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The Minister launches Ireland’s Chairmanship of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheál Martin T.D., is in Vienna today (Wednesday 8 September) to launch Ireland’s chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation, a subsidiary body of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

While in Vienna, the Minister will also meet with the Austrian Foreign Minister, Mr Michael Spindelegger, and with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mr Yukiya Amano. The discussions with his Austrian counterpart will cover a range of topics, including developments in the Middle East, UN reform and EU affairs. With Mr Amano, Minister Martin will discuss the work of the IAEA and the latest developments with regard to the Iran nuclear issue.

The FSC meets in Vienna to discuss and make decisions on aspects of security in the OSCE region, in particular arms control and confidence and security-building measures. Ireland’s chairmanship of this body will run for four months until the end of December. In 2012 Ireland will be assuming the chairmanship of the entire organisation.

The Minister’s address to the Forum will lead on the theme of disarmament, paying particular attention to Ireland’s achievement in brokering an international agreement prohibiting the use of cluster munitions. The issue of disarmament and the protection of civilians caught up in armed conflict have always been core priorities in Irish foreign policy. An international diplomatic conference which the Irish Government hosted and chaired in Dublin in 2008 succeeded in negotiating and adopting a Convention on Cluster Munitions which entered into force in August this year.

The Minister will be noting the multiple challenges faced by all members of the OSCE - from terrorism and trafficking to climate change; from dealing with remnants of war to stockpile management; and from the proliferation of small and light weapons to the abuse of human rights. He will say that “We will only address these challenges if we work together in cooperation and across all dimensions”. Ireland will use its chairmanship of the FSC to further this cooperation and to prepare for a successful OSCE Summit in December.

Note for Editors:

OSCE: The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is an intergovernmental regional security organisation comprising 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America.

The organisation deals with a wide range of security issues, including arms control, preventive diplomacy, confidence and security building measures, human rights, election monitoring and economic and environmental security.

Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC)

The Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) is one of two Vienna-based decision-making bodies of the OSCE, the other being the Permanent Council (PC). The role of FSC is to take decisions regarding aspects of security in the OSCE area, in particular confidence and security building measures (so-called CSBMs), in order to reduce the risk of conflict.

Examples of work that the FSC deals with are agreements on exchanging information concerning their military forces (the so-called “Vienna Document”), promoting the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, improving the control of small arms and light weapons, from production to storage and destruction, and dealing with stockpiles of conventional ammunition. In recent years, issues such as gender and security and human rights in defence forces have assumed a higher profile.

Ireland will chair the Forum for four months, from September to December 2010. This is the first occasion that Ireland will chair the body.

Ireland’s Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2012

It was agreed by consensus at the OSCE Ministerial meeting in Athens in December 2009 that Ireland will chair the OSCE in 2012.  This is a significant event for Irish foreign affairs, as Ireland has never previously held the Chair of the Organisation.   As Chairman, the responsibilities of the Minister will include chairing meetings, co-ordinating the work of the OSCE institutions, representing the OSCE in various contexts and supervising activities relating to conflict prevention, post-conflict rehabilitation and providing leadership when crises arise, such as in Georgia in 2008 and in Kyrgyzstan this year.