Independent report not allowed at OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum

18 member organisations of the Civic Solidarity Platform supported a letter by Kate Watters, the executive director of Crude Accountability, with concerns about the fact.

According to Kate Watters, the organizers of the Concluding Meeting of the 21st OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum (Prague, 11-13 September 2013) refused to allow the open display and distribution of Crude Accountability’s reports on environmental issues and human rights in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan during the forum.

Crude Accountability, an environmental and human rights non-profit organization registered in the US, works in the Caspian and Black Sea regions. Crude Accountability is also a member of the Civic Solidarity Platform, a coalition of human rights organizations from OSCE countries.

Sergey Solyanik, Crude Accountability’s consultant, who was officially representing our interests at the forum, sent the meeting organizers electronic versions of our reports prior to the meeting. The organizers confirmed receipt and did not express any objections to their content. However, at the beginning of the meeting on 11 September, Alexey Stukalo, deputy coordinator of the OSCE, told Mr. Solyanik that he was forbidden from placing Crude Accountability’s materials on the table with other documents. Mr. Stukalo stated that the content of Crude Accountability’s reports and their open distribution at the meeting could result in a negative reaction from a number of delegations. He proposed that Mr. Solyanik distribute the reports individually to the conference attendees.

This is the first time in our many years of work that a well-known international organization like the OSCE, whose interests are security and cooperation, behaved in this way. Because Crude Accountability was not able to distribute its materials, many meeting participants did not have an opportunity to become acquainted with our positions on environmental rights in the Caspian region, including the violations of the responsibilities of member countries of the OSCE.

Civic Solidarity Platform members believe that this ban violates the basis for partnership and cooperation between the OSCE and nongovernmental organizations. It also violates the spirit of the Aarhus Convention, the principles of which the OSCE states it upholds. If the Economic and Environmental Forum was known before as an open forum where civil society representatives could raise difficult questions and look for joint ways to resolve them with member countries of the OSCE, now the spirit of dialogue has been diminished and this incident causes to question the degree to which nongovernmental organizations can effectively and fully participate in this meeting.

Here are the links to the reports that were denied distribution at the forum in Prague:

The Private Pocket of the President (Berdymukhamedov): Oil, Gas and the Law

Hidden in Plain Sight: Environmental and Human Rights Violations in the Turkmen Section of the Caspian Sea

The Great Enablers: How Investments by International Financial Institutions Threaten the Fragile Caspian Sea Ecosystem

Where are Prosperity and Transparency in Azerbaijan?

The Republic of Chevron: 20 Years in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s Implementation of its OSCE Obligations to Observe the Human Right to a Healthy Environment