President Obama is absolutely correct to emphasize building alliances and working to strengthen international organizations to stop ISIS (see “Defeating ISIS—The U.S. Leads a United World, PPC News 9/11). It is also correct policy in dealing with the crisis in Ukraine.
On September 11, Michael Link, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) director of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), spoke in Washington on the “OSCE’s New Relevance and the Ukrainian Crisis.”
No other organization has OSCE/ODIHR mandates, with its Russia/Ukraine border monitoring mission, drone surveying, and election observation. OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) recently took measures (commended by Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter) to rapidly adapt to new monitoring needs arising from the protocol signed in Minsk on September 5. The SMM also has a clearinghouse mechanism among the parties to deal with cease fire violations.
Ambassador to Ukraine Ambassador Tagliavini represents the OSCE Chairmanship in a tripartite Contact Group that also includes Ukraine and the Russian Federation. An OSCE official is the only other official at the podium with Vladimir Putin when ceasefires and negotiations have been announced. ODIHR was the organization monitoring the May 25 early Presidential elections, which were a key element in moving towards a solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
With 57 participating States in North America, Europe and Asia, the OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization. If an organization like OSCE—with its permanent principles of cooperation and consultation as a way of solving and avoiding crises—existed in the Middle East, Mr. Link observed, it would make a vast difference. The post facto building of ad hoc alliances is less effective. “You need rules,” Link said, quoting James Madison, “men are not angels.”
Elizabeth Clark, Chair, PPC International Affairs Task Forcea