Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Mr. James H. Cox
Chief Arms Control Delegate - Delegate of the United States to the OSCE in Vienna

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Madame Chair, members of the Helsinki Commission, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to inform you of the activities of the OSCE’s Forum for Security Cooperation, and, in particular, of the activities and efforts of the recently concluded U.S. Chairmanship of the FSC.

Allow me to briefly set the stage for this discussion by providing you an overview of the charter and traditional activities of the FSC.

The FSC was established by the OSCE in 1992 to strengthen security and stability within the OSCE community of states as laid down in Chapter V of the Helsinki Summit Declaration. A detailed work program was created for the FSC. That work program was assessed and updated at the 1996 Lisbon Summit. The tasks identified in 1996 included:


  • to pursue full implementation of existing arms control and confidence- and security-building measures agreed upon by the OSCE,

  • to establish a web of interlocking and mutually reinforcing agreements,

  • to develop a security dialog function,

  • to seek ways of strengthening existing arms control agreements and CSBM regimes, in particular Vienna Document 1994, and

  • to consider further efforts to develop norm- and standard-setting measures, such as the Code of Conduct on politico-military aspects of security, the Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers, and the Principles Governing Non-Proliferation.



Let me conclude this background portion by quickly enumerating FSC efforts since 1996 to fulfill these tasks. Full implementation of arms control and CSBM measures is not a single project; it requires – and receives – constant attention. Delegations are encouraged to raise implementation issues during any FSC meeting, which take place weekly. In addition, the FSC holds annually an Implementation Assessment Meeting in March to review the record of implementation by OSCE states.

Next, the Vienna Document was revised in 1999 and, in our view, is functioning well and according to its intended purpose of providing a useful mechanism to enhance transparency and build confidence among the participating states.

The FSC is proud of its work on the Code of Conduct on politico-military aspects of security. The Code describes the proper role of the armed forces in a democracy, including civilian control, the necessity for transparency and public access to information related to the armed forces, and the importance of adherence to international humanitarian law. Each year, building on FSC work on the Code of Conduct, the OSCE Secretariat conducts a number of seminars, typically in southeast Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus, to promote adherence to the principles contained in the Code of Conduct. Individual OSCE States conduct similar events. As well, the FSC reviews its documents on non-proliferation and on conventional arms transfers each year during its annual implementation meeting that I referred to a moment ago.

In sum, with the existence of the CFE Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty (neither of which is formally part of the OSCE), as well as the Vienna Document 1999 and a number of complementary regional or bi-lateral arrangements which have been agreed among states, the so-called “web” of measures is fully in place.

Now, allow me to turn to the subject of “Security Dialogue” because it figures prominently in the context of the U.S. Chairmanship of the FSC from September through December, 2003.

In the first months of 2003, as the U.S. prepared for its upcoming chairmanship, the OSCE was already at work drafting a new Strategy to address threats to security and stability in the XXI century. Let me note that OSCE’s Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the Twenty-First Century was approved at the Maastricht Ministerial last December. The FSC made a significant contribution to the work on the Strategy during the course of 2003 by addressing politico-military aspects.

In considering the pol-mil dimension for development of this Strategy, we became convinced that the FSC needed to broaden its focus to incorporate new threats and challenges into its already established arms control and CSBM “acquis”. The reasons why are simple. Traditional arms control and CSBM measures address inter-state relations and the lawfully constituted armed forces of those states. However, the new threats to security and stability we face in the OSCE region tend to be of an entirely different character: threats posed by non-state actors, threats emerging outside the OSCE region and exported into it, and threats which are generally not of a conventional military nature, but rather threats of terrorism, proliferation, or organized crime. One could say that we have entered a period in the OSCE when we have no threats on our borders and no borders on our threats.

Building on the work of the OSCE to frame its new Strategy document, the U.S. Mission felt that we could enhance the security dialog task of the FSC to broaden the Forum’s focus during our chairmanship. The advantage of the security dialog function is that it allows the FSC to thoroughly explore and discuss a topic with no predetermined expectation of follow-up action, such as agreement on new measures. The FSC can frame the dialog, as appropriate, for any particular topic. We in the U.S. Mission, in accordance with inter-agency-approved guidance, chose three areas to develop which would address U.S. security concerns and help OSCE participating states as well: non-proliferation, the man-portable air defense systems – or MANPADS – threat, and Civil-Military Emergency Preparedness.

First, non-proliferation. The U.S. scheduled three sets of speakers to outline the risks, challenges and on-going efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the OSCE Actions against Terrorism Unit and the Conflict Prevention Center of the OSCE Secretariat made very useful presentations. We have also worked with the current Chair, Andorra, to schedule a fourth session on non-proliferation for next month at the specific request of the FSC in order to gather even more information regarding the non-proliferation activities of other international organizations. The issue for the FSC will be to determine how it can contribute to non-proliferation activities already undertaken by others. One possibility is for the FSC to review its non-proliferation guidelines approved in 1994.

The second subject is MANPADS. Shortly before the U.S. took over the Chairmanship of the FSC, the Forum took action in response to the G-8 decision from its meeting at Evian, France, regarding effective and comprehensive controls for MANPADS. The FSC called upon participating states to use existing mechanisms under the OSCE Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons – or SALW – to destroy excess MANPADS and to ensure their security to avoid illicit transfer. During the US Chairmanship, we arranged for additional presentations by the OSCE Action Against Terrorism Unit and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to enhance the level of understanding of the seriousness of the MANPADS threat to civil aviation. Having highlighted this issue during the U.S. Chairmanship, the OSCE Secretariat hosted a workshop last month to further explore the issue of airport security throughout the OSCE region.

Third is the issue of Civil-Military Emergency Preparedness. The U.S. arranged for the FSC to host a day-long seminar in December to explore this topic which seems more and more important in today's world. Under Secretary Brown of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security provided the keynote presentation. A rich array of speakers from the UN, NATO, the EU and a number of countries elaborated on their programs and suggested ways in which the OSCE might play a non-duplicative role. As a follow on, the FSC will review pertinent UN documents concerning military involvement in the case of disasters, with a view toward determining how the OSCE might reinforce the activities of others.

All of these subjects will require additional effort. Nonetheless, from the reactions many other delegations have provided us – both publicly and privately – we sense there is renewed energy and interest within the FSC on these XXI century issues.

Turning to an area where the FSC has clearly excelled in recent years, the FSC continues to facilitate implementation of the OSCE SALW Document, which was agreed in November 2000. Section V of the SALW Document deals with small arms measures as part of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. It provides a basis for the OSCE, through the Permanent Council and the FSC, to respond to requests for assistance on a range of small arms issues, such as security and management of stockpiles, disposal of small arms, and border controls to reduce illicit trafficking in small arms. The Expert Advice on implementation of Section V of the SALW Document, prepared by the FSC at the end of 2002, was endorsed by a Permanent Council decision in March 2003, clearing the way for action. In July, Belarus was the first participating State to request OSCE assistance in destroying and controlling excess SALW. Following the steps outlined in the Expert Advice, the FSC, in close coordination with the Chairman-in-Office, is assembling a team of small arms experts to conduct an assessment visit to Minsk to determine the viability of an OSCE small arms project there.

Beyond small arms projects, the FSC accomplished much more with regard to the SALW Document in 2003. Thanks to voluntary contributions by a number of participating States and coordinating work by the Conflict Prevention Center, eight “best practice guides” have been prepared to elaborate on specific aspects of the SALW Document. For ease of use, the FSC decided to publish these guides as one single reference document. The OSCE Handbook of Best Practices on SALW has now been completed in all six OSCE languages. We presented a copy of our Best Practice Guides to a senior UN representative during the OSCE Ministerial in Maastricht, since the UN has recognized the OSCE’s leading efforts to help stem the flow of illicit small arms and light weapons. Wider distribution of the Handbook has begun, and we are hopeful that it will soon find its way into the hands of the people who can put its practices to use.

Starting in 2002, the FSC began to address another small arms-related project, that of the security risk arising from stockpiles of conventional ammunition, explosive material and detonating devices in surplus and/or awaiting destruction in the OSCE area. As you know, there are huge quantities of excess munitions which remain after the end of the Cold War. These stockpiles exist mainly in the countries of the former Soviet Union. The FSC devoted a major portion of its agenda in 2003 to addressing this concern. During the U.S. Chairmanship, we led the FSC to completion of its work on the Document on Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition. The Stockpiles Document, as it is more commonly known, establishes a mechanism that allows participating States to request international assistance to either destroy or better manage and secure these stockpiles. Adoption of the Stockpiles Document emphasized the FSC’s interest in finding concrete and practical solutions to ongoing security issues in the OSCE region. At the OSCE Ministerial in December, Foreign Ministers also endorsed the Stockpiles Document.

Finally, the FSC also assisted the Permanent Council last year in conducting a comprehensive review of peacekeeping in the OSCE. While we did not agree to expand OSCE’s role into armed peacekeeping, as one delegation was proposing, we, in the process, reaffirmed the 1992 Helsinki Summit language on OSCE’s proper role in the realm of unarmed peacekeeping operations.

In conclusion, I want to ensure that I have not left too rosy a picture of the FSC and its potential. The Forum, like all other bodies in the OSCE, is a consensus body. That naturally limits what any one country can accomplish, especially when we consider the range of views held in an organization of 55 members. The OSCE – and, by extension, the FSC – is fundamentally about politically binding norms and standards. We have no enforcement capability.

But, the FSC remains a useful forum for the U.S. In addition to the norms, standards and measures the FSC has established, we offer a venue for our 55 members to discuss – in open forum or in smaller groups – issues of national interest. That fact, in and of itself, is a useful confidence- and security-building measure. Finally, as a result of the U.S. Chairmanship in the autumn of 2003, I can assure you the FSC has broadened its view to include some key U.S. security interests.

Thank you very much for your attention. I welcome your questions.