OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference 2016
Transgender Europe and its partners from Armenia, Georgia, Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Turkey participated in the annual OSCE, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Parallel Civil Society Conference 2016 on 6 and 7 December prior to the Ministerial Council, organised by the OSCE-wide NGO-network Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP). The 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council, gathering some 50 Foreign Ministers from across the OSCE region, is taking place on the 8th and 9th December in Hamburg.
The OSCE Parallel Civil Society conference brought together approximately 100 stakeholders, including OSCE Missions, representatives of the German and upcoming Austrian Chairmanships, various OSCE offices, and civil society representatives from throughout the OSCE region. The event focused on the protection of civil society in the OSCE region, migration and non-discrimination, prevention of torture and enforced disappearances, and human rights in the context of conflict. From the TGEU delegation, Kemal Ördek from the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association addressed the crackdown on civil society organisations in Turkey in the framework of the state of emergency and they called for urgent action for solidarity and being vocal about the human rights situation and shrinking civil society space in Turkey. TGEU partners also highlighted the need for systematically addressing gender equality and the situation of trans people in the upcoming activities of the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship and the work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The outcome documents of the conference – the Civil Society Recommendations to the OSCE Ministerial Council as well as the Hamburg Declaration on Protecting Civil Society Space – draw attention to the fact that civil society organisations and activists documenting human rights violations in conflict zones, involved in conflict prevention and peace-building, as well as those working to combat xenophobia and hate crimes, advocating for equality and promoting the rights of discriminated groups (such as women, LGBTIQ people, national minorities and migrants) are especially targeted and disproportionally affected by the backlash on civil society in the OSCE.
The documents call for participating states, OSCE bodies and institutions to take concrete steps to develop appropriate and effective mechanisms and tools for protecting and expanding civil society space in the region.