EHF and the OSCE
The OSCE was created as a security organization in 1975. However, it does not deal exclusively with issues of military security, disarmament or border issues. Based on a broad concept of security, it deals equally with human rights. The OSCE considers security more than merely the absence of war. Instead, it was the intention of the OSCE participating States to create a comprehensive framework for peace and stability in Europe.
The Helsinki Final Act acknowledges as one of its ten guiding principles “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscious, religion or belief”. This constitutes a milestone in the history of human rights protection. For the first time, human rights principles were included as an explicit and integral element of a regional security framework on the same basis as politico-military and economic issues. It is the OSCE view that a free society allowing everyone to fully participate in public life is a safeguard against conflict and instability.
In OSCE terminology, the term human dimension is used to describe the set of norms and activities related to human rights and democracy that are regarded within the OSCE as one of three dimensions of security, together with the politico-military and the economic and environmental dimensions. The term also indicates that the OSCE norms in this field cover a wider area than traditional human rights law.
To assist participating states in the implementation of human dimension commitments, the OSCE has established a number of permanent institutions. One of them is the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw set up to help OSCE participating States “ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, to abide by the rule of law, to promote principles of democracy and … to build, strengthen and protect democratic institutions, as well as to promote tolerance throughout society”.
EHF and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is based in Warsaw, where it holds a two-week annual conference – the ‘Human Dimension Implementation Meeting’ (HDIM) – where representatives of governments and civil society review both the implementation of the OSCE’s Human Dimension commitments and the procedures and mechanisms for monitoring and enhancing compliance with these commitments. OSCE meetings are attended by representatives of the governments of its member states (which include the USA and Canada, while various other non-European countries attend as observers), of a hundred or more NGOs – non-governmental organisations – and of international organisations such as the Council of Europe.
Since 2005 the EHF has attended these annual conferences for relevant sessions and has taken an active part. We have also contributed to other OSCE events and activities, as detailed below.
EHF urges OSCE States to legalise abortion and stop considering women as second class citizens
In a strong and committed statement, EHF representative Giulio Ercolessi took the floor at OSCE HDIM meeting to request abortion right for women in OSCE participating states.