WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday appointed Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to chair the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, during the 115th Congress. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., has been appointed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to co-chair the Commission.
"I am honored to be named Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission,” Wicker said. “The Commission has a storied history in promoting peace, security, and democratic development in Europe and the former Soviet states. I am confident that it will continue to fulfill its commitment to regional security, just as it has throughout key moments over the past four decades. Given the current threats and challenges facing Europe and Central Asia, the Commission’s role as a consistent and credible monitor of Helsinki Act commitments is critical to combating pressing regional threats, such as terrorism, human trafficking, and Russia’s territorial aggression.”
“I am pleased to join Chairman Wicker and the other members of the Commission as we defend democracy and human rights throughout the OSCE region,” said Co-Chairman Smith. “In particular, we must continue to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine; to combat the horrific practice of human trafficking; to battle anti-Semitism; and to address the underlying causes of the refugee crisis in Europe and beyond.”
The 115th Congress marks the first time Senator Wicker will chair the bipartisan, bicameral Helsinki Commission. Chairman Wicker has served on the Helsinki Commission since 2011 and co-chaired the Commission in the 114th Congress. Since November 2014, Senator Wicker has also chaired the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) Committee on Political Affairs and Security, where his work has centered on sustaining constructive security dialogue among all participating States and ensuring compliance with international commitments.
Co-Chairman Smith has been a member of the Helsinki Commission since 1983. He has previously chaired the Commission and serves as a member of the OSCE PA, where he is the Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues.