October 21, 2021

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On Russia’s Obstructionism at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

11 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Yesterday, the premier human rights conference of the Europe-Eurasia region should have opened in Warsaw, Poland.  Unfortunately, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) 2021 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) did not convene due to a decision by the Russian government to block the meeting. We deeply regret this attempt by the Russian government to block scrutiny of its worsening human rights record.

Since the adoption of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, the OSCE has recognized that respect for human rights is essential to peace and security.  For decades, yearly HDIM reviews of the records of all participating States — the United States included — have been a hallmark of the OSCE, bringing to the table representatives of governments and civil society organizations from across the region.  The United States still expects the OSCE and its participating States to hold the mandated annual HDIM meetings. We will continue to urge Russia to live up to its commitments, which include guaranteeing the protection of fundamental freedoms and allowing citizens to hold their governments accountable, including through free and fair elections.

The United States will not ignore human rights violations.  We will continue to do our utmost to spotlight the full range of human rights concerns across the OSCE region, and we will work with allies and partners to defend the principle of comprehensive, annual human dimension reviews with robust civil society participation.

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