In this issue: OSCE Ministerial Council 2016

22 December 2016
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Image PlaceholderTwenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, we are at a crossroads. We are faced with the fundamental question of whether or not we want to continue pursuing the vision of co-operative and comprehensive security that stands at the heart of the OSCE. What was envisaged in Helsinki, Paris and Astana is at risk, because of both the current frequency of international crises and the violation of rules and principles by participating States.

But I have taken an encouraging observation from this year’s Ministerial Council in Hamburg: There, we took an important stand against this trend. Despite all our differences of opinion, we met and negotiated constructively. We reached agreement on a number of joint texts which reflect the OSCE’s wide spectrum of action. However, we cannot content ourselves with this. We now need to make use of this impetus, to look ahead and to ensure that the OSCE becomes even more effective and more capable of taking action in the future.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier
2016 OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, German Foreign Minister
Satellite map of Mediterranean region's cities night (iStockphoto/Gianluca D'Auri Muscelli)

23rd OSCE Ministerial Council

From 8 to 9 December 2016, Foreign Ministers from OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation convened in Hamburg, Germany, for the annual Ministerial Council, to discuss the most pressing security concerns in the OSCE region. Read our story for highlights from the event.

Ministerial Council in Photos | For an overview and behind-the-scenes look, watch our short film, which highlights key moments from 2016 OSCE Ministerial Council.

A strong OSCE for a secure Europe

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Steinmeier opened the 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg on 8 December, emphasizing that in stormy times a strong OSCE is more important than ever to provide an effective framework and engine for dialogue and co-operation. Read More

Ministerial Council: decisions, statements and documents

In the area of migration, participating States agreed to continue supporting the work of the OSCE and to use the Organization as a platform for dialogue and to continue addressing migration-related issues where the OSCE has expertise with the aim of developing effective measures and common approaches to address this challenge.

In the economic and environmental sphere, States took a wide-ranging decision on strengthening good governance, transparency and improving the business climate; promoting connectivity through transport and trade facilitation; adherence to labour, social and environmental standards; and strengthening public-private partnerships in the fight against corruption, money laundering and financing of terrorism.

States also committed to exploring how the negative developments with regards to conventional arms control and the architecture of confidence- and security-building measures can be reversed, and to support OSCE efforts in this area.

In the politico-military field, States decided to continue and build on the OSCE’s efforts related to reducing the risks of conflict stemming from the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), they voiced unanimous support for strengthening OSCE efforts to counter and prevent terrorism, and decided to enhance the use of Advance Passenger Information (API) with the aim of combating terrorism.

The Ministerial Council voiced full support on the negotiations on the Transdniestrian Settlement Process in the “5+2” format, and called on sides to continue their engagement.

There was agreement that Slovakia will chair the OSCE in 2019, and this follows a decision taken earlier during Germany’s OSCE Chairmanship that Italy will chair the Organization in 2018.
Learn more about the OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg, access decisions and declarations, look up the agenda and the lists of participants, and access other conference documents on our dedicated page.

Crisis in and around Ukraine - Challenges and OSCE Responses

On the first day of the 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office addressed delegations at a side event on the crisis in and around Ukraine. He commended the indispensable contribution of the OSCE to the efforts to peacefully resolve the crisis, but stressed that it was the responsibility of the sides to move forward with the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Read More

Joint Statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries

At the sidelines of the Hamburg Ministerial Council, Foreign Ministers of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries (France, the Russian Federation and the United States of America) said they remain fully committed to a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Read More 

Strong and effective OSCE through principle-based dialogue

Addressing the foreign ministers of the OSCE 57 participating States and other dignitaries, Parliamentary Assembly (PA) President Christine Muttonen said that a strong OSCE is needed to help to improve the security situation across North America, Europe and Central Asia. She stressed that the PA stands ready to do its part working for a more effective organization, noting that OSCE parliamentarians can help mobilize the political will needed for real results. Read More

Participating States must work together to tackle complex and interconnected security challenges

OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier spoke at the Opening session of the Ministerial Council on 8 December. "We have seen the OSCE reassert its relevance, become more visible, and align its work ever more closely with the global peace and security agenda," he said. The Secretary General also stressed that participating States must all work together to tackle the complex and interconnected security challenges we face today, and that the OSCE has the potential to play a unifying role. Read the full statement.

Check out our story for a timeline of the OSCE Secretary General's activities during the 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council, as well as bilateral meetings held alongside the main event.

OSCE Youth Speaking Up: Destination Security

Youth participation and youth mainstreaming in security were in focus at a side event that took place on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council. “Youth is key to fighting violent extremism, promoting tolerance and diversity,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Spain, Alfonso Dastis Quecedo as he opened the side event. Taking part were many youth activists from civil society and OSCE youth focal points. Read More 

OSCE #UnitedCVE and Peer-2-Peer: Students challenging violent extremism

At a side event during the Ministerial Council the three finalist universities from the OSCE region competed for the best creative social and digital media campaign to counter violent extremism, pitching their creative concepts live in front of a jury, delegates and the media. Learn more about the competition and the winning team from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The participants of the Ministerial Council also showed their support for the OSCE United in Countering Violent Extremism #UnitedCVE campaignSee the photos on Flickr.

OSCE responses to the crisis in and around Ukraine

OSCE responses to the crisis in and around Ukraine include high-level diplomacy and multilateral dialogue; monitoring the security situation on the ground; promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and strengthening democratic institutions and practices. Check out our dedicated portal for the latest news, reports and stories.

Daily updates from the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine

To get a better understanding of the situation on the ground in Ukraine, read the daily updates provided for the public and the media by the teams of special monitors.

Reports from the Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk

Read weekly first-hand information from the team of OSCE observers on the situation at the border checkpoints.
Security Community is available in print in English and Russian, and online in English, Russian, German, French, Italian and Spanish at
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