Expected Council Action
In March, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ann Linde, the new Chairperson-in-Office (CiO) for the Organization for Security and Co–operation in Europe (OSCE), is expected to brief the Security Council on the organisation’s activities.
The chairpersonship of the OSCE rotates yearly, and on 1 January, Sweden succeeded Albania in this function. March’s briefing, which will be conducted via videoconference, will give Linde an opportunity to inform the Council about Sweden’s main priorities as chair and discuss possible avenues for cooperation.
Sweden has indicated that its chairpersonship will draw from the “very fundamentals” of the OSCE: the European security order, the comprehensive concept of security, and continued conflict resolution efforts in the region. In her 14 January statement to the OSCE’s Permanent Council, Foreign Minister Linde referred to the ongoing conflicts and crises in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Belarus. She also underscored the “link between security and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law” in her statement. The situation in Ukraine has consistently featured in the work of each chairpersonship since hostilities began in 2014. The OSCE is the most prominent regional organisation operating in Ukraine and is directly tasked with monitoring the 2015 Minsk agreements, which the Security Council endorsed in resolution 2202. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission gathers daily information related to ceasefire violations and the withdrawal of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine. Additionally, the OSCE participates in the work of the Trilateral Group—consisting of the OSCE, Russia and Ukraine—which serves as a forum for addressing implementation aspects of the Minsk agreements.
Given the OSCE’s presence and access to information on the ground, Linde’s briefing may provide Council members with an opportunity to learn more about recent developments, particularly following a briefing on 11 February, which was called by Russia to mark the anniversary of the Minsk II agreement. At the briefing, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo emphasised that talks cannot be a substitute for real progress and that the situation on the ground remains fragile despite incremental progress on some elements of the agreement. DiCarlo noted the worsening humanitarian conditions, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 3.4 million people projected to need humanitarian assistance in 2021, according to OCHA. Linde’s briefing may provide further updates regarding the dire humanitarian situation in Ukraine.
On 20 January, Linde concluded a two-day official visit to Ukraine, her first visit as CiO. In a press release on 21 January, she noted the “high importance” the Swedish chairpersonship places on supporting a peaceful resolution, including “full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders”. While meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration of the Temporary Occupied Territories of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov, Linde welcomed their actions toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict. She underscored her commitment as CiO to defend the European security order and encourage efforts to achieve a sustainable political solution in Ukraine, which would align with the OSCE’s principles and commitments. Linde also met with civil society representatives, observing in a press release that “their voices are important to help us implement our joint commitments—in Ukraine and the region”. She emphasised that full inclusion and empowerment of women is central to the prevention and mitigation of conflicts and consolidation of peace.
During its chairpersonship, Sweden will also focus on the prioritisation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The programme of the Swedish OSCE chairpersonship underscores Sweden’s emphasis on strengthening the OSCE in producing data, analysis and actions that will take account of gender. Furthermore, the programme notes that when visiting field operations, the CiO will “pay special attention to their important work in this regard, as well as to women’s rights organisations on the ground”.
In addition to the situation in Ukraine, in her briefing to the Council, Linde is likely to address last year’s outbreak of armed conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. In her address to the Permanent Council, Linde observed that the OSCE has a “vital role” to play in conflict settlement, including on the ground. In addition to Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, the OSCE also plays a role in international efforts regarding frozen conflicts in Georgia and Transdniestria. Given that these conflicts are not regularly discussed by the Council, some members may want to use the briefing to hear about the OSCE’s mediation efforts in these situations.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE OSCE
|Security Council Resolutions|
|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|
|6 February 2020S/PV.8714||The Council heard a briefing from Albanian Prime Minister and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Edi Rama, the current Chairperson-in-Office for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for 2020. He updated the Council on developments in the OSCE’s area of operation, including in eastern Ukraine, Georgia and Transdniestria and discussed Albania’s priorities as chair of the OSCE for the upcoming year,|
|7 May 2004S/PV.4964||This was the first public briefing by the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE.|