Call for major reform of group
Interview:The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe is suffering from infighting and is in need of major reform, according to the head of the group’s parliamentary assembly.
The OSCE is also spending too much of its budget on administration and not enough on police and border security training on the ground and human rights work, said Spencer Oliver, secretary general of the parliamentary assembly.
The organisation has two bodies that send out election observers – one run by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and one from the parliamentary assembly – a situation Mr Oliver described as “a mess”in an interview with The Irish Times. During the US presidential elections the two sets of observers made conflicting assessments of how the poll was conducted, he said.
Mr Oliver criticised the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights as a group of diplomats with little experience in monitoring election campaigns: “It is the blind leading the blind.”
Much of the OSCE’s work is done behind closed doors with a consensus needed when making decisions. There was a need for more transparency on discussions and how decisions were made, said Mr Oliver. “After a decision all we know is they met, there was an agenda and some people spoke.”
This was the reason the organisation had slipped from the public’s view and fallen off governments’ agendas. “It has disappeared from the screens of foreign ministers,” he added.
Of the €150 million annual budget for the OSCE, there was a proposal to increase next year the money for administration in the Vienna headquarters, but there were decreases planned for field missions, he said.
An assessment of the 2013 budget proposals shows money for the headquarters will increase by almost €2 million, while field mission funding will decrease by more than €1 million. There will be an additional 13 jobs in Vienna but a loss of 141 jobs in the field missions.
Mr Oliver said Ireland’s chairing of the OSCE has “exceeded expectations” with Eamon Gilmore seen as popular among the parliamentary assembly and the member states. “It is a tribute to his work that so many foreign ministers are coming to Dublin this week. Sometimes lower officials are sent,” he said .