Roundtable on the Role of Military Associations and Unions in the Baltic Countries and Eastern Region

On 7 June 2016 in Riga, EUROMIL together with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) hosted an event on international standards and good practices concerning the human rights of armed forces personnel, including what conditions enable military associations to be effective in safeguarding the rights of servicemen and servicewomen.

The roundtable gathered representatives from military associations and unions, authorities, ombudsperson institutions and civil society organizations from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Ukraine, Finland and Germany to discuss the state of the right to associate of military personnel and to exchange lessons learnt.

“For many years now ODIHR has advocated that OSCE participating States permit all members of the armed forces to join either a professional association or a trade union representing their interests”, said Ewa Sapiezynska, Human Rights Officer at ODIHR, who chaired one of the sessions at the event. “These associations or unions should be consulted in discussions concerning the conditions of service for men and women in the armed forces.”

“The freedom of association is still limited for military personnel in some countries, for which reason EUROMIL member associations in Lithuania and Latvia asked for further support on this issue,” said EUROMIL´s President Emmanuel Jacob. “With this roundtable meeting we hope to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practises.”

“We discussed how servicemen and servicewomen benefit from forming trade unions and independent associations”, said Jacek Zmarz, Legal Adviser of the Polish KNOWENT. “The recruitment and advancement of women in the armed forces as well as parental leave for both men and women in the military were brought to the table.”

The detailed report on the training session can be read here.

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