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Friday, November 2, 2012

Nothing sinister in world-recognized Democratic Institutions Human Rights observers of U.S. elections

What’s wrong with these patriots? Paranoia 
Excerpting, editing, commentary by Carolyn Bennett


Increasingly Americans in the United States are a vacuously hysterical people. On the one hand, there is an all-round, 24/7 manipulation fest perpetrated by government and mass communication. On the other, there exist a permanently distracted and paranoid people.

This is a country that, from the top down (government, corporation, media, people collusion), leaps from crisis to crisis (creating them never solving them), where all branches of government officials are awash in some brand of influence peddling, bribery, if you please, which, by design, never accomplishes politics (of the citizen) of substance or planning long term for the good of the whole country, its people and its relations, even its standing in the world. 
his blog rises from another patriots’ brouhaha: the U.S. righteous are bucking international observers of Election Day voting. It begs the question: What are the hypocrites trying to cover up this time?

The international observers in the United States are well-known for their work all over the world. They were invited by the United States as part of a standing agreement. These are not sinister forces.

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is the human rights institution of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an intergovernmental body working for stability, prosperity and democracy in its 56 participating States. From southwestern British Columbia, Canada’s Vancouver to southeastern Russia’s Vladivostok regions, the OSCE is known as the world’s largest regional security organization.

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights promotes democratic elections, respect for human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and the rule of law. This is the group being targeted, threatened with prosecution, by forces within United States’ tiered governments and media.

Though the hype continues into November, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights responded late last month with a “few facts” concerning their organization and Election observation. These are notes from their response along with additional background on this must-needed instrument in East-West dialogue during the Cold War.

Over the past couple of weeks,” the OSCE writes on its website, “we have seen numerous misleading media reports regarding the role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in observing the upcoming general elections in the United States on November 6, 2012.
“In addition, we have been the recipient of countless messages from concerned citizens about our presence in the United States.
“In response, here are a few facts that we hope will help dispel some of the rumors that have been circulating.

1. The Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) is not an agency of the United Nations.

2. OSCE election observers are bound by a strict code of conduct, requiring them 

Elections monitoring
[t]o maintain impartiality in the conduct of their duties, 

[t]o perform those duties in an unobtrusive manner, and

[t]o not interfere in the elections in the United States in any way.

Conflict resolution
They are not election police or referees. They will not play any role in counting votes or resolving election disputes. Their only role is to observe the process and to report on the degree to which that process meets the commitments that the United States has agreed to uphold.

3. OSCE observers have not been invited by one political faction to investigate claims against any other political faction. The OSCE observers have been invited by the United States Government.

In fact, the OSCE has already observed a number of U.S. elections, including previous general elections in 2004 and 2008 and mid-term elections in 2002, 2006, and 2010, always at the invitation of the respective administration that was in office at the time of the election.

4. The presence of OSCE observers is not in violation of U.S. law.
In fact, the OSCE is very aware that individual states have their own laws regarding the presence of observers at polling stations, and OSCE observers have never violated these laws in any of the five U.S. elections already observed, and they will not do so this time.

5. The United States is one of the founding members of the OSCE, having been a part of the Organization since it was first established in 1975 as an important multilateral forum for dialogue between East and West at the height of the Cold War.

6. The OSCE has a longstanding invitation to monitor elections in every one of its participating States. The invitation can be found in the Organization’s Copenhagen Document, which was signed on behalf of the United States in 1990 by then-Secretary of State James Baker, under the Republican administration of George H. W. Bush. Baker, a native of the state of Texas, had previously been chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan.

7. Since agreeing to the principles of election observation, the United States has been a strong supporter of this practice, as both Democratic and Republican administrations have made it a standard practice over the years to invite OSCE observers to monitor both general and mid-term congressional elections.

8. Over the past twenty-plus years, citizens of the United States have taken part in OSCE election observation missions to many other countries, including places like Albania, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Kazakhstan, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

What/Who is ODIHR?

An intergovernmental body working for stability, prosperity and democracy in its 56 participating States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) ─ based in Warsaw, Poland, and active throughout Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and North America ─ is one of the world’s principal regional human rights bodies.

It is the human rights institution of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and promotes democratic elections, respect for human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and the rule of law.

Cornerstones of the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security are human rights and democracy; and all States members of the OSCE have agreed that lasting security cannot be achieved without respect for human rights and functioning democratic institutions.

They have committed themselves to a comprehensive catalogue of human rights and democracy norms. These form the basis of what the OSCE calls the human dimension of security.

The OSCE’s 56 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America are:

1.      Albania
2.      Austria
3.      Belgium
4.      Canada
5.      Czech Republic
6.      Finland
7.      Germany
8.      Hungary
9.      Italy
10.  Latvia
11.  Luxembourg
12.  Monaco
13.  Norway
14.  Romania
15.  Serbia
16.  Spain
17.  Tajikistan
18.  Turkmenistan
19.  United States

20.  Andorra
21.  Azerbaijan
22.  Bosnia and Herzegovina
23.  Croatia
24.  Denmark
25.  France
26.  Greece
27.  Iceland
28.  Kazakhstan
29.  Liechtenstein
30.  Malta
31.  Montenegro
32.  Poland
33.  Russian Federation
34.  Slovakia
35.  Sweden
36.  [t]he former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
37.  Ukraine
38.  Uzbekistan

39.  Armenia
40.  Belarus
41.  Bulgaria
42.  Cyprus
43.  Estonia
44.  Georgia
45.  Holy See
46.  Ireland
47.  Kyrgyzstan
48.  Lithuania
49.  Moldova
50.  Netherlands
51.  Portugal
52.  San Marino
53.  Slovenia
54.  Switzerland
55.  Turkey
56.  United Kingdom


DIHR has the task of assisting governments in meeting their commitments in the field of human rights and democracy. To this effect, ODIHR observes elections, promotes and monitors respect for human rights, and runs democracy assistance projects throughout the OSCE region.

The Office works closely with the OSCE’s other institutions and field operations, as well as a large number of partners among governments, international organizations and civil society. Established in 1991, ODIHR employs nearly 150 staff from some 30 countries. Its activities are funded through a core budget, which is approved annually by participating States, as well as through voluntary contributions.  Ambassador Janez Lenarčič (Slovenia) has been the Director of ODIHR since July 2008.

ODIHR in the United States
Following an official invitation from the United States Mission to the OSCE and based on the findings and conclusions of a Needs Assessment Mission (NAM), the OSCE/ODIHR has deployed a Limited Election Observation Mission (LEOM) for the November 6, 2012, general elections.

According to its web material the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights will have a “limited election observation mission at the General Elections November 6, 2012, in the United States.

The Head of Mission will be Ambassador Daan Everts of the Netherlands together with 13 core team experts from 10 participating States, based in Washington D.C.; and 44 long-term observers, deployed throughout the country

On the full mission agenda was an October 9 opening press conference and an October 12 deployment of long-term observers; then the November 6 Election Day followed by a November 7 press conference on preliminary findings and conclusions.

What/Who is OSCE?

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) traces its origins to the Cold War détente of the early 1970s, when the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was created to serve as a multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiation between East and West.

Meeting over two years in Helsinki and Geneva, the CSCE reached agreement on the Helsinki Final Act, which was signed on August 1, 1975. This document contained a number of key commitments on polito-military, economic and environmental and human rights issues that became central to the so-called ‘Helsinki process.’ It also established ten fundamental principles (the ‘Decalogue’) governing the behavior of States toward their citizens, as well as toward each other.

Until 1990, the CSCE functioned mainly as a series of meetings and conferences that built on and extended the participating States’ commitments, while periodically reviewing their implementation.

However, with the end of the Cold War, the Paris Summit of November 1990 set the CSCE on a new course. In the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, the CSCE was called upon to play its part in managing the historic change taking place in Europe and responding to the new challenges of the post-Cold War period, which led to its acquiring permanent institutions and operational capabilities.

As part of this institutionalization process, the name was changed from the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) by a decision of the Budapest Summit of Heads of State or Government in December 1994.

What started and fueled the outcry?
U.S. States threatening to criminally prosecute OSCE/ODIHR election observers

Rabid stuff

October 23 Texas Secretary of State Gregg Abbott to OSCE: “Elections and election observers are regulated by state law … [and] the OSCE’s representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution.”

An election worker in Boca Raton, southeastern Florida: “America is special and does not need to interact with other countries on the basis of equality.”

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Shultz: “Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group” [the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

he Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, responded to the threats late last month.

The threat contained in an open letter from Texas’s Attorney General, Lenarčič said, “is at odds with the established good cooperation between OSCE/ODIHR observers and state authorities across the United States, including in Texas.” Such action is also contrary to the United States’ “obligations as an OSCE participating State.”

Ambassador Lenarčič continued.
Our observers are required to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way. They are in the United States to observe these elections, not to interfere in them.

The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable. [Like other countries in the OSCE], The United States has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.

Rabid “Americanism” is not patriotism. I use Helen Keller’s note on patriotism in my book NO LAND AN ISLAND: No People Apart (published in September) because, though she said it nearly a hundred years ago the quote expresses what I try to convey in No  land an Island.

I look upon the whole world as my homeland and every war to me has the horror of family combat.

 I look upon true patriotism as the society of human beings and the service of all to all.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Universal Declaration of
Human Rights
Rabid patriots are at war with their country, with the countries of others and, with a sense of community or society that is implied in world existence and relations.

Rabid patriots, "nativists" or "survivalists" are delusional isolates (separatists) on an impossible island.  “We cannot exist,” Eleanor Roosevelt said, “as a little island of well-being….” Indeed, islanded we cannot be well.

The young are better served reading Keller and Roosevelt than taking their cues from people who are manipulative and paranoid, willfully and or criminally ignorant.  

Sources and notes

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights: Elections, http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/96674

ODIHR, http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/13706?download=true

CSCE/OSCE timeline

The timeline traces the growth of the OSCE from its origins in Helsinki into an organization with truly global reach that is actively engaged in conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation - as well as a whole host of other activities related to security, co-operation, human rights and more.

 On August 1, 1975, with the process of détente gradually thawing the chill that the Cold War had cast over international relations, the Heads of State or Government of 35 nations gathered in Helsinki to sign the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).

[1975-2005: The OSCE develops from its beginnings in 1975 as a Conference that helped to bring together the Cold War rivals, into the world’s largest regional security organization, whose activities promote peace and stability from Vancouver to Vladivostok.]

The 1970s

The signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 marks a breakthrough in East-West relations. The ‘Helsinki process’ not only offers the rival Cold War blocs permanent channels of communication, but also means that human rights are no longer a taboo subject.

The 1980s

The collapse of communism, symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall, signifies the end of the Cold War. If the CSCE is to successfully meet the new security challenges presented by the dramatically changed European landscape, it must adapt quickly.

The 1990s

The institutionalization of the CSCE begins with the Summit of Heads of State in Paris in November 1990; numerous field operations and other bodies are rapidly set up. What began as a Conference becomes a full-fledged Organization on January 1, 1995.

The 2000s

Terrorist attacks - including September 11, 2001 - in various countries serve as a stark reminder of the shifting security threats the world faces. By 2005, calls are once again heard for OSCE reform. Can the Organization adapt to meet the new challenges?  http://www.osce.org/who/timeline

The 2010s

The OSCE starts the new decade with the first Central Asian state, Kazakhstan, at its helm, chair the Organization.

In July 2010, foreign ministers meet informally in Almaty [Russian:  Alma-Ata, formerly (1855–1921) Verny], a city in southeastern Kazakhstan, to discuss progress under the Corfu Process, and decide to hold the Organization’s first Summit for 11 years. Heads of State and Government meet on December 1-2, 2010, in the capital, Astana, and agree on the Astana Commemorative Declaration. http://www.osce.org/who/timeline/2010s

Image: OSCE flags outside the Palace of Independence, the venue for the 2010 OSCE Summit in Astana, November 26, 2010. (OSCE/Jonathan Perfect)

Focus of OSCE’s work

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s comprehensive view of security covers three ‘dimensions’: the politico-military; the economic and environmental; and the human.

The OSCE’s activities cover all three of these areas, from ‘hard’ security issues such as conflict prevention to fostering economic development, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources, and promoting the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Arms control: The OSCE helps to stop surplus weapons being available illegally and offers assistance with their destruction. The OSCE has also developed mechanisms to regulate the transfer of conventional arms, improve military transparency and build confidence between states.

Border management: The OSCE seeks to enhance border security while facilitating legitimate travel and commerce, protecting human rights and promoting human contacts.

Combating human trafficking: Human trafficking affects virtually all OSCE states, either as countries of origin or destination.

Combating terrorism: The OSCE contributes to world-wide efforts in combating terrorism through activities such as promoting more secure travel documents and training border staff, combating extremism on the internet, terrorist financing and protecting critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks.

Conflict prevention and resolution: The OSCE works to prevent conflicts from arising and to facilitate lasting comprehensive political settlements for existing conflicts. It also helps with the process of rehabilitation in post-conflict areas.

Economic activities: The OSCE undertakes numerous activities to support economic growth, including the strengthening of small- and medium-sized enterprises, monitoring the economic impact of trafficking and taking action against corruption and money laundering.

Education: Education programs are an integral part of the Organization’s efforts in conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation. The OSCE’s youth projects include human rights, environmental, tolerance, and gender education as well as support for minorities in education.

Elections: The OSCE is a leading organization in the field of election observation. It conducts election-related activities across the 56 participating States, including technical assistance and election observation missions.

Environmental activities: Recognizing the close connection between environmental issues and security, the OSCE assists participating States with the sustainable use and sound management of natural resources.

Gender equality: The OSCE aims to provide equal opportunities for women and men, as well as to integrate gender equality into policies and practices, both within participating States and the Organization itself.

Good governance: The OSCE assists OSCE participating States in fighting corruption and in building democratic, accountable state institutions.

Human rights: Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms forms a key part of the OSCE’s comprehensive security concept. The OSCE monitors the human rights situation in its 56 participating States.

Media freedom and development: Free and well-developed media are a cornerstone of democratic societies. The OSCE monitors media developments in its participating States for violations of freedom of expression. This includes reviewing legislation regulating the media, as well as monitoring cases where journalists are prosecuted for their professional activities or are the victims of harassment.

Military reform and cooperation: The Forum for Security Cooperation, which meets weekly in Vienna, provides a framework for dialogue between the OSCE participating States on military conduct, and on confidence- and security-building measures.

Minority rights: The OSCE identifies and seeks early resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace or stability. It promotes the rights of national minorities and pays particular attention to the situation of Roma and Sinti.

Policing: OSCE police operations are an integral part of the Organization's efforts in conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation.

Roma and Sinti: The OSCE promotes the rights of Roma and Sinti through projects on political participation, education, housing, civil registration, combating racism and discrimination, and protecting the rights of displaced persons.

Rule of law: The concept of rule of law forms a cornerstone of the OSCE’s human rights and democratization activities. It not only describes formal legal frameworks, but also aims at justice based on the full acceptance of human dignity. http://www.osce.org/what

Observation USA: OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Observation of General Elections in the United States, November 6, 2012, http://www.osce.org/odihr/94913

Partners for Cooperation

The OSCE maintains special relations with 12 countries, which are known as Partners for Cooperation: six countries in the Mediterranean region, five in Asia in addition to Australia.

Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation

Asian Partners for Cooperation
Japan (1992)
South Korea (1994)
Thailand (2000)
Afghanistan (2003)
Mongolia (2004)

 In 2009, Australia was granted the status of Partner for Cooperation and invited to participate in the meetings of the Contact Group with the Asian Partners for Cooperation. http://www.osce.org/who/84

OSCE Funding and budget: The OSCE is funded by contributions from its 56 member States and its annual budget is around 150 million Euros ($192,465,000). On December 22, 2011, the OSCE Permanent Council adopted the Organization’s Unified Budget for 2012: EUR 148,055,400 [$189,866,244.96] (PC Decision 1028).

Staffing and employment: The OSCE employs some 550 people in its various institutions and around 2,330 in its field operations. Locally-contracted employees outnumber international seconded employees by roughly three to one. Seconded staff members are funded by their national administrations. http://www.osce.org/who/86

“Texas, Iowa threatening to arrest International election observers” (Jean MacKenzie GlobalPost.com), November 1, 2012, http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/texas-iowa-threatening-arrest-international-election-observers?page=full

OSCE PRESS RELEASE October 24, 2012, WARSAW ─ “Threat of criminal prosecution of observers at odds with established co-operation on United States elections, ODIHR Director says, ” http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/96639

HELEN ADAMS KELLER (1880-1968): United States writer, lecturer and educator (born blind and deaf); author of The Story of My Life (1903), Optimism (1903), The World I Live In (1908), My Religion (1927), Helen Keller’s Journal (1938), and The Open Door (1957). She established a $2 million endowment fund for the American Foundation for the Blind on whose behalf she had done lecture tours that took her several times around the world.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962): United States writer, lecturer, diplomat, humanitarian who, as delegate to the United Nations Assembly, chaired the Commission on Human Rights (1946-51) [later through 1952 U.S. representative to the UN General Assembly] and played a major role in the drafting and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). As United States First Lady (1933-1945) and after, she toured extensively throughout the United States reporting to the president; and traveled several times around the world visiting scores of countries, conferring with most of the world’s leaders. Particularly interested in the welfare of children, reforms in housing and equal rights for women and minorities, Eleanor Roosevelt inaugurated regular White House press conferences for women correspondents, forcing wire services to hire women to ensure their wires’ representation. In 1936, Eleanor Roosevelt began writing a daily syndicated newspaper column (“My Day”) and continued this work into 1962. Her books include, This is my story, This I remember, India and the Awakening East, You learn by living, The Lady of the White House (1938), The Moral basis of Democracy (1940), On My Own (1958), The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt (1937, 1949, 1958, 1960, 1961) [ER told her own story in various places: in addition to the ‘My Day’ columns, she published her autobiography in magazine installments, in multiple volumes, and finally in an abridged form as Eleanor Roosevelt, Autobiography (1961, reissued in 1992 as The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt]. The Eleanor Roosevelt Story by Archibald MacLeish published in 1965; Transcripts of ER’s press conferences in Maurine Beasley (ed.): The White House Press Conferences of Eleanor Roosevelt (1987); by Blanche Wiesen Cook: Eleanor Roosevelt, 2 volumes (1992-99)


Bennett's books are available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: www.liftbridgebooks.com [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: http://www.sundancebooks.com/main.html [Geneseo, NY]; Mood Makers Books: www.moodmakersbooks.com [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: www.enlightenthedog.org/ [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: http://burlinghambooks.com/ [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: http://www.eabookworm.com/ [East Aurora, NY] • See also: World Pulse: Global Issues through the eyes of Women: http://www.worldpulse.com/ http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire http://www.facebook.com/#!/bennetts2ndstudy


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