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OSCE: Independent Groups Plan Parallel Conference

posted 4 Nov 2010, 08:47 by Rights in Russia
3 November 2010

***Media Advisory***

Civil Society Designs Event as a Contribution to the Astana Summit

(Moscow, November 3, 2010) – A group of independent civil society organizations will organize a parallel conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, on November 28 and 29, 2010, in advance of the summit meeting there of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The OSCE event on December 1 and 2 will be its first summit meeting in more than a decade that has presented many new security challenges. Most heads of states and governments of the 56 OSCE participating states are expected to attend.

“This is a rare opportunity for states and civil society alike to reaffirm the principles of the Helsinki accords,” said Yuri Dzhibladze, president of Russia’s Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, and a member of the conference’s international organizing committee. “The Helsinki Accords recognize the human dimension as a core principle of comprehensive security and the role of civil society as key to the Helsinki process.”

The Parallel Conference will serve as a platform for developing strategies by independent civil society for strengthening the OSCE and its human dimension mechanisms. It will not be part of the official summit agenda, but rather, in the spirit of the Helsinki Process, civic expression, and good will, is designed to develop specific recommendations directed at realizing the vision and potential of the organization.

The agenda and recommendations of the Parallel Conference will address the following:

· Strengthening implementation of the OSCE’s human dimension;

· Strengthening the OSCE’s ability to respond effectively to political and humanitarian crises, based on lessons learned;

· Strengthening OSCE institutions, mechanisms, and relationship with civil society;

· Preparing for civil society’s future engagement with the OSCE - for 2011 and beyond.

At the OSCE Review Conference in Vienna on October 25, the Kazakh OSCE Chairmanship expressed its support for the idea and objectives of the Parallel Conference.

“We are pleased to have the support of the government of Kazakhstan,” said Sonia Zilberman, a representative of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and member of the international organizing committee. “We look forward to cooperative engagement with the Chairmanship as needed on logistics and security.”

The organizing committee, consisting of 20 organizations from across the OSCE region, has selected participants to ensure a well balanced geographical representation from independent civil society organizations with expertise on the agenda items. The committee is working to arrange a news conference at the end of the meeting to announce its recommendations. The committee is also seeking broad participation of civil society in the Parallel Conference through the Internet, including posting conference materials on the web.

For more information, please contact:
In New York, for Human Rights Watch, Rachel Denber (English, Russian, French): +1-212-216-1266; or
In Almaty, for Freedom House, Vyacheslav Abramov (English, Russian) : +7 727 2643513; or
In Johannesburg, for CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Sonia Zilberman (English):
In Johannesburg, for CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Jessica Hume (English): +27-11- 833-5959; or
In Moscow, for the Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Yuri Dzhibladze (English, Russian): +7-916-673-5153; or
In The Hague, for the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Harry Hummel (English, Dutch, German): +31-70-392-6700; or
In Paris, for International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Sacha Koulaeva (French, English, Russian): +33 6 48 05 94 80; or