(As prepared for delivery at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 16: Tolerance and Non-Discrimination; Equality of opportunity for women and men; Implementation of the OSCE Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality; Prevention of violence against women)
OSCE commitments concerning equality of opportunity for women and men go back to the Helsinki Final Act in 1975, in which participating States agreed to “respect human rights and fundamental freedoms…. for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” In 2000 and again in 2004, we adopted OSCE action plans on gender issues, addressing both the situation in participating States as well as management and staffing within the OSCE itself. Although there have been several ministerial decisions strengthening our commitments, OSCE documents are not enough. The question is whether the human rights of women in our countries are protected both in law as well as in practice, and whether women have the same opportunities as men—to get an education, to find employment, or to take part in political life. Unfortunately, these opportunities are not yet available in every participating State.
In some participating States, the legal framework to protect women from human rights abuses is still incomplete or not fully implemented. Sometimes, law enforcement authorities do not respond adequately to physical or sexual assaults against women, particularly if those are perpetrated by spouses or other family members.
Although some States prosecute domestic violence under general assault laws, more specific legislation would strengthen authorities’ ability to hold abusers accountable; these laws can be drafted to take the onus of pressing charges off of the victim. We commend Azerbaijan for passing a law on domestic violence. OSCE states that do not have specific laws against domestic violence include Andorra, Armenia, Belarus and Uzbekistan. Tajikistan drafted laws several years ago which still have not been adopted. Russia has no legal definition of domestic violence, making prosecution difficult.
Like all persons, women should make their own informed decision about how they dress, regardless of religious or cultural diktats. A March Human Rights Watch report details violent attacks on women whose clothing is considered immodest. Human Rights Watch further noted that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has condoned the documented attacks by unidentified men, some believed to be law enforcement officials. We urge Russian federal officials to address this troubling development.
Spousal rape is not specifically outlawed in several participating States. It only can be prosecuted under general rape laws. Specifically criminalizing spousal rape strengthens the response of law enforcement authorities, who often view it as simply a family matter. States in the OSCE region with no specific law against spousal rape include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, and Kosovo. (I would note that although Kosovo continues to be the only country in Europe deprived its place at the OSCE table, the United States still holds Pristina accountable for adhering to OSCE principles and commitments.)
Several participating States also lack specific laws addressing sexual harassment, including Armenia, Belarus, Kosovo, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Kyrgyzstan’s legislation deals only with physical assault, not verbal harassment such as threats and intimidation.
However, there are positive recent examples. France has passed a law on combating violence against women which strengthens protection for victims by providing a provisional “protection order” for at-risk women. It also provides for increased legal protection for foreign nationals and undocumented immigrants who are victims of abuse. Moldova has amended its criminal code to better promote the safety and well-being of victims and their children by requiring an abuser to leave housing shared with the victim regardless of who owns the property, providing for victim counseling, forbidding the aggressor from approaching the victim either at home or at a place of business, and forbidding visitation of children pending a criminal investigation.
Laws, of course, are not enough. States should do more to train law enforcement officials, judicial sector officials, social workers, healthcare providers, men and boys, religious and community leaders, and communities at large to address and prevent domestic violence, and violence against women more broadly. Victims should be able to quickly obtain information and assistance, and governments should commit resources to help them do so, as well as support similar civil society efforts. We strongly support OSCE programs in these areas, and believe the OSCE should increase its assistance to participating States, including those which do not host field missions.
Women in all OSCE States have proven over and over that given the same opportunity as men, they will succeed. And equality of access for women to education, healthcare, political participation, and economic opportunities is key to a country’s competitiveness and prosperity.
Moreover, women need to be represented at the policy- and decision-making table, including at the senior levels of OSCE itself. Many OSCE activities focus on conflict prevention, crisis management and resolution, and post-conflict rehabilitation. It is important that women be involved in all stages of conflict- and post-conflict-related work. OSCE staff dealing with conflict management should be trained to identify and include women in these efforts.
As you said in Kyrgyzstan in July of this year, “Women play a critical role in achieving peace and security.” We applaud your joint visits to participating states with the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combatting Trafficking that highlighted gender inequality and conflict as contributors to human trafficking.
All citizens, men and women alike, are entitled to equal protection in the enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. We all must work harder to ensure the rights of women and men are respected equally.
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America during a Panel on Mandela / Tolerance and Reconciliation
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to the excellent and esteemed panelists for your insight and commitment to this work.
There is no better example of the transformative power of tolerance and reconciliation than Nelson Mandela and his inspiring work in overthrowing the apartheid government in South Africa. Nelson Mandela faced one of the greatest evils of our time. He understood the power of words to change minds and the power of peaceful deeds to open hearts. Nelson Mandela taught us that the humanity all of us share can help us transcend the sins some of us commit. His life reminds us that justice and tolerance can overcome even the greatest cruelty.
The United States is profoundly committed to combating racism and eliminating racial discrimination in all forms and all places. Through our own experience, and in learning from the example of Mandela, we know that tolerance and reconciliation are important tools in that effort.
There is a common theme running through the work of today’s distinguished panelists and Nelson Mandela – they live the values that they espouse. Through sustained and principled action to promote and protect human rights, we can foster more just, tolerant, and equal societies.
The United States has long believed that there are many actions that states can take to combat intolerance and discrimination, including on the basis of race or ethnicity or sexual orientation or gender. Those actions include: speaking out against intolerance, promoting intercultural dialogue, training government officials in effective outreach strategies, promoting education and awareness-building, enforcing anti-discrimination laws, and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are dedicated to working with others to ensure that such endeavors are implemented around the world.
With respect to intolerance and discrimination on the basis of religion, this Council took an important step last March with the adoption of Resolution 16/18, a resolution that the United States enthusiastically supports. Our divides can be bridged through sustained efforts to listen to each other, learn from each other, respect one another, and seek common ground – just as Nelson Mandela did in South Africa. The United States will continue to engage actively on issues of intolerance and discrimination and work in partnership with all nations of goodwill to live the values that we espouse – to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms.
2011 Hours Against Hate is a campaign to stop bigotry and promote respect across lines of culture, religion, tradition, class, and gender. Launched by Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith, and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal, the State Department is asking young people around the world to pledge their time to stop hate—to do something for someone who doesn’t look like you, pray like you, or live like you. We are asking the next generation to work together to build a stronger, more prosperous world. No one group can do it alone.
Special Representative Pandith and Special Envoy Rosenthal officially launched “2011 Hours Against Hate” at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, Austria on February 17, 2011.
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The United States strongly condemns the dangerous and provocative attacks on the mosques in the Palestinian villages of Yatma on September 8 and Qusra on September 5. Such hateful actions are never justified. Those responsible should be arrested and subject to the full force of the law.
We note that the Israeli Government likewise condemned the attacks and instructed law enforcement authorities to act vigorously to bring those responsible to justice.
We urge all parties to avoid the potential for escalation. Violence will not advance, but will impede, the hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on acceptance and respect.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
On this 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, we remember that 9/11 was not only an attack on the United States, it was an attack on the world and on the humanity and hopes that we all share.
We remember that among the nearly 3,000 innocent people lost that day were hundreds of citizens from more than 90 countries, including 20 OSCE participating States. They were men and women, young and old, of many races and many faiths. On the eve of this solemn anniversary, we join with their families and their nations in honoring their memory.
We remember with gratitude how ten years ago the world came together as one. Around the globe, entire cities came to a standstill for moments of silence. People offered their prayers in churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship. Those of us in the United States will never forget how people in every corner of the world stood with us in solidarity in candlelight vigils and among the seas of flowers placed at our embassies.
We remember that in the weeks after 9/11, we acted as one international community. As part of a broad coalition, we drove al Qaeda from its training camps in Afghanistan, toppled the Taliban, and gave the Afghan people a chance to live free from terror.
As an international community, we have shown that terrorists are no match for the strength and resilience of our citizens. We have been clear that the United States is not, nor will it ever be, at war with Islam. Rather, with allies and partners we are united against al Qaeda, which has attacked dozens of countries and killed tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children—the vast majority of them Muslims. This week, we remember all the victims of al Qaeda and the courage and resilience with which their families and fellow citizens have persevered, from the Middle East to Europe, from Africa to Asia.
Working together, we have disrupted al Qaeda plots, eliminated Osama bin Laden and much of his leadership, and put al Qaeda on the path to defeat. Meanwhile, people across the Middle East and North Africa are showing that the surest path to justice and dignity is the moral force of nonviolence, not mindless terrorism and violence. It is clear that violent extremists are being left behind and that the future belongs to those who want to build, not destroy.
We have made clear that all nations and people seeking a future of peace and prosperity will have a partner in the United States. In the Arab world and beyond, we will stand up for the dignity and universal rights of all human beings. Around the world, we will continue the hard work of pursuing peace, promoting the development that lifts people from poverty, and advancing the food security, health and good governance that unleashes the potential of citizens and societies.
Mr. Chairman, the events of 9/11 also changed this organization. It spurred us to create new structures and new tools within the OSCE, such as the Action against Terrorism Unit and the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department, in order to more effectively address threats to our security in the 21st century, while protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. It led to agreement on a new generation of OSCE commitments, not only in the field of counter-terrorism, but also in the human dimension. We in the OSCE embraced one of the most important lessons learned from the events of 9/11, namely the importance of fostering tolerance among disparate groups and faiths.
Those who attacked us on 9/11 attacked us all. They hoped to drive a wedge between the United States and the rest of the world. They failed. On the eve of this 10th anniversary, we are united with our friends and partners in remembering all those we have lost in this struggle. In their memory, we reaffirm the spirit of partnership and mutual respect that is needed to realize a world where all people live in dignity, freedom and peace.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The United States condemns the burning and vandalizing of a mosque in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir today. This attack is the latest of several such acts of violence against West Bank mosques. These incidents have served to undermine efforts to promote a comprehensive peace in the region. We call on the Israeli government to investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice, and for calm from all parties.
Joining eight imams in prayer at Dachau concentration camp was a powerful experience and a profound show of faith and solidarity with the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. This event took place even as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia spread across the world. For these eight religious leaders, the future will be shaped by a shared understanding of the past, not by the prejudice of the present. As representatives of government and communities we joined these clerics to bear witness to the horror and tragedy of the Holocaust and reaffirm the pledge – “never again.”
This unusual study tour of Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps was initiated and led by an Orthodox Jew, sponsored by a German think tank on interreligious values and attended by eight American imams from varying backgrounds – including many who were educated in systems where the history of the Holocaust is not taught.
Marshall Breger, a Catholic University Law Professor and leader of the expedition, explained that the impetus behind the effort is to address, head-on, the denial of the Holocaust that is part of growing anti-Semitism in Muslim communities. His goal, one which we share, is to educate those who might not have the kind of knowledge we have about the Holocaust; to promote understanding; and even change.
As the group started into the camp it was clear that this was a remarkable moment in history. Together, we listened as survivors bravely shared their horrific experiences of discrimination, suffering and loss. Together, we watched as Max Mannheimer, a survivor of both Auschwiz and Dachau, rolled back his sleeve to show the tattoo permanently marked on his arm.
Walking down the train tracks from the Judenrampe to the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria, many remarked that they were not observing the sites as Muslims, Jews, or religious leaders, but as parents who could relate the horror of being separated from their children. Here, the words of Imam Muzammil Siddiqi rang true, “We came here to understand the pain of the Jewish community. This is in order to improve relationships because you cannot build relationships with people unless you know what they’ve been through.”
Determined to share this message of mutual understanding, the imams had this to say in a historic joint statement:
“…We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality (of the Holocaust) and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics. We condemn anti-Semitism in any form. No creation of Almighty God should face discrimination based on his or her faith or religious conviction…”
We are deeply aware of the growing anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry that have blossomed worldwide. We believe, as our delegation does, that now more than ever people of faith must stand together for truth. As the Qu’ran says, we must “stand up firmly for justice” and the Torah tells us “Justice, justice shall you pursue.”
We honor this remarkable experience by talking about it as clearly and definitively as possible. As President Obama forcefully stated in his address before Muslim communities around the world, Holocaust denial “is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful.” We must advance the universal message that such evil and darkness can only occur when people choose not to confront it. We will discuss this shared narrative among Jewish and Muslim people with the hope that our futures will hold more understanding and partnership.
We went to Germany and Poland to see Dachau and Auschwitz concentration and extermination camps. We stood together bearing witness to the most sinister and evil chapter of history, to the unthinkable deeds of governments, to the silence of so many, and to the willingness of those who became the executioners. We affirmed that education and dialogue are necessary first steps to overcome bigotry and ignorance. We expressed shared understanding of the dangers of ongoing polarization between Muslim and Jewish communities.
We came away with a new commitment to promote peace, understanding, respect, and empathy among our communities. We will provide leadership, foster partnerships and build collaborative efforts around combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We are encouraged by this and other examples of interfaith collaboration developed organically through the vision and commitment of civil society and religious leaders. We thank the Konrad Adenaur Foundation for making this experience possible.
Salaam and Shalom,
U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism
U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference
Special Representative Rosenthal to Address Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism
Special Representative for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal will address the second annual conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA) on November 8th and 9th in Ottawa, Canada. She will discuss detecting the six forms of anti-Semitism.
Hosted in partnership with the Canadian Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, the Ottawa ICCA Conference will assemble parliamentarians from around the world who have an active interest or involvement in fighting anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of intolerance. Its purpose is to share knowledge and best practices of confronting anti-Semitism.