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OSCE Ministerial Council

6.12.2002

OSCE Ministerial Council, 6-7 December 2002:
Statement by H.E. Mr. Halldor Asgrimsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Terrorism remains a major threat to security and will be a core element on the OSCE security agenda in the forseeable future. The OSCE has proven that it has an important role to play in the fight against terrorism, offering a comprehensive approach to security, covering the politico-military, economic and environmental and the human dimensions. It has many comparative advantages, including its broad membership, and its developed focus on early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and democracy, all reflected in an unrivalled experience in the field.

Important results have been achieved since our meeting in Bucharest last year. The Bucharest and Bishkek plans of action are the underpinnings of our efforts to combat terrorism.

Iceland welcomes the adoption of an OSCE Charter on preventing and combating terrorism and its implementation plan. The Charter is a clear sign of our political solidarity and our resolve to fight this evil. Now our emphasis must be placed on implementation of our commitments.

We fully support OSCE developing role in policing issues. The establishment of an OSCE Senior Police Advisor and a Strategic Police Matters Unit within the Secretariat earlier this year was a important decision in this regard. OSCE enhancing work in policing is already providing positive results, for example in Central Asia.

This fight against terrorism is a long term commitment, but in this process we must also ensure that we do not undermine the basic values of our societies, those of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

Iceland welcomes the Ministerial decision on the development of an OSCE strategy to address new threats and challenges to stability and security in the 21st century. It is high time to define new OSCE wide problems that the Organisation will have to respond to, if it is to maintain it}s relevance.

Mr. Chairman,

Iceland welcomes the Ministerial declaration on trafficking in human beings, including a plan of action. This burning issue should be high on our agenda. Trafficking is an abhorrent violation of the dignity and human rights of its victims and represents a dangerous threat to security in the OSCE area and beyond. Trafficking in human beings is linked to other trans-national criminal activities such as corruption and terrorism. Combating trafficking needs a comprehensive, integrated and multidisciplenary approach and must be fought at all levels.

The OSCE has an important role to play in combating this form of modern slavery, which must be dealt with through effective regional and international cooperation. Much needs to be done in terms of legislative measures. Iceland highly appreciates the important work already carried out by ODIHR, the OSCE Gender Advisor, the Stability Pact Task Force on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and OSCE field presences and we are committed to aid this effort. We are pleased that the next year}s chairmanship - the Netherlands - has announced that they will place anti-trafficking efforts on top of their agenda.

Another issue that we have disregarded lately is the need to ensure the well being of children in the OSCE region. The OSCE must be ready play its part in the global efforts to ensure respect for the rights of the child. We must combat all forms of violence against children, including trafficking.

Mr. Chairman,

The OSCE embodies fundamental values and must play a strong role in fostering respect for these values. The success of this body is however absolutely dependent on the political will of the participating states to fulfil their existing commitments they have undertaken in the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter for European Security and other OSCE documents. This also applies to participating states hosting OSCE field missions. In too many instances these commitments have not been honoured. This we need to address or otherwise this Organisation will suffer from loss of credibility.

We welcome further strengthening of the Economic and Environmental Dimension of the OSCE and the development of an new OSCE document in this dimension. This is an important step to address the balance and add clarity to the three OSCE dimensions.

Mr. Chairman,

I would also like to comment on the extensive work on the reform of this organisation, but this issue is of constant concern to the smallest members of this family.

Iceland has emphasised the need for strengthening the OSCE secretariat and its analytical capabilities, making it more capable of providing the organisation and the participating states with the necessary expertise, enabling them to deal with increased workload in a sensible and effective manner. This would also safeguard the necessary continuity and the institutional memory of the organisation. Greater secretariat support will also strengthen the Chairmanship}s ability to act quickly and effectively.

Let me also say one thing about visibility of the OSCE. For me, what we need to work at is not the visibility of the OSCE per se. Rather we should seek to make the values of the OSCE visible across the participating states - visible in action and ourselves visibly complying with these values.

In concluding, I would like to congratulate the Chairman in Office, Foreign Minister Mr. Antonio Martins da Cruz, and his team for effective and productive leadership of our Organisation during this year. Further, allow me to express our sincere thanks for the Portuguese hospitality bestowed upon us.

Iceland wishes the Netherlands every success in its role as Chair of the OSCE next year. They may be assured of our full support and cooperation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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