OSCE Annual Human Rights Conference in Warsaw; German 2016 chairmanship announces that national minorities are one of the priorities next year

- Press releases

This week, at the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Mr Gernot Erler MP, the Special Representative of Germany for the OSCE Chairmanship 2016, presented his programme and the priorities for 2016.

From Germany’s point of view, Europe is facing the most severe crisis for the European security regime since the end of the Cold War. In this respect “the current occurrences in and around Ukraine do not only question principles such as the inviolability of borders, but are also increasing the pressure on human rights, fundamental freedoms and the principles of democratic governance.”

The core of the conflict preventing function of the OSCE remains dialogue and cooperation. As the largest human rights conference in Europe and in the OSCE-area as a whole, the meeting is a forum for dialogue between states and civil society on an equal footing and the main event where the implementation of human rights commitments by states are being reviewed.

The Special Representative underlined how important common standards are. The High Commissioner on National Minorities and her predecessors have developed important standards for minority protection, said Erler. With silent diplomacy and with seminal recommendations her office has significantly contributed to creating more harmony between majorities and national minorities.

Erler mentioned the following three priorities of the German chairmanship in 2016: first of all appropriate attention should be given to the subject of tolerance and non-discrimination, possibly with a special event organised by the chairmanship. Secondly, and important in particular for FUEN and its member organisations, Germany wants to devote more attention to the subject of national minorities, and focus on their abilities as bridge-builders and agents of reconciliation between states. And thirdly, Germany wants to highlight the importance of the freedom of expression and freedom of media coverage, in these turbulent times.

FUEN President Hans Heinrich Hansen is pleased, but not surprised with the priorities of the German chairmanship in 2016: “FUEN has been in discussion with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs for some time now, with the idea to make use of the experiences and expertise of the national minorities and our member organisations for security and cooperation in Europe. For this, the German OSCE chairmanship offers a great opportunity.”

Speech Mr Gernot Erler MP in Warsaw (German)


Photo below, from left to right:
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, Special Representative of Germany for the OSCE Chairmanship 2016 Gernot Erler, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors and Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Michael Georg Link support the campaign “OSCE United in Countering Violent Extremism.” (OSCE 2015)

Key Topics

  • Political Participation
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Solidarity with the Roma
  • European Citizens' Initiative
  • European Network
  • Forum of the European Minorities / House of Minorities


More photos at Flickr