March 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2019
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SECURITY COUNCIL AND WIDER UN STRUCTURE

OSCE Briefing

Expected Council Action

In March, Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák, the current Chairperson-in-Office for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), is expected to provide a briefing to the Security Council on the activities of the organisation.

Background

The chairmanship of the OSCE rotates yearly, and on 1 January, Slovakia succeeded Italy in this function. “Briefing by the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe” has been a Council agenda item since 2001 and 2004, such briefings have been held annually in open chamber.

Slovakia has indicated that its chairmanship will be ambitious in promoting dialogue and trust, but also realistic in regard to challenges and complexities. It outlined the following priorities: preventing, mediating and mitigating conflict and focusing on the people affected; providing for a safer future; and effective multilateralism.

The situation in Ukraine has featured prominently in the work of each chairmanship since the start of hostilities in 2014. The OSCE has emerged as a leading organisation responsible for monitoring the implementation of the 2015 Minsk agreements concerning the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which the Council endorsed in resolution 2202. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) currently maintains around 800 international monitors, most of whom are based in eastern Ukraine. The SMM gathers information about ceasefire violations and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. Furthermore, the OSCE participates in the work of Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), which serves as a forum for addressing implementation aspects of the Minsk agreements.

Given the OSCE’s prominent presence and access to information on the ground, the Council has occasionally sought briefings by OSCE representatives on the situation in eastern Ukraine. Most recently, Chief Monitor Ertuğrul Apakan of the SMM and Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Martin Sajdik briefed on 12 February.

During his 10 January address to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, Lajčák stressed that the situation in Ukraine will be among the main priorities during Slovakia’s chairmanship of the OSCE. In his first official visit upon assuming the role of Chairman-in-Office, Lajčák travelled to Ukraine and visited the areas in eastern parts of the country most affected by the conflict. During the visit, he called on the parties involved in the conflict to increase their efforts in finding a political solution.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will provide international monitoring of the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine, scheduled for 31 March. In February, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law that bars Russian citizens from taking part in the ODIHR election observer mission in Ukraine. During his 17 February meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Lajčák regretted that Ukraine had undertaken such measures, which he said were not in line with OSCE commitments and not in the best interest of the organisation.

While the conflict in Ukraine occupies most of the OSCE’s attention, the organisation is also involved in conflict resolution and mediation in protracted conflicts in areas such as Transdniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia.

During its chairmanship, Slovakia will also focus on other issues, including promoting dialogue between regional and international partners; transnational threats such as violent extremism and terrorism; promoting sustainable development; effective use of youth perspectives in the work of the OSCE; cybersecurity; and addressing negative consequences of rapid technological changes.

In December 2018, the EU and the OSCE held the first high-level meeting of the two organisations, with the aim of improving cooperation on matters of common interest, such as conflict prevention and resolution, and peacebuilding. Much of the discussion centred around potential cooperation in the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia—including some issues on the Council’s agenda. Both organisations agreed to formalise their relationship by holding annual high-level meetings.

UN DOCUMENTS ON THE OSCE

Security Council Resolution
17 February 2015S/RES/2202 This was a resolution that endorsed the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” signed on 12 February 2015.
Security Council Meeting Records
12 February 2019S/PV.8461 This was a meeting on the situation in Ukraine called by Russia on anniversary of the Minsk II agreement.
8 March 2018S/PV.8200 This was a briefing in which Italian Foreign Minister and current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Angelino Alfano briefed the Council on main priorities of the Italian chairmanship of the organisation.
7 May 2004S/PV.4964 This was the first public briefing by the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE.