OSCE, international security and the purpose of “perpetual peace”

by Domenico Letizia*

Security remains a cardinal principle for all citizens that they move and act in the social fabric. Our age, defined by many as postmodern, has many aspects of continuous development. Acting politically, in the spread of human rights, humanitarian International law and ensuring security, means being aware that, the context on which it plays, is a transactional context, that it doesn’t know any blocks and borders.

In such a social-political context, there are many people that understand the action of non-governmental organizations and the action of international organizations for the protection of human rights, to oppose the countless violations to the human dignity, both within the various nation states that in a global gear. No single state and no NGO can individually address the challenges that the contemporary presents.

What can make a difference is the cooperation between all the organizations that they act on the whole political society. The primary task of OSCE is precisely to make cooperation, through political dialogue with the other organizations, the cornerstone of action based on common values and objectives. The structure of OSCE must remain and become stronger in flexibility, to allow a strong cooperation with different organizations, to continue to deal with NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations and numerous NGOs, without forgetting that the dynamism of current can also be in a short time and then the strength of action is to know to identify the organizational capacity and the perception of threats.

Educating to the observance of international humanitarian law and to the international law is the centre of the efforts of OSCE to counter the threats and tensions in stability and security. Maintaining security throughout the OSCE region and outside of it, is to support, monitor and instruct states and organizations, the strengthening of fundamental human rights, of the process of democracy and to strengthen the rule of law.

Today, many collaborate an action strategy that points to the transition to democracy for the many-state actors of the international arena. This is to strengthen the rule of law against the reason of state. Cope with conflicts between states and within these, tackle international crime, to address threats related to discrimination and intolerance, cope with environmental threats and between the face of the specific threats of a political military is the challenge that OSCE must win.

The frame of the consultations that OSCE offers in initiating contacts with relevant organizations and state realities is the basic tool to establish meeting places and resolutions shared. OSCE is a place of political dialogue and security research that it treats and prevents the onset of instability, encouraging and supporting the development of inclusive societies, democratic and tolerant, that they are able to cope through synergy and cooperation, emerging issues. For a stable European policy cannot ignore the political problems in the Mediterranean area. The European countries formally have sided in favour of the Mediterranean, even if Europe is committed to solve their
internal problems, paying little attention and limited resources to the southern shore.

The uncertain, complicated and complex process of transformation of the Mediterranean, the close connection between rights and security, including the progressive integration and respect for diversity, must be the compass by which to direct European support for the transition processes of partner Mediterranean. The contents of the Treaty of Helsinki remain a prerogative for the entire European continent.

According to the past experiences, OSCE organization could play, in the Mediterranean context nowadays, an important role in implementing a long-time approach. The essence of the Helsinki Final Act has reiterating the strong correlation between security, respect for the rule of law and the affirmation of human rights.

To enlarge the objectives intent to build a common European house, must involve new partner that are emerging as international actors, such as the Arab league and other organizations for cooperation. The model Helsinki, forty years later, has proved its validity. A positive example of the long- lasting process on transition to democracy was what happened in Eastern Europe, saying that we must continue to develop and improve other areas of intense instability, such as the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.

The awareness of the political and social changes of the last decade has reshaped the current account of the safety concept. Attacks, transnational organized- crime, the non-respect of international humanitarian law during the course of the conflict, the issues of drones, are all issues that have changed the perception of the concept of “security”. The OSCE has made its approach on security that we can define “global”, by establishing a direct and explicit link between the maintenance of security and respect for human rights.

Unit values that can be shared with the Mediterranean countries on the basis of equal organization and on the concrete projects which take into account the respect of the “rule of law”, affirm the rule of law against the reason of State. There are many NGOs that draw your attention to the creation of policies with a strong humanitarian intervention. The human dimension mechanism represents a value to keep in mind in dealing with countries in Euro-Asian and Mediterranean and in allowing the OSCE to play an important role in the region.

Theoretically, these mechanism would allow more interaction, concrete initiatives aimed at issues of common interest, such as, for example, the answer to threats and transnational issues. It would contribute, thus, to an improve of the mutual security. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on 10 December 1948. Since then the principles of the Universal Declaration have become the reference for all organizations that fight for the protection and dissemination of human rights. Spread human rights also it means making them know to the people.

The action of the OSCE should also promote a debate on the birth of a new human right: the human right to know, to be achieved through resolutions and pragmatic proposals. Both the Santiago Declaration and the Advisory Committee Declaration make reference to the Right to Know or right to information, saying: “All peoples and individuals have the right to access and to receive information from diverse sources without censorship, in accordance with international human rights law, in order to be protected from manipulation in favour of warlike or aggressive objectives”.

Professor Esther Beceiro Garcìa, member of the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law, recently wrote: “this right to access information derives from the freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to seek and receive any kind of information and opinions. This right has been recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 19); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (art.19.2); the European Convention on Human Rights (art. 10); the American Convention on Human Rights (art. 13); or the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (art. 9)”.

The Right to Know is a human right, essential to guarantee not only freedom of opinion and expression, but also other important rights such as the right to vote, freedom of assembly and association, or even the right to conscientious objection. Being informed is always necessary to form an opinion about anything, so this right has a special dimension when it is related to issues concerning peace and security, which always affect human rights.

We cannot permit another war based in lies, neither the use of fear to implement a Government agenda that would be not accepted without that fear. Access to information must be guaranteed in all situations, as an essential element of democracy. It allows citizens understand the Government and its decisions, but also ask for responsibilities and chose their representatives with more effectiveness.

In the reality of our democracies in which the reason of State becomes evidently practiced, and to be the prevailing rule, as sixty years ago, we thought we had conquered a different condition. We must be, and be careful. The threat to our continent and for the world in which we try to defend freedom, is linked to the power and the excessive power of the military industrial complex. In this context, the OSCE could be a point of reference for his safety concept and for the set of principles which characterize his experience in security and political cooperation.

The European Union, in responding to the new realities, needs to develop a coherent multilateral approach that overcomes the limits of bilateralism and gives to the parties the opportunity of equal confrontation through tools such as the organization of diplomatic conferences, remembering that the point centerpiece of a successful outcome is knowledge, a healthy and permanent right to know.

OSCE action in channelling the force for the dissemination of human rights and for the growth of the rule of law, is a fundamental prerogative for the realization of the dream of “perpetual peace” that Kant imagined when he thought the future of Europe and beyond its boundaries.

*Member of the board of Hands Off Cain and Italian League for Human Rights (LIDU)

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