For the third lecture on multilateral diplomacy in a series organized by Ambassador Louise Oliver, Julie Finley discussed: “OSCE: Does it Matter?” at IWP on March 11, 2010.
IWP President John Lenczowski introduced Amb. Finley, describing her many professional accomplishments and involvements, and – to the amusement of Amb. Finley – accidentally answering the question “OSCE: Does it Matter?” before the lecture even began.
Amb. Finley expanded on this answer – yes, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) does matter. She recently served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to this organization, and previously, she worked on NATO enlargement through the U.S. Committee on NATO of which she was a Founder.
She observed that multilateral diplomacy, particularly in an organization like OSCE, where each of the 56 member countries have one vote, is particularly useful as a forum for talking as a way to inch towards a compromise, and delay or even avoid violence. She described some of the projects she worked on there, including the Afghan initiative, and an agreement concerning the situation with Russia and Georgia in 2007.
She also described some of the smaller changes she made that changed the climate of the whole organization. For instance, when she arrived at OSCE, the U.S. and the EU would take turns talking first at each of the OSCE caucus meetings. Instead, Amb. Finley decided to let other countries speak first, as it was unnecessary for the U.S. – the elephant in the room, as she expressed it – always to voice its opinions first. This change created a more collegial atmosphere in the organization, and Amb. Finley found it easier to work with other countries as a result.
Amb. Finley also found that OSCE provided a forum for non-democratic nations to learn more about democratic ways of life, and to bring these ideas back to their own countries.
After the lecture, Amb. Finley answered questions about OSCE’s relationship with NATO, discussion of terrorism and extremism at OSCE, the number of women who were OSCE representatives with Amb. Finley (about 10), and the degree of difficulty in finding consensus among the members of the organization.