Address by Kairat Abdrakhmanov, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities

Must read


Organization for Security and Co-operation inEurope

HighCommissioner  on National Minorities

Opening statementby KairatAbdrakhmanov OSCE High Commissioner on NationalMinorities to the

15th Anniversary Conferenceof The Recommendations on Policing in Multi-EthnicSocieties

Vienna, Austria – 5 November2021

Excellencies, DearColleagues, Ladies andGentlemen,

It is an honour to welcome you all here today at our conference dedicated to celebrating the 15thanniversaryofThe RecommendationsonPolicinginMulti-EthnicSocieties.I am pleased to welcome a diverse and wide range of participants to thisevent.

I would like to especially welcome our high-level guests the Minister of the Interior of the Kyrgyz Republic His Excellency Nurlan Niiazbekov, the Commissioner for Human Rights of theRepublicofKazakhstanHerExcellencyElviraAzimova.Iwouldalsoliketoacknowledge and thank her Excellency Ambassador Alena Kupcyna, OSCE Co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational threats for her participation in today’s event.

OurspeakersandparticipantstodaybringtheirexperienceaspractitionersandStateauthorities, including law enforcement; from independent institutions, such as offices of human rightsand other entities, which can provide objective assessments of policing efforts in their own communities; and several international and regional bodies, who can share invaluable expertise.

The objective of our event today is to review the efforts of the past 15 years, take stock of lessonslearned,sharegoodpracticesintheOSCEregion,andidentifyopportunitiestoimprove policing and to recognize the role of law enforcement in thiseffort.

The Policing Recommendations, similar to other HCNM thematic Recommendations and Guidelines,speakofanareaofcrucialimportanceinourlives–thatofdetectingandpreventing crimes and ensuring our safety and security. In line with the focus of my mandate on national minorities, the Policing Recommendations highlight five main areas that are critical to implementing effective policing reforms in multi-ethnicsocieties.

Effectivepolicingstartswithimprovingtheroleofpoliceindiversesocieties,whichiscrucial to promoting relations and cohesion across diverse communities. In this regard, policeshould pay special attention to how they are perceived in the communities they serve. They must be respected and trusted in order to fulfil their task to reduce tensions and preventconflict.

A factor that is important to the effective implementation of policing reforms is recruitment and representation. Police forces should be diverse and mirror the diversity of the society or community they serve. Diversity in gender, ethnicity and other markers relevant to the community in question creates a better police force and law enforcementtool.

Ensuring the training and continuous education of police forces helps to improve the effectiveness of policing. All police ranks need ongoing training and professional support so they can better understand and respond to the evolving needs of diverse communities. Police codesofconductshouldincludestandardsforpolicingindiversesocietiesandtheiroperational practices should include practical reflections for these standards. The codes of conduct and operational practices need to be analysed regularly from a gender perspective and adjusted accordingly asnecessary.

Engagingwithcommunitiesisanotherimportantapproachtoimprovepolicinginmulti-ethnic societies. The police need to proactively develop relationships and co-operate with communities, and build trust and confidence at the local, regional and nationallevels.Police accountability in operational practices is also an important factor. This includes developing effective systems for lodging complaints and following up on them. Ensuring transparency and access to information for all parties iskey.

Anothersignificantconsiderationistheuseofforceanditsregulation,whichcanbeeffectively addressed through regular training. The main aim of the police should be to mitigate conflicts using as little force as possible. The use of force alone, as we have seen in history time and again, is not conducive to deescalatingconflicts.

Mediation skills, conflict prevention and resolution efforts are crucial elements of effective policingindiversesocieties.Overall,aholisticapproachtopolicinghasshownthebestresults.

Today,manyparticipantswillsharetheirstoriesofsuccessandthechallengestheyhavefaced inimplementingourRecommendations.Takingthisopportunity,Iwouldliketosharesomeof my institution’s experience in thisarea.

Overmanyyears,myinstitutionhasbeenengagedinpolicydialogueandpracticalco-operation with OSCE participating States on multi-ethnic policing. In particular, my institution has promoted police reform through a non-discrimination and multi-ethniclens.

Forinstance,inthepast,myofficeprovidedassistancetodraftingthelawonpoliceinGeorgia, with a focus on community policing. This is still reflected in the Police Academy curricula. More recently, my advisers presented the Policing Recommendations, as well as the more recent Graz Recommendations on Access to Justice and National Minorities (2017) as part of a training course at the Police Academy in Tbilisi, Georgia, in the framework of ODIHR’s Training against Hate Crimes for Law Enforcement programme, in April2019.

In Kyrgyzstan, between 2005 and 2009, my office supported a project promoting multi-ethnic policing, in co-operation with the Ministry of the Interior. The institution later co-ordinated with the OSCE’s Community Security Initiative, established in southern Kyrgyzstan in 2010, which included efforts to enhance co-operation and trust between law enforcement personnel and minoritypopulations.

In Kazakhstan, the institution launched a capacity-building project on policing in multi-ethnic societies in 2012, in co-operation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, and the OSCE field office. Over the years we have conducted series of trainings on the Policing Recommendations for senior and mid-level police officers in Kazakhstan.Morerecently,inSeptember2019,mypredecessorLambertoZannierandDeputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan opened a joint workshop, organized with TNTD/SPMU and the OSCE Programme Office in Nur-Sultan, to present the OSCE’s “Community Policing Approach in Multi-EthnicSocieties”.

My office presented the Policing Recommendations and SPMU’s Denise Mazzolani — who will moderate one of the panels later today — presented the OSCE community policing approachandexperiencesinparticipatingStates.Participantsfurtherdiscussedtheimportance ofpromotingtrust-based relationsbetweenthepoliceandthecommunitiestheyserve,andthe

need to engage all stakeholders. Particularly highlighted was the importance of encouraging members of national minorities to access policeassistance.

Inmorerecentpast,myinstitutionhostedroundtablesinCentralAsiancountriestopresentthe Graz Recommendations, which provides guidance on policyapproach to the issue of access to justice for nationalminorities.

Last year, my institution held and participated in various online events on policing, including an online webinar jointly organized with the US Helsinki Commission on 6 October 2020, to exchange views on “Principles and Good Practices of Policing in DiverseSocieties”.


Itisclearthatforpolicingandthemaintenanceofpublicsafetyindiversesocieties,authorities should adopt a holistic approach. At the same time, this means that there is no one size fitsall. What worked in one situation, might not necessarily work in another. Each situation is unique and approaches should be tailored andcontextualized.

In this regard, I hope that today’s event will serve as a platform to hear expert opinions and reflections on the Policing Recommendations, and highlight emerging practices in light of evolving trends. As part of our common effort towards ensuring social cohesion in diverse societies, I am very much looking forward to hearing the reflections of our participants today. Before we move on to our interesting presentations, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hungarian Delegation for their generous support that has made this conference possibletoday.

Finally, I would like to invite His Excellency Håkan Jevrell, Ambassador and Special Envoy on Organized Crime, representing Swedish 2021 OSCEChairpersonship-in-Office.

Excellency, the floor isyours.

More articles

Latest article