Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCEPA)
|-||Secretary General||Spencer Oliver 1992-|
|-||As the CSCE PA||1992|
|-||Renamed OSCE PA||1995|
The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE (OSCEPA) is one of the bodies of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The primary task of the 320 member Assembly is to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue, an important aspect of the overall effort to meet the challenges of democracy throughout the OSCE area.
The Parliamentary Assembly was originally established by the 1990 Paris Summit to promote greater involvement in the OSCE by national parliaments of the participating States. By passing resolutions and issuing formal recommendations to participating States, it aims to assess the implementation of OSCE objectives by participating States; discuss subjects addressed during meetings of the Ministerial Council and summit meetings of OSCE Heads of State or Government; develop and promote mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflicts; support the strengthening and consolidation of democratic institutions in OSCE participating States; and contribute to the development of OSCE institutional structures and of relations and co-operation between existing OSCE institutions.
In addition to holding periodic meetings of parliamentarians including an Annual Session held each summer, the OSCE PA also advances its goals through committee work that addresses important contemporary international issues; an extensive election observation programme, and by holding seminars on topics of interest. In addition, parliamentary delegations are sent on special missions to areas of latent or active crisis.
In 2011 the OSCE protested against a State Department funded project they felt undercut the role of the OSCE PA. The general secretary of the OSCE PA, Spencer Oliver, and the head of the Canadian delegation Consiglio Di Nino launched a personal attack against the head of the project, Walter Kemp, a former employee of the OSCE secretariat, who had previously written a paper criticizing the OSCE PA. Di Nino wrote a letter to Kemp stating: "If the comments reflect your opinion, this would indicate a serious lack of understanding of a complex matter and calls into question your reputation as a fair and knowledgeable person," Spencer Oliver stated that "We know Kemp and he's been doing this for years. He's always shown an extreme bias against parliamentarians." US Congressmen involved with the OSCE PA; Chris Smith (R-NJ), Jim Costa (D-CA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) protested to the State Department against the project. Eventually the project was approved by the State Department.
In 2004 the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly sent election observers to the US Presidential elections. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s president at the time was Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings. Hastings had previously been impeached for corruption by the US Congress. The OSCE faced criticism of partisanship and double standards due to Hastings's past and the fact that the OSCE's mandate was to promote democracy and the values of civil society.
In 2010 the International Peace Institute called for the OSCE PA to update its election monitoring guidelines and procedures to ensure that its election reporting would be free from bias. The institute also criticized the OSCE PA’s way of conducting its election-monitoring by stating that “Parliamentarians parachuted in to read out headline-grabbing statements undercut the credibility of long-term and constructive election monitoring” 
In 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly was criticized from within by the Latvian delegation for lacking transparency and democracy. Robert Spencer Oliver (b. 1938) secretary general of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, who has held the post since the organization's inception in 1992, faced a challenge from the Latvian Artis Pabriks. According to the rules of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly the incumbent general secretary can only be replaced with a full consensus minus one vote of the Standing Committee, which comprises 56 heads of delegations. A full consensus minus one vote would therefore require 55 votes. The incumbent secretary general however needs only a simple majority to be re-appointed. A rule change proposed by Pabriks, would also have required a consensus minus one vote. Pabriks called the rules "quite shocking from the perspective of an organization that's monitoring elections"
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE
At each Annual Session the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly elects a President who acts as the highest representative of the Assembly and presides over the meetings of the Assembly. The President is elected for one year and can be re-elected for an additional one-year term.
Petros Efthymiou, a member of the Greek Parliament, was elected President of the Assembly at the 2010 Annual Session in Oslo. He had previously served as Vice-President of the Assembly, and as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Second General Committee. A former Minister of Education and Religious affairs, Mr. Efthymiou has had a long and distinguished career in both print and broadcast journalism. He is a founding member of the Greek socialist party (PASOK), and has been a member of the Greek Parliament since 2004. Mr. Efthymiou has also served as a Member of the European Parliament.
Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Secretaries General
- International Peace Institute (October 2010). Issue Brief: Reaching the OSCE Summit in Astana pp. 5.
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