Posts Tagged 'Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe'

Dr. Daniel Baer nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Deputy Assistant Secretary Dan Baer, United States State Department

The Council for Global Equality is delighted to note that Dr. Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor, has been nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) based in Vienna. The OSCE is a multilateral organization that has a unique security perspective that recognizes that respect for human rights must be a cornerstone of security in our interconnected world. The OSCE brings countries from Asia, Europe and North America together to discuss shared security commitments, including commitments to safeguarding fundamental rights to freedom of association and expression and to respond to hate violence across the region.

Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality, noted that: “In recent years, the OSCE has provided an important forum to denounce LGBT hate crimes and restrictions on LGBT organizations. As a strong champion of human rights for all, and an openly gay man who has stood firmly for equal treatment for LGBT individuals globally, we are delighted by this appointment and hope the U.S. Senate will act quickly to confirm him. Anti-LGBT measures are sweeping across Eastern Europe, including this week in Russia, and we know that Dan will be uniquely positioned to speak out against these threats to human rights and human security in Europe.”

Pride Retrospective: the U.S. Helsinki Commission Should Engage

Baltic Pride

photo: Associated Press

It’s common to think of Pride-related events as celebrations of gay and lesbian diversity, and indeed of community. Certainly that’s the spirit that pervades the Pride season in major U.S. cities. But Pride events in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region often carry a more basic message: that gays and lesbians deserve the same rights and privileges as any other people. And that message is not, of course, always welcome.

This as in past years, Pride events were a source of controversy, even hostility, in much of the east European region. In Poland and Croatia, anti-gay protesters disrupted parades – and while police generally sought to protect Pride participants, many observers saw the response in Croatia as inadequate to the task. Permits were denied in St. Petersburg. In Moscow, Russian security forces detained Pride marchers, ignoring the right of free assembly that the Russian constitution ostensibly protects.

While the State Department rightly protested Russian actions, the U.S. Helsinki Commission was silent.  A bipartisan Congressional panel, the Commission traditionally has been a fierce advocate of protecting and advancing what we see as fundamental freedoms, including the rights to free speech, peaceable assembly and freedom of expression. However, the Commission took no public stand against the abuses witnessed in this year’s Pride season, nor did it publicly commend those governments that properly sought to protect these basic rights.

Speaking loudly to broad principles but remaining silent when those principles are not applied – in this case, to gay people – is an all-hat-and-no-cattle approach that undercuts our county’s foreign policy credibility. It hollows out the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy priority of developing a greater understanding that countries which respect and protect their citizens’ rights are, in fact, our best partners in enlarging the boundaries of freedom and prosperity worldwide. And it undercuts U.S. leadership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), where America’s voice has been crucial in forging a better transatlantic understanding of the democratic rights and obligations that governments must protect.

That OSCE leadership can be regained if, over the next nine months, the Commission finds ways to advocate that the rights of gay and transgender people must be protected, at Pride events and beyond. Through briefings or hearings, public statements and private communications to OSCE partners, the Commission can make clear that the civil and human rights of LGBT people are no less important than those enjoyed by any other segment of the population. In this way, the Commission can convincingly reassert fundamental U.S. principles while establishing its own relevance to some of the most active and fractious battles for human rights in the world today.


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