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Tánaiste appoints Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness as OSCE Representatives are announced

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore, T.D., has announced the appointment of four representatives to assist him in his functions as Chairman-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2012, ahead of his presentation of Ireland’s programme for the 2012 OSCE Chairmanship in Vienna tomorrow morning (Thursday January 12th).

Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, retired judge of the Supreme Court, has been appointed as Personal Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions. 

Senator Adil Akhmetov of Kazakhstan has been appointed as Personal Representative on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims.

Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, has been appointed as Personal Representative on Combating Anti-Semitism

Ms June Zeitlin, a Director at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, an umbrella group of American civil and human rights groups in Washington D.C, has been appointed as Special Representative on Gender Issues.  Her mandate will be to promote women’s rights and gender equality in the OSCE region. 

Speaking in Dublin today, the Tánaiste said: 

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of four highly experienced individuals to assist me in my work as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE during 2012.  Three Personal Representatives, Mrs. Justice McGuinness, Senator Akhmetov and Rabbi Baker will play key roles in the OSCE’s efforts to promote tolerance and fight against all forms of discrimination, each focusing on separate aspects of intolerance and discrimination and bringing with them many years of experience in dealing with these and related issues.  The new Special Representative on Gender Issues, Ms June Zeitlin, has been a leader on women’s issues for more than thirty years with extensive international and domestic public policy experience.  I look forward to working with them all in the months ahead”.

Note for Editors: 
The Tánaiste will present the programme of Ireland’s 2012 OSCE Chairmanship to the Permanent Council of the OSCE in Vienna tomorrow morning at 10a.m. (9a.m. Irish time), followed by a press briefing.

Coverage of the presentation and press briefing will be available on the OSCE website (www.osce.org/live) and www.merrionstreet.ie 

Copies of the Tánaiste’s statement(s) will be circulated simultaneously.

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The OSCE is the primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in Europe, Central Asia and North America. Comprising fifty-six participating States (including all the members of the EU, the US, Canada and Russia) and twelve partner countries, the OSCE’s approach to security is comprehensive and co-operative.  It deals with a wide range of security issues, including arms control, preventive diplomacy, confidence and security building measures, human rights, election monitoring and economic and environmental security.

Since 2004, it has been the practice for the Chairperson-in-Office to appoint three OSCE Personal Representatives to deal with tolerance and non-discrimination issues.   The position of Special Representative on Gender Issues has existed since 2009.  

Senator Akhmetov and Rabbi Baker have both served since 2009, while Mrs. Justice McGuinness and Ms Zeitlin are new appointments.  All of the appointments are for the duration of the Chairmanship and are part-time and unpaid.