TIRANA/COPENHAGEN/VIENNA/WARSAW/THE HAGUE, 23 April 2020 – The International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace tomorrow will be marked with a heightened appreciation for the importance of comprehensive security and a greater sense of urgency for the need to strengthen international co-operation, said the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and heads of OSCE institutions in a statement today.
Noting the importance of closely co-ordinating short- and long-term responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and related challenges, the OSCE leaders underlined that the organization is ready to work closely together with national governments and parliaments in order to ensure the best possible outcomes to this crisis. They also welcomed the call by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 23 March for a global ceasefire, noting that a number of conflicts continue to impact the OSCE area, including the crisis in and around Ukraine.
“As an organization founded in the détente era of the 1970s to mitigate the threat of great-power conflict through the use of multilateralism, the OSCE can help steer the international response to contribute to managing the COVID-19 emergency and its aftermath,” said OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama. “COVID-19 is changing our lives and will leave a permanent mark on Europe and the world. I am deeply upset about the loss of life and the impact of the disruption on jobs and livelihoods. But I take heart from the fact that these challenging times are also bringing out the best of humanity. The ongoing diligence, sacrifice and charity seen around the world will help us beat back the virus. But how we emerge from this crisis, and what we choose to learn, is just as important. I am in no doubt that if we keep alive this spirit of international solidarity, compassion and cooperation after the virus has gone, a stronger, more secure and more prosperous future is ours to seize. We must commit to multilateralism with renewed resolve.”
President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly George Tsereteli said: “Global challenges should be addressed collectively and at times of crisis, we see more clearly the importance of multilateral organizations like the OSCE. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that multilateralism is the only way to ensure close co-operation between States. This approach should be strengthened and nurtured, and this requires parliaments to shape policies to make multilateralism more functional and effective, as well as to co-operate with and provide oversight to governments. To come out from this crisis stronger, and to ensure stability, fundamental human rights and democratic development, parliamentarians must continue to play an important key role.”
OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger said: “The international norms and multilateral institutions established in the wake of the Second World War and built up for 75 years are being put to the test in a way that we have not seen before. The global economy is likely to enter a recession phase with severe employment effects across the world. Solutions to today’s health, economic, and environmental challenges demand a multilateral, systems-based approach. The OSCE stands ready to work with the broader international community to develop effective policies that meet these challenges and enhance human security for all.”
Roberto Montella, Secretary General of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, said: “To prevent the international system from sliding into a ‘state of anarchy,’ international organizations such as the OSCE have a duty to help countries work together, and parliaments must play a central role. COVID-19 hit the world at a time when multilateralism was already showing signs of weakness, with geopolitical tensions and mistrust characterizing international relations. The way forward is more co-operation, more solidarity amongst nations and people and more democratic governance within countries.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has led to a tragic loss of life and economic security for citizens across the OSCE area. Unfortunately, it has also led to violations of human rights,” said Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. “The situation for many migrants is dire. There have been incidents of racist scapegoating in some countries, a spike in domestic violence, and abuses stemming from COVID-related states of emergency. I urge all governments to ensure that human rights are fully upheld during this crisis.”
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, said: “It is particularly important to ensure the free flow of information during this emergency crisis. The media have a key role to play in providing vital health information to the public and in combatting false information. Journalists must be able to work unhindered and to report on the pandemic without undue restriction. I fully share the need to combat false information, such as about false cures. However, this will not be achieved through restriction of media freedom, but rather through more transparency and access to pluralistic sources of information. I call on all governments to ensure access to, and free flow of, information, and the right of media to report unhindered on the pandemic.”
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier offered recommendations for governments to consider in their efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. “As governments respond to this public health threat, they must remember to address the needs of national minorities and other marginalized communities,” he said. “Persons belonging to national minorities must be treated equally and emergency measures must not be implemented in a discriminatory manner. States should provide basic services in the languages used by various communities as far as possible, especially in healthcare and in communications about the health crisis and official responses.”
The International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace was established by UN General Assembly resolution on 12 December 2018 as “a means to promote the values of the United Nations and to reaffirm the faith of our peoples in the purposes and principles enshrined in its Charter, to reaffirm the importance and relevance of multilateralism and international law and to advance the common goal of lasting and sustained peace through diplomacy.”