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The 31st Annual Session of the OSCE PA took place from 29 June to 3 July 2024 in Bucharest, Romania. The theme of the Annual Session is “The Role of the OSCE in the Current Security Architecture: A Parliamentary Perspective”. Following several days of debates, the meeting culminated in the adoption of the Bucharest Declaration, containing recommendations in the field of security, human rights, and economic and environmental concerns.

Reaffirming the OSCE’s core principles of co-operation and dialogue, and expressing deep concern about the trend of noncompliance with international rules and commitments, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly today called for all OSCE participating States to actively engage in multilateral diplomacy to address current challenges.

The Bucharest Declaration, adopted by the OSCE PA in the Romanian capital, calls for stringent adherence to and enforcement of OSCE commitments within national legislatures to promote a culture of compliance and accountability through parliamentary advocacy, legislative action, and oversight. It further encourages an environment where violations of international agreements are met with prompt and effective accountability measures in order to strengthen the integrity of the OSCE’s security framework.

The Declaration contains three general committee resolutions adopted over the past several days of the Bucharest Annual Session, plus 16 supplementary items dealing with a wide range of topics. The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine topped the agenda of the Annual Session, which also included a special debate on the situation in the Middle East and its implications for developments in the OSCE region.

Referring to the the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine as “a gross and unprovoked violation of our international rules-based order,” as well as “all basic principles of international law and international commitments under the Charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki Final Act,” the Bucharest Declaration calls for Russian forces to “completely withdraw from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders of 1991.”

Other key recommendations include calls for full compliance with international law to ensure the protection of the civilian population and for OSCE participating States hosting Ukrainian refugees to maintain a flexible approach to short-term returns to Ukraine.

In addition to the war in Ukraine, the Parliamentary Assembly addressed the situation in the Middle East, condemning in the strongest terms the horrific terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas and other militant groups on civilians in Israel on 7 October 2023. Expressing concern for the resurgence of the conflict in the Middle East, the Declaration notes the global implications of the conflict, including possible escalation, terrorism, irregular migration, radicalization as well as hate speech, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. It also calls for constructive dialogue aimed at resolving the conflict and releasing Israeli hostages through an immediate ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Regarding the South Caucasus, the Declaration expresses concern over the ongoing Russian occupation of Georgia, and reiterated support for diplomatic efforts in facilitating dialogue and building confidence between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It also urges a full and robust election observation mission to this autumn’s parliamentary elections in Georgia.

On artificial intelligence, the Assembly expresses deep concern about the potential misuse of this technology by terrorist organizations and urges OSCE participating States to enhance their national legal frameworks to regulate the development and use of AI in line with international standards.

In the economic and environmental dimension, the Declaration calls for OSCE participating States to increase efforts in the protection of the environment, sustainable use of natural resources, conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity. Safeguarding minors from potentially harmful online content was also highlighted as essential.

Regarding fundamental freedoms, the Bucharest Declaration urges OSCE participating States to adopt comprehensive measures to ensure the safety of journalists and calls upon the OSCE to closely examine the impacts and consequences that the conflict in the Middle East is having within the OSCE region, including those related to an increase in incidents of hate speech and hate crimes.

The Bucharest Declaration also addresses the challenges facing the OSCE itself, noting the importance of timely and orderly appointments of the Heads of OSCE Institutions, and the need to reconsider zero-nominal growth policies and ensure the adoption of a unified budget.

Other important issues covered at the meeting included the new security challenges of disinformation and propaganda, climate change and water scarcity, countering the proliferation of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, antisemitism in the OSCE region, corruption and foreign policy, migration, human trafficking, civil society, environmental protection in armed conflicts.

The Declaration, adopted at the close of the OSCE PA’s 31st Annual Session, will now be made available to parliaments and governments of OSCE participating States. The Declaration, adopted at the close of the OSCE PA’s 31st Annual Session, will now be made available to parliaments and governments of OSCE participating States.

Some 225 parliamentarians from 55 OSCE participating States attended the Annual Session.

To read the full text in English and French, please click here.

Video of the Annual Session is available on the OSCE PA’s YouTube and Facebook channels, and photos of the meeting can be found on Flickr. More information is available on the Assembly’s website.