Remarks on Sustainable Development as Sustainable Security

Delivered by Ambassador Steffen Kongstad at the OSCE Security Day on the OSCE and the Sustainable Development Goals, Vienna, 4 June 2019

We welcome and find it highly commendable that the Secretary General has put the SDGs on the OSCE agenda. The SDGs are relevant for the OSCE and the participating States in several ways. The 2030 Agenda is a comprehensive framework for sustainable development.

Informed by the OSCE’s three-dimensional, comprehensive approach to security, going back to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, one can easily see the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Sustainable Security Goals.

As members of the United Nations, 56 of the OSCE participating States have adopted the 2030 Agenda and committed themselves to implement all 17 SDGs. We did so because we recognised this to be in our national interest.

We have a primary, national obligation to implement the SDGs. They are relevant for all states irrespective of how we are ranked on any development indexes. We also have an obligation to support each other in implementing the SDGs.

The SDGs that we have adopted in the United Nations are universal; all Member States are bound to reach them. The organisations that we use to adopt commitments that are not the bearers of commitments. We, the states, are.

International organisations are tools and vehicles for the implementation of our commitments as states. We must make sure that we make use of those organisations that have the most appropriate toolkit for the task. That determination is based on thematic as well as regional know-how.

Among the SDGs, Goal 16 sets our direction toward peace, justice and strong institutions. This goal is evidently relevant for the OSCE, since the OSCE was established to assist states in their efforts to secure peace, build their institutions, and ensure the rule of law. In many ways, OSCE efforts since the Helsinki Final Act has been to contribute to similar objectives as set out in SDG 16.

As a regional arrangement under Chapter 8 of the UN Charter, the OSCE has a regional mandate to implement the SDGs. The OSCE clearly has a right to implement relevant commitments. We would argue that it also has a duty.

Perhaps more importantly, the OSCE also has the right capacity and skill set for the task.

The field operations across the region, as well as the OSCE-wide institutions, form the backbone of the OSCE’s capacity. The OSCE staff has the right knowledge and skills to support reaching SDG 16.

Security Sector Governance/Reform is one OSCE task that directly contributes to several of the targets for SDG 16. We should strengthen the OSCE’s implementation in this area. The same goes for the support to building institutions that is offered by the field operations and the three autonomous institutions, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) and the Representative on Freedom of Media (RFoM).

There are many other examples, such as countering violence against women, preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that can lead to terrorism (VERLT), countering trafficking in human beings, countering corruption, and so on.

The Secretary General has underlined the importance of gender mainstreaming. We agree, and see the equality, inclusion and participation of women as a prerequisite for reaching our goals.

Fulfilling OSCE commitments and acting to reach the SDGs are for the most part to take steps on the same path. Realising this, we can direct our efforts for maximum effect.

We see that the OSCE has relevance and value-added as a tool for implementation of the SDGs. Consequently, we will support programmatic activities of the OSCE to this end.


Remarks on Sustainable Development as Sustainable Security.pdf