Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on relations between the Council of Europe and the OSCE
GR-OSCE(2005)CB3 6 April 20051
Meeting of 4 April 2005
The Rapporteur Group, chaired by Ambassador Stephen Howarth, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, considered the following matters on the basis of the Notes on the Agenda in document GR-OSCE(2005)6, further to convocation GR-OSCE(2005)OJ3.
1. Follow-up to the first meeting of the CoE/OSCE Co-ordination Group (Vienna, 7 March 2005)
The Chair recalled that the Council of Europe/OSCE Co-ordination Group had held its first meeting in Vienna on 7 March 2005 and that he had reported on the meeting at the 919th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies (16 March 2005, cf document GR-OSCE(2005)4). On that occasion, the Deputies had:
- taken note of the report of the Chair of the GR-OSCE on the first meeting of the Co-ordination Group between the Council of Europe and the OSCE (Vienna, 7 March 2005) and the work in progress aimed at strengthening co-operation between the two organisations, as set out in GR-OSCE(2005)4;
- on the basis of that report, instructed the Chairs of the Ministers' Deputies and of the GR-OSCE, in consultation with members of the Co-ordination Group, to take the relevant follow-up action.
The work done since then has been carried out on the basis of these decisions.
a) Draft Declaration on enhanced co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE
The Chair presented the current state of the draft declaration, as prepared by the Slovenian Chairmanship of the OSCE following the Co-ordination Group's meeting on 7 March (cf document GR-OSCE(2005)4 addendum). He pointed out that the words “the Chairs” which had been added in the middle of the text should be removed, as the draft declaration was to be adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the OSCE Permanent Council, not by the Chairs of the two institutions. In addition, the text under consideration was the result of lengthy discussions and a delicate compromise reached at the Co-ordination Group's meeting on 7 March. He therefore urged delegations not to challenge the draft radically but to indicate whether the text proposed and the approach followed could meet with their approval or whether, in contrast, they had serious reservations about specific aspects proposed.
Two delegations expressed reservations about the inclusion in the draft declaration of an explicit reference to the four priority areas for co-ordination that had been identified before, namely the questions concerning the fight against terrorism, the protection of national minorities, combating trafficking in human beings and promoting tolerance and non-discrimination. They said that other issues might also warrant such co-ordination in future, eg media freedom, election observation and the settlement of “frozen” conflicts (one of the two delegations placed particular emphasis on the latter). Other delegations said that the reference should be maintained, as they believed it was essential in terms of content. By way of compromise, the Chair suggested that the term “including questions” be replaced with “starting with questions” in the paragraph in the draft declaration which mentioned the four areas concerned. This wording was accepted by the Group, including one of the two delegations that had expressed reservations. The other delegation stuck to its initial position, however.
In addition, another delegation proposed that the paragraph stating that various forms of co-operation between the two organisations should be explored “in order to produce synergies and make best use of their comparative advantages” should be amended to indicate more clearly that the aim should be to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. In reply, it was pointed out that the Co-ordination Group had preferred to opt for more positive wording which, in substantive terms, basically reflected the same concerns. However, the Chair concluded that he could see no disadvantage in adding a reference of the kind proposed.
In conclusion, it was agreed that the draft declaration including the amendments made at the meeting (see Appendix 1) would be presented at the Deputies' 923rd meeting (6 April 2005). It would then be forwarded to the OSCE Chairmanship in preparation for the discussion of the text to be held at the joint meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the OSCE Permanent Council in Strasbourg on 18 April 2005.
b) Priority areas for co-operation: appointment of Council of Europe focal points
The Chair reminded the Group that the OSCE had already appointed the focal points to represent it in co-ordinating the two institutions' action in the four above-mentioned priority areas. He presented the focal points identified on the Council of Europe side by the members representing the Council of Europe on the Co-ordination Group (cf document GR-OSCE (2005) 4 addendum 2). In this connection, he underlined the difficulties in finding focal points comparable to those of the OSCE, given that the two organisations did not have identical structures. In conclusion, he said that the names identified were the result of in-depth discussions that had taken place over the previous weeks with the delegations and the Secretary General.
The Secretary General expressed his very serious reservations about the decision to assign the role of focal points to Ambassadors, rather than members of the Secretariat as he had suggested. The decision was a worrying challenge to the role traditionally assigned to the Secretariat. He reiterated the alternative proposal he had made, underlining the high level of the focal points proposed (including the Deputy Secretary General) and the fact that the OSCE had chosen members of its Secretariat. If the Committee of Ministers were nevertheless to approve the choice of focal points proposed by the members representing the Council of Europe on the Co-ordination Group, those focal points would be able to count on the assistance of the Secretariat (once the Secretary General had identified his representatives) but would not be able to take decisions for which he had sole responsibility from the point of view of the management of financial resources.
Several delegations endorsed the solution proposed by the members representing the Council of Europe on the Co-ordination Group, while underlining the need to clarify as quickly as possible the arrangements under which the focal points would have to perform their tasks so that they received clear guidance and were able, at the earliest opportunity, to establish contacts with the Secretary General's representatives and their counterparts at the OSCE. In conclusion, the Chair said that the Group agreed with the conclusions of the Co-ordination Group's members and that discussion of the operational arrangements could continue under item 2 of the agenda below.
2. Joint meeting between the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Permanent Council of the OSCE (Strasbourg, 18 April 2005): state of preparation
The Chair recalled that, following the decisions taken in December 2004 on the enhancement of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE, a joint meeting between the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Permanent Council of the OSCE would take place in Strasbourg on 18 April 2005. He drew attention to the letter of invitation sent by the Chair of the Deputies to the OSCE Chair for the meeting (see appendix to the notes on the agenda GR-OSCE (2005) 6). The representatives of Poland and Slovenia said that they had not yet received any information in reply to the letter concerning participation from the OSCE side.
With reference to the agenda proposed by the Chair of the Deputies in the above-mentioned letter and carrying on from the discussion before about the focal points, several delegations said that it would be appropriate for the focal points to prepare for the meeting on 18 April, with the assistance of the Secretariat, contributions outlining the arrangements whereby co-operation could be stepped up with the OSCE in their respective fields. However, certain delegations said that only little time remained before the meeting, which meant that it was necessary not to be overambitious in terms of the contributions that could be expected from the focal points. It was therefore important not to restrict the possibility of submitting contributions to the focal points themselves, but, instead, to invite all delegations to contribute ideas to the debate.
In addition, one delegation said that the meeting would need to have documents describing the respective activities and projects of the Council of Europe and the OSCE in the four priority areas for co-operation identified. It was agreed that this request should be passed on to the OSCE in preparation for the meeting.
In conclusion, the Group asked the Secretariat to prepare for the 923rd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies (6 April 2005) draft decisions endorsing the appointment of the Council of Europe's focal points in the four priority areas and asking them to prepare for the meeting on 18 April, with the assistance of the Secretariat, proposals on arrangements for enhancing co-operation with the OSCE in these areas.
3. Any other business
Under this item, one delegation asked for information on co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE on human rights education, which was one of the priorities of the Slovenian presidency of the OSCE. It was agreed that the Secretariat would supply it with the information it possessed.
4. Date of the next meeting
To be fixed at a later date.
Joint Declaration on Council of Europe - OSCE Cooperation
Revised draft text
[The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Permanent Council of the OSCE]
Recalling the decisions taken in December 2004 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (No. CM/865/01122004) and the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (No. 637),
Recognizing the need to adapt relations between the two organisations to the evolving international environment, with due respect for the aims and principles enshrined in the Council of Europe's Statute and the OSCE's Charter for European Security,
Resolved to strive for a whole and free Europe without dividing lines based on shared values and a common commitment to democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law, comprehensive security, social justice and market economy,
Convinced that, to achieve this objective, they need to work more closely together in order to identify effective coordinated responses to the threats and challenges facing Europe in the 21st Century, on the basis of the principles of complementarity, transparency and democratic accountability, while respecting the autonomy, different membership and distinctive tasks of each organization,
Determined to base this enhanced cooperation on the existing legal acquis of the Council of Europe and the OSCE's political commitments,
Welcoming the work initiated by the Coordination Group which was established in December 2004 and which illustrates the commitment of Member and Participating States to enhanced cooperation between both organizations,
Call on the Coordination Group to give priority in its work to the formulation of concrete recommendations on how to foster coordination and cooperation between the two organizations in areas of common interest, taking into account their respective work in the field, and
including starting with questions concerning the fight against terrorism, protection of national minorities, combating trafficking in human beings, as well as promoting tolerance and non-discrimination;
Agree that, to this end, various forms of cooperation between the two organizations should be explored including joint meetings, joint activities or joint missions, with more active involvement of the Member/Participating States, in order to produce synergies, avoid unnecessary duplication and make best use of their comparative advantages;
Call for better co-ordination within their national administrations in order to ensure that the above principles are effectively implemented;
Decide to bring this Declaration to the attention of both the Council of Europe and the OSCE Parliamentary Assemblies and would welcome their intention to enhance cooperation between the two Assemblies.
Enhanced cooperation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE in priority areas
Appointment of Council of Europe focal points
The Council of Europe focal points will be Chairs of the relevant Rapporteur Groups or Rapporteurs of the Committee of Ministers with appropriate support from representatives of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
For the priority areas of cooperation between the two organisations, as identified by the Coordination Group at its first meeting in Vienna on 7 March 2005, the following chairpersons and rapporteurs will act as the Council of Europe focal points:
- the fight against terrorism: Chair of the Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation (GR-J),
- combating trafficking in human beings: Rapporteur on Equality between Women and Men (RAP-EG),
- protection of national minorities and promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination: Chair of the Rapporteur Group on Human Rights (GR-H) or/and a representative acting on the Chair's behalf.
It is understood that the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights will be actively involved in cooperation with OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities and ODIHR in the areas of his competence.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set up in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.