Ambassador Holland thanks Director of OSCE’s Conflict Prevention Centre for CPC’s work in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine and beyond.

Neil Holland

Thank you, Mr Chair. Thank you, Ambassador Yrjölä, for your timely and sobering report. It makes clear how critical the OSCE’s conflict cycle tools are to our ability to deal with complex and substantial security challenges.

Unfortunately, Russia has consistently stymied this work. Russia blocked the mandate renewals of the Border Observer Mission, the Special Monitoring Mission, and the Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine. We call on Russia for the immediate release of our OSCE Special Monitoring Mission colleagues currently detained in Donetsk and Luhansk. Their detention is unjust and unacceptable.

Russia continues to show no interest in peace, and has caused untold harm to Ukrainian citizens. Russia’s actions make it hard for the OSCE to carry out the work it was designed to do. The irony is that it also makes that work more necessary than ever. To that end, we are grateful for the CPC’s role in coordinating the Support Programme for Ukraine. It is vital that civilians and civilian institutions in Ukraine are protected and supported.

Russia also continues to undermine Georgia’s sovereignty. It has violated its territorial integrity by recognising the so-called independence of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, and by its attempted borderisation tactics. In Moldova, Russian forces and potentially hazardous munitions remain present illegitimately in Transnistria. We continue to support efforts to ensure peaceful, sustainable resolutions to these conflicts, including through the valuable work of the Geneva International Discussions and the Mission to Moldova.

We are also closely following the ongoing peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and we welcome the participation of both countries in working towards a settlement of all outstanding matters between them. We urge them to continue with this momentum.

The CPC is able to play a crucial role in addressing all of these challenges through international reporting, early warning, dialogue facilitation, mediation, rehabilitation, and programme management. We support the plan to strengthen these tools further, including through greater use of technology. But as the report states, these tools can only be as effective as we, the participating States, allow them to be. We must demonstrate the political will to use these resources and fully implement the principles and commitments that underpin comprehensive security.

It is essential that across the CPC’s work, there is an emphasis on the participation of women and civil society. We welcome the CPC’s work to strengthen the capacities of women negotiators in the Working Groups of the Transnistrian Settlement Process, as well as other valuable initiatives such as the CPC’s Scholarship for Peace and Security training programme. As we have seen time and again, the full, equal and meaningful participation of women leads to better, more sustainable outcomes for all.

Mr Chair, as set out so clearly in Ambassador Yrjölä’s report, the chronic lack of financial sustainability is having a hugely negative impact on the work of the CPC and other OSCE structures. The continued non-agreement of the 2023 OSCE Unified Budget remains an enormous hindrance to the effective running of the organisation, its institutions and its field missions. We urge those participating States who continue to obstruct agreement to look beyond a narrow, national focus. We must ensure that all OSCE institutions and structures have the funding they need in order to effectively fulfil their mandate.

Ambassador Yrjölä, I would like to thank you, your team, and the field missions for your ongoing support to participating States facing conflict situations. Over the next year, we will face continued challenges, and we must all renew our commitment to preventing conflict and sustaining peace.

Published 1 June 2023