A Call to Eliminate Controversial Undefined Terms

By • on October 1, 2013

DSCN0211b 500

With thanks to Gates of Vienna for the writeup, where the article was first published.


Below is the intervention read by Stephen Coughlin, representing Center for Security Policy at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 1 “Tolerance and Non-Discrimination”, Warsaw, September 24, 2013.

His intervention was part of the week’s push by ICLA and its allied NGOs to make OSCE and ODIHR aware that their policies and programs are increasingly based on terms which are not adequately defined. In those cases where words are defined, those definitions have not been not established through a consensus of all represented political opinions.

Many thanks to Henrik Ræder Clausen for recording this video, and to Vlad Tepes for uploading it:

ICLA Update:

The prepared text of Maj. Coughlin’s intervention is as follows:

While we appreciate the width and the severity of topics discussed here, the Center for Security Policy sees a need to object to the use of terms which are undefined, ill-defined, or defined by non-OSCE entities and whose purpose is to stigmatize, marginalize, and intimidate those holding dissenting opinions.

Examples include, but are not limited to; “intolerance”, “discrimination”, “racism”, “hate”, “xenophobia”, and “Islamophobia” without reference to any underlying claims or facts.

The use of controversial undefined terms to attack citizens has been a notorious strategy employed by oppressive and totalitarian political regimes seeking to silence dissent.

CSP recommends that the OSCE and ODIHR suspend this practice until a published definition of terms is provided that meets EU Human Rights and U.S. Civil Rights scrutiny.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Leave a Comment

We welcome your comments on this story's topic. Off-topic comments, personal attacks, and inappropriate language may be flagged and removed, and comment privileges blocked. Thanks for keeping the comments space respectful.