COPENHAGEN, 21 November 2015 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) and Secretary General Spencer Oliver today marked the 25th anniversary of the Charter of Paris for a New Europe and called on all OSCE participating States to reaffirm their commitment to the Charter’s values of democracy and human rights.

“The Charter of Paris laid out an ideological future for Europe and beyond based first and foremost on the principles of democracy and the standards for treating human beings that go with it. Given the democratic deficit and divisions that persist in the OSCE area today, we must all recommit in deed to the values that we committed to in ink 25 years ago,” President Kanerva said.

“The Charter’s call for the creation of our Assembly was recognition of the power of parliamentarians to enhance international dialogue and understanding, solve problems and hold each other accountable to mutually agreed standards. These are all functions that the Parliamentary Assembly continues to execute today and must continue to strengthen,” he added.

The Charter of Paris for a New Europe was signed on 21 November 1990 at the Second Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) Summit. Reflecting a moment of seismic historical change and optimism that Europe’s East-West divide could finally be bridged, the Charter envisioned “a new era of democracy, peace and unity.”

Building upon the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, the Charter’s signatories pledged to build societies based on pluralist democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, economic liberty, adherence to international law and a commitment to multilateralism, among other tenets.

The Charter also institutionalized the organization and strengthened its capacities by creating or calling for the creation of permanent Institutions, including the Conflict Prevention Centre, the Office for Free Elections (now ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly.

“Without the Charter of Paris we would not have the OSCE as we know it today and there is a sizeable chance the organization would have struggled to maintain its relevance in the turbulent post-Cold War years,” said Secretary General Oliver, who drafted some of the Charter’s original language.

“Since the Charter mandated the creation of the Parliamentary Assembly, we have developed into one of the key OSCE Institutions. The PA provides new ideas and proposals across all spheres of human security and is a vital link between the OSCE as an organization and the people it is meant to serve,” he added.

The Secretary General also underscored the need for participating States to recommit to the OSCE’s core principles, as contained in the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris, which he said are now facing their greatest ever threat due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

President Kanerva and Secretary General Oliver also noted the need for the OSCE to undertake substantive reform. They referred to the Assembly’s Helsinki +40 Project, which offers wide-ranging proposals for updating the organization to ensure its effectiveness in the future.