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Speaker Events - Thursday, April 14, 2011

OSCE's Knut Vollebaek: "I Send Letters, Not Troops"

Knut Vollebaek, the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), made this comment to an IPI audience on April 14th that addressed the subject "Promoting Integration and Preventing Conflict in Multiethnic Societies: Challenges and Opportunities."

Ambassador Vollebaek, a former Norwegian Foreign Minister and envoy to the United States, explained that his office was the agency's "most intrusive mechanism," an "embodiment of international intervention” though always "of a peaceful nature."

He said he regularly comments on seemingly internal matters like state constitutions, education policies, citizenship practices, language laws, media laws and ways of organizing party lists, all in the interest of furthering his office's mission of involving national minorities in public and political life.

"The intervention in the case of the HCNM consists mainly of advice, which takes the form of recommendations and follow-up visits,” he said. “I send letters, not troops, but they too, go to the heart of both human security and the national security of the state."

IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen moderated the talk.

 Read transcript

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