Statement in response to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatović

Delivered by Ambassador Steffen Kongstad at the Permanent Council Vienna, 20 December 2018


Mr. Chair,

I warmly welcome Ms. Dunja Mijatović back to the Permanent Council, this time as
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe. I thank her for her report
and strong messages here today.

The Council of Europe promotes respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of
law in much of the OSCE region, which are fundamental for stable, inclusive and safe
societies. The Council of Europe and the OSCE share a foundation of basic values and
principles. Your address, Commissioner, clearly illustrates how extensively the
objectives of the Council of Europe and the OSCE overlap.

We appreciate your emphasis on gender equality and women’s rights. Tackling gender
stereotypes and prejudice is vital for preventing violence against women. Changing
these attitudes is essential for increasing women’s participation in political and public
life, and for reducing the gender pay gap. The Istanbul Convention should serve as both inspiration and aspiration for the OSCE.

The safety of journalists, and of human rights defenders, is essential for democracy to
thrive. We remain concerned about the situation in an increasing number of OSCE
participating states. We welcome your efforts, within the Council of Europe, for the
protection both of journalists and human rights defenders. They also benefit the OSCE.

We should look for ways to strengthen relevant cooperation between the Council of
Europe and the OSCE structures and field missions. Sharing information and best
practices is a tool for increasing the efficiency and impact of our work, and for avoiding

On the normative side, it is clear that the OSCE has much to learn from the Council of
Europe. The Council of Europe has a strong body of commitments, some also legally
binding. We must avoid that the OSCE develops differing, or lower, norms and
standards. Such a development will only serve to limit and reduce the relevance of the

We have seen for years that the OSCE is unable to reach consensus on issues where
either the UN or the Council of Europe – or both – are moving ahead. There is, at least,
some solace to be found in knowing that near all participating states of the OSCE are
already bound by higher standards. Those commitments remain in force, irrespective of
what some participating states are willing, or unwilling, to accept in the context of the

Thank you

Statement in response to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatović (PDF)