Kazakhstan’s big plans for OSCE. Let’s hope not 4

Dmitry Medvedev and Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana, 2008 (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Kazakhstan promises to reform OSCE. Europe still hopes to democratize the entrenched authoritarian Kazakhstan. Who is under the bigger illusion?

Yesterday, Kazakhstan took up the chairmanship of the OSCE for the 2010-2011 mandate. The US manifested all its support to the new OSCE leaders and “stands ready to encourage your efforts to lead by example and reflect in practice the principles and provisions of the organization you now chair.” The Finnish foreign minister, whose country occupied this seat in 2008, explicitly stated his faith in the good intentions of the new team chairing the OSCE and even mentioned a possible reform of the organization concerning the European security. He believes in the Kazakhstan’s projects for the OSCE despite the fact that “none of the Central Asian countries are, I guess, perfect from a Western, democratic, rule-of-law perspective.” He also believes in the diplomatic ability of Kazakh leaders in bringing at the same table all OSCE members in order to reform the European security framework with the help of a recent plan endorsed by the Russian president Medvedev.

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Authoritarian regimes thrive in the UN Human Rights Council 10

At the beginning of this month, two very troubling reports on the state of democracy in the world have been released almost simultaneously, and both are concerned with the highest locus of legitimacy and authority when dealing with democracy and human rights, the UN and, most specifically, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the successor of the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) since 2006. The first research is Freedom House’s annual report on the activity of UNHRC and the second was released by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). This article will present the conclusions of these two reports, briefly corroborating their results with the most recent Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Report (2008) scores on political rights and civil liberties (a scale from 1 to 7, 1 for the highest degree of freedom, and 7 for the lowest level). More…