Hearing :: U.S. Policy and the OSCE: Making Good on Commitments



Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe:  U.S. Helsinki Commission

“U.S. Policy and the OSCE:  Making Good on Commitments”

Philip H. Gordon
Assistant Secretary,
U.S. Department of State Office of European and Eurasian Affairs

Michael H. Posner,
Assistant Secretary,
U.S. Department of State Office of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Alexander Vershbow,
Assistant Secretary,
U.S. Department of Defense Office of International Security Affairs

Michael Haltzel,
Senior Fellow,
Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University, SAIS

Catherine Fitzpatrick,
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

The Hearing Was Held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in 210 Cannon House Office 
Building, Washington, D.C.,
[Representative Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), CSCE], Moderating 

Date:  Thursday, July 28, 2011

REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (R-NJ):  The commission will come to order, 
and good afternoon, everybody.  Thank you for being here for this very 
important Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing.  I’d like 
to welcome our distinguished witnesses.  It is not often that we have the honor 
of hearing from three assistant secretaries at the same time, including two who 
also serve as Helsinki commissioners, so you really should be up here – 
(chuckles) – asking the questions.  But thank you for being here and thank you 
for your work on behalf of human rights and all of the three baskets that make 
up the Helsinki Final Act.

Today we’ll explore the U.S. policy towards the Organization for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe, a unique intergovernmental organization that 
incorporates human rights and economic development into its comprehensive 
concept of security.   Unfortunately, over the past several years, OSCE 
countries with poor human rights records have been able to thwart some of the 
organization’s work on these issues.  

Last December at the Astana Summit, the OSCE’s first summit since 1990, OSCE 
states failed to reach consensus on an action plan laying out priorities for 
the coming years.  Yet, the OSCE needs to continue to focus on fundamental 
human rights issues.  This is its heritage, the reason it was created in the 
1970s.   It must not allow itself to be sidetracked by Russia or other un- or 
semi-democratic states which argue that the organization should look only at 
positive examples of best practices or that distract the OSCE from its work by 
insisting on lengthy discussions of OSCE reform.  

Likewise, our own government must raise the priority given to human rights and 
humanitarian concerns, from supporting oppressed people of Belarus, turning 
back the trend to restrict Internet and media freedoms, support democracy in 
Kyrgyzstan and democratic activists throughout all of central Asia, making sure 
the OSCE partnership program is used to generally promote human rights for 
oppressed minorities; and as for the Copts in Egypt, helping OSCE countries to 
address the disturbing and potential tragic demographic trends found in almost 
all of the member states.  All of these have been the subject of recent 
commission hearings and as we look forward to working with the executive branch 
on each and every one of these issues.

One issue I’d like to particularly raise here is the international child 
abduction issue.  I note parenthetically – and unfortunately due to scheduling 
I will have to be absent for most of this hearing – but at 2:00 I’ll be 
hearing, as chairman of the Global Health, Global Human Rights Africa 
Subcommittee from Susan Jacobs and others about the efforts to bring children 
home who have been abducted throughout the world.  

The Hague Treaty is now some 30 years old.  And unfortunately, much of its 
implementing processes have been thwarted or mitigated by countries, especially 
government authorities that have refused to take seriously their obligations; 
and, you know, the hearing will focus on many of these countries, with a 
particular emphasis on Japan.  So I – regrettably I will have to leave for 
that.  Again, this hearing was actually put on before – or after, I should say, 
that hearing.

I would also point out that at the OSCE parliamentary assembly in Belgrade 
earlier this month, there was a resolution that we had authored as a commission 
to take up the issue of international parental child abductions by promoting 
better implementation of the Hague convention.  My hope is that at the OSCE 
ministerial in Vilnius this year we can look at standards for OSCE states to 
fill the gaps in the convention’s implementation.  Like I said, 30 years after 
its signing there are huge gaps that must be looked at.

I’d like to also say that – and I mentioned this to Assistant Secretary Posner 
just a moment ago – but last week we held a very disturbing hearing here in 
this room and heard from three distinguished witnesses including Michelle 
Clark, who all of you will recall was the director of OSCE trafficking work.  
She did a landmark report on partner-country Egypt and focused on the issue of 
the abduction and the forced marriages of Coptic women, often starting as early 
as 14 and 15 years of age, who are then forced into Islam and then after that 
forced to take up a Muslim husband.  If that isn’t a definition of trafficking, 
I don’t know what is.

This has been reported on, as I think all of you know, in the past in a cursory 
way, perhaps, by many human rights reports.  But she said – and she said it 
with emphasis – that the idea that it’s a mere allegation must be stricken from 
the record, that this is now a common practice and she estimated – and she did 
on the ground investigations and, frankly, she actually told us she would going 
back to do more on the ground human rights investigations – that thousands of 
Coptic girls every year now are being abducted and forced into Muslim 
marriages, obviously against their will, against the will of their families.  
And drugs and rape are very often a means to expedite that conversion and that 
marriage – an absolute horrific situation that has gotten scant coverage.  

I plan – or actually offered an amendment to the foreign relations bill when it 
was marked up last week in committee condemning this egregious practice.  And 
many of the members wanted more information after the markup, which we are 
providing and have provided.  And I do think it’s an issue we need to engage 

I’d like to introduce our first panel, beginning first with Dr. Philip Gordon 
who serves as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.  
Prior to assuming his position he was a fellow – a senior fellow at The 
Brookings Institution.  He also served as director for European affairs at the 
National Security Council under President Clinton.  

Michael Posner serves as assistant secretary for state for Democracy, Human 
Rights and Labor.  And prior to his current position he was executive direction 
and then president of Human Rights First.  And I would just say personally I’ve 
worked with him for decades and it’s great to have him before the commission.  
Before joining Human Rights First, he practiced law in Chicago, and he also 
worked for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, which obviously became Human 
Rights First.  

Then we’ll hear from Ambassador Alexander Vershbow who serves as assistant 
secretary of defense for International Security Affairs.  A career foreign 
service officer, he has served as U.S. ambassador to NATO, the Russian 
Federation and the Republic of Korea.  He’s held numerous senior-level foreign 
policy positions principally focused on the former Soviet Union and the 

And so I’d like to now ask our first panelist, Dr. Gordon, if he would proceed.

PHILIP GORDON:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  I’m honored to be here, and 
appreciate the opportunity to talk about our agenda for the OSCE.  I am 
particularly pleased to be sitting here with my friends and close colleagues, 
Mike Posner and Sandy Vershbow.  I’d like to focus my remarks today on the OSCE 
since the December 2010 Astana Summit which I attended along with Secretary 

And I’d like to begin by looking at our core foreign policy goals for the 
organization, reviewing our achievements at Astana and looking forward to the 
OSCE’s ministerial in Vilnius this December.  I’ve submitted a long version for 
the record, and would like to just summarize here if I may.

REP. SMITH:  Without objection.  Your full statement and that of our 
distinguished witnesses will be made a part of the record.

MR. GORDON:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Our approach to the OSCE rests firmly on 
the foundation of relations with Europe and Eurasia as a whole.  Europe remains 
a key national priority for the United States for the simple reason that 
nowhere does the United States have better, more valuable partners than in 
Europe.  The United States and Europe share common values, our economies are 
intertwined, and our militaries work together to address common security 

U.S. bilateral engagement with Europe is complemented by key multilateral 
institutions, including the OSCE.  Through the OSCE we engage on such U.S. 
priorities as advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms, building 
democratic institutions throughout the OSCE area, and advancing good governance 
in the economic and environmental spheres, and military transparency.  In this 
period of tight budgets, multilateral approaches often present an effective 
alternative to unilateral engagement. 

Today, as you said, Mr. Chairman, the principles and commitments embodied by 
the OSCE face some serious challenges both from the inside and outside of the 
organization.  From within, there is an uneven application of the Helsinki 
principles.  Regional crises and trans-national threats are proliferating.  
Efforts to resolve the protracted conflicts, for example, in Georgia, Moldova 
and Nagorno-Karabakh continue to face very frustrating obstacles.

To take another example, Russia’s determination to limit the role of the OSCE 
in Georgia has diminished possibilities for international engagement in this 
region where transparency and confidence building are sorely needed.  Problems 
like these make headlines, but they offer only a partial picture of the OSCE, 
because the OSCE has also made tremendous contributions toward advancing 
democratic prosperity and stability throughout Europe and Eurasia.  Although it 
is at time stymied by a lack of political will, the OSCE nonetheless remains 
uniquely positioned to build confidence through military transparency, promote 
good governance and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe and 

At the Astana Summit last December, which was the first OSCE summit in 11 
years, the 56 participating states issued the Astana Commemorative Declaration, 
which was a stronger affirmation of the Helsinki principles and commitments of 
the entire OSCE akey (ph) including, for the very first time, an explicit 
statement that human rights situations in participating states are matters of, 
quote, “direct and legitimate concern to all.”  Because of disagreements over 
the protracted conflicts, we were indeed unable to get consensus on an action 
plan at Astana.  But the final document tasks future chairmanships to develop a 
plan to address a range of common challenges.

Since the summit, we’ve been working with the Lithuanian chairmanship as new 
challenges present themselves.  Among these has been Belarus.  After a flawed 
presidential election, the government of Belarus launched brutal crackdown 
against the opposition and civil society following, and closed the OSCE office 
in Minsk.  Through the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism and other efforts, we 
are working to hold the government of Belarus accountable for its failure to 
protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In close consultation with Senator Cardin and others on this committee, we have 
also taken concrete actions to address the tragic case of Sergei Magnitsky, a 
lawyer who died in pre-trial detention in Russia.  We’ve also worked with the 
chairmanship to support greater OSCE assistance for North Africa.  For example 
ODIHR, at the request of Egyptian activists, is already holding a workshop for 
Egyptian civil society on international standards of election observation in 
advance of Egypt’s November parliamentary elections.  

Looking forward to the December OSCE ministerial in Vilnius, the United States 
is working with our partners to achieve results in all three dimensions.  Very 
briefly – in political-military dimension, we want to agree on a substantial 
update of the OSCE central arms control document – agreement, the Vienna 
Document, which we hope will be reissued at Vilnius for the first time since 
1999.  In the economic-environmental dimension, we to endorse greater economic 
transparency, good governance and anti-corruption measures, as well as work 
with the special representative on gender issues to empower women in the 
economic sphere.  In the human dimension, we hope to take the Helsinki Final 
Act into the digital age with a decision that would explicitly acknowledge that 
human rights and fundamental freedoms can apply to online activity as they do 
to offline activity. We want to reaffirm and strengthen government’s commitment 
to the protection of journalists.  

We all know that a consensus-based organization with 56 participating states 
sometimes moves in frustratingly small steps.  The issues the OSCE faces can 
seem intractable, but exchanging words is better than exchanging bullets, which 
unfortunately we have experienced in the OSCE space in the last three years.  
The OSCE has not yet lived up to its full potential, but the OSCE does good and 
vital work and remains essential for protecting human rights, promoting 
stability and spreading democracy throughout the region.

The Helsinki Commission; you, Mr. Chairman; the commissioners and the experts 
on your staff play a vital role ensuring that the participating states keep the 
promises made at Helsinki.  With your support, the United States will continue 
to play a leading role in the OSCE to strengthen, build upon the progress 
participating states have made over the past 35 years, and bring us closer to a 
truly stable, secure and prosperous OSCE region.  Thank you.

REP. SMITH:  Gordon, thank you very much for your testimony.  I – to note, 
there are eight consecutive votes on the floor right now.  I have 30 seconds to 
get to the floor.  Co-Chairman Ben Cardin will be here momentarily, but until 
then we will stand in, momentarily, recess.  Again, I apologize to our 


SENATOR BENJAMIN CARDIN (D-MD):  The commission will back to order.  I 
apologize; as I think Chairman Smith has indicated, the House has series of 
votes.  The Senate’s waiting on the House.  We may be waiting a long time from 
what I understand.  So we – we’re sort of in that position.  Obviously the 
timing of this hearing was – we didn’t anticipate that we would be in the midst 
of these negotiations concerning the budget.  So we apologize to all of our 
witnesses.  I understand that Secretary Gordon, you’ve already completed your 
opening statement, so we’ll go to Secretary Posner.

MICHAEL POSNER:  Thank you, Senator Cardin.  I ask that my written testimony be 
submitted to the record.

SEN. CARDIN:  Without objection, all of your statements will be included in the 

MR. POSNER:  Great.  First, I want to thank you for holding this important 
hearing at this time.  And I want to focus my brief remarks on the human rights 
and human dimension aspect of the OSCE.  

First, for us, the OSCE is an important forum for raising human rights issues 
in individual countries in concern. And in the written testimony, I focus in 
particular on Belarus, Russia and Uzbekistan.  As Assistant Secretary Gordon 
said with respect to Belarus, we see a refusal to extend the mandate of the 
OSCE office in Minsk, its hindering of the Moscow Mechanism by not allowing a 
special rapporteur into the country and now their resistance to joining 
consensus on the agenda for the human dimension implementation meeting in 
Warsaw.  But it – by its obstructionist behavior, Belarus only draws more 
attention to its poor human rights record.  

We also have been and will continue to press for human rights with respect to 
Russia.  We’ve spoken out repeatedly at the OSCE Permanent Council and in other 
OSCE fora about the – about the many unresolved cases, like the murder of 
journalist Paul Klebnikov, human rights activist Natalya Estemirova and the 
corruption and impunity as exemplified in the tragic case of Sergei Magnitsky, 
Senator Cardin, you – a case in which you’ve played such an important role in 
drawing international attention, and we thank you for that; also restrictions 
on free assembly for groups like Strategy-31.

For us, the OSCE is particularly important, though, in the five Central Asian 
states, which don’t really have another regional forum.  And so the 
comprehensive security we seek in the OSCE region, and in Central Asia 
particularly – particular, will remain elusive until a range of serious human 
rights problems are addressed.  There is a pattern, for example, of serious 
human rights violations in Uzbekistan.  We’ve consistently raised our concerns 
in cases like that of Dilmurod Sayid, a journalist who was imprisoned for 
writing about corruption; Maxim Popov, who remains incarcerated for working on 
AIDS issues; and we continue to advocate for fair treatment and due process in 
these and similar cases.

We are committed to working with civil society in Uzbekistan and other Central 
Asian countries to advance democratic reforms at a moment where those issues 
are extremely difficult.  But sometimes the engagement does yield results.  And 
I want to point in a positive way to the actions by the government of 
Kyrgyzstan, which has decriminalized libel, an issue in which the OSCE 
representative on freedom of the media has persistently focused.  

A second broad point I want to make is that the OSCE remains a pioneering 
process relevant in today’s world.  It’s a comprehensive approach to security, 
to human values – which are at the core of the Helsinki process – and there is 
also a recognition of the vital role of civil society.  The OSCE as an 
institution and the civil society activists associated with the Helsinki 
movement contribute expertise to our partnership with Mediterranean states now 
undergoing transformations.  

Third and relating to that same point, the Helsinki process must continue to 
champion citizen activism.  Secretary Clinton last summer gave an important 
speech in Krakow, Poland, talking about the environment in which NGOs – which 
civil society are now being restricted by governments who are unhappy with 
their actions.  The OSCE, through its engagement of civil society, reinforces 
our strategy of supporting citizen activism.  In mid-August, my bureau will be 
reviewing proposals for a new $500,000 program to create a demand-driven, 
virtual network of human rights and democracy activists in the OSCE region.  
We’re calling it Helsinki 2.0.  This will help extend Helsinki’s human 
dimension and the legacy of citizen involvement.

Last point is that I think it’s important for us to send a clear message to – 
from Vilnius on Internet freedom.  I appreciate the commission holding a 
hearing on that subject several weeks ago.  We applaud Lithuania for making 
media freedom both via old and new technologies key themes of their 
chairmanship, and we’re grateful for the tireless effort of the OSCE permanent 
representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic.

As Ambassador Gordon and I have both noted in our written testimonies, the U.S. 
government is committed to fundamental freedoms in the digital age, and the 
Astana summit ended without adoption of a plan.  We intend to renew our efforts 
in the Vilnius ministerial.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I want to say that we are committed to a Europe 
that is whole, free and at peace, Europe and Eurasia coming together in an 
integrated way.  And there can’t be lasting security in this region until human 
rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully exercised by all of the people 
within the OSCE region.

Again, I want to thank you for holding these hearings and for your own personal 
commitment to these issues.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, thank you for your testimony and thank for your 
participation on the commission.

Secretary Vershbow?

ALEXANDER VERSHBOW:  Thank you, Senator Cardin.  Thanks to you and to Chairman 
Smith for inviting me to testify about the Organization for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe and our goals in the run-up to the Vilnius ministerial 
meeting in December.  And I’m very honored to associate myself with this 
commission and its achievements over the decades.  Like my colleagues, I have a 
longer statement that I’d like to submit for the record.

SEN. CARDIN:  And it will be.

MR. VERSHBOW:  But I’ll just summarize some of the main points.

The OSCE has three attributes that make it unique.  It has a vast geographic 
scope; it has a three-basket approach to security, encompassing human rights, 
economic development as well as military security that is still relevant today; 
and it has an extraordinary legacy, having played a critical role both in 
supporting and inspiring the forces of democracy and freedom behind the Iron 
Curtain during the Cold War and then bringing order during Europe’s tumultuous 
political transitions of the early 1990s.

Throughout its history, the OSCE has adapted to new challenges and changes in 
the security environment.  And in keeping with this tradition, it must continue 
to adapt to face the challenges of the 21st century.

As we’ve heard, last December, the OSCE held its first summit in Astana – the 
first summit since 1999.  At the summit, we learned that the achievements of 
the OSCE cannot be taken for granted.  The effort to produce an action plan for 
2011 foundered over fundamental disagreements on conventional arms control and 
the unresolved conflicts.

Fortunately, due in no small part to the efforts of my friend Phil Gordon, the 
member states did succeed in producing the Astana Commemorative Declaration 
which recommitted all 56 participating states to the Helsinki principles and to 
revitalizing the political-military dimension of European security.

And I’d like to focus on what the administration would like to accomplish in 
this area by the time of the ministerial in December, with particular attention 
to the three most important parts of the conventional arms control regime:  The 
1999 Vienna Document, the Open Skies Treaty and the CFE Treaty.

OSCE is engaged in an intensive effort to update the Vienna Document for the 
first time since 1999.  So far, the only changes that have been agreed are 
administrative in nature.

One substantive proposal that we believe would be critical to making the update 
a success is to lower the force thresholds for notification of military 
maneuvers, a subject that’s central to the original intention of the Vienna 
document.  So far, only 35 of the 56 participating states have agreed to this 
proposal, but we think it would better reflect – reduce force sizes in Europe 
and it would send a clear signal that OSCE is serious about modernizing 
military transparency and security in Europe even though this is not the only 
updating that should be done either before or beyond Vilnius.

So we hope to have a deeper discussion with our OSCE partners on a range of 
measures that would be necessary to improve the security of all participating 
states.  With military budgets under pressure, we think that the Vienna 
Document must continue to evolve to keep pace with the transformations under 
way across Europe’s militaries.

On Open Skies, the 34 states party to the treaty have flown more than 700 
aerial observation flights since the treaty entered into force in 2002.  The 
ability of any party to overfly any part of the territory of every other party 
is actually quite extraordinary.  And, indeed, the United States and Russia 
both used Open Skies to verify the New START treaty.  We’re seeking to recommit 
the United States to the treaty by increasing the number of flights in which we 
participate each year and by upgrading our sensors to digital.  While many 
states are scaling back their participation due to budget cuts, we note that 
Russia has renewed its commitment by purchasing new Open Skies aircraft, so we 
look forward to the continued operation of this landmark treaty.

The news on conventional armed forces in Europe, the CFE Treaty, is less 
encouraging.  As you know, the CFE impasse began with Russia’s December 2007 
suspension of its compliance with the treaty.  Our efforts, led by Ambassador 
Victoria Nuland, to conclude a framework agreement as the starting point of 
negotiations to modernize the treaty have foundered on two main issues:  the 
right of states to choose whether or not to allow foreign forces to be 
stationed on their sovereign territory, and providing transparency among all 
parties regarding their current military posture.

Currently, the United States is consulting with the other parties to decide the 
way forward while continuing to encourage Moscow to reconsider its position.  
But as NATO said at the Lisbon summit last November, this situation in which 29 
parties implement the treaty while one does not cannot continue indefinitely.

While the future of CFE remains uncertain, we remain committed to conventional 
arms control and military transparency in Europe.  And while the CFE treaty 
can’t be replaced, we’ll continue to work through the OSCE to advance these 
objectives by modernizing the Vienna Document and the Open Skies Treaty.

We also seek to use the leverage of OSCE’s diverse membership in trying to 
address the unresolved conflicts.  And we hope through cooperative efforts to 
resolve them.

Sadly, we’ve seen little sign of progress on resolving the conflict between 
Georgia and Russia.  Talks do continue in Vienna and in Geneva on the 
possibility of an OSCE team that could have access to all of the territory of 
Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, but Russia has yet to 

Our position remains unchanged.  The United States continues to support 
Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally 
recognized borders, and we will maintain our support for international efforts 
to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  
Russia needs to abide by its ceasefire arrangements and take steps that promote 
stability in the region.

The OSCE continues to play an important role in supporting a peaceful 
resolution of the dispute over Transdniestria through the “five plus two” 
talks, and the United States remains closely engaged with our OSCE Minsk Group 
co-chairs, Russia and France, in supporting efforts to promote a peaceful 
settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  
Unfortunately, an attempt last month to reach a breakthrough failed and 
tensions along the line of contact are increasing.  But with the parties’ 
inability to finalize the Madrid basic principles to resolve the conflict, we 
remain at a dangerous stalemate, and prospects for progress remain uncertain.

Now, the OSCE is also a forerunner among regional organizations in addressing 
emerging threats, such as preventing nuclear proliferation to nonstate actors, 
the control of small arms and light weapons, the promotion of cybersecurity and 
enhancing border security in Central Asia.

On nonproliferation, OSCE continues to work towards full implementation of U.N. 
Security Council Resolution 1540.  OSCE is setting norms for its members on 
nuclear nonproliferation by hosting specialized workshops and specialized tools 
for implementation.

OSCE is a vital forum for cooperation on reducing the threat posed by small 
arms and light weapons.  It’s facilitated cooperation among participating 
states in reducing trafficking, securing existing stocks and eliminating excess 
small arms and light weapons and related materials since 1999.  In March and 
July of this year, DOD participated in OSCE-led visits to Kyrgyzstan, and we’re 
now working to ensure that that country’s man-portable air-defense systems, or 
MANPADS – and we’re also coordinating OSCE efforts to secure and destroy large 
stockpiles of hazardous conventional ammunition.

On cybersecurity, OSCE hosted an important conference to explore potential 
roles for the organization, which included not only participating states, 
partners and international organizations but the European Commission, Japan and 
NATO.  In the run-up to the Vilnius ministerial, the Pentagon will continue to 
support State Department-led discussions on developing cyber 
confidence-building mechanisms in the OSCE to protect our vital interests.

We also have been working through OSCE to promote a stable, secure and 
prosperous Central Asia by improving border security and working to combat 
illegal drug trafficking and other forms of proliferation across the region.  
We believe OSCE can do more in Afghanistan.  The secretariat has proposed 16 
projects to enhance Afghan border security with an emphasis on building Afghan 
capacity.  These are supportive of the Afghanistan government’s national 
development strategy.  So far, only a few have been implemented and we would 
like to see more progress between now and Vilnius on these very important 

So, to conclude, Senator, in 1970, it was unlikely that NATO and the Warsaw 
Pact would hand each other their order of battle, publish advance warning of 
and invite observers to their large military exercises, conduct thousands of 
intrusive inspections and fly hundreds of uncontested reconnaissance sorties 
over each other’s territories.  But now, we take these measures for granted.

The OSCE, aided by this commission, remains an important tool to prevent future 
conflicts, to resolve the remaining conflicts in Eurasia, to address new 
threats as they emerge.  We hope to be a bit further along by this year in 
projecting the peace and security of OSCE to other areas of instability, but 
clearly much more work remains to be done.

I hope that by the time of the Vilnius meeting in December, the Astana summit 
will, ultimately, be seen as a turning point in reinvigorating OSCE’s security 
dimension and moving it boldly into the 21st century.

Thank you very much.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, thank you for that comprehensive presentation.  I thank all 
three of you.

It’s clear to me that if the Vilnius ministerial is going to be successful, 
it’s going to require a great deal of preparation work by the United States.  
We saw a year ago with the Astana preparations – were not up to what we wanted 
it to be, and I agree with the observations; Secretary Gordon, but for your 
work and the U.S. work, I think that would’ve been a difficult time.  I think 
we pulled out at the end some important work that was done in Astana.  And I 
really do applaud the U.S. for your leadership there.

We can’t chance that again.  I think we need better preparation moving in to 
the ministerial.  Of course, this is not a summit, so the expectations are 
nowhere near as high, but it still, I think, requires us – it’s a once a year 
opportunity.  And I listen to your testimony, and I think you do have the 
framework for some very important progress being made following up on Astana 
and Vilnius.  And I just encourage you to work with our commission here so that 
we can try to reinforce what you’re doing with the work of our – of our 

I want to just follow up, if I might, on the point that – Secretary Vershbow, 
that you pointed out:  the strength of the OSCE, its geographical scope, the 
fact that it has the three baskets that are interwoven together, and its 
legacy.  And we can all point with pride a lot of what has been done as a 
result of the OSCE.

On the geographical side, since its inception, of course, the United States and 
Russia were equal partners in an organization in Europe which gave it a unique 
opportunity for the relationship between the United States and Russia.  The 
breakup of the Soviet Union, of course, now gives us opportunities in Central 
Asia that we did not have before, and that’s still unclear as to how we’re 
going to be using that opportunity to advance Central Asia.

And now, there is an interest in expanding the OSCE in the Mediterranean beyond 
just our partner states, in using the framework – it was Max Kampelman who 
originally suggested that we create a separate OSCE for the Mediterranean.  
Later, he said, well, it would take too long to do that; why don’t we just try 
to expand the Middle East into OSCE?  And we’ve been doing that.  We’ve been 
doing that through the partnership status.

There is some talk within the parliamentary assembly to try to give the 
Mediterranean partners higher standing.  I would be interested in the U.S. 
pursuing additional partner states in the Middle East as well as increased 
participation in the OSCE for the partner states.

So I guess if you could – and I would like to hear all three of you – first, 
how you see us using the OSCE as it relates to Russia, which I think is a real 
challenge.  We have some of the real experts here on Russia, so what should we 
be looking to as far as the future of the OSCE as it relates to Russia?  
Central Asia, sort of – (inaudible) – can we expect a greater role?  And how 
about the Mediterranean dimension?

MR. GORDON:  Senator, I’d be happy to begin and pick up on a couple of those.  
I’m sure my colleagues will follow up.

First, if I might – and thank you for your kind words about our work on the 
road to Astana – I would note that your comments about the difficulty of Astana 
actually go hand in hand about – with your comments about the strength of OSCE, 
the strength of the OSCE being that it works in all three dimensions, that 
there are 56 participating states, its geography covers a broad swath of 
issues; that gives it certain advantages, everybody’s involved and it’s 

At the same time, it creates challenges in advancing the agenda that we saw in 
Astana, and we have no illusions about – on the road to Vilnius and beyond.  It 
is just something that we have to live with.  With a strong chairmanship in 
Lithuania and our own work and the support of the commission, we hope to – 
despite these sort of structural challenges – make real progress in Vilnius.

On the work in other areas, let me just start with the Mediterranean.  We do 
believe that there is a role for the OSCE and the Mediterranean, one that it is 
indeed already playing.  Even short of an OSCE for the Mediterranean, which, as 
you suggest, may be a bridge too far in the short term, the OSCE is already 
working with neighboring states in the Mediterranean.  I think I mentioned in 
my testimony the workshop on elections in Egypt that just took place in the 
past couple of weeks.  A number of OSCE members from Central Europe have had 
workshops on democratic transitions, which is something also the OSCE can help 
with.  With years or even decades of experience of trying to support rule of 
law, democracy, free market economies in the OSCE space, it can be useful to 
those Mediterranean countries that are seeking that transition as well.

And I guess I would say a similar thing about Central Asia, where the OSCE is 
already hard at work trying to do that – again, facing many challenges but 
trying to bring the lessons of what it has learned in decades of democratic 
support in Europe and Eurasia to Central Asia as well, and that will be another 
theme in Vilnius.

Finally, on Russia:  Once again, it’s a consensus organization.  As Ambassador 
Vershbow said, we have had significant differences with Russia on some of the 
key issues we face, including in the area of arms control.  But we can’t move 
forward without Russia.  And we are committed to working with the Russians as 
we need to in trying to strengthen the organization and take advantage of one 
of its most important voices in the full range of issues.

MR. POSNER:  If I can just add a couple thoughts to that:  I think, to share 
Phil’s observation, clearly, in places like Tunisia, Egypt, hopefully in Libya, 
there is going to be – there is a desire to engage with European partners and 
European countries that have gone through political transformations moving 
towards democracy.  If the OSCE can be a forum for making that happen in a more 
– an easier way, then we should be encouraging that.

And I think we’re going to see in the – I spend a lot of my time now trying to 
deal with that region, and there is – you know, these are countries that have 
had, in many – in many instances, 30 or 40 years without any functioning 
political systems.  And so it’s in our interest to facilitate that kind of 
exchange and engagement, not so much to impose our thoughts of what’s 
important, but try to have a real discussion among states that have been 
through a similar transformation.

I think the Central Asian piece, from a human rights perspective, is in some 
respects the most important.  Those five Central Asian states don’t have a 
Council of Europe or a – certainly not a European Union.  And they’re very – 
they’re tough states.  On human rights terms, we have a range of challenges.  
But I think the OSCE, however fragile the architecture and however difficult, I 
think is a platform.  And it’s an especially important platform for the civil 
society in those states who feel so marginalized by their own political 
systems.  So I think even though we continue to struggle over how to keep this 
as part of the mix, it’s critically important in whatever we do that this be a 
piece of what we regard as a priority.

And finally, again, to share Phil’s reflections on Russia, we have our own 
challenges in dealing with the Russians on a bilateral basis for human rights.  
But it’s part of the reset, it’s part of our policy.  We’ll continue to engage. 
 We understand that these are issues in which we often don’t agree, but that 
doesn’t mean we don’t have the conversation.  And it spills over to the OSCE, 
where often the Russians are at loggerheads with us about how far the OSCE 
should go.  It’s critical we keep ODIHR as a functioning, strong entity.  It’s 
critical that we keep doing the election monitoring.  It’s critical that the 
human dimension piece be strong and we keep that agenda where it needs to be.  

So we’ve got our work cut out for us.  But I think we’re pretty clear about 
what we need to do.

MR. VERSHBOW:  I thank you, Senator, for posing some very good – interesting 
questions, challenging ones because, it’s ironic, in the case of Russia that 
OSCE itself was something that evolved from a Russian or Soviet initiate – 
Brezhnev’s European Security Conference proposals.  Yet now Russia seems less 
enthusiastic about the full three-basket structure and process that is at the 
heart of the OSCE.  

Clearly there’s a lot to be done on some of the issues I discussed in my 
statement in the area of conventional arms control.  And I think the Russians 
still are keenly interested in that, even if we are having serious difficulties 
in the case of the CFE Agreement and finding a framework that respects the key 
principles of host nation consent and transparency that I mentioned.  But 
hopefully the Russians will ultimately see that a world without any CFE 
Agreement, without the predictability and transparency that comes with 
negotiated arms control, will be a much more unreliable basis on which to build 
European security in the future.

But we do face a bigger challenge in getting all three baskets back into the 
category of areas where the Russians are actively cooperating with us in the 
OSCE framework, and indeed, in other areas as well.  Mike’s addressed the human 
rights issues, I think in the area of conflict prevention and crisis management 
we’ve been trying for the last few years to strengthen OSCE’s ability to act 
proactively and at the early stages of conflict.  But there too we’ve 
encountered Russian resistance to giving more authority to the chairman in 
office to take the initiative to send a fact-finding mission to an emerging 
area of conflict.  But this ultimately should be in Russia’s interest.  We all 
will save a lot in terms of potential for bloodshed and expenditure of our 
treasure if we can nip conflicts in the bud through political means.  And 
that’s where OSCE has great strengths that should be built upon.  

I see tremendous potential in Central Asia to focus on some of the 
transnational issues as well as the human rights issues, since those countries 
do indeed not have as many other institutional frameworks to which they can 
turn.  And I think there too with – whether you’re looking at drug trafficking, 
terrorism, organized crime – regional approaches that could be facilitated by 
OSCE would be tremendous contributors to Russia’s security and to everyone 

On the Mediterranean countries, I agree with my colleagues that the experience 
of the transition of the post-Cold War period is certainly something that OSCE 
could help in sharing with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.  
There may be mechanisms that could be transposed from the European framework to 
the Mediterranean framework and in the security area as well, helping countries 
in transition develop civilian control of the military – civil-military 
relations.  And hereto there may be an increased role for NATO which has had a 
Mediterranean dialogue, which has largely been a consultative forum, but may 
now have some operational role in the spirit of the Partnership for Peace – 
what the Partnership for Peace did in Central and Eastern Europe and in the 
Balkans in the post-Cold War period.

So it’s an organization with tremendous potential and we hope we can begin to 
realize more of that at Vilnius and beyond.  And I agree with you on your 
points about closer preparation, and we will certainly want to coordinate 
closely with the commission as we go forward.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, I appreciate that.

Secretary Posner, as you were talking about Russia and progress made in human 
rights and that we can deal with that and deal with other issues at the same it 
reminded me of my first involvement with the Helsinki Commission dealing with 
Soviet Jews many years ago.  And at that time, the logic of naming names was 
being challenged internationally.  And naming names, I think, was perhaps the 
most effective way that the commission was able to advance basic rights by 
putting a face on the issue.

And I think most recently – and you mentioned the Sergei Magnitsky case, I 
think that also galvanized international attention.  And although Russia may 
not like the fact that we have brought this on a personal level, it does bring 
it home that they have failed to live up to commitments under the OSCE.  So I 
would just encourage us to continue to be – to do that.  I know there’s a lot 
of pressure not to embarrass countries because of individual cases, but to me 
that’s the only way – most effective way, not the only way – the most effective 
way that we’re going to be able to make progress towards compliance with the 
principles of OSCE.

One last question I have, which – it’s a process question, and that is:  The 
OSCE – the CSCE is 36 years old.  When it was first developed, there was the 
Soviet Union, we didn’t have – didn’t have a parliamentary assembly, Vienna was 
not what it is today.  We’re seeing things that are happening; the consensus 
process is being challenged, transparency is clearly a problem within OSCE, 
there’s mixed signals we’re getting from many capitals around the OSCE region 
as to how much support their giving in Vienna.  How does the United States 
interject itself into reforms within the OSCE?  

We have direct interest in the parliamentary assembly.  It’s played a critical 
role in election monitoring, one of the principle services provided by the 
OSCE.  There’s always – there’s been friction between ODIHR and the 
parliamentary assembly.  We had the secretary general of the parliamentary 
assembly – who happens to be with us today, Spencer Oliver – who was here in 
Congress when the original Helsinki Act was passed and has a lot of 
institutional knowledge of what needs to be done.  

I guess, as I saw the results in Astana, I realized that but for the United 
States we would not have been able to achieve what we did.  It seems to me that 
reform within OSCE will not take place unless the United States is in the 
leadership.  And how do we develop that?  How does the United States put these 
issues up?  I say that fully supportive of the importance of the OSCE today 
with all of its problems.  But it could be much more effective, I think we all 
agree.  How do we go about exercising that leadership in the United States?

MR. GORDON:  And, again, I’m happy to start.  And I’ll start by saying, you 
know, we share your premise, especially those of us who try to work with the 
organization on a regular basis.  It is clear that it is suffering from the 
consensus principle and a lack of political will among countries to allow it to 
function as efficiently as it needs to.  So how do we deal with that and how 
have we been trying to do it?

First of all, as you say, through our own U.S. leadership and vigorous action.  
Secretary Clinton herself is personally invested in this.  That’s why she went 
to Astana; that’s why she has focused on this whole set of issues.  The 
organization has a new secretary-general and we will give him our full support 
– a very competent, Italian – an experienced Italian diplomat.  You mentioned 
the parliamentary assembly which we will also support.  This commission, and 
through our own efforts, we have tried to find ways to make the organization 
more efficient by allowing it to act, in some cases, when there isn’t a 

And I think we mentioned using the – what’s called the Moscow Mechanism in 
Belarus.  Obviously, when we wanted to follow-up on the very flawed elections 
and the use of violence by the regime that followed those elections last 
December, if the OSCE had to wait for every member to agree – that is to say 
including Belarus – it couldn’t have played a role.  So we invoked and 
supported the use of this Moscow Mechanism where a smaller number of OSCE 
countries can send an observer-investigator into a member state.  And 
naturally, there was resistance to that in some quarters.  But we actually 
managed to do it, and I might add including – with Russian support.  

So there are ways to use the organization.  It’s not easy, but those types of 
mechanisms can make it more efficient.  We tried to suggest a similar reform 
when it comes to crisis response.  At present, because of the consensus rule, 
the OSCE is just too slow.  If violence breaks out in a participating state and 
most of us think it would be useful to have the OSCE send someone, it is 
necessary to get support of all of them, and lo and behold it’s not surprising 
that maybe the state that is using force doesn’t want it to happen.  

And we have tried to suggest that it would be more effective to have a crisis 
response mechanism that didn’t rely on consensus, whether it’s minus one or 
minus two or minus three.  But that is one of the issues we have not reached 
consensus on, including from Russia which is reluctant to allow for that 
capacity.  We still support it; we still think it would be a good idea to 
prevent a single country from blocking the organization as a whole to have a 
crisis response action.  So that’s unfortunate, and we will continue to try to 
lobby for that change.  

And then lastly I would just say that – to remind us all that even when the 
organization at 56 in Vienna is stymied by a lack of consensus, we shouldn’t 
overlook the importance of the sub-organizations of the OSCE, including ODHIR, 
including the High Representative for Freedom of the Media, including the High 
Commissioner for National Minorities.  These organizations are effective, 
sometimes quietly.  So, you know, I just remind us all that even as we get 
frustrated sometimes maybe by an inability to get the entire organization to 
work, that is not – that doesn’t take anything away from the effectiveness of 
some of these subgroups.

MR. VERSHBOW:  Thank you, Senator.  And thanks, Phil.  Phil has covered some 
points that I would have made.  I think the bottom line is you’re right, that 
the American leadership is going to be critical to not only keeping the 
organization effective in what it’s doing now, but getting it to engage in new 
areas where I think it can fill a void in the overall security architecture of 
Europe and Eurasia.  So we have to very persistent in our diplomacy, patient 
but not too patient.  I think we have to recognize that if the institution 
doesn’t overcome what is, I think fair to call, a crisis of confidence on the 
part of some of its members in the institution itself, then it will be 
relegated to a second-tier status.

So I think that we have to continue to work very hard to persuade the countries 
that have become more skeptical about OSCE that it really is an asset that they 
could use to deal with their own security problems and help them in dealing 
with threats on their doorstep, preventing conflicts from emerging; that it’s 
not a burden, it’s a relatively affordable institution in terms of what we 
spend on it, but it can deliver significant results.  But clearly some 
countries still see OSCE as a threat.  And we have to overcome that attitude.

We certainly, from the DOD point of view, try to talk up OSCE in our defense 
dialogues with the countries in Europe and Eurasia.  We certainly took a 
proactive role in the effort to revitalize the CFE Treaty.  And while it has 
not yet borne fruit, we’re still committed to try to shape an approach that can 
respect the principles that are important to all the member states but get that 
negotiating process back on track and bring the agreement up to date in light 
of new geopolitical realities.

So, again, persistence in our diplomacy will be key, but clearly we have an 
uphill climb ahead of us.  

MR. POSNER:  Just a couple words to add what both have said.  Having attended 
both the human dimension meeting in Warsaw and the summit in Astana last year, 
it is clear to me how much the United States’ leadership is vital.  And I think 
it’s incumbent on us also to be redoubling our efforts to engage ever – at 
every level the Western European allies that should be standing with us on all 
of these issues.  They’re there, but they wait sometimes for us to lead.  And 
for this organization to succeed, we have to have a critical mass of countries 
that are all working at full speed in the way that we do as a delegation.  I’m 
very proud to be part of this government because I see how much time and energy 
we put into these issues.

Second thing, I think it is important that we change the dynamic in a different 
way, which is that we’ve got to move to create allies, for example, in the 
Central Asian area.  It’s one of the reasons I mentioned Kyrgyzstan twice – I’m 
going to mention in now a third time.  It represents a potential change in the 
atmosphere and the environment of all of these – of this organization if we can 
reinforce the best instincts of an emerging democracy in Central Asia, which 
Kyrgyzstan could be – we’re not there yet – but it would be a – it would 
suggest that we have an ally in a different place where we could begin to 
build, I think, some new dynamic changes. 

The third thing, just following on what Phil said, I’m very high on the work on 
the high representative on the media.  I think she’s done an outstanding job.  
I also think the three tolerance representatives – Andy Baker in particular, 
who’s focused on anti-Semitism – below the radar in some ways, but taking on 
very tough issues, doing real factual fact gathering, and building a kind of 
momentum on very tough issues that are particularly important now in Europe.  
And so that agenda, the tolerance agenda, to me is a critically important one.  
We’ve got to, again, pay attention and make sure that the resources and the 
political support is behind that.

Last point, Senator, in relation to your comment on Magnitsky, I think it’s 
really important for us also to be taking on the tough cases, to make that part 
of the routine.  Sometimes we do it privately, and when we can succeed that’s 
the best.  But as you’ve done in the Magnitsky case, you’ve raised the profile, 
you’ve caused us to, you know, redouble our efforts.  We were every engaged, 
but we’re now engaged some more.  And we’ve certainly seen the reaction on the 
Russian side is that you’ve gotten their attention.  And I think that’s a good 

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, I thank you all for your observations there.  I was going 
to make an observation that the parliamentary assembly – parliamentarians can 
really help you bring about the kind of consensus you need, but I didn’t think 
this was good day for me to mention that, considering where we are in Congress. 
 But I do think that the political involvement of the parliamentary assembly 
can help.

As you mentioned, and I think rightly so, that the institutions within OSCE had 
a great deal of strength.  Even though we need consensus for overall action, we 
have the institutions that are now well established.  I might point out that in 
almost every one of those cases it was the leadership of the United States that 
either initiated or funded their operations.  There was a lot of extra budgetal 
– budgetary support that the United States was behind to support the human 
rights capacity of OSCE.  And of course the tolerance was the U.S. initiative.  

So it – I guess what I would encourage us all to do – as we look towards the 
future, how do we transform OSCE to continue to be relevant to meet the current 
needs?  And that’s why I look at look at expanding its geographical side.  I 
look at some of the steps that we could take to integrate a better relationship 
between the parliamentary assembly and the Permanent Council and the – what 
happens in Vienna.  Those issues, I think, are election monitoring, which is 
one of our signature issues, and to make sure that we continue to have the type 
of support to be able to carry out those important functions.  I think all that 
would be important for us to continue.

Just one positive note before we call the second panel.  Our annual meeting was 
in Belgrade, and we look in the Balkans today, and I think – although there’s 
still many challenges, Kosovo and Bosnia are still very much at risk – but 
clearly the progress that’s been made in the Balkans reflect not just the work 
of the OSCE but the leadership of the United States.  And I couldn’t tell you 
how proud we were to see the progress that was made in Serbia.  

I mean, Serbia was one of my principle countries of interest just a few years 
ago for its failure to meet OSCE commitments.  And now it’s clearly on the path 
for – moving towards EU.  And that’s, I think, a credit to the support of the 
United States and the support of the OSCE through the process.  So I think 
there’s been a lot of successes that we can point to, but we still have 
challenges that we have to meet.

And with that thank you all very much.  And we’ll move to the second panel.  
And, again, I apologize for the delay.  Just for the record, there may be – 
tell our first panel there may be questions that we’ll be submitting for the 
record.  We would if you would get them back to us in a timely way.

The second panel will consist of Dr. Mike Haltzel, senior fellow at the Center 
for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced 
International Studies and a senior adviser at the international consulting firm 
of McLarty Associates.  We also have Cathy Fitzpatrick, a consultant to the 
human rights organization, a frequent contributor to online publications at 
Eurasia and about the OSCE, and also a Russian translator.  She has testified 
for our commission several times, and has served as a public member of the U.S. 
delegation to OSCE human dimensions in 1991, 2004 and 2010.  

MR.:  Senator, I just wanted to say hi.

MR.:  Michael – 

MR.:  Nice to see you.

MR.:  Nice – thanks for being here.

SEN. CARDIN:  And I appreciate the patience of both of you for – obviously 
we’re a little bit delayed.  And we will try to move this on.  We will keep the 
record open for questions from members of the commission.  We would ask our 
witnesses if questions are asked to try to respond to them as promptly as 

Dr. Haltzel, I’d be glad to start with you.

MICHAEL HALTZEL:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  It’s – I would ask, first of all, 
that the full text of my written remarks be entered into the record.

SEN. CARDIN:  That’s be true for both witnesses, your full testimony will be 
included in the record, and you may proceed as you wish.  

MR. HALTZEL:  Thank you.  It’s an honor and a pleasure to participate in 
today’s hearing.  I’d like to take this opportunity to commend you and 
Congressman Smith for your energetic leadership of the Helsinki Commission.  In 
a policy world where coping with daily crisis makes it easy not to see the 
forest for the trees, the Helsinki Commission stands out for its ability to 
examine both current problems and their deeper causes.

I would also mention the, quote-unquote, “foot soldiers” of our OSCE policy.  
During the past two years I’ve had the honor of being the head of three U.S. 
delegations to OSCE conferences.  The 2009 H-Dem (ph) in Warsaw, 2010 
Copenhagen 20th Anniversary Conference, and the 2010 Vienna Review Conference.  
I can honestly say, Senator, I’ve never encountered a more expert, hard-working 
and effective group of public servants than the members of those three – those 
three delegations and the officials backing them up here in Washington, D.C.  
Several of them are here in the room today.  I think American people are being 
extraordinarily well served by, and should be proud of, these U.S. federal 

Mr. Chairman, a lot of the territory was covered eloquently by the three 
assistant secretaries on the first panel.  I will attempt to give a somewhat 
more general summary of an outsider who on occasion has been part of the OSCE 
process.  When one views the Helsinki process over the nearly four decades of 
its existence one must, I believe, judge it to have been a resounding success.  
The old CSCE played a significant role in hasting the demise of communism in 
Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia; and the territory of the OSCE today is 
unquestionably in much better shape than it was when the founders began their 
deliberations in the Finnish capital in the early 1970s. 

That’s the relatively good news.  The bad news – and I think we’ve heard it, 
again, in the first panel and from you also, Senator – is that since its – 
arguable its high point in 1990 at the Copenhagen conference on the human 
dimension, where actually I was a public member, the organization has, in many 
respects, been a disappointment.  To be sure, it faces formidable challenges.  
We’ve talked about Uzbekistan, in Andijan the massacre in 2005; Kyrgyzstan, 
which as a new democratic government and there is some hope, nonetheless had a 
violent, repressive leader who fled last year.  We know about the insurgency 
spreading in Russia’s largely Muslim North Caucasus where Moscow has farmed out 
control of Chechnya to a brutal warlord.  

These and other abuses, again, were outlined by the first panel and by Chairman 
Smith.  Russia’s military continues illegally to occupy parts of Georgia and 
Moldova, talks on the protracted conflicts seems stalled. 

What has the OSCE been able to do to remedy these problems?  Unfortunately, I 
don’t think enough.  Last December’s first-in-a-decade OSCE summit undoubtedly 
accomplished a formal reaffirmation of the organization’s lofty principles.  We 
deserve credit for leadership there, Phil Gordon especially.

In a healthy organization, however, I submit that this reaffirmation would have 
been considered unnecessary.  And we, as you know, did plan for an action plan. 
 My final statement at Vienna, we outlined nine areas where the United States 
felt progress had to be made or we could not agree to an action plan.  I’m glad 
we stuck to our principles because it would have been incomplete otherwise.

The consensus rule we’ve talked about has become an increasing burden.  
Nondemocratic members, Russia above all, continually stymie organizational 
progress.  We’ve talked about American crisis response proposals that have been 
blocked:  preventive action in North Caucasus, aid in Afghanistan.

The lack of an enforcement mechanism is also a fundamental weakness of the 
OSCE.  At the Copenhagen conference last June, where several other people on 
the staff were also present as members of the delegation, we had a remarkably 
free and open discussion in the last session.  And all of the – all of the 
countries basically said that the lack of an enforcement mechanism is a serious 

The public naming and shaming of human rights violators at the HDIM drives 
nondemocratic participating states up the wall.  That’s fine, and occasionally, 
it does improve the conditions of imprisoned civil rights advocates.  It rarely 
alters general governmental behavior.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue 
trying; we should.

As several people have said, in the face of constant stonewalling, some 
segments of the OSCE do manage to carry out their mandates with distinction.  I 
would cite especially Dunja Mijatovic, the representative on freedom of the 
media, ODIHR, of course; Knut Vollebaek, the OSCE high commissioner on national 
minorities; the Parliamentary Assembly; and last but not least, the valuable 
field missions and training programs of the organization.

I won’t repeat what Secretary Vershbow had to say about the arms control 
mandate.  It’s abundantly clear that Moscow’s refusal to accept the host nation 
consent principle and transparency is a – is a real disappointment.  I 
certainly hope that the update of the Vienna Document at the December Vilnius 
ministerial will succeed.

So finally, we have an organization whose effectiveness varies widely.  As a 
norm setter, the OSCE has few, if any equals.  Its specialized agencies and 
field mission remain valuable international players.  But in enforcing its 
democratic and human rights principles and its arms control efforts, the OSCE 
has proved to be a disappointment.  So what should we do?

Mr. Chairman, frustrating though it may be to some, I would argue for more, not 
less commitment to the organization.  U.S. leadership, as we’ve all heard, is 
absolutely essential.  We should redouble our commitment both in personnel and 
in behavior.  We have excellent people at our permanent mission in Vienna and a 
first-rate staff.

We should continue to introduce constructive initiatives such as more effective 
crisis response mechanisms, which had been vetoed until now; updating the 
Vienna document, as I said; Internet freedom; greater economic transparency; 
more gender equality.  Many of these may be vetoed, but nonetheless I think 
demonstrating that the U.S. is a good international citizen and a leader at the 
OSCE has intrinsic value that should not be underestimated.

At the HDIM, in that same vein, we should always be candid about our own 
national shortcomings.  We should publicly own up to our deficiencies, as we 
have done, but then we should explain the measures that we’re taking to try to 
rectify them.  This increases our credibility within the organization, 
especially among the European participating states.

I think the United States should always be the foremost champion of NGOs and 
their right to participate in OSCE conferences, and, whenever possible, even in 
permanent council meetings.

In the negotiations over all manner of OSCE documents, from routine 
announcements to treaties, we should be second to none as paragraph experts, 
even if people consider us nitpickers.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, we should never “go along to get along.”  On the vast 
majority of issues confronting the OSCE, we are in agreement with our European 
friends and allies.  Occasionally, however, if they are willing, allegedly, 
quote, unquote, for the good of the organization, to acquiesce in resolutions 
or draft agreements that we feel would jeopardize our national interest or 
compromise the principles of the OSCE, we must resist group pressure to provide 
consensus.  No matter how much eye-rolling it may occasion, our being a 
minority of one in such rare cases is not only ethically sound, but also 
organizationally the most supportive position for the OSCE.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony.  I thank you again for the 
opportunity to offer my views.  I look forward to attempting to answer any of 
your questions.

SEN. CARDIN:  Thank you again for your testimony.  Ms. Fitzpatrick?

CATHERINE FITZPATRICK:  Thank you, Senator, especially for treating the OSCE as 
the indispensable organization.

What I would like to do today in my testimony is to focus on the excellent 
recommendations that have already been made by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly 
in the Belgrade Declaration.  But it needs some focus, as it’s a very long 

OSCE should concentrate on developing a more effective capacity to react 
diplomatically to crisis with particular attention to strengthening human 
rights investigation capacity and high-level public statements on crises.

There is a very frayed political consensus now, and the OSCE faces not only its 
longstanding set of frozen, and, in some places, thawing conflicts, but new 
challenges as we’ve seen this last year:  the pogroms in Kyrgyrstan, the brutal 
crackdown in Belarus, the regression on press freedom by Kazakhstan even as it 
was chairing the organization, and, of course, the appalling terrorist attacks 
in Russia, Belarus and now, tragically, Norway.

We never expected these kind of tragedies when we saw the Berlin Wall fall when 
the Soviet Union dismantled.  And it seems as if our Helsinki ideals have not 
come to pass.  The organization has not been able to predict or respond to 
these kinds of incidents effectively.

So to that end, we must increase the complementarity, integration and 
effectiveness of the various offices.  We should work at the ministerial level 
on a consensus-minus-one basis to have a standby rapid reaction diplomatic 
mission.  We should strengthen the ability of ODIHR, the high commissioner for 
nationalities, the various special representatives and the parliamentary 
assembly to mount fact-finding missions as an integral part of their function.  
We should also enable the OSCE’s secretary-general and other OSCE leaders to 
speak out more in condemnation of human rights violations, and not just leave 
it to the – to the rapporteurs.

All the deployed missions should have a human rights component, and they should 
report more publicly than they do.  All the – all the various institutions of 
OSCE should report to the Permanent Council more, and that body should become 
more transparent.  I would advocate creating an OSCE mandate for freedom of 
association with particular focus on human rights defenders; this was done 
successfully by the U.S. at the U.N. Human Rights Council, and that could be 
replicated.  And we should ensure that groups that incite hatred or violence or 
that call for the destruction for any state or for the destruction of anyone’s 
rights do not receive government support.

So the fact finding, which used to be at the heart of Helsinki experience with 
the citizens’ movements, it seems to everywhere have been substituted with 
technical assistance and training seminars.  And that’s a strategy that evolved 
to cope with the refusal of some states to admit observers and accept criticism 
of their record.

Through extraordinary efforts, the Finnish politician Kimmo Kiljunen was able 
to mount a prestigious fact-finding panel in Kyrgyzstan, as you know.  Its 
findings represent an important validation of the fact that while 75 percent of 
the victims were ethnic Uzbeks, nearly a hundred percent of those tried for the 
violence are also ethnic Uzbeks.  And this disparity represents a grave 
injustice.  Although he was invited to investigate the June pogroms by 
President Roza Otunbayeva, Kiljunen was subsequently denounced by the Kyrgyz 
parliament and declared persona non grata.  So the OSCE PA has followed up with 
this.  There’s been hearings with NGOs and so on, but more is required.  The 
Lithuanian chair-in-office should immediately appoint a special envoy on 
Central Asia to continue to press for implementation of the commission’s 
recommendations.  And there is a precedent for such – for such an envoy.

As good as it was, this commission exposed significant weaknesses in OSCE:  the 
lack of a well-functioning permanent institution staffed with regional experts 
and lawyers to perform fact-finding missions in rapid and thorough fashion.

Throughout OSCE’s history, the function of fact-finding has been performed by 
different offices in different ways at different times:  Sometimes it’s ODIHR 
with a very good report on Kosovo and Chechnya in the past and on Andijan; 
sometimes it’s the high commissioner for nationalities; sometimes it’s the 
Parliamentary Assembly.  So this is where this needs to be coordinated and 
institutionalized better.

This process of fact finding should be shielded from political processes.  And 
to that end, the various bodies, such as ODIHR and Parliamentary Assembly, 
should coordinate better and institutionalize their fact finding and interact 
with the Vienna Conflict Prevention Centre and the Permanent Council.

The right to know and act upon one’s rights, which was the inspiration for the 
founding of the Helsinki citizens’ movement, is still not a reality, even 35 
years later.

Regrettably, work on behalf NGO legalization has devolved into a very tedious 
and expensive exercise in technical assistance to two states for drafting laws 
and civic association parties.  But for some governments, that turns into an 
opportunity to exhibit their duplicity and procrastination.  So I would rather 
see – instead of this focus on drafting laws, I would like the OSCE to have a 
special mandate to focus on the civic organizations that already exist and 
their actual problems and to intervene with states on their behalf, 
particularly for the – for human rights monitors.

And even as we want to promote civil society, we also have to be mindful of 
groups that incite imminent violence, and that speaks to the role of the 
tolerance mandates and so on to report more effectively.

The Permanent Council could indeed become more open and transparent.  While 
some officials do brief these meetings, the head of ODIHR, the tolerance 
rapporteurs, the mission heads – they’re an invaluable resource – they should 
all be coming to the Permanent Council and reporting more.

As for the call for public meetings at the Permanent Council – well, we have 
seen at the U.N. Security Council that, regrettably, when you have open 
meetings, than can lead to more public posturing and canned speeches, and it 
drives the real work then even further behind the scenes.  So what I feel is 
more operative is that, even if the sausage-making of diplomacy is hidden from 
us, we should see the product of it more often.  So that means more consensus 
text from the chair, more negotiated resolutions, more reporting.  The U.S., of 
course, has set a good example already by publishing their speeches to the 
Permanent Council; few others, if any, do.

As for briefing by NGOs, there was a call in the Belgrade Declaration to make 
this as often as once a week.  I fear that would only lead to some special 
interests posturing again and also only those wealthy organizations that can 
afford to stay in Vienna would be able to report.  So I would like to see other 
ways of just incorporating the NGO information better and also arranging 
briefings occasionally.

Work on the charter status for OSCE should be delayed.  An organization that 
has had two missions expelled or suspended – in Belarus and Georgia – and has 
had grave situations where OSCE monitors or police advisers could not be 
deployed in a timely fashion or were expelled, as we saw in Belarus, Georgia, 
Kyrgyzstan – that’s not an organization that should be drafting a charter until 
a basic consensus on both the nature and the remedies for these situations is 
reached.  We all lament the absence of (teeth ?) for the many good findings and 
recommendations of OSCE.

A debate on membership or expulsion criteria will likely be futile.  We could 
try to agree that no state seriously violating Helsinki principles should be 
allowed to chair the organization, and yet that is also a process we find we’re 
not able to start – to question.

But what we can do is create benchmarks that are very clear for what we expect 
of the chair; for example, Ukraine coming in and articulate those forcefully 
well in advance, and to protect those groups inside the country that continue 
to expose the violations by that – by the state that is serving as chair.

So there’s little that we can do sometimes, but when all else fails, we can 
refuse to validate a state’s behavior.  And that’s when – when we look at some 
of the challenges coming up – for example, the Russian elections – I think it’s 
very important not to reopen the process of evaluating criteria for monitoring; 
we should leave that as is and hopefully make the same kind of credible 
statement about these elections that ODIHR and others have made in the past.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, thank both of you for your – for your – for your testimony. 
 You’ve given us a lot of really good ideas on the type of reform.  I put at 
the top of the list consensus minus one, particularly as it relates to 
administrative decisions.  We can move faster in that.  Transparency, to me, is 
a huge issue within OSCE.  The development of the structure in Vienna, which 
seems to be, in many cases, independent of the – of the member state capitals, 
and how we get greater response in Vienna – quicker response and be able to 
work more effectively to deal with current issues – I think all of that’s 

I want to ask one question, and we may have some additional questions for the 
record.  And this is one that I don’t think has been given a lot of thought as 
to whether this is the best way to move forward within OSCE.  And that is the 

I mean, some of your proposals are to give more authority to the 
secretary-general or to allow the different institutions to be able to move 
forward or to have greater accountability within the institutions directly to 
the secretary-general.  But it seems to me that so much depends upon the 
chair-in-office within OSCE.  And I must tell you, I’m not sure there’s a clear 
path as to how the future chairmanships are going to be determined within OSCE. 
 There’s certainly a geographical discussion going on now.  And I don’t know 
what the answer is, but I am concerned about so much dependent upon which 
country is the chair within OSCE and whether there isn’t a better way to 
provide a direction than a yearly rotation of the chair from one of the member 

MS. FITZPATRICK:  Well, Senator, I would – I would keep the chair-in-office 
because it’s – as with other multilateral organizations, you have the EU 
changes every six months, you have the U.N. Security Council changes its 
presidency every month.  So changing once a year isn’t so terrible.  And in any 
multilateral organization, you’re going to – you’re in a dialogue with some 
states that are not like-minded; sooner or later, if they’re members, they’re 
going to rotate into the chair.

I think what – a lot of time was spent during Kazakhstan’s chair in trying to 
explain precedents to them and bolstering precedents from good practices by 
chairs, so that’s important.

SEN. CARDIN:  I don’t – I don’t disagree with that.  I’m really raising this, 
not so much to suggest that there be a different – but how do you deal with 
that?  With Kazakhstan coming in as chair-in-office, it was so much attention 
on the chair that it really, in some respect, detracted from the organization.

MS. FITZPATRICK:  I agree that it did detract, and I think that’s where we have 
to work at bolstering ODIHR and the capacity of other bodies to do fact 
finding, because the chair – during the Kazakh chair, there was very poor 
response on fact finding in crises.

But on the other hand, things like appointing – I mentioned appointing the 
special envoy.  That is within the power of the chair.  There’s not a lot you 
can undo, but they do have this discretionary power to appoint people, and then 
– and how they the human dimension seminars, what the topics are.  So there is 
some scope there for making the chair effective.

MR. HALTZEL:  I agree with you, Senator, it’s a real problem.  Don’t forget we 
were one of the last countries to agree to Kazakhstan’s chairmanship-in-office. 
 You know all about that.  I believe the U.K. and the Czech Republic were the 
other two.  There were meetings in Madrid.  They promised some things, several 
of which they never delivered on.

I’m not enamored of the idea.  And yes, the EU has a rotating presidency, but 
they’ve whittled that way, way down as a result of their newest – I mean, 
basically, the presidency of the EU means a whole lot less than it did before 
the Lisbon Treaty.  So I’m not sure that that’s much of a model.

Look, I think what we can do is, first of all, be very careful about who gets 
into the – into the chairmanship.  And then we can bolster them.  As you well 
know, we have been helping the Lithuanians.  I think that’s extremely good.  
Todd Becker, one of our experienced diplomats, I’m told, has been seconded 
there for the year.  And we can – and some of the smaller countries need that 
sort of help.  And in fact, I remember when Slovenia was chairman-in-office 
several years ago; they sent people over here to talk to us to try to help 
them.  But beyond that, I don’t know.  I have – I have the same sort of doubts 
that you do.

If I could backtrack on just one thing very briefly – and that has to do with 
the suspension idea – I had that in my written statement – but I feel that yes, 
the Moscow mechanism is being used against Belarus right now, but we heard from 
an earlier testimony that the Belarusians are managing to stonewall even within 
the Moscow mechanism.  It is not unheard of to suspend a country from the OSCE; 
it was done in 1992 against Yugoslavia, then Serbia and Montenegro because of 
the wars there.  I think if one is talking about leverage, I think the United 
States should carefully consider bringing up a resolution of suspension unless 
Belarus cooperates fully with the Moscow mechanisms and changes some of its 

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, our delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly a couple of 
years ago challenged Belarus, and we didn’t get very far.  So it’s a tough 
thing to actually accomplish.  But I – your point is very well taken.

Let me ask you one final question as it relates to Russia.  What do you think – 
we know what Russia’s intentions were when the – when the CSCE was formed:  
They wanted legitimacy in the international community, and they thought that 
they could withstand the scrutiny.  And now we’re not exactly sure what their 
intentions are.  Would you want to share with us what you think our best 
strategy should be with Russia as it relates to the OSCE?

MR. HALTZEL:  Senator, I think they have, to some extent, contradictory 
strategies.  Don’t forget, in 2008, President Medvedev gave a speech in Berlin 
outlining his idea for a new European security architecture, which was brought 
up within the OSCE and, I’m happy to say, has more or less died a peaceful 
death.  It would have clearly undermined NATO and it was – it should’ve been 
and, I think, really was a nonstarter.  I testified before the Permanent 
Council on this in 2009.

I – my own feeling is that Russia would like HDIM to vanish from the face of 
the earth.  They would like to concentrate on the arms control areas to their 
own advantage.  And they don’t – they don’t really care very much about the 
economic and environmental.  I think their – I don’t think they want to see the 
whole organization die.  I think they’d be happy to see it just sort of dangle 
in the wind.

What should we do about this?  I think what we should do about it is what we 
should do about the whole organization:  redouble our commitment.  Put them on 
the spot.  I mean, they had – they’ve – they had a perm rep in Vienna who was 
the – (laughs) – I have to laugh – the most aggressive but skillful man 
imaginable.  I mean, and he would just bull straight ahead.  There’s only one 
way to deal with that, is – it’s just have more staying power than they do, be 
completely open about the arguments they’re making being specious, be the last 
delegation to leave a negotiation and show our European friends that we’re – 
that we’re leaders and that we’re good international citizens and that we want 
to be the leaders of the OSCE.

SEN. CARDIN (?):  Good point.

MS. FITZPATRICK:  Well, I think on the challenge of Russia, that it was 
actually a very explicit plan of Russia to undermine OSCE’s human rights 
components.  From their letter some years ago, signed also by Kazakhstan and 
others, I think they’ve worked very methodically at destroying budgets, 
undermining the principles.  So I think they have to be called on that.

And I think the elections presents profound opportunity, but also a challenge, 
because they’ll be – ODIHR and others will be under enormous pressure to call 
that as being valid.  And we can already see with the crackdown on Live 
Journal, with many problems in Russia, their (real ?) conditions don’t (obtain 
?) for free and fair elections.  So I think focusing on the election is very 

And I also think that the Moscow mechanism has to mechanize in Moscow and 
Belarus.  We have to explicitly negotiate with Russia on Belarus.  There’s one 
school of thought that says, never raise Belarus with Russia, because that puts 
it into their sphere of influence.  But they’re the ones who bail out 
Lukashenko.  Their television is also very important.  So I think any component 
– you know, programming that we do should focus on Russian television.  It’s no 
Al-Jazeera for this region by any stretch, but it’s all we have as far as 
reaching the whole region by satellite, so we should work more on getting on 
Russian television to make known our views.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, let me thank both of you.  I think your testimonies have 
been very helpful to us as we try to chart the future leading up to the 
ministerial in Vilnius, but more importantly, leading to the future of the OSCE.

With that, our hearing will stand adjourned.  Thank you all very much.