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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

OSCE Ministerial Council in Maastricht 2003

Statement by H.E. Mr. Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson, Permanent Secretary of State at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Maastricht 2003.

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of Halldor Asgrimsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, I would like to congratulate the Netherlands, and in particular you, Mr. Chairman, for the dynamism and commitment, you have brought to your year in Office. We look forward to cooperating with you as you take up your new responsibilities in NATO.

This has been an important year for the OSCE. Now is the time to assess our achievements over the year and look to the future.

Globally, every organisation that has security and stability on its agenda has been forced to refocus its activities in order to tackle new threats and challenges rising from terrorism, trans-national organised crime and extremism.

The OSCE has taken on this challenge by preparing for this meeting, an OSCE Strategy to Address Threats and Challenges to Security in the Twenty-first Century. The Strategy document underlines the OSCE´s comparative advantages such as its comprehensive approach to security, its dynamism, its developed focus on early warning, conflict prevention, its institutions and unrivalled experience in the field. It will serve as a blueprint for the OSCE´s work to build further on its unique strengths and provide an effective framework for co-operation with other international organisations to address new security threats.

Fostering human rights, democracy and the rule of law is at the core of the OSCE´s comprehensive concept of security. The OSCE must play a strong role in promoting these values and we must build on the commitments we have undertaken in this Organisation. Our success is however dependent on the political will of participating States to fulfill their existing commitments. In too many instances these commitments have not been honoured. This we need to address or otherwise this Organisation will suffer from loss of credibility.

Mr. Chairman,

The fight against trafficking in human beings is a priority issue which affects all OSCE participating States, both countries of origin, transit and destination. Iceland has supported financially anti-trafficking work of the OSCE human rights programme in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The OSCE has an important role to play in combating trafficking in human beings which amounts to a modern form of slavery. We have welcomed the Dutch Chairmanship´s strong emphasis on this issue throughout this year. Trafficking in human beings violates the dignity and rights of human beings and is linked to other trans-national criminal activities such as corruption and terrorism. Particular attention must be given, in this context, to the rights of the child.

Iceland welcomes the OSCE Action Plan on combating trafficking in human beings adopted earlier this year in the Permanent Council. The Action Plan is an important tool in assisting participating States in fulfilling their commitments and obligations.

We look forward to joining a consensus adopting a decision on a Mechanism to combat trafficking in human beings. The anti-trafficking Mechanism, consisting of a Special Representative and a special unit in the OSCE Secretariat, will play an important role in raising the political and public profile of this issue and will also be responsible for the implementation of the Action Plan. The Mechanism should substantially further the OSCE´s efforts in this field by creating the critical linkage between both the political and practical dimension of this important issue.

I cannot leave the subject of trafficking without expressing my satisfaction with the ongoing work of the ODIHR, the OSCE Gender Advisor, the Stability Pact Task Force on combating trafficking in human beings and the OSCE field presences.

Mr. Chairman,

The OSCE should be in the front line in the ongoing fight against terrorism. We have undertaken many political commitments in this regard over the past two years, and we should deliver on them in practical terms.

The current situation in Georgia is a particular challenge for the OSCE which has a broad mandate for activities in the country. The Organisation should strengthen its commitment to Georgia´s stability and to the conduct of the announced elections.


Mr. Chairman,

I wish the incoming Bulgarian Chairman in Office success in tackling the difficult and challenging agenda of the OSCE in 2004. They may be assured of our full support and co-operation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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