What Role Should the OSCE Play in the Refugee Issue?

Published: July 21, 2016; 18:00 · (Vindobona)

Possible roles for the OSCE in the context of the migration and refugee flows across the OSCE area were discussed at a special meeting of the Permanent Council in Vienna. The OSCE Permanent Council is one of the main regular decision-making bodies of the Organization bringing together representatives of all 57 OSCE participating States and the 11 Partners for Co-operation.

What role the OSCE should play in the refugee issue? / Picture: © Wikipedia / Ticketautomat

The meeting was a milestone in the process launched in March 2016 by Germany’s 2016 OSCE Chairmanship.

In a series of seven meetings and following an inclusive approach, an Informal Working Group took stock of the migration-related activities of the OSCE and developed proposals for future engagement.

The Working Groups was chaired by Swiss Ambassador to the OSCE Claude Wild and open to all participating States, Partners for-Cooperation and OSCE executive structures as well as a number of international organizations and NGOs.

Presenting results of this ambitious preparatory process Wild said in today’s Permanent Council: “While the current situation is generally referred to as ‘the refugee and migration crisis’, it is in fact a crisis of international migration governance. Comprehensive governance is needed to deal responsibly with the phenomenon of migration and refugee flows. This includes addressing issues of protection, combating crime, border management, successful integration as well as solidarity and partnerships.”

Wild highlighted that the OSCE is uniquely positioned and equipped to use its political convening power and technical expertise to create formal and informal networks. “In such networks national experts and decision makers can exchange best practices in all specific issues that have to be addressed to design and implement responsible national policies on migration and refugee flows,” he said.

Chairperson of the Permanent Council and German Ambassador to the OSCE, Eberhard Pohl, thanked the Swiss OSCE Ambassador and his team for their committed work. “There was a clear common understanding among all OSCE States today that migration and refugee flows figure high on the OSCE agenda in line with its comprehensive approach to security,” Pohl said.

“Given the scale and transnational character of this issue, it is clear that no single country can cope with the challenge of current migration and refugee flows alone. It has to be addressed in a co-operative manner, in a spirit of shared responsibility. We will continue to support OSCE activities in this field and work to further develop the contribution of the OSCE.”