OSCE Announces Closure of Project Co-Ordinator in Ukraine

OrganizationsInternational Organizations ♦ Published: July 1, 2022; 17:39 ♦ (Vindobona)

The office of the Project Coordinator in Ukraine, whose tasks include supporting Ukraine in its reform efforts, is being dismantled step by step, as the OSCE recently announced. The reason for this is that the OSCE Permanent Council was unable to reach a consensus on the extension of the mandate due to the Russian Federation.

The Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine had been working for 23 years. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons, Jorge Franganillo, CC BY 2.0

The OSCE recently announced the gradual closure of the Project Co-ordinator's office in Ukraine. The reason for this decision is the lack of consensus of the OSCE Permanent Council, which cannot extend the mandate of the Project Co-ordinator due to the position of the Russian Federation.

The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, and the OSCE Secretary General, Helga Maria Schmid were given the thankless task of delivering the bad news.

"Regrettably, despite the overwhelming support of participating States for the continuation of the important work that the Project Co-ordinator has been doing for 23 years, no consensus was reached on the extension of his mandate due to the position of the Russian Federation," said Chairperson-in-Office Rau.

"The Polish Chairmanship will make every effort to preserve the invaluable experience and expertise that the Project Co-ordinator has gained in the country and to ensure that the OSCE remains present and engaged in Ukraine. Today, when the country is facing unprecedented challenges and hardships due to the ongoing war, our support is more important than ever," he stressed.

Secretary General Schmid thanked the project coordinator mission members in particular for their work over the past 23 years.

"I would like to express my great gratitude to the dedicated staff of the Project Coordinator, whose professionalism and commitment I was able to see for myself when I visited the mission last year," she said. "I cannot emphasise enough how impressed and proud I am of these dedicated men and women."

"Not only have they contributed to the steady transformation of the country for over two decades, but they have also worked around the clock to support Ukraine and its people in these difficult times. Despite the ongoing aggression against Ukraine, the Mission has continued its important work - from combating human trafficking, to helping build the country's humanitarian demining capacity, to ensuring legal support for internally displaced persons and vulnerable populations," she stressed. "While we are sad to close the Mission, the duty of care to our staff will remain at the forefront of our efforts."

The Polish Chairmanship will continue to consult with participating States on the future role and presence of the OSCE in Ukraine, said Chair Rau.

As of 1 July, all mandated activities will end. The OSCE field operator, the Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, will remain operational until the OSCE's closure. As OSCE officials, all members of its mission enjoy appropriate protection even during the closure process, as they remain OSCE officials until they leave the OSCE. The OSCE also retains ownership of all valuables and assets until they are disposed of.

What is the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine?

The OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine was established on 1 June 1999 by a consensus decision of all participating States.

His tasks focused on enhancing the security of the country and developing its legislation, institutions and practices in line with democratic standards.

His work in many areas has been crucial to Ukraine's reform efforts since his deployment. In addition to helping those affected by conflict and crisis, the OSCE Project Coordinator supports the country in its demining efforts, the country's environment and media freedom, and combats human trafficking.

OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe