Vienna, September 14, 2000
STATEMENT BY Ms. D. HÜBNER
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF
THE ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPE TO
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to address the Permanent Council of OSCE. Thank you for having invited me. Let me also express my high appreciation for your work.
It is not my first contact with OSCE – as Deputy Executive Secretary I have been responsible for the cooperation of ECE with OSCE. I had the pleasure to participate in OSCE meetings and seminars. I have been in close contacts with the Norwegian and Austrian Presidencies. My predecessor has contributed to building a strong partnership of ECE with OSCE and I want to add new bricks to this construction.
Let me start by making a few observations which I believe are of relevance for our cooperation.
OSCE has been known for its comprehensive approach to peace and security. The economic dimension is one of its fundamental components. ECE is committed to strengthening the importance of the economic dimension within OSCE. It has grown more prominent each year under excellent Presidencies and with a strong support and involvement of the OSCE secretariat. We have been in Europe through ten difficult years of transition to democracy and market economy. There are countries which have been successful but much remains to be done. Sharp disparities in the advancement of reforms, in the economic performance and in outlook add to other causes of instability in our region and we face a compelling urgency to achieve more tangible results in terms of stability. To this end, we wish to further develop an operational and result-oriented cooperation with OSCE. I strongly believe that to achieve our common objectives, we must work together. Cooperation is by far the best way to mobilize resources.
In the year 2000 we can admit that the 1990s were full of achievements but they were also disappointing. For few only CIT this coming decade might be the one of the completion of transition. In some, in spite of a decade full of painful efforts to reform, inter-ethnic tensions grew into intra-state conflicts which ravaged some of the regions of Europe, and do not leave much space for optimism. We are committed to work with OSCE to ensure that there never be a repetition of tragedies we have faced. Therefore, there is a need to look together into the possibility of cooperating on developing a framework on early warning and conflict prevention. ECE must be vigilant on existing economic causes of conflicts.
In this regard we would also like to accord special priority to building economic cooperation in regions of Europe where conflicts have occurred or where tensions can develop. ECE has developed a strong commitment to work more on a subregional level. We will continue to support CEI and BSEC with our expertise and experience, we will continue to contribute to SECI and further develop SPECA, our programme for Central Asia. We have made a commitment vis-à-vis our Member States to become more active in the Caucasian region. I believe that in all these areas our concern is shared by OSCE.
A few words on the private sector and on our cooperation with it, which, I am sure, we could further open as an area for potential cooperation with OSCE for the sake of development and stability in Europe. We all know that the private sector has become an influential player in the world of today, including conflict prone countries and it has a critical role to play in improving the stability of our region. It can improve corporate governance, it can contribute to the development of strong institutions and enforceable laws. Measures to make the private sector stronger are conducive to growth and structural change. They also contribute to conflict prevention and stability. Domestic companies and multinationals can no longer afford to ignore causes and costs of conflicts. That is why UN/ECE has established in recent years public-private partnerships in many areas.
In December this year we will hold in Geneva Forum on public private partnership. It will establish a public-private partnership alliance between governments, businesses, regional development banks and other international bodies that support the dialogue between governments and businesses in south east Europe. It will also launch guidelines on best practices in public private partnership. I know that OSCE has already established its cooperation with private sector. To make it more effective, ECE is ready to provide its existing framework to OSCE for joint activities that can allow private sector to play a real role in conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation.
On crime and corruption much has been told. They increase costs in the economy and reflect weak and non-functioning institutions. The international community has developed a number of legal instruments to cope with it. To supplement this approach, we need to accelerate the development of properly functioning institutions and commitment to good governance principles. ECE is committed to this goal.
Let me now turn to some concrete suggestions for our cooperation.
Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is that all our activities – be it international conventions and protocols, in the areas of environment, transport, pan European agreements in transport, norms and standards in energy, trade facilitation, statistics, our economic analysis and technical assistance through subregional programmes or bilateral relations – all that is to enhance cooperation, growth, structural and institutional change. It works towards more stability and peace. By performing well our duties we support the strategic mission of OSCE.
Second, as of 1998, resolution 46 of the General Assembly has put on us responsibilities of the regional arm of the UN. This makes ECE responsible also for preparatory process to global events (Beijing +5, Rio +10, Berlin 2002, Financing for Development). It put on us also the responsibility for UN interagency cooperation in Europe. During October 16 interagency regional meeting we intend to put this process into a little bit more institutionalized framework to be more efficient. We can offer this framework to facilitate OSCE to cooperate with other UN bodies.
Third, with regards to corruption and crime - our relationships with the private sector can be used to harness the private sector for the promotion of institution building, of transparency in economic relations, for development of guidelines and codes of conduct in the area of corruption and crime. We will continue to have policy dialogue with private sector in the areas of competition, procurement and the enforcement of intellectual property rights. We can broaden this scope.
Fourth, on Central Asia. It is not my intention to talk more about SPECA which has been already presented many times to OSCE. We appreciate the importance of OSCE meetings on information sharing. I would agree with all those who believe that more must be done for this part of our region. The first day of our Annual Session 2001 will be devoted to Central Asia and the Caucasus. There is an urgent need to bring more international support to this programme. SPECA Coordinating Council will have its first meeting in Almaty hopefully soon – it is now in the hands of political leaders of Central Asian republics. We all know how important water management is for this region. In a week all those involved shall meet in Geneva. All institutions (World Bank, European Commission, OSCE, ECE, UNEP, OECD and others ) will be there to share the information on what is being done to help countries in the Central Asian region solve water management problems. This will make us better prepared for your seminar on October 6.
As Central Asia has become a major subregion for our cooperation, one could consider signing a Memorandum of Understanding or a joint declaration between secretariats to present this cooperation in a tangible way to our Member States. As for water management, we plan to work on guidelines on water management that would also address security concerns - we certainly invite OSCE to participate in and contribute to this endeavour. We could have them jointly adopted.
Fifth, on early warning and conflict prevention. As you might know, there is UN Training Centre in Turin. They have established new training programmes based on international experience through which officials can learn to apply best practical measures. We have already talked to colleagues there, they could still find – actually they already told us about two possible dates for such training in 2001. First, OSCE missions could be trained, then, government officials could be identified. We can discuss it, if there is interest.
Trying to conclude – let me say the following:
both sides have made efforts to make our cooperation – which is a must – a process, not a chain of one-off events, repeated from time to time.
I propose that we continue to go this way in this direction. We can have regular planning meetings as much in advance of major events as possible (our seminars and sessions, your economic forums and seminars being good examples).
We are ready to contribute as we used to do to OSCE forum with the review of the economic situation in the region and review of commitments. We also propose to enrich this review with the evaluation of new issues that have occurred after 1990.You may wish to consider the possibility of upgrading OSCE commitments in the economic dimension and include into the review process such threats to security as poverty and increasing development gaps.
Let me say that for ECE any impetus coming from OSCE with regard to the development of new conventions and protocols would be most welcome. I also hope that the declaration adopted by our member states during the Millennium Summit last week opens new areas for our cooperation.