Helsinki 40 OSCE PA LogoHELSINKI, 6 July 2015 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s International Secretariat has released the Final Report of its Helsinki +40 Project, presenting concrete proposals for reforming the OSCE to ensure its relevance and efficiency in the years ahead.

The report was presented today to parliamentarians from three continents attending the OSCE PA’s 2015 Annual Session, during a special event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the OSCE’s founding document, the Helsinki Final Act.

A resolution based on the report and sponsored by Project Chair Joao Soares (MP, Portugal) is also under consideration at this year’s Annual Session, which is being held in Finlandia Hall, the site of the signing of the Final Act on 1 August 1975.

In presenting the report, OSCE PA President and Finnish parliamentarian Ilkka Kanerva said:

“We pay tribute to the Helsinki Final Act and the OSCE for advancing human security over the last four decades. But make no mistake: This is by no means the time to sit back and be satisfied. Today, the only fitting way to commemorate the Final Act is to strive with new urgency toward realizing its vision of respectful interstate relations and adherence to commitments -- and that requires reforming the way we work."

The Helsinki +40 Project Final Report synthesizes observations and suggestions offered by leading parliamentarians, CSCE/OSCE veterans, diplomats and academics over the course of seminars organized with partnering think-tanks in Moscow, Washington, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Belgrade and Helsinki. The OSCE’s strengths and weaknesses as exemplified by the crisis in and around Ukraine also informed the conclusions.

The Final Report’s recommendations for reforming and strengthening the OSCE include, inter alia:

•    Modify the OSCE’s consensus-bound decision-making to enable swifter action, such as the deployment of observer or fact-finding missions in crisis situations.
•    Increase investment, both politically and financially, in OSCE field presences, where much of the Organization’s most valuable work is done.
•    Better address human rights and human dimension issues by holding regular, open-press sessions to review countries’ records on implementation of commitments.
•    Intensify efforts in arms control, including through the agreement of a new code of conduct for OSCE participating States in the most problematic areas.
•    Strengthen the role of the OSCE PA within the Organization to make better use of its direct connection with the people of the OSCE area.
•    Enhance the democratic legitimacy of the OSCE by allowing the PA to oversee its budget, elect the Secretary General and approve high-level appointments.
•    Make real progress toward achieving a legal personality for the Organization, which would facilitate the work of field presences, strengthen the OSCE’s international agreements and better safeguard staff. 

The Helsinki +40 Project’s partner think-tanks included the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC); The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF); The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI); the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS); the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE); and The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA).

The FIIA hosted the Project’s final seminar on 5 July, featuring a discussion of outcomes.

President Kanerva was joined by OSCE PA Secretary General and Project Co-ordinator Spencer Oliver in presenting the Final Report to the Assembly today.

“The Parliamentary Assembly has been at forefront of advocating the kinds of reforms necessary for the OSCE to become a respected and efficient international organization. We hope the recommendations contained in this report are considered carefully by the OSCE Permanent Council," Oliver said.

Ivan Timofeev of RIAC, Ivan Vejvoda of GMF, Mats Karlsson of UI and Teija Tiilikainen of FIIA also offered remarks.

The report will be sent to the foreign ministries and parliaments of OSCE participating States, as well as to other OSCE Institutions.

For detailed information on the OSCE PA’s Helsinki +40 Project, click here

LIVE STREAMING of the Annual Session and all related materials are available here

Follow news from the Session using the Twitter hashtag #PAHelsinki15.