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Danish contributions and publications

Joint statement marking the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2024 on behalf of 43 participating states

Statement delivered by Denmark at the 1480th Meeting of the Permanent Council on July 4th 2024 by Deputy, Kristine Hauge Bjergstrøm

Madame Chair, 

I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the following 43 participating states: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and the member states of the European Union, including my own country Denmark.

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture provides us with an opportunity to reaffirm our strong commitment to preventing and eradicating torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Sadly, this commitment remains unfulfilled in the OSCE region, as civil society organizations, media, and other groups as well as international bodies still report the use of torture by  a number of participating States. We stand in solidarity with all victims and survivors in the OSCE region, and around the world, as well as with their families and communities affected. Those responsible must be held to account.
 
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has resulted in devastating humanitarian and human rights consequences. Members of Russia’s forces have reportedly committed “summary executions” of Ukrainian civilians; torture of civilians in detention through beatings, electrocution, and mock executions; and rape. This has been documented by various international mechanisms including the Moscow Mechanism report from April 2022. Furthermore, the latest Moscow Mechanism report and ODIHR’s monitoring in Ukraine detailed Russia’s widespread and systematic use of torture and other abuses, including against Ukrainian civilian detainees.

We strongly condemn these violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. 

Madame Chair, 

The prohibition of torture is absolute and unconditional. All OSCE participating States have an obligation to prevent acts of torture, prosecute perpetrators, identify victims, and ensure effective redress.  Notwithstanding, torture and cruel, inhuman, and other degrading treatment or punishment continue to be used, including in places of detention and during interrogation or police custody.
We as states must do more. In all our efforts, the needs of victims and survivors have to come first. We urge all participating States to adopt a holistic, victim-centred and gender-responsive approach, paying special attention to the views and needs of victims and survivors. This must inter alia be implemented in policy development and other activities relating to rehabilitation, prevention, and accountability for torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence. This also applies when investigating and documenting allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual violence, as inscribed in the Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering, the so-called “Méndez Principles”.

We call upon all participating States to take appropriate and effective legislative, administrative, judicial, and other measures to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and to apply international standards such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules), the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing Rules) and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.

It is high time to honour our commitments, including the 2020 Tirana Ministerial Council Decision on the Prevention and Eradication of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, through effective implementation. Future generations will judge us against our deeds, not our words.

We call on all participating States to make good use of ODIHR’s assistance and its internationally recognized expertise in this field. In addition, we urge the participating States that have not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) as well as its Optional Protocol (OPCAT).

Madame Chair, 

While we as participating States bear the primary responsibility to eradicate torture, we would like to express our strong support for the tireless and important work of human rights defenders and civil society organisations working in all areas of anti-torture efforts. Civil society should always have the space to speak out and to contribute to the fight against all forms of torture and other ill-treatment without any risk of reprisal.

In closing, we jointly reaffirm our clear commitment to upholding the absolute prohibition of torture and to stepping up our efforts to end its use in the OSCE region. We will ensure that the topic remains high on the OSCE agenda, and we will continue our joint efforts to end impunity for acts of torture.

Thank you, Madame Chair. 

 


Statement by Denmark at the OSCE 2024 Annual Security Review Conference special session on the ‘Security Situation in the OSCE area’.

Vienna, 26.-27. June 2024
As delivered by Acting Political Director of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eva Barløse

Thank you, Madam Chair,
Denmark aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union, but I would like to make the following remarks in my national capacity.
Almost two and a half years ago, Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

 

This irresponsible and illegal act has changed the European security architecture. With long-term devastating effects for Ukraine and the OSCE, including our security cooperation.
Attempts to redraw borders by force is a brutal assault on the UN Charter and the OSCE Commitments. Russia’s actions undermine international security. And they cause immense human suffering.

 

The latest report under the Moscow Mechanism of the OSCE published in April this year, confirmed instances of arbitrary detention and the widespread and systematic use of torture of detained Ukrainian civilians by the Russian authorities. It found that detainees “have been subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, sexual violence and other forms of serious mistreatment”.

Denmark condemns Russia’s war against Ukraine in the strongest terms possible, and we call on Russia to end this war and to unconditionally withdraw all forces and equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine. Denmark will continue to work for a just and sustainable peace in Ukraine. In line with the UN Charter and international law.

 

Madam Chair,
It is more important than ever to recall that the OSCE, including the Helsinki Decalogue, exists to promote peace, strengthen cooperation, build mutual confidence, enhance security and contribute to justice. These values are more important today than ever.

We must try to preserve the security architecture, which we have painstakingly built up since the end of the cold war. Or what’s left of it.
Russia’s withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe is one more example of Russia’s disregard for the pillars of the OSCE: The common principles of conventional arms control and confidence building measures. Following Russia’s withdrawal, Denmark together with a number of other States Parties decided to suspend the participation in the CFE treaty.

 

Denmark, however, remains committed to the principles of effective conventional arms control as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security. It therefore also remains our hope that developments will allow for a return to the treaty at a later point. In the meantime, we should seek other ways to build stability and ensure the transparency, that the CFE Treaty has provided.

 

We must continue to maintain and uphold the web of interlocking and mutually reinforcing tools in the political-military dimension like the Vienna Document, the Open Skies Treaty and the Code of Conduct. The value may be less visible today. But they can be very valuable tomorrow. This will be on our minds as we take over the chairpersonship of the Forum for Security Cooperation in September.

 

Even so, the real value of the OSCE will only truly resurface when there is political will by all OSCE Participating States to uphold our common commitments. This is the very backbone of this organisation that we all need to adhere to.
I thank you, Madam Chair.


Denmark is among 45 participating states behind the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism 29 February 2024 to address the arbitrary detention of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian Federation amidst human rights violations and humanitarian impacts of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
The findings of the investigation is now published in the "Report on violations and abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law, war crimes and crimes against humanity, related to the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian Federation". The report can be read here.

 


JOINT STATEMENT FOLLOWING UP THE VIENNA MECHANISM ON REPORTS OF ARBITRARY AND UNJUST DETENTIONS IN RUSSIA

Mr. Chairperson, 


On Friday 22nd of March, Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States expressed deep concern regarding severe human rights violations occurring in the Russian Federation.


By invoking the Vienna (Human Dimension) Mechanism and highlighting the obligations of the Russian Federation under this Mechanism, the aligned countries requested concrete and substantial responses to seven questions regarding arbitrary or unjust arrests and detentions in Russia, the targeting of political opposition members, as well as torture and mistreatment in Russian detention facilities and prisons.
Regrettably, the Russian Federation has not responded in accordance with the commitments of the Vienna Mechanism within the 10-day deadline. In fact, it has now been 27 days without any response. 


The world does not yet know exactly what transpired in the final hours before the death of Alexei Navalny. Navalny's legacy of courageous advocacy against corruption and for a free and democratic Russia continues to resonate. Many imprisoned members of the opposition remain incarcerated and their lives are still in grave danger. Among those at great risk is Vladimir Kara-Murza, a human rights activist, politician, journalist, and historian who has survived two poisoning attempts and who a serves 25-year prison term in inhumane conditions and without access to urgent medical care. 


Another prisoner, Ilya Yashin, was sentenced in December 2022 to eight-and-a-half years in prison for statements he made on his YouTube channel about reported war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian armed forces in the city of Bucha in Ukraine’s Kyiv region. In February 2024, Russia's Ministry of Justice designated Oleg Orlov as a so-called "foreign agent", citing his opposition to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and accusing him of spreading "false information" about the government's actions. Later that month, a Moscow court found Orlov guilty, sentencing him to two years and six months in a penal colony for allegedly "discrediting" the Russian army.
Sadly, these are only a few examples of the continued widespread and systematic suppression of independent voices by Russian authorities. We call on Russia to immediately and unconditionally release all arbitrarily detained persons.


We remain gravely concerned about reports of escalated and politically motivated prosecution based on ambiguous claims such as "extremism" and "false information". The growing complexity within the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the Law on Associations, and the Code of Administrative Offences—coupled with credible reports of torture and ill-treatment in Russian places of detention—demands our close attention. 


In reference to relevant OSCE commitments, including the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document, the 1990 CSCE/OSCE Copenhagen Document, the 1991 Document of the Moscow meeting of the conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, the 2004 Sofia Ministerial Council Decision on Preventing and Combating Torture, the 2006 Brussels Declaration on Criminal Justice Systems, and the 2020 Tirana Ministerial Council Decision on the prevention and eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, we urgently request that the Russian Federation provide concrete and substantial responses to our questions without any further delay. We remind that all OSCE participating States have agreed that commitments undertaken in the field of the human dimension are matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating States and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned. 


The silence from the Russian Federation is not in line with OSCE commitments in the field of the human dimension. Let me therefore emphasize that we will persist in seeking answers to our concerns by exploring relevant meetings, mechanisms, and committees available to us within the OSCE structures and other multilateral arenas.

I thank you.

 

 

Joint Statement on the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism to address the arbitrary detention of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian Federation amidst human rights violations and humanitarian impacts of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine

1463th Meeting of the Permanent Council

29 February 2024

 

Madam Chair, 


I am delivering this statement on behalf of the following 45 participating States: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union Member States. 


Today, our delegations will send the following letter to ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci, invoking the Moscow Mechanism, with the support of Ukraine, as we continue to have concerns regarding violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law following Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine, particularly with regard to the arbitrary detention of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian Federation.

Director Mecacci,
On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation, with the support of Belarus, launched a full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine. This expanded invasion took place against the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine that has, since 2014, violated Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.


In 2022 and 2023, 45 OSCE Delegations, following bilateral consultations with Ukraine under the Vienna (Human Dimension) Mechanism, invoked Paragraph 8 of the Moscow (Human Dimension) Mechanism. As a result of these invocations, OSCE participating States received the reports of the independent missions of experts, which confirmed our shared concerns about the impact of the Russian Federation’s invasion and acts of war, its violations and abuses of human rights, and violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine.


We remain particularly alarmed by the findings of the expert missions that some of the violations amount to war crimes and that some violations may amount to crimes against humanity.


As Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine enters its third year and Russia’s illegal occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol enters its eleventh year, we continue to witness human suffering on an appalling scale and shocking reports of violations of international humanitarian law and of international human rights law, many of which may amount to the most serious international crimes. 


A number of credible sources, including the Moscow Mechanism expert missions, ODIHR, and the UN, as well as civil society organizations, have reported that the Russian Federation has arbitrarily detained large numbers of civilians in Ukraine. According to these sources, Ukrainian civilians have become victims of arbitrary detentions, abductions, kidnapping and other forms of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, including instances of enforced disappearances. Many remain detained or are considered missing, as their whereabouts are unknown. 


The OSCE itself has faced the unacceptable detention of three OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) officials who have been held in Russian captivity for almost 700 days, despite repeated calls for their release.


The initial detention of Ukrainian civilians occurs in the parts of Ukraine’s territory temporarily controlled or occupied by Russia, often in improvised and unofficial places of detention. The civilian detainees are then reportedly transferred to other locations within the occupied territory or deported to the Russian Federation or other places where they are held in detention facilities.  In many cases civilian detainees are held incommunicado.
Those detained include representatives of Ukrainian local authorities, humanitarian volunteers, human rights defenders, other members of civil society, journalists, media actors, members of clergy, teachers, and ordinary citizens.


In most cases civilians are detained without being informed about the grounds for their detention and without information about their whereabouts being communicated. For this reason, the location and status of civilian detainees has proven difficult to ascertain, with information about their circumstances being vague or outright refused. 
According to testimonies of victims and witnesses, Russia’s actions towards civilian detainees are marked by the profound disregard for human dignity, including the use of torture, sexual violence, and ill-treatment. Civilian detainees have not been granted access to a lawyer and the ICRC has been refused access to them. They have also described enduring deplorable detention conditions, including severely overcrowded cells, poor access to sanitation, and lack of medical attention.
We are deeply concerned about the severity and frequency of these violations and abuses. We are particularly alarmed by reports of cases of summary executions of civilians in Russian detention. 


We recall that OSCE participating States have committed themselves to respect the right to liberty and to refrain from arbitrary arrest or detention.
 
We stress that the deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, if committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population, may constitute a crime against humanity.


We also remind that the prohibition of torture is a peremptory norm of international law without territorial limitation, which applies at all times and in all places.

We further note that the 2020 Tirana OSCE Ministerial Decision on Prevention and Eradication of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment reminds all participating States that, inter alia, prolonged incommunicado detention or detention in secret places can facilitate the perpetration of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and can in itself constitute a form of such treatment. 


Gravely concerned by the continuing impacts of Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, in particular on the civilian population, the delegations of Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, following bilateral consultations with Ukraine under the Vienna Mechanism, invoke the Moscow (Human Dimension) Mechanism under Paragraph 8 of that document. 


We request that ODIHR inquire of Ukraine whether it would invite a mission of experts to build upon previous findings and establish the facts and circumstances surrounding possible contraventions of relevant OSCE commitments, violations and abuses of human rights, and violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as well as possible cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity, associated with or resulting from the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian Federation; and to collect, consolidate, and analyze this information with a view to offer recommendations, as well as provide the information to relevant accountability mechanisms, as well as national, regional, or international courts or tribunals that have, or may in future have, jurisdiction.


We also invite ODIHR to provide any relevant information or documentation derived from any new expert mission to other appropriate accountability mechanisms, as well as national, regional, or international courts or tribunals that have, or may in future have, jurisdiction.


Thank you for your attention.

 

 


Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, submits Danish statement at OSCE Permanent Council meeting on the occasion of the 2-year anniversary for Russia’s attack on Ukraine


Mr. Chair,

Two years ago, Russia launched a brutal, illegal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

This irresponsible and illegal act has changed the European security architecture and challenged the international rules-based order. With long-term effects for Ukraine, Europe and the World. 

Sovereignty and territorial integrity are cornerstones of the international order. Russia also broke these core principles 10 years ago with its illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. 

Denmark condemns Russia’s war against Ukraine in the strongest terms possible. We call on Russia to end this war and withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine. 

Denmark is outraged by the death of the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny for which the ultimate responsibility lies with President Putin and the Russian authorities. We call on Russia to immediately and unconditionally release the people who has been detained for paying tribute to the memory of Navalny as well as all political prisoners in Russia. 

***

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had grave consequences for the OSCE as well. Since the illegal annexation of Crimea, OSCE has experienced severe challenges in cooperating and reaching consensus. 

The main source of these difficulties is one participating state: Russia.  

It is more important than ever to recall that OSCE, including the Helsinki Decalogue, exists to promote peace, enhance security, contribute to justice, strengthened cooperation and – however utopian it may currently seem - build mutual confidence. These values are more important today than ever.

***

Denmark stands firmly behind Ukraine and will continue to do so. That was the message I conveyed, when I visited Mykolaiv last month.

We will continue to seek full accountability for Russia’s unlawful war of aggression. All alleged violations of international law must be investigated. Whether it concerns human rights, war crimes or crimes against humanity. 

Furthermore, Denmark will continue to work for a just and sustainable peace in Ukraine. In line with the Ukrainian Peace Formula, the UN Charter and international law. 

Our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence is unwavering. 

Thank you!


 

The OSCE Permanent Council holds special meeting to discuss Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine

Statement by Denmark at the 1458th (Special) Meeting of the Permanent Council on 26 January 2024 by First Secretary, Marianne Martinez Bennedsen

Thank you, Madame Chair, 

Denmark fully aligns with the statement made by the European Union, but please allow me to add the following in my national capacity.

Next month, two years will have passed since Russia launched its illegal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine and a decade since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. Since then, Russian aggression has destroyed the lives of countless civilians, and as we are entering a new calendar year, it continues to do so.

Recent, intensified Russian attacks on civilian and infrastructure targets has led to record numbers of civilian losses and damage to important civilian infrastructure including electricity and water supplies – this at a time when the harsh temperatures of winter leave civilians even more exposed and vulnerable. 

The disregard for international law and the principles of the Helsinki Act speaks volumes. But we must continue to insist that the OSCE commitments be upheld and that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity be held to account. And so we thank the Chairpersonship for convening this very timely Special meeting of the Permanent Council.

Russia’s war has demonstrated with tragic clarity why we need the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security. That respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law constitutes one of the foundations of the international order.

Denmark continues to condemn Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine in the strongest terms possible and our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence is unwavering – as demonstrated by my foreign minister’s visit to Ukraine today. His fourth in the last year alone. 

To conclude, the responsibility to halt this devastating war resides with Russia alone. Russia can and should stop the war immediately by fully and unconditionally withdrawing from all of Ukraine.

Thank you, Madame Chair. 


 

Statement by the Danish Delegation at the opening of the OSCE Warszaw Human Dimension Conference

Statement by Denmark at the opening session of the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference 2 October 2023 by Permanent Representative, Christian Grønbech-Jensen

Thank you, Mr. Chair,

Denmark fully aligns with the statement made by the European Union, but please allow me to add the following in my national capacity.

As we gather this year for the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference, we do so on the continued backdrop of Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. And while consensus for the traditional Human Dimension Implementation Meeting was blocked by Russia for the third year in a row, we want to thank the CiO of North Macedonia and ODIHR for organising this conference - thereby insisting on maintaining the OSCE as a unique platform for dialogue with civil society.

Russia’s war and the internal repression of human rights in participating states such as Belarus tragically demonstrate why we need the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security and its autonomous institutions to help hold us all accountable to our commitments on human rights and democracy. As stated in the Moscow document, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law constitutes one of the foundations of the international order, which is why the work carried out in the human dimension is perhaps more important than ever before.

Civil Society and the indispensable work of Human Rights Defenders is an essential part of this and we look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue over the coming weeks.

Thank you.

 


Denmark supports the OSCE Chairpersonship’s efforts to ensure the functioning of the OSCE Permanent Council

A reinforced meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council took place on September 26th 2023 to address vital challenges to the functioning of the OSCE. Below you can read the Danish statement delivered by Lisbet Zilmer-Johns

Thank you, Mr. Chair

First, let me thank the North Macedonian chairpersonship for convening us today to discuss the unprecedented challenges facing the OSCE. 

The primary source of these challenges is the choice of one participating state to disregard the principles and agreements that this organization was built on. It is telling indeed, that through its aggression against Ukraine, Russia has violated all 10 principles of the Helsinki Decalogue.

The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is brutal, reprehensible and in violation of the UN charter. We condemn it and insist once again that Russia can and should stop the war immediately by fully and unconditionally withdrawing from all of Ukraine.

Mr. Chair, As it is waging this brutal war, detaining OSCE staff and unilaterally seizing OSCE assets, Russia’s simultaneous message to the rest of us in the OSCE seems to be that consensus here in fact means simply accepting Russia’s demands.

And so, as 2024 draws closer, we find ourselves without agreements on neither a chairpersonship, a budget nor the appointment of the four highest level officials of the OSCE. The OSCE has shown itself to be an adaptable organisation, but we cannot expect it to function next year if these matters are left unresolved.

Mr. Chair,

The Chairpersonship is a very important role for the OSCE to function and deliver. The OSCE must have such political leadership in 2024. There is only one candidate, Estonia, whom we fully support. The OSCE needs a budget which fully enables it to implement its mandate and continue assisting states and populations to make our region more peaceful, stable, democratic and respectful of human rights. We encourage all participating states to join consensus on the budget as soon as possible.

The leaders of the independent institutions are fundamental to one of the key aims of the OSCE – holding us all accountable for living up to our commitments in the field of human rights. The Secretary General carries the increasingly difficult responsibility to keep the organisation running properly, and works hard also to keep it relevant in the eyes of the surrounding world. We fully support the roll-over of all four incumbents.

Chairperson Osmani,

Let me end by expressing our full support to you in the demanding task of leading us through these difficult times and challenges.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

 


The OSCE Permanent Council holds special meeting to mark Ukraine’s independence day and 1,5 years of Russia’s war against Ukraine

On 24. August 2023, the OSCE’s Permanent Council held a special meeting to mark Ukraine’s independence day and discuss the 1,5 years of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Read the Danish statement below, as delivered by Deputy Permanent Representative, Kristine Hauge Bjergstrøm


Thank you, Mr. Chair,


Denmark fully aligns with the statement made by the European Union, but please allow me to add the following in my national capacity.
It is heartbreaking that we are no longer counting days or even months. We are now counting in years. One and a half year of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. One and a half year of witnessing Russia’s complete lack of respect for our shared principles, and its utter disregard for our common humanity. Those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity must be held to account.


Russia’s war has demonstrated with tragic clarity why we need the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security. If we were ever in doubt, it shows us why the 1991 Moscow Document states, that respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law constitutes one of the foundations of the international order. 


When President Zelenskyy visited Denmark earlier this week, he said that we have to work together to put pressure on Russia in order to: “ensure the necessary protection for all the basic values that life in Europe is built on and that have now been completely trampled by Russia in Ukraine.”.


Mr. Chair,


Russia must end this war by immediately, completely and unconditionally withdrawing from the entire territory of Ukraine. 


In the meantime, we will continue to support Ukraine in every way we can. In meeting the humanitarian needs of the Ukrainian people, by supporting the re-construction of Ukraine. And by providing Ukraine with military capabilities to deter Russia’s aggression, including F16 fighter jets, which we expect will add significantly to Ukraine’s long term security. 
Denmark’s very strong commitment to Ukraine stems from a recognition that European and global security depends on the restoration of the rules-based or-der and territorial integrity as enshrined in the UN Charter and the OSCE acquis.


We stand with Ukraine.


Thank you, Mr. Chair. 


Statement by the Delegation of Denmark at the Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

Vienna 29-30 June 2023

As delivered by Jørgen Gammelgaard, Special Representative for Euro-Atlantic Security, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,

Denmark attaches great importance to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty). The Treaty has long been a cornerstone of the European security architecture and benefited all States Parties equally and substantively.

Denmark condemns Russia’s decision to withdraw from the CFE Treaty. This is yet another step towards isolation for Russia as it moves away from the rules-based European security order.

 

Mr. Chairperson,

Sadly, this move does not come as a surprise. Russia suspended its implementation of the Treaty in 2007 with no proper legal basis. This resulted in continued non-compliance with numerous Treaty provisions.

Moreover, in stark contradiction to the objectives of the CFE Treaty, Russia maintains troops on Georgian and Moldovan territory without the host countries’ consent. In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea while launching at the same time a destabilizing military intervention in eastern Ukraine. And since 24 February 2022 Russia has been waging a full‑scale illegal war of aggression against Ukraine to redraw borders by force and to promote a security order in Europe based on “spheres of interest”.

 

Mr. Chairperson,

Russia bears full responsibility for the deterioration of co‑operation between the States Parties. It is Russia that do not comply with commitments it had voluntarily undertaken, and it is Russia that started a war of aggression against Ukraine in violation of the CFE Treaty and entirely at odds with the Treaty’s spirit and objectives.

 

Mr. Chairperson,

Denmark advocates and will continue to advocate a rules-based and co‑operative approach to security in Europe. We strongly support the CFE Treaty and will continue to live up to our obligations. Let me conclude by calling upon Russia to reverse its decision, comply with its obligations under the CFE Treaty and adopt a responsible approach to European security through international arms control and transparency instead of the unrestrained wielding of military power that we are currently witnessing.

 

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Statement by Denmark at the OSCE 2023 Chairpersonship Security Review Conference 2023 special session on the ‘Security Situation in the OSCE area’.

Vienna, 28-29 June 2023

As delivered by Under-Secretary for Foreign Policy Anders Tang Friborg

 

Thank you, Mr. Chair,

 

As we meet today, fighting continues in Ukraine as Russia attempts to change borders by force and promote a security order based on ‘spheres of interest’. For 16 months now, we have been receiving reports about Russian targeting of residential buildings and infrastructure critical for civilian life in Ukraine, about torture and brutal atrocities, deportations of children and many other horrifying practices.

 

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine threatens the peace and security of the Ukrainian people and all of Europe, and has consequences for the whole world. We must ensure that Russia does not achieve its strategic goals in Ukraine. We must ensure that aggression and violations of international law do not pay off.

 

Thus, support for Ukraine to defend itself and re-establish its full territorial integrity and self-determination in accordance with the UN Charter is and will remain a key strategic priority for Denmark. We will continue the significant military, economic, reconstruction and humanitarian support for Ukraine as long as there is a need for it.

 

 

Mr. Chair,

 

We call once again on Russia to stop its war against Ukraine and withdraw completely and unconditionally from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. We call on Belarus to stop its complicity in the Russian military aggression.

 

Russia must not create a new unacceptable, long-lasting frozen conflict in Ukraine, as it has in Georgia and Moldova, where Russian troops are stationed without the consent of the host nations.

 

 

Mr. Chair,

 

The war we are currently witnessing in Ukraine is what we created this very organisation to avoid. We all, including Russia, have committed to shared principles, political agreements and concrete, day-to-day exchanges in the service of transparency, trust and rules-based peaceful security interaction in this region.

 

Sadly, with this senseless war, Russia is turning its back on cooperative security. Russia’s disregard of international law, including the UN charter and the very principles which the OSCE was founded on, attempts to challenge our determination to peacefully co-exist in a rules based international order based on values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.

 

In the face of this, we must continue to work to preserve the existing structures, commitments and mechanisms, which guide this rules-based interaction, including in the OSCE. Even so, the real value of the OSCE will only truly resurface when there is political will by all OSCE Participating States to uphold our common commitments.

 

 

Mr. Chair

 

In closing, I want to once again reaffirm that Denmark stands firmly by Ukraine and its people.

 

 

I thank you, Mr. Chair.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Denmark and Switzerland Host International Conference on Justice for Torture Victims with Emphasis on a Victim-Centered Approach and the Right to Redress and Rehabilitation

On 2 June 2023 the Permanent Representations of Denmark and of Switzerland to the OSCE hosted an international conference in Vienna on “Justice for Torture Victims: Applying a victim-centered approach and ensuring the right to redress and rehabilitation in practice”.

The conference was organised with the support of the 2023 OSCE  Chairpersonship of North Macedonia and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Read more about the conference here.

Read the welcoming remarks as delivered by the Permanent Representative of Denmark to the OSCE, Ambassador Christian Grønbech-Jensen:

 

Dear colleagues. Dear valued members of civil society. Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of Denmark and Switzerland, I have the great pleasure of welcoming you to this conference on “Justice for Torture Victims”, which is organised with the support of the 2023 OSCE Chairpersonship of North Macedonia and ODIHR. Thank you all for coming.

This is the fourth time that Denmark and Switzerland organise a conference on torture prevention here in Vienna. Over the years, we have focused on ‘Effective Multilateralism in the Fight Against Torture’ as well as the roles and responsibilities of police and other law enforcement.  Last year, as a response to Russia’s blatant act of aggression against Ukraine, our conference focused on holding perpetrators of acts of torture to account.

One year on – as Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine continues – Denmark remains as committed as ever to ensuring accountability and justice for the people of Ukraine. We will not tire from saying it: Perpetrators must and will be held to account.

But justice for victims of torture is about more than legal justice in a court of law. It is about putting the victims first. And it is about honouring the right to redress of the victims.

Today, we will engage in an important conversation on how to do exactly that. A conversation on how to overcome the various obstacles, which continue to persist across the OSCE region, to fulfil our shared OSCE commitments to apply a victim-centred approach and to ensure the victims’ right to proper redress and rehabilitation.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The prevention and eradication of torture is a long-standing Danish priority, which we work to promote in all international organisations, including the OSCE. And we are proud to host two internationally acclaimed organisations in Denmark, who are working to promote and ensure redress and rehabilitation for victims of torture, and who we will also hear from today.

In Tirana in 2020 we, as OSCE participating States, managed to agree on the organisation’s first comprehensive decision on the topic. This was an important milestone for us. But the work is not done with the decision. We continue to receive new alarming testimonies of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual and gender based violence, from brave survivors of Russia’s war against Ukraine, from Belarus and from other parts of the region.

Today, we hope to put all of you – with all your knowledge and dedication – to work on helping to further our understanding of the tasks still in front of us to assist victims of torture and other ill-treatment. To ensure their rehabilitation.  And to help rebuild their lives.

The road to legal accountability for gross human rights violations is often long, but this only makes today’s focus on rehabilitation even more pertinent.

I am very much looking forward to the fruitful discussions and hopefully many new recommendations from the participants on how to redouble our efforts in the OSCE and beyond to fight torture by putting the victims first.

Before I conclude, I would like to thank the 2023 OSCE Chairpersonship of North Macedonia and ODIHR for their valuable support in organising the event. ODIHR’s toolbox and efforts in the fight against torture is comprehensive and efficient, and we are very happy to have the Director of ODIHR, Mr. Matteo Meccaci, here with us today – online – to share a few introductory remarks.

I would also like to thank our brave keynote speaker, Mr. Anatoliy Harahaty, from Ukraine – who will share his own grave story of surviving torture by Russian forces – and Ms. Tetiana Pechonchyk from ZMINA Human Rights Centre, who will give a short presentation to put the testimony into context. And of course our excellent panellists – both the ones who are online and the ones here in Vienna – for being with us today.

 

With this I leave you in the capable hands of today’s 'MC’.

Thank you.

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Denmark and 37 OSCE countries respond to the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus 

Joint statement on the report by the Rapporteur under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism on the serious threat to the OSCE human dimension in Belarus since 5 November 2020 as delivered by Ambassador Christian Grønbech-Jensen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the OSCE, at the 1422nd meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 11 May 2023.

Mr. Chair,

I am delivering this statement on behalf of the following 38 delegations who on 23 March 2023 invoked the Moscow Mechanism as a response to the alarming human rights situation in Belarus: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

On behalf of the invoking States, I wish to thank Professor Hervé Ascensio for his work as Rapporteur under the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism. We are most grateful for your professional and independent approach to your mandate and for the thorough and well-documented report that you have produced. We regret that the Belarusian authorities refused to cooperate. The fact that you were met by victims of repression who seemingly had lost faith in positive changes, and who reported that fellow victims were terrified and intimidated from providing evidence, is a stark reminder of the severity of the situation.

I sincerely hope that all 57 OSCE participating States will do justice to your report by considering carefully your findings and recommendations, which are addressed, not only to Belarus, but also to OSCE participating States and the wider International Community.

 

Mr. Chair,

We invoked the Moscow Mechanism to underscore our concerns about the continued deterioration of the internal human rights situation in Belarus and to explore the more recent development of serious abuses linked to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

For more than two years, we have continuously called upon the Belarusian authorities to put an end to repression and violence. To protect the victims and to ensure the safety of all individuals, without discrimination. To address the recommendations of the 2020 Moscow Mechanism Report. To live up to OSCE and other international commitments and principles. To abide by international law. And to end impunity for human rights violations. But the delegation of Belarus and the Belarusian authorities have – again and again – ignored our legitimate concerns and requests.

The independent report by Professor Ascensio has fully confirmed how Belarusian authorities are continuing their brutal and unprecedented crackdown on opposing voices. The report concludes that “so far, the Government of Belarus has not taken any steps to put an end to this situation, nor to provide effective remedies for the victims. On the contrary, the repressive policy has been steadily increasing over the past two years”.

Legislative amendments have been introduced with the aim of providing the Belarusian authorities with “a full arsenal of legislation designed to hinder any form of opposition”. These amendments include the extension of the death penalty, increased liability for vaguely defined acts, restriction of political rights for Belarusians in exile, and limitations to the freedom of peaceful assembly and association.  

Moreover, the report clearly confirms how, after the outbreak of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on 24 February 2022, repression has been “particularly directed at those expressing their opposition to the war or their support for the Ukrainian people”. Once again, we see how internal repression is linked to external aggression.

 

Mr. Chair,

The number of political prisoners in Belarus now exceeds 1,486 with activists arguing the real number could be significantly higher. For almost three years, peaceful protesters have been met with brutal force from Belarusian authorities. People have been arbitrarily arrested and detained on politically motivated charges. People have been deprived of their right to a fair trial. Lawyers have been intimidated to stay away from defending those charged on political grounds. At least 100,000 Belarusians have been, and continue to be, forced to flee the country – to leave their homes. And independent media, journalists, and other media workers have been under sustained attack.

The report confirms the excessive violence used by the Belarusian authorities to carry out the repression. The Mission found that “torture or inhuman or degrading treatment are occurring on a regular and organised basis in places of detention and are particularly targeted at those perceived as political opponents”. Further, the report gives evidence of the practice of mass arrests in people’s homes and the use of violence to gain access to personal data, which is later used against individuals.

Meanwhile, Belarusian authorities continue to enjoy impunity.

 

Mr. Chair,

The UN OHCHR in its latest report on the human rights situation in Belarus presented to the UN Human Rights Council on 22 March concluded that some of the violations committed in Belarus may amount to crimes against humanity.

We appreciate the efforts of the International Accountability Platform for Belarus (IAPB) and other international investigative mechanisms, including under the UN OHCHR, to collect and preserve evidence of the human rights violations in Belarus. Impunity is not an option.

 

Mr. Chair,

The first steps toward security and stability for the people of Belarus remains for the Belarusian authorities to release all those unjustly imprisoned, to end the campaign of violence against peaceful protesters, and to hold perpetrators to account.

As the report concludes, “without accountability and justice [in Belarus], there can be no security and stability in the long run on the European Continent”.

Against this background, and based on the recommendations in Professor Ascencio’s report, we ask the Belarus delegation:

  • When will the Belarusian authorities cease their brutal repression and release and rehabilitate all political prisoners?
  • When will the Belarusian authorities bring criminal charges against those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, including Belarusian security officials?
  • When will the Belarusian authorities ensure respect for the Belarusian constitution according to which “(t)he republic of Belarus shall exclude acts of military aggression against other states from its territory”?

 

Mr. Chair,

We thank Professor Ascensio again for the thorough report, and we remain committed to ensuring that the report – and its recommendations – are followed up.

Thank you.  

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Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen calls for rebuilding and stabilization efforts in Ukraine

The Permanent Council of the OSCE convened extraordinarily on 24 February 2023 to commemorate one full year of the Russian war against Ukraine. Below you can read the messages delivered by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark

 

Thank you Mr. Chair

While Denmark fully aligns with the statement delivered by Mr. Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union, I would like to add the following in my national capacity.

The 24th of February last year was one of the darkest days in our recent history. The brutality of Russia’s troops has horrified us again and again.

But let me be clear once more: We will continue our support to Ukraine. We are committed. And we will remain so.

 

***

Mr. Chair

We state our deep condemnation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine every week in the Hofburg. Today, I want to talk about the future of Ukraine.

I recently visited Mykolaiv with its buildings reduced to rubble. Lack of running water. Lack of heating. Yet, thousands of people have returned since Ukraine regained control over the area. This is the spirit of resilience, we must support.

We need to help Ukraine rebuild, and we need to start now. We must invest in the Ukrainian economy, we must rebuild infrastructure and improve livelihoods.

It is not too early for such efforts. On the contrary, it is essential for the resilience of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people to be able to continue their fight for freedom. They are not only fighting for themselves, but for all of Europe’s freedom.

We can do this while also continuing to provide military support and meet urgent humanitarian needs. And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.

Because we stand with Ukraine.

 

Thank you Mr. Chair.

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Statement by Denmark. Regular meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation, General Statements. 22 February 2023.

As delivered by Permanent Representative Christian Grønbech-Jensen

Mr. Chair

Denmark fully aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union. Allow me to add the following in my national capacity.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has brought war back to Europe on a scale and with a brutality, we had not imagined ever to see again.

With its war of choice, Russia has violated the principles, political agreements and concrete transparency measures that we have worked for in the OSCE in the past many years in these very rooms.

Since 24th February last year Russia has demonstrated its continuous disregard for the commitments we all made to ensure that wars of aggression and the changing of borders through death and destruction were things of the past. Russia has shown its disregard for the European security architecture and for the Forum for Security Co-operation as one of its guardians.

Mr. Chair

A few weeks ago, the Danish Prime Minister witnessed the destruction in Mykolaiv as a guest of president Zelenskyy. On the occasion of the visit, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said, and I quote: “There is an immediate need for the rest of the free world to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom. Ukraine can always count on Denmark as a close friend and partner. We will together with our allies and partners continue the comprehensive support to Ukraine, as long as it is needed”. End of quote.

Mr. Chair,

After one year, we know this by heart: We condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. Russia must immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. Furthermore, the Belarusian authorities must stop their support for Russia's illegal war of aggression.

I sincerely hope that the repetition of these messages will soon no longer be needed, because they will finally have been heard and heeded by Russia and Belarus.

I thank you, Mr. Chair

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Denmark and Switzerland Present Recommendations from International Conference on "Fighting Impunity for Acts of Torture"

On 13 June 2022 Denmark and Switzerland hosted the international conference on “Fighting Impunity for Acts of Torture: Ensuring accountability for Perpetrators and Justice for Victims”, with the support of the OSCE 2022 Polish Chairpersonship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). 

The Conference served as a platform for representatives of civil society, OSCE countries and institutions to engage in a dialogue on how to overcome current challenges to achieving accountability for acts of torture and other ill-treatment, not least in the context of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. 

The co-organisers have issued a publication with recommendations from the Conference participants in order to structure and disseminate the recommendations made by the speakers and participants at the conference, as well as references made to recent publications on the topic.

The recommendations are thematically grouped, and the publication does not endorse any recommendation over the other. Our hope is that the document can serve as inspiration for further dialogue and possible action for all relevant stakeholders. 

You can read the publication here.

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Bi-national statement by Germany and Denmark delivered at the Human Dimension Committee meeting on 2 November 2021

See more here.

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Effective Multilateralism in the Fight Against Torture: Trends in the OSCE region and the way forward

Recommendations from conference participants, September 2019

On 5 June 2019, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria organised the international conference, “Effective Multilateralism in the Fight Against Torture: Trends in the OSCE region and the way forward”, in cooperation with the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). This publication is the organisers’ attempt at collecting and structuring the recommendations made by the speakers and participants at the conference. The overview document is drafted without prejudice and does not endorse any recommendations over others. Our hope is, however, that the document can serve as inspiration for further dialogue and possible action for relevant stakeholders.

See the folder here.