13.06.2018

News Highlights

PRESS RELEASE Enhancing women’s participation in the armed forces focus of annual OSCE discussion on the Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security VIENNA, 13 June 2018

PRESS RELEASE

 

VIENNA, 13 June 2018

 

Enhancing women’s participation in the armed forces focus of annual OSCE discussion on the Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security – Ways to enhance women’s participation in the armed forces were a key area of focus at this year’s Annual Discussion on the Implementation of the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, held today in Vienna. Representatives of the OSCE participating States shared their experiences on implementing the Code, a unique and fundamental document which aims to regulate the role of armed forces in democratic societies.

 

Opening the meeting, Ambassador Andrej Benedejčič, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the OSCE and Chairperson of the Forum for Security Co-operation, reminded representatives of the participating States that the Code is one of the OSCE’s most important normative documents and occupies a fundamental place among the body of commitments developed within the politico-military dimension of security.

 

The meeting’s first working session centred on a presentation of a new baseline study on women in the armed forces in the OSCE region commissioned by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). “Servicewomen are still a small minority in the armed forces across the OSCE region. On average, they make up 9.7 percent of all service personnel,” said Susan Atkins, author of the report. “Whilst no legal barriers to women's full participation across the armed forces exist in over three-quarters of participating States, there are still a number of practical barriers in many states, including a lack of appropriate facilities and equipment, low maximum recruitment targets, male-focused working environments and abuse, from which women suffer disproportionately,” she said.

 

She added that three-quarters of OSCE participating States have introduced new laws or policies in the last ten years, and there is a wealth of good practice across the OSCE region.

 

Omer Fisher, Head of the Human Rights Department at ODIHR, said that this OSCE institution has a track record of assisting OSCE participating States in upholding the rights of female and male security sector personnel. He recalled that ODIHR’s mandate in this area of work is based particularly on Article 32 of the Code, which states that each participating State will ensure that military and security forces personnel are able to enjoy and exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms. SEC.PR/316/18 13 June 2018 ENGLISH only In the meeting’s second working session, representatives of the participating States reviewed the results of a statistical overview prepared by the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, which details the participating States’ efforts in implementing the Code of Conduct.

 

Today’s meeting followed an event held yesterday in Vienna by the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation, which saw representatives of Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden present their best practices and practical materials on implementing the Code, with an emphasis on the governance and democratic control of armed and security forces as well as international humanitarian law and the human rights of armed and security forces. That event was followed by a special panel focused on private military and security companies and their potential impact on human rights and the rule of law.

 

Alan Bryden of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) presented a study commissioned by the OSCE, which analyses responses provided by participating States since 2009 in the framework of the Annual Information Exchange on the Code of Conduct pertaining to private military and security companies. The study highlighted the need to foster dialogue and increase engagement on regulating private military and security companies and to encourage comprehensive, thoughtful and regular reporting on this industry in the Annual Information Exchange.

 

Representatives of Switzerland and Austria also presented their national experiences in regulating private military and security companies.

 

For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: https://www.osce.org/forum-for-security-cooperation/384324