OSCE PA Rules of Procedure: On Voting

Rihards Kols
2 min readDec 1, 2023

At the OSCE PA meeting in November 2023 in Yerevan, I proposed an amendment to the OSCE PA Rules of Procedure.

The context for this proposal stems from the recent Standing Committee meeting during the Vancouver Annual Session, where numerous amendments were presented for consideration. Notably, one proposal sought to introduce a suspension mechanism for countries blatantly violating OSCE commitments and International Law. Shockingly, the International Secretariat and President Cederfelt argued that the amendment couldn’t be deliberated upon because Belarus and Türkiye, absent from the Annual Session, had submitted written objections.

Relying on the procedures of the OSCE Permanent Council, a body of ambassadors, rather than adhering to parliamentary practices befitting our status as a Parliamentary Assembly, is perplexing. The tradition of in-person voting in parliaments should guide the decisions of parliamentary delegations, not the bureaucratic workings of the Permanent Council, whose decision-making has led to a regrettable paralysis within the OSCE.

Interventions at the Standing Committee meeting, discussing the proposed amendments to Rule 35

The proposed amendment to Rule 35 reads:

“The principle of consensus-minus-one takes into account written objections communicated to the President of the Assembly by the Head of a National Delegation not later than one hour before the announced time for the opening of a Standing Committee meeting.”

However, I must simultaneously underline that foundational principle of my proposal is within the vote itself — I myself do not believe that this proposal should necessarily be adopted, and was prepared to vote against it myself. What I believe is important is the setting of precedent with this vote with which we either specify the rules of procedure for absentee voting or determine that such voting, even with references to tradition of the Permanent Council, is not permissible within our Assembly.

It is with the aim to strengthen our commitment to democratic principles and parliamentary practices, and to create an environment that upholds the values we collectively stand for in the OSCE PA.

Eventually, the decision was made to reschedule the vote on the matter — to refer the proposal to an OSCE PA committee, and address the issue once more at the next annual meeting in Vienna.



Rihards Kols

Saeimas deputāts, Ārlietu komisijas priekšsēdētājs, @VL_TBLNNK valdes loceklis, zemessargs ||| MP, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.