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The OSCE dilemma

March 13, 2015

There has been much criticism made of the OSCE monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine – some of which has been justified, some of it unfounded.

Indeed some OSCE monitors have been replaced after social media has unveiled certain biases, and although those personal biases may or may not have influenced any official reporting, perception counts when a mission is purported to be neutral – a problem that will not disappear if the OSCE monitor presence in Ukraine is to double in number.

Undoubtedly the criticism the OSCE receives for being either “soft”, or being somewhat indifferent to the biases of certain appointed monitors, or ineffectual, will continue.  Neutrality, however, does not necessarily equate to accuracy – and accuracy is paramount in any official reporting (OSCE or otherwise).

That a ceasefire has yet to materialise, or that the OSCE continues to be denied unfettered access in order to carry out its mandated role is not the fault of the OSCE monitoring missions.  It is the fault of those that would prevent it from doing so within eastern Ukraine, and those without that should be far more robust in seeking to insure its mandate can be fulfilled – the OSCE ratified nations.

Thus the criticisms will continue, and with a storm clearly visible upon the horizon that will further undermine its perceived flaccid, inaccurate, and indifferent image held by many.  That storm being the local elections in Ukraine scheduled for October 2015.  Elections the OSCE will undoubtedly be asked to monitor.

However and whomever controls whatever geographical area in eastern Ukraine by that time, it is clear that at the very least, the agreed Minsk 19th September 2014 demarcation line will be adhered to by the Ukraine with regard to some form of “specialised local government” procedures and protocols.

If the Minsk Agreement is to be adhered to by Ukraine, then within those legally recognised “specialised areas”, de facto falling outside the direct control of Ukraine (regardless of the de jure), local elections will occur too, in line with Ukrainian electoral legislation – except of course it won’t.

The Kremlin, the swivel-eyed, the criminal gangs, the warlords and those locals genuinely separatist in ideology have not come this far to allow a free and fair election involving unfettered campaigning by mainstream Ukrainian political parties/candidates – electoral outcomes will need to be 100% assured in their anti-Kyiv result.  Thus free and fair elections in these areas there will not be.

Meanwhile, hopefully more or less free and fair local elections will occur across the rest of the nation – and will be deemed to be free and fair by the OSCE (and other monitors).

Thus, despite what will be undoubtedly unfair conditions in a few localities in eastern Ukraine, the vast majority of the nation will have held elections that meet internationally accepted democratic standards – and the OSCE report will state the Ukrainian elections were free and fair – because the vast majority were (despite a paragraph noting deficiencies in certain parts of eastern Ukraine).

Ergo, the OSCE dilemma is the lack of wiggle room in avoiding legitimising the outcomes in the “specialised local government” regions in the east, regardless of how unfair they are, when the election report they produce relates to the nation as a whole, and either recognises the nationally held elections as legitimate – or not – upon the international stage.

Thus yet more criticism awaits for the OSCE in Ukraine come the autumn when it is forced to legitimise the illegitimate.

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