A Monthly Newsmagazine from Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT)
To Gain access to thousands of articles, khutbas, conferences, books (including tafsirs) & to participate in life enhancing events

News & Analysis

OSCE: the West’s tool to legitimize the illegitimate

Tahir Mustafa

One of the primary functions of international organizations is to provide legitimacy to states and governments that are subservient to the strategic interests of the West.

One of the primary functions of international organizations is to provide legitimacy to states and governments that are subservient to the strategic interests of the West. The vehicle through which the so-called international organizations push through their “legitimacy politics” is called democracy. The problem is that the word democracy has become so vague that it has virtually become meaningless, even in Western political thought from which it originated. As Dr. Kalim Siddiqui has pointed out: “for Western politicians, it is a label by which they can claim legitimacy for themselves and those they favor, and condemn those they oppose. A military regime such as Algeria’s can be ‘democratizing’ while a popular revolution such as that in Iran can be ‘anti-democratic’.”

One of the ways to see how the concept of democracy is being abused and manipulated is to observe the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Through its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE often acts as a monitoring body for elections worldwide. Since elections are a way to obtain legitimacy by a government, OSCE’s role and image as a “neutral” observer of a fair electoral process gives it an opportunity to shame or fame a government. Through this process the OSCE has a strategic tool with which many governments can be influenced.

Analysis of OSCE’s record shows that it serves as a body which rubber stamps the legitimacy of regimes that are subservient to the western powers. OSCE’s instrumental role in exclusively promoting the interests of western states was first openly acknowledged by Vladimir Putin during his speech in Munich in 2007, when he was President of Russia. Putin stated: “they [unnamed western states] are trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument designed to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries. And this task is also being accomplished by the OSCE's bureaucratic apparatus, which is absolutely not connected with the state founders in any way.”

In 2001 the OSCE harshly criticized the Belarusian autocrat Alexander Lukashenko for manipulating the results of presidential elections. However, the presence of OSCE observers during the election process was highly debated since some of its officials at first stated that they had no observers present in the country but later claimed they had secret officials there. Lukashenko is famous for his autocratic rule, but he is also known for his opposition to turn Belarus into a vassal of the West. In other instances when the legitimacy issue concerns regimes subservient to the strategic interests of the West, the OSCE soft-peddles its criticism. In 2008 while most domestic and international NGOs declared the Presidential elections in Azerbaijan as totally fraudulent, the OSCE was quick to provide Ilham Aliyev with space for political maneuvering. OSCE chose to label the fraudulent election as “failing to meet some OSCE commitments.”

It has to be noted that OSCE always criticizes fraud in elections; however it does so in a manner that leaves enough political space for pro-Western authoritarian regimes to claim legitimacy. This method also plays well with western audiences that see the partial criticism of fraudulent elections fitting within their relativist philosophy of life which excludes the presence of truth on existential matters. The OSCE approach also fits into the broader strategy of the West which is to define what constitutes democracy. As long as the West can perform a little better and with little more sophistication than the regimes it supports in the Middle East and elsewhere, it will continue to be viewed as the “better option.” Therefore, partial criticism of its authoritarian allies will always be viewed as a “better option.” This better option is often justified by the idea that total isolation of authoritarian regimes will not leave any venue open to pursue the so-called democratic reforms; the definition of which is decided by western governments alone.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 3

Jumada' al-Ula' 16, 14312010-05-01

Sign In


Forgot Password ?


Not a Member? Sign Up