Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Applies to/Se aplica a

State practice
State law
Individual cases
For Urgent Action
Only under 18-s
A

Summary

The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) is the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) primary conference to discuss the implementation of so-called “human dimension” commitments of OSCE Member States. The term “human dimension” describes the sets of norms and activities related to human rights, the rule of law and democracy that are regarded within the OSCE as one of the three pillars of its concept of Security and Co-operation in Europe. The founding document of the OSCE, the Helsinki Final Act from 1975, defines “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief” as one of the principles guiding the relations between participating States.
NGOs are allowed to fully participate in Human Dimension Implementation Meetings, on an equal footing with government representatives. NGOs and States can make recommendations for action to both the OSCE and to participating States. All recommendations made during a Human Dimension Implementation Meeting are recorded in the final report of the meeting. Recommendations presented by NGOs and participating States are then presented to the OSCE's Ministerial Council Meeting in December of the same year.
Recommendations can also be followed up with dedicated Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings on specific issues, or with thematic Human Dimension Seminars.

1. Likely result from the use of this mechanism

During the plenary sessions of Human Dimension Implementation Meetings, the progress made by participating States in implementing their human dimension commitments is examined. NGOs have the opportunity to participate in the discussion and to highlight non-compliance with human dimension commitments, and to make specific recommendations, which will be included in the final report of the meeting.

2. To which States does this mechanism apply?

The mechanisms applies to States participating in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). This includes not only European States, but also several Central Asian States plus the USA and Canaca. A list of participating States is available at http://www.osce.org/who/83.

3. Who can submit information?

Any NGO participating in a Human Dimension Implementation Conference can submit information.

4. When to submit information?

NGOs wishing to participate in a Human Dimension Implementation Meeting can submit statements, background documents, and other written materials for distribution via the OSCE's Document Distribution System (DDS).

5. Special rules of procedure or advice for making a submission?

The objective of the Human Dimension Implementation Conferences is to examine the progress made by participating States in implementing their human dimension commitments. It is therefore important to refer to relevant commitments made when making a submission.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has published Document Preparation Guidelines (see http://www.osce.org/odihr/92511). According to the guidelines, only material from participants who are both registered and present at the respective Human Dimension Implementation Conference will be published in the Document Distribution System of the OSCE. Making a submission is therefore only useful when it is also possible to attend the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting.

When making recommendations, it should be clearly stated whether a recommendation is meant for the OSCE, or for participating States.

Organising a side event

Side events during the official Human Dimension Implementation Meeting are a good opportunity to highlight a specific topic in a more informal setting. NGOs can organise side events during the lunch breaks or evenings. ODIHR will publish the agenda of side events in its conference calendar, if information is received on time.

Lobbying of delegations

During the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, it is also possible to meet and lobby the delegation of one's own country, or of another country.

Information on Human Dimension Implementation Meetings is available at http://www.osce.org/odihr/44078.

6. What happens to the submission (how long will it take)?

Submissions by organisations participating in a Human Dimension Implementation Meeting will be published on the website of the OSCE.
Recommendations will be included in the conference report of the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in their original form, but might also be summarised in the rapporteur's report of the conference.

7. History of the use of this mechanism

In recent years, several NGOs that work on conscientious objection to military service have submitted information and attended Human Dimension Implementation Meetings. WRI has submitted information in 2003 (see http://wri-irg.org/co/osce-rep.htm), but then did not participate in the meeting itself, so the submitted information is not available on the OSCE website.
The European Association of Jehovah's Christian Witnesses regularly submits information and attends the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings.

Contact Details: 
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Ul. Miodowa 10 00-251 Warsaw Poland Tel: +48 22 520 06 00 Fax: +48 22 520 06 05 E-mail: office@odihr.pl
Further Reading: 

Interpretations

Title Date
Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel 07/04/2008

Chapter 10 of the Handbook deals with conscientious objection to military service in detail. It summarises the following best practices and recommendations:
• Information should be made available to all persons affected by military service about the right to conscientious objection to military service, and the means of acquiring conscientious-objector status;
• Conscientious objection should be available both for conscripts and for professional soldiers both prior to and during military service, in line with the recommendations of international bodies;
• Where a state does not accept a statement of conscientious objection at face value, there should be independent review panels (or where not independent, adequate procedural safeguards should be in place);
• Conscientious objectors should not be subject to repeated punishment for failure to perform military service;
• There should be no discrimination against conscientious objectors in relation to their terms or conditions of service, or any economic, social, cultural, civil, or political rights;
• Alternative service should be compatible with the reasons for the conscientious objection, of a non-combatant or civilian nature, in the public interest and not punitive;
• Alternative service should be performed under a purely civilian administration, with no involvement by the military authority;
• Those performing alternative service should enjoy the same economic and social rights as those undergoing military service;
• The duration of alternative service should be no more than 1 1/2 times the length of military service.

Recognition of CO Recognised
Length/terms of service Recognised
Discrimination Recognised
Time limits Recognised
in-service objection Recognised
Selective objection Recognised
Repeated punishment Recognised
Guidelines for Review of Legislation Pertaining to Religion of Belief 28/09/2004

Prepared by the OSCE/ODIHR Advisory Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Consultation with the European Commission for Democracy through Law (VENICE COMMISSION)

Conscientious objection to military service.
Although there is no controlling international standard on this issue, the clear trend in most democratic States is to allow those with serious moral or religious objections to military service to perform alternative (non-military) service. In any case, State laws should not be unduly punitive for those who cannot serve in the military for reasons of conscience
”.

Recognition of CO Recognised
Length/terms of service Recognised
ODIHR: Human Dimension Implementation Meeting. Consolidated Summary, 6-17 October 2003 31/10/2003

Following-up to discussions during the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting recommendations by many participants included the following:
(...)
The OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief is encouraged to continue its work related to study, analysis and dissemination of information, in particular regarding registration requirements for religious communities and conscientious objection to military service. Participating States which had not yet done so should be encouraged by the OSCE to enact the necessary legislation to honor the commitments made in the Copenhagen Document regarding conscientious objection.

Recognition of CO Recognised
ODIHR: Human Dimension Implementation Meeting. Consolidated Summary, 17-27 September 2001 25/10/2001

Participating States which had not yet done so, were urged to enact the necessary legislation to honor the commitments made in the Copenhagen Document regarding conscientious objection.

Recognition of CO Recognised
Document of the Copenhagen meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension, 5-29 June 1990 29/06/1990

Paragraph 18 of the Document of the Copenhagen meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension, 5-29 June 1990:
(18) The participating States
(18.1) note that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has recognized the right of everyone to have conscientious objections to military service;
(18.2) note recent measures taken by a number of participating States to permit exemption from compulsory military service on the basis of conscientious objections;
(18.3) note the activities of several non-governmental organisations on the question of conscientious objections to compulsory military service;
(18.4) agree to consider introducing, where this has not yet been done, various forms of alternative service, which are compatible with the reasons for conscientious objection, such forms of alternative service being in principle of a non-combatant or civilian nature, in the public interest and of a non-punitive nature;
(18.5) will make available to the public information on this issue;
(18.6) will keep under consideration, within the framework of the Conference on the Human Dimension, the relevant questions related to the exemption from compulsory military service, where it exists, of individuals on the basis of conscientious objections to armed service, and will exchange information on these questions
”.

Recognition of CO Recognised

None