The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organisation. Created during the Cold War as an East-West forum, its mandate includes the promotion of human rights, the freedom of the press, and arms control. Today, it is focused on early warning systems to prevent conflict and manage crises, as well as aiding in post-conflict rehabilitation. It includes institutions such as the OSCE Representative on the Freedom of the Media, which acts as a watchdog to provide early warning on violations of freedom of expression in OSCE states.
OSCE Representative on the Freedom of the Media
The function of the Representative is to observe relevant media developments in OSCE States to provide early warning on violations of freedom of expression. The Representative’s second main task is to assist participating States by advocating and promoting full compliance with OSCE principles and commitments regarding freedom of expression and free media.
Dunja Mijatović of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the current OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
The OSCE Representative’s mandate includes:
• Assuming an early warning function and co-operating closely with the Participating States, the Permanent Council, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the High Commissioner on National Minorities and, where appropriate, other OSCE bodies, as well as with national and international media associations.
• Rapid response to serious non-compliance with OSCE principles and commitments by participating States. In case of serious problems caused, for instance, by obstruction of media activities and unfavorable working conditions for journalists, the Representative seeks direct contacts with the participating State and other parties involved, assesses the facts and contributes to the resolution of the issue.
• Collecting and receiving information on the situation of the media from all bona fide sources. Participating States and other interested parties (e.g. organizations or institutions, media and their representatives, relevant NGOs) may forward their requests, suggestions and comments related to strengthening and further developing compliance with OSCE principles and commitments, including alleged instances of intolerance by participating States (hate speech).
The Representative routinely consults with the Chairman-in-Office and reports on a regular basis to the Permanent Council, recommending further action where appropriate.
Reports of the Special Representative can be found here.
The OSCE Representative collects information from interested parties relating to freedom of the media. PEN Centres may engage with the Representative by submitting information for her consideration and drawing her attention to urgent cases.
Contact details for the office of the Special Representative can be found here.
PEN at the OSCE
PEN representatives attended the OSCE Internet Conference in February 2013, to promote PEN’s Declaration on Digital Freedom to policymakers and activists and contribute to the debates around censorship, security and Internet governance. Read more about the conference here.
At the 2013 PEN International Writers in Prison Committee annual conference, PEN joined up with OSCE to share expertise on the year’s central theme of protecting digital freedom of expression. Read more about the conference here.