On February 22, 2007, I had the honour of once again being part of an all-party Canadian delegation to Vienna, Austria to take part in the deliberation of the winter session of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Over 300 parliamentarians from across Europe, Russia, Canada, and the United States met to engage with officials from OSCE governmental institutions, and to exchange views with parliamentary colleagues on current issues.
The OSCE is the parliamentary dimension of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, whose 55 participating states span the globe, from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The primary task of the 317 member Assembly, is to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue, which is an important aspect of the overall effort to meet the challenges of democracy throughout the OSCE (of which Canada is a part). Recognized as a regional arrangement under Chapter 8 of the United Nations Charter, the OSCE is a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, as well as post-conflict rehabilitation in its area.
The issues before the session of the OSCE included those of trafficking of human beings (forced labour, forced marriage, sale of body parts), the observation of new democratic elections, water management, and combating terrorism. It is clear to all that one country cannot act alone. We must co-ordinate our activities.
Most of the session focused on the subject of energy security. We need to deal with the issue of fossil fuels, which includes oil, coal, and gas – all of which are affecting global warming. The international community needs to find an alternative to fossil fuels. There is the issue of some European countries cutting off pipelines that run through their jurisdiction. Technology needs to be developed for us to use less energy. There is the issue of security from terrorism, as well as the issue of security from fluctuating markets.
The main global need is that energy should be predictable, reliable, and based on solid business principles. Many national policies are not consistent with sustainable policies. We need to learn from other countries as to how we can save energy and develop new technologies and alternative sources of energy. The members of the OSCE agreed that the global monopoly of energy is now very dangerous, as the price of gas and oil are often being used for political purposes. Therefore, not only is the consideration of global warming a concern, but it will be dangerous for a country to rely on a single source of energy. All nations must have predictable policies, while at the same time, we as individuals; need to protect the environment for future generations.