In section 113 of His Holiness John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, three European institutions were mentioned in turn: The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and the European Union. The last of these are most familiar to most people, but the former two not so much. Allow me to explain.
Coming out of the Helsinki conference during the Cold War, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is “the world’s largest regional security organization whose 56 participating States span the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok”. Neither as militarist as Nato, nor as neoliberal as Nafta and some parts of the European Union, this is one Euro-Atlantic institution I can commend to the esteemed readers. It has a parliamentary assembly, now presided by U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings (D–FL). Since 2002, at the request of the Democrats (and to the chagrin of some conservatives), it has been sending observers to U.S. elections.
If you live in one of the participating States, you can request a subscription to the OSCE Magazine (in the English or the Russian language) for free. May I ask the readers do this today, so the governments of the participating States will know that people actually care about this organization. The Magazine is always a fascinating read.
The Council of Europe (CoE) is the one that brought us the European Convention for Human Rights; the EU is still catching up here with its Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The recent investigation on “extraordinary rendition” by Swiss statesman Dick Marty came out of the CoE parliamentary assembly.
Exercise for readers on the western side of the Atlantic: How well are we using the Organization of American States, especially its human rights institutions?
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