OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Adopts Washington Declaration
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July 5, 2005
Washington DC, 5 July 2005 - At the close of their meeting in Washington D.C. from 1-5 July, more than 260 parliamentarians from 51 OSCE participating States adopted the Washington Declaration focusing on the political, economic and human rights aspects of the central theme of the Session: "30 Years since Helsinki: Challenges Ahead". In addition, several other documents were adopted. On the final day of the Washington Session the Assembly re-elected US Congressman Alcee L. Hastings as its President for another one year term.
The Declaration reiterates the fundamental principles of international law endorsed by the Helsinki Final Act 30 years ago. It includes both political and administrative recommendations to the OSCE, including increasing information exchanges with Afghanistan and Pakistan on trafficking, and upgrading the status of the OSCE's Forum for Security Co-operation. The Assembly also proposed inviting the Palestine National Authority as an observer delegation to the OSCE PA.
In the field of economic affairs, the Assembly noted the potential economic and social root causes of global security threats such as terrorism. It further notes the need to assist development of small entrepreneurship, and in particular to increase the role of women and ethnic minorities in scientific, legal and commercial spheres.
The Declaration recalls the obligation of participating States to allow OSCE observers to monitor their election procedures and urges respect for the Geneva Conventions for all prisoners of war. The Assembly urges participating States to guarantee the individual right of vote to all citizens, and in particular calls upon the US government to grant the residents of Washington, DC equal voting rights in their national legislature, in accordance with OSCE commitments.
The Resolution on the Republic of Moldova emphasizes that any settlement of the conflict of the status of the Transdniestrian region must be acceptable for the entire people of the Republic of Moldova. The resolution further recommends that consideration be given to the Ukrainian proposal to mandate the OSCE to conduct elections in Transdniestria.
The Resolution on Improving Gender Equality in the OSCE calls upon the OSCE to promote the recruitment of women candidates within OSCE bodies, and to improve the culture and working atmosphere in the Organization. On combating anti-Semitism, the Final Document calls for improved information-sharing among participating States, as well as further work to raise awareness on the issue. The Resolution on Terrorism by Suicide Bombers urges recognition that terrorist acts committed by suicide bombers constitute crimes against humanity. The Assembly expresses concern that differing interpretations of 'terrorist' may serve as a basis for expansion of the powers of ruling authorities and restrict the exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights.
Regarding efforts of the Assembly in Abkhazia (Georgia), the Assembly urges a strengthening of efforts to engage parties in a meaningful dialogue leading to the substantial progress on key issues of conflict resolution such as political status, comprehensive security guarantees, unconditional and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons and economic issues.
The Assembly also urged participating States to offer technical support and military assistance to coastal states to support the fight against piracy in international trade routes and sea lines. The Resolution on the OSCE Mediterranean Dimension urges the OSCE Mediterranean Partner States to work to rescind the trade boycott of the state of Israel, as the Mediterranean Partners begin their accession negotiations with the World Trade Organization. Within the context of fighting against corruption, the Assembly urges parliaments to adopt legislative procedures for waiving parliamentary immunities, and to establish mechanisms for monitoring declarations of income by parliamentarians, ministers, and public servants.
In the Washington Document, the Assembly noted with deep regret that the OSCE Ministerial Council in Sofia did not agree on the proposed decision on "Ensuring that International Forces and Missions Contribute to Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings", despite the OSCE PA's recommendation to this effect. In the same context, it recommends explicitly prohibiting any purchase of sexual services in the Code of Conduct for OSCE Mission members. Similarly, it urges combating the root causes of trafficking in human beings through improving school and career training opportunities for those threatened by trafficking.
Regarding electoral standards, the Assembly suggests that international organizations consider the need for elaborating additional election-related commitments, supplementing and enriching existing ones, and urges that the OSCE provide adequate funding to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to support its missions and responsibilities.
Amongst other items on current issues, the Washington Document includes recommendations on continued work towards combating trafficking in small arms and light weapons, as well as effective implementation of anti-money laundering legislation.