On January 19 in Geneva, Mr Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and Mr Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva were holding talks. On that occasion, they addressed the issue of cooperation between their organizations in a public discussion organized by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Although sharing common values and common causes, the two organizations are fundamentally different in nature and scope, the OSCE being a regional organization while the UN has a universal reach. Yet that very distinction makes cooperation especially relevant. The UN needs regional groupings to address sensitive global issues which can not be tackled straightforwardly within global fora, such as the UN disarmament forum which is completely stalled at the moment. The OSCE for its part needs the UN for two main reasons. Firstly, the UN addresses global issues that have direct security implications for the OSCE member states. Secondly, partnering with the UN in the OSCE's neighboring countries in the Mediterranean and Asian margins contributes to building trust in the Organization as a constructive partner that looks beyond its own regional agenda.
Based on past experience of effective cooperation in the Caucasus, the Balkans and Central Asia, Tokayev and Zannier have expressed their will to bring forward the collaboration between their respective organizations. Mr Tokayev’s recent position as the vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE makes him well acquainted with the OSCE’s potential added-value for the UN.
The heads of both organizations were of the same opinion that close ties will be critical in two geographic areas. A coordinated approach will be crucial first and foremost in Afghanistan, where instability is to be expected after the withdrawal of NATO forces in 2014. The appointment in November 2011 of former OSCE Secretary-General Ján Kubiš as the UN special envoy to Afghanistan was thought to be a positive element for the future collaboration of both organizations, as was the involvement of UN representatives in the ongoing OSCE strategic planning for Afghanistan currently taking place in Central Asia. The other areas considered as requiring close partnership were North Africa and the Middle East where several countries are conducting political and economic transitions after the popular uprising that toppled autocratic regimes in 2011.
The economic and financial crisis will, however, put a major and lasting strain on the resources available to support transition in these countries. Tokayev therefore emphasized the need for supporting innovative solutions to that end. “2011 was a year of revolt. 2012 must be a year of entrepreneurship.”
(Photo © UNOG)