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Statement by the UK at the OSCE Special Permanent Council on Migration and Refugee Flows

Delivered by Charles Lonsdale, Deputy Head of the UK Delegation to the OSCE, 20 July 2016.

Whilst fully subscribing to the EU statement, I should like to say a few words in my national capacity.

The UK agrees that the OSCE, with its comprehensive approach to security, should play a role in addressing the current migration and refugee crisis in the OSCE area. However, we are particularly mindful of the OSCE’s limited human and financial resources, especially compared to other international organisations working in this field, and given the OSCE’s other current security-related commitments which should not be down-graded.

We would therefore strongly urge the OSCE to focus on those discrete areas where the organisation already has both a mandate and expertise and where it can usefully contribute in a practical way to the wider international efforts. We see particular value in increased capacity-building, cross-border networking and sharing best practice between front-line OSCE states and Partners for Cooperation on issues related to migration-related organised crime and the smuggling and trafficking of human beings where this usefully complements other existing efforts. Efforts to raise awareness and implementation of States’ international commitments and responsibilities, related to the protection of refugees and migrants could be bolstered by the OSCE, working alongside leading organisations such as UNHCR.

Although we see value in continuing our regular dialogue in Vienna on this issue, we would urge the OSCE to focus its efforts on practical assistance. And we would urge participating States and Partners for Cooperation to focus increasingly on addressing the root causes of migration if we are to achieve a sustainable solution to the uncontrolled mass movement of people.