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Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore disappointed that OSCE talks end in failure

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore said he was disappointed that an international security committee sitting in Dublin failed to reach an agreement on human rights.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held talks on a package of decisions regarding the issue - the human rights dimension.

But all 57 states making up the ministerial council failed to sign off on it, meaning topics including freedom of media, racism and xenophobia could not be resolved.

"I'm very disappointed that it wasn't possible to get agreement among all of the 57 states here in relation to the human rights dimension in the OSCE," Mr Gilmore said.

The Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister, who also serves as chairperson-in-office of the OSCE, said Ireland had worked hard to put forward the proposals and had previously brought together participating states and experts from the online industry to support them.

For proposals to be passed and introduced as OSCE strategy, the council requires that all 57 states be in agreement.

The human rights dimension had the support of just over 50. Mr Gilmore said the lack of consensus was a matter of regret and revealed a worrying trend of recent ministerial council meetings.

"Of even greater concern is the sad reality that respect for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms is currently under great threat in many parts of the OSCE region," he said.

However, he added that the states that were in agreement had signed up to a commitment to apply the standards and freedoms normally associated with press freedom and freedom of speech, to the internet and online media.

"So, the positive here is that while we didn't get a formal agreement, because it has to be agreed by consensus among all 57 states, we now have over 50 states that are signed up, committed to high standards of freedom in the media - particularly online media and digital media," the Tanaiste said.

Mr Gilmore concluded the OSCE conference, which had sat in Dublin for two days.

More than 50 foreign ministers, including US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Russia's Sergey Lavrov and Britain's William Hague, attended the conference along with 1,500 delegates from more than 70 countries and international organisations.

It was the largest international meeting organised in Ireland.

It cost more than €3m to stage - excluding the numbers of gardai on the streets - but organisers estimate it will boost Dublin's economy by €2.35m.

Mr Gilmore earlier claimed the event would help open doors and create opportunities for Ireland in an otherwise difficult climate in the run-up to taking on the European Union (EU) presidency in January.

Among the issues resolved at the conference was an agreement to launch the Helsinki +40 process, which offers ministers the opportunity to adopt a more forward-looking and strategic approach for the OSCE ahead of its 40th anniversary in 2015.

Ministers also agreed to strengthening good governance within the council, which Mr Gilmore claimed would enable the OSCE to deepen its engagement in preventing and countering corruption.

Meanwhile, OSCE secretary general Lamberto Zannier congratulated Ireland on its chairmanship of the council in 2012 and its successful hosting of the conference.

He added he was looking forward to working with incoming Ukraine to develop the new frameworks outlined over the last two days.

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