Artificial Intelligence

Ukraine, artificial intelligence and energy security in focus as OSCE PA general committees begin work in Vancouver

010723 AS photo 1General Committee on Political Affairs and SecurityVANCOUVER, 1 July 2023 – Meeting today at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 30th Annual Session in Vancouver, the three general committees – on political affairs and security, economic affairs and environment, and human rights and humanitarian questions – began to consider the draft resolutions that will comprise the Vancouver Declaration. The resolutions will undergo an amendment process before being voted on by the committees and then the full Assembly on 4 July.

Committee rapporteurs presented reports that cover the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine and its related political, security and humanitarian impacts. Other issues on the agendas of the general committees include artificial intelligence, energy security, political prisoners, migration, institutional challenges of the OSCE, economic security and COVID recovery, good governance and fighting corruption, and plastic pollution.

Opening the meeting of the General Committee on Political Affairs and Security, Chair Richard Hudson (United States) expressed the need to continue strongly condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine, emphasizing the role of the OSCE PA in this regard. He thanked Special Representatives working to promote parliamentary dialogue, and stated his confidence in the work of the committee in supporting the Ukrainian people. Committee Vice-Chair Costel Neculai Dunava (Romania) called for co-ordinated and collective responses and actions, underlining that what is at stake is sovereignty and freedom for all.

The committee heard a report offered by Rapporteur Laurynas Kasciunas (Lithuania), who urged the withdrawal of Russian forces not only from Ukraine, but also Moldova and Georgia. Underlining the comprehensive security framework of the OSCE, he stressed the value of utilizing the organization’s toolbox to bring the war to an end in respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He welcomed the important work being done by the OSCE PA’s Special Rapporteur on War Crimes, John Whittingdale, to document crimes against humanity in Ukraine and highlighted the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam, as well as the volatile situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as examples of the high risks of continued war.

In the debate, members emphasized support for the people of Ukraine, warning that the conflict could continue to escalate even further, and stressing that a variety of means should be employed to advocate for peace and long-term stability, including by utilizing diplomatic channels. Concern was also expressed over the threatening nuclear rhetoric, as well as the transfer of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.

010723 AS photo 2General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and EnvironmentIn the General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, Chair Azay Guliyev (Azerbaijan) expressed concern about the significant environmental impact of the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines last year, as well as and the recent destruction of Khakovka dam. He also highlighted threats posed by climate change, including extreme weather events, air-water-soil pollution, deforestation, desertification, water scarcity, and land erosion. He stressed the need to make energy supply and infrastructure more secure, resilient, diversified and carbon neutral.

Committee members considered the report and draft resolution authored by Rapporteur Gudrun Kugler (Austria), which covers a variety of issues including economic security and sustainable economic recovery, good governance and economic crimes, and protecting the Arctic. Other topics covered include the clean energy transition, critical infrastructure, climate change and environmental protection, pollution, globalization and food security, demographic challenges, human trafficking, and artificial intelligence.

Kugler stressed the importance of improving energy security through diversification, noting that the stability of political systems is directly related to affordable and reliable energy. Therefore, parliaments should consider emergency measures in case of blackouts, and must ensure that there is equitable distribution of energy, to prevent disparities between regions. The clean energy transition must be brought about through science and technology, she said, and all countries must co-operate in coming up with the best solutions.

In the debate, members raised the impact of the war in Ukraine on regional energy, underlining that the diversification of energy is a pragmatic as well as a security concern. To meet climate goals, it was stressed that it is necessary to pursue a global effort to diversify energy supplies. The possibility of a legally binding international treaty on plastic pollution was also raised as a possibility worth exploring. Women’s economic security was highlighted as essential, including by providing child care and ensuring equal opportunity.

010723 AS photo 3General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian QuestionsOpening the meeting of the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, Chair Nikoloz Samkharadze (Georgia) said that the committee’s work has taken several parallel approaches. Committee members regularly speak out on thematic issues, he said, such as challenges to democracy, and on specific localized issues, such as the persecution of the media and NGO treatment in various countries. The committee leaders also hold in-person interactions to promote OSCE values.

Presenting his report, Rapporteur Johan Büser conceded that it does not make for pleasant reading, but said that it was necessary to provide an honest assessment of the human rights situation in the OSCE area. He pointed out that the report and draft resolution cover a number of related topics, including easing the suffering of those impacted by war, addressing weakening faith in political and democratic processes, standing up for minorities and vulnerable groups, and addressing impact of technology and digitalization on people’s rights.

Büser’s report also focuses heavily on the implications of artificial intelligence, which has the potential to cause serious democratic and human rights challenges. “We must ask if our legal processes are in place to address such attacks on our democracy, and if our populations are sufficiently well-equipped to defend themselves against such an attack,” the report states.

In the debate, members raised issues regarding migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, the need to invest more in election observation missions, the challenging situation facing the OSCE, war crimes and the humanitarian impacts of the war in Ukraine, and democratic backsliding. Concern was also raised over the growing trend of questioning of the universality of human rights, recalling that these principles are non-negotiable.

Hundreds of parliamentarians from North America, Europe and Central Asia are in Vancouver for the 30th Annual Session, taking place under the theme of “Strengthening Regional Security by Fostering Democratic and Inclusive Societies: The Role of the OSCE PA.” On the sidelines of the Annual Session on Saturday, the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration and Informal Network of Young Parliamentarians met to discuss ongoing work.

The full versions of the reports are available at the Assembly’s website.

The Annual Session is streaming on the OSCE PA’s YouTube and Facebook channels, and photos of the meeting can be found on Flickr.


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