OSCE CiO Warsaw Human Dimension Conference 26 September – 7 October 2022 EU statement

EU statement - Opening Session

1. The European Union expresses its sincere appreciation for the leadership and excellent preparation by the Polish Chair and ODIHR of the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference. While Russia blocked consensus on the annual HDIM, we are grateful for this unique opportunity to exchange with civil society and human rights defenders, many of whom took great risks to have their voice heard, including those who travelled through war-torn Ukraine. We highly value OSCE autonomous institutions’ indispensable assistance to participating States in upholding human rights and democracy and we thank ODIHR, in particular, for offering a platform for dialogue with civil society. We encourage all participating States to further strengthen their engagement with ODIHR as an invaluable source of guidance and support in implementing our commitments.

2. The conference takes place against the backdrop of Russia’s continued unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine in blatant violation of the UN Charter, international law and principles and commitments in our OSCE founding documents, notably: refraining from the threat or use of force; respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States; observing the inviolability of internationally recognised borders; respecting the freedom of countries to decide their foreign policy and security arrangements. These principles are in no circumstances negotiable nor subject to revision or re-interpretation. Russia must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, immediately and unconditionally cease its military actions and  withdraw all its troops and equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine, including the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula. Belarus must stop enabling the Russian aggression and abide by its international obligations.

3. Apart from its brutal attack on Ukraine, Russia’s continued destabilising role in the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova - as well as its support to the Lukashenka regime in Belarus - have also severely deteriorated the security situation in the OSCE area. The EU will spare no efforts to ensure that the resolution of existing conflicts, including in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, remains the OSCE’s top priority.

4. As our fundamental principles and OSCE commitments continue to be violated on a daily basis, the human dimension of the comprehensive security concept proves to be more important than ever and needs to be safeguarded. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine follows and builds upon the Kremlin’s repressive policies internally as highlighted in the most recent report under the Moscow Mechanism. We condemn Russia’s ongoing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, silencing any public resistance online or offline, including in connection with the war. As the Kremlin continues its shameful disinformation campaign to deny its brutal attacks on civilians in Ukraine, collection and access to reliable information on the ground remains crucial. We therefore applaud the courage of many journalists and other media actors that continue reporting from the ground in Ukraine.

5. The perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocity crimes must be and will be held accountable according to international law. We are deeply shocked and appalled by the reports of mass graves recently discovered by the Ukrainian authorities in Izyum, that add to all violations of IHL and IHRL reported and documented so far. The OSCE Moscow Mechanism reports are an essential contribution to a first collection and analysis of facts with a view to presenting it to accountability mechanisms that have, or may have in the future, jurisdiction. It rests upon OSCE participating States and the wider international community to ensure that necessary follow-up actions are undertaken, including through the further use of OSCE tools and mechanisms.

6. Mr. Chair, The fight for human rights and fundamental freedoms is a high-risk activity in many parts of the OSCE region, as civil society representatives, journalists and other media actors become targets of intimidation, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances or torture because of their work.

7. These risks increase in situations of conflict or in countries where the judicial power does not enjoy independence. In Belarus, the unjustified and excessive sentences handed down to human rights defenders are having a chilling effect on all those active in combating human rights violations and upholding fundamental freedoms in the country. The EU reiterates its call on Minsk to immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all those unlawfully detained and to engage in a genuine and inclusive dialogue with the democratic forces and civil society to find a way out of the current crisis and to enable a peaceful political transition to a democratic society.

8. We recall that measures to combat terrorism or violent extremism must fully respect international human rights standards and fundamental freedoms. There can be no sustainable security without human rights. Support for human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, is at the core of the EU's external human rights policy.
9. As we look forward to constructively engaging in the panel discussions and side events, we would like to assure that the EU will continue to call on all participating States, including within the EU, to live up to their international human rights obligations and OSCE commitments, as well as to speak up against the shrinking space, intimidation and reprisals against civil society and human rights defenders.

The Candidate Countries REPUBLIC of NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*, UKRAINE and REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, the Potential Candidate Country GEORGIA, the EFTA countries ICELAND and LIECHTENSTEIN, members of the European Economic Area, as well as ANDORRA and SAN MARINO align themselves with this statement.

* Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.