Russia is Blocking Europe’s Largest Human Rights Conference

The OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) requires a consensus decision to take place, and Russia is withholding its consent, stopping the event from taking place.
Sweden -the current OSCE Chair- negotiated with Russia throughout the summer but did not reach an agreement by the end of August. The end of August was considered the last possible date to find an agreement in order to initiate timely planning and organization of the conference by the Warsaw-based OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The conference is usually held every year in September in the Polish capital and brings together up to 1,500 participants from all 57 OSCE participating States. The meeting includes both civil society and government representatives and provides a platform for dialogue between them on the human rights situation in all OSCE participating States.

All EU member states as well as eleven other states expressed deep regret over the failure to hold the meeting in its usual format. Russia’s OSCE mission commented that its main mission would have been including the topic of preventing neo-Nazism in the HDIM’s agenda of 2021 but the consensus on this could not have been reached. Western OSCE diplomats, insisted that there would have been several agenda items under which the topic could have been discussed and raised at the HDIM.

Several Western diplomats have speculated that Moscow’s opposition to the HDIM could have something to do with the upcoming Duma elections in Russia, which is scheduled to take place on a date that would have coincided with the HDIM, where Moscow would likely have had to face some criticism of its democratic and human rights record.
OSCE ODIHR observers were not able to observe the Russian Duma elections, due to “limitations imposed by Russian authorities”. 

In response to this situation, the Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship is co-organizing the ODIHR conference with Poland as a host country. The ODIHR conference will take place on the thirtieth anniversary of its establishment on 14 and 15 October 2021 in Warsaw, Poland, and also online. ODIHR is convening a two-day conference to mark the many achievements of the last three decades, consider current challenges and opportunities, and discuss the Office’s role in continuing to help find solutions and promote democracy and human rights in the future. Representatives of OSCE participating States, OSCE institutions and OSCE executive structures, representatives of inter-governmental organizations, representatives of civil society, and researchers from the 57 participating States are encouraged to participate. The Partners for Co-operation are invited to attend and contribute with respect to their co-operation and links with the ODIHR.

More on the ODIHR conference can be found here: ODIHR: three decades and ready for the future. Democracy, human rights and security in the OSCE

This is a summary of the article written by Stephanie Liechtenstein, a diplomatic correspondent and a freelance journalist based in Vienna, Austria. A full article can be found here: Russia blocks holding of OSCE human rights conference, diplomats say

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