The Chairman of Europe's largest security organization today told the United Nations Security Council that if asked, the 55-nation body would be willing to offer its assistance in rebuilding democratic institutions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Just ask us," Foreign Minister Solomon Passy of Bulgaria, Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said in a first time briefing of the Council.
The OSCE had considerable expertise and experience in organizing elections and training police, he said, and a future resolution on Iraq should include a role for the body as well as invite the participation of other regional organizations such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Arab League or the Gulf States.
"These are areas in which Iraq and Afghanistan urgently need support. If the Security Council asks the OSCE and other regional organizations for assistance, I am confident that it will be possible to find consensus within the OSCE on this," Mr. Passy said.
The OSCE, which covers a territory stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok, has not operated "out-of-area" until now and neither Iraq nor Afghanistan are members. However, Afghanistan became an OSCE Partner for Cooperation last year.
In his address, Mr. Passy stressed the OSCE's "soft security" approach, lending a hand in diverse situations, including helping to end civil war in Tajikistan; constraining conflict in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia; work in fighting terrorism and crime and improving border security, areas in which it works closely with the UN.
"With its unique comprehensive approach to security - stressing human rights and economic development as well as political-military issues - the OSCE today remains the primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its region," he said. Its 18 field missions represented an invaluable on-the-ground presence, which could help the international community deal more effectively with new threats to security.
With the United Nations, the OSCE continued to play a major role as a "special partner" in building civil society in post-conflict Bosnia and Kosovo, where the recent violence has once again shown "that the international community must act in concert for the progress there to be maintained and become truly sustainable," he said.
He had visited the province's capital, Pristina, and made it clear to the parties that the implementation of the UN-backed "Standards before Status" policy in regard to Kosovo should be strictly followed, Mr. Passy added.
"OSCE institutions and commitments may be inspirational to others who, like us, are searching for ways to prevent conflict, improve bilateral and regional relations, and live in secure, pluralistic and lawful societies," Mr. Passy said. "This has been the OSCE's aim for the past 30 years."
Video of the Council meeting [50mins]