UK Response to OSCE Report Coming in Jan 2023

Madam President, on behalf of the United Kingdom, welcome back to the Permanent Council. I thank you for your address. We support your call for the immediate release of Vladmir Kara-Murza and all political prisoners in Russia, as well as Belarus, and those areas under temporary Russian control in Ukraine.

A new year usually ushers in new beginnings and hopes for the future. Instead, we are faced with death and destruction in Europe as Russia continues to inflict its appalling war against its neighbour, endangering the lives of Ukraine’s citizens and threatening the peace and stability of the wider OSCE region. Most Parliamentarians across the region are rightly appalled by this unrelenting assault and complete disregard for OSCE’s commitments and principles. We are grateful for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s focus on Russia’s illegal invasion and we join you in denouncing President Putin and his enablers for their horrific acts of violence against the people of Ukraine.

The pursuit of justice and accountability has been an integral part of the UK’s support to Ukraine from the very beginning. We have consistently supported Ukrainian authorities’ and the international community’s efforts to investigate, document, pursue and prosecute those committing horrific crimes. Madam President, we welcomed your appointment in July of Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP as Special Rapporteur on War Crimes to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. His mandate to raise awareness and share information about Russia’s war crimes, and engage with Ukraine’s judiciary and the International Criminal Court (ICC) is desperately needed. In March, the UK and The Netherlands will welcome Justice Ministers from across the world to agree on practical support to the International Criminal Court and ensure it has all it needs to prosecute those responsible. Russian forces and their proxies should know they cannot act with impunity and we will back Ukraine until justice is served.

Madam President, we agree with your and the new Chair’s view that we cannot neglect other vulnerable regions in our neighbourhood. Conflicts and instability persist in Moldova and the South Caucuses (including Georgia). Our Central Asian partners are subject to multiple security, economic and climatic shocks and we need to ensure stability in the Western Balkans. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine exacerbates many of those issues. The OSCE has the versatile toolbox required to help address all of these challenges. We must ensure it is sufficiently resourced and empowered to do so, and condemn those who deliberately seek to undermine it.

Finally, I wish to commend the Assembly’s unwavering commitment to advancing gender equality in the OSCE region, and Special Representative, Hedy Fry’s and your own leadership on this issue. Women have a right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives, in peacetime and in war. Full, equal and meaningful participation of women leads to better outcomes before, during and after conflicts. This is no less true than in Ukraine, where women are making a critical contribution on the frontline and in their communities. This year, the UK will publish its new UK National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for 2023-2027, which will continue the important tradition of reporting to the UK Parliament. We welcome the transparency which will be critical in holding us to account.

Madam President, to conclude, we value the Assembly’s ongoing partnership with the OSCE and its institutions. The UK offers its full support to you and the Assembly and we look forward to continued co-operation and collaboration in 2023 and beyond.

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