February 06, 2007

SEN. BEN CARDIN NAMED CO-CHAIRMAN OF U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION

Oren Shur; 202-224-4524

Susan Sullam: 410-962-4436


WASHINGTON - Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) was today named Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), better known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). As the top Senator on the Commission, Sen. Cardin will help lead U.S. efforts to formulate policy for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the largest regional security organization in the world.

Consisting of 56 countries in North America, Europe, and Central Asia, the OSCE focuses on military security, economic and environmental cooperation, human rights, and humanitarian concerns.

"I believe that everyone - both in America and around the world - deserves to live with dignity, free of oppression and discrimination," said Sen. Cardin. "Unfortunately, too many people still live under a dark cloud of abuse, torture and intimidation. We need to give these ethnic and religious minorities a voice and draw the world's attention to their plight. I am proud to continue leading the Helsinki Commission in its mission to advance basic human rights and economic opportunity to people around the world."

"I am pleased to name Senator Ben Cardin as Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe," said Senator Reid. "Senator Cardin has served on this commission for over a decade and possesses the keen understanding necessary to lead U.S. efforts to advance these important military, economic, environmental, and humanitarian issues. I look forward to the progress he will continue to make in the future."

As a Member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Cardin served on the Helsinki Commission from 1993 to 2006, and became Ranking Member in 2003. In 2006, he was elected by his European colleagues to be Vice President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (term ends in 2009).

The Helsinki Commission consists of nine members from both the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce. The positions of Chair and Co-Chair are shared by the House and Senate and rotate every two years, when a new Congress convenes. The Chairman of the Commission will be Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL).

For more information on the Helsinki Commission, visit: http://www.csce.gov/

Senator Cardin has a strong record of advancing human rights and addressing discrimination around the world. In 2006, he received an "A" from the Genocide Intervention Network for his strong support of aggressive U.S. action to stop the violence in the Darfur region of the Sudan.