WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the senior Democratic Senator on the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), has been named as the Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the 57-nation Organization Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. Among Senator Cardin’s responsibilities in this position will be to raise awareness in and report to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on the persisting problem of prejudice and discrimination in the OSCE area, including anti-Semitism, other religion- and race-based intolerance and other forms of intolerance.
“No longer content to simmer below the surface, the recent heinous attacks in Paris and Copenhagen have demonstrated the severity and pervasiveness of anti-Semitism and prejudice in the world today,” said Senator Cardin. “Intolerance, expressed by anti-Semitic violence, racism, or xenophobia, takes many forms and wears many faces. I have long fought to shine a spotlight on such activity and supported efforts to address the root causes fueling hate crimes and other forms of discrimination. I am humbled to take on this new and important responsibility within the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. I will use every tool available to raise awareness of this grave issue and push for strong actions to fight back against such gross intolerance.”
In addition to raising awareness of “the persisting problem of prejudice and discrimination in the OSCE area,” the Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is charged with:
- Raising awareness in and report to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on the track records of OSCE participating States in combating these problems
- Advising the Assembly on the implementation of its agreed policies in these matters as well as on the development of new policies and strategies, including on how to protect the individuals and communities affected
- Seeking to promote dialogue and exchange of best practices within the Assembly on combating these problems
- Communicating with relevant actors within the OSCE who work on combating prejudice and discrimination in the OSCE area, including anti-Semitism, other religion- and race-based intolerance and other forms of intolerance
Senator Cardin has worked across party lines in the Senate to further promote peace, tolerance and equality. He previously introduced a bipartisan resolution with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) that condemns anti-Semitism and calls upon world leaders to speak out against it. This concurrent resolution reaffirmed that the U.S. is committed to making the fight against anti-Semitism a top foreign policy priority.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE is the parliamentary arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The primary task of the 323-member Assembly is to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue, an important aspect of the overall effort to meet the challenges of democracy throughout the OSCE area. Recognized as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, the OSCE is a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its area.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 57 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.