahima Lanjri reports to the plenary in Vienna, 22 February 2019In a report to the plenary session today, OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Migration Chair Nahima Lanjri (MP, Belgium) described the committee’s work conducting field visits, promoting discussion on the topic of migration in the OSCE PA, and strengthening co-operation with the OSCE Secretariat, Institutions and relevant international actors.

She focused her remarks on migration-related challenges such as unaccompanied and separated children, access to education for children, and integration of refugees. For a successful international response to migration, she said it is essential to promote a multi-stakeholder approach that includes the engagement of public and private sectors and local governments, as well as implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees on the international level.

Chair Makis Voridis (MP, Greece) reported on the activities of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Voridis report to the plenaryMakis Voridis reports to the plenary in Vienna, 22 February 2019Terrorism (CCT) over the past year, noting that it has been working intensively to provide parliamentary added value to counter-terrorism efforts. He described evolving trends in terrorism and violent extremism, stressing that international terror groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda remain very active in conflict-affected zones.

In addressing the ongoing threat of terrorism, Voridis discussed a number of initiatives, including mechanisms to promote the implementation of international commitments within national parliaments. He highlighted a CCT initiative calling upon all parliaments to inquire with their governments on the status of implementation of international standards on border security and information sharing in the context of the fight against terrorism and the return of foreign terrorist fighters, noting that 16 OSCE PA member parliaments have already responded.

In the Standing Committee meeting on Thursday, heads of delegations agreed that from 1 April onwards OSCE PA election observers will have to submit a statement in which they declare conflicts of interest that they might have regarding electoral stakeholders.

By Hafsa Gulnur Erdogdu

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