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Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

"OSCE" redirects here. For other uses, see OSCE (disambiguation). Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
     OSCE participating States      Partners for Co-operation Secretariat Vienna, Austria Membership 56 participating States
11 Partners for Co-operation Leaders  -  Secretary General M. P. de Brichambaut  -  Chairman-in-Office  Alexander Stubb  -  Representative on Freedom of the Media
 Miklós Haraszti Establishment  -  as the CSCE1 July 1973   -  Helsinki Accords Jul 30 – Aug 1, 1975   -  Paris Charter November 21, 1990   -  renamed as the OSCE January 1, 1995  Website 1 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is an international organization which serves as a forum for political dialogue. Its stated aim is to secure stability in the region, based on democratic practices and improved governance. Most of its 3,500-plus staff are engaged in field operations, with only around 10% in its headquarters.

The OSCE is an ad hoc organization under the United Nations Charter (Chap. VIII), and is concerned with early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. Its 56 participating States are from Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North America and cover most of the northern hemisphere. It was created during the Cold War era as an East-West forum.


Structure and institutions

Political direction to the Organization is given by heads of state or government during summits. Summits are not regular or scheduled but held as needed. The last summit took place in Istanbul in 1999. The high-level decision-making body of the Organization is the Ministerial Council, which meets at the end of every year. At ambassadorial level the Permanent Council convenes weekly in Vienna and serves as the regular negotiating and decision-making body. The post of Chairman-in-Office is held by the minister for foreign affairs of the participating State which holds the chairmanship. The chairperson of the Permanent Council is the ambassador to Austria of the participating State which holds the chairmanship. From 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008 the Chairman-in-Office (CiO) is Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Ilkka Kanerva. Kanerva succeeded Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation Miguel Angel Moratinos who held the office during 2007.

In addition to the Ministerial Council and Permanent Council, the Forum for Security Co-operation is also an OSCE decision-making body. It deals predominantly with matters of military co-operation, such as modalities for inspections according to the 1999 Vienna Document.

The OSCE's Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria. The current Secretary General is Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France, who took over from Ján Kubiš of Slovakia. The Organization also has offices in Copenhagen, Geneva, The Hague, Prague and Warsaw.

A meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in the Hofburg in Vienna, Austria (photo by Mikhail Evstafiev).

The OSCE employs close to 440 persons in its various institutions. In the field, the Organization has about 750 international and 2,370 local staff.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe issues resolutions, including a controversial measure in 2005 endorsing full representation of the District of Columbia residents in the United States Congress [1].

The oldest OSCE institution is the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, established in 1990. It is based in Warsaw, Poland, and is active throughout the OSCE area in the fields of election observation, democratic development, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and rule of law. To prevent election fraud the ODIHR has observed over 150 elections and referendums since 1995, sending more than 15,000 observers. It has operated outside its own area twice, sending a team that offered technical support to the October 9, 2004 presidential elections in Afghanistan, an OSCE Partner for Co-operation, and an election support team to assist with parliamentary and provincial council elections scheduled on 18 September 2005.

The Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, established in December 1997, acts as a watchdog to provide early warning on violations of freedom of expression in OSCE participating States. The Representative also assists participating States by advocating and promoting full compliance with OSCE norms, principles and commitments regarding freedom of expression and free media. The current Representative is former Hungarian parliamentarian Miklos Haraszti [2].


The responsibilities of the Chairman-in-Office (CiO) include

  • co-ordination of the work of OSCE institutions;
  • representing the Organization;
  • supervising activities related to conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

The Chairmanship rotates annually, and the post of the Chairman-in-Office is held by the foreign minister of the participating State which holds the Chairmanship. The CiO is assisted by the previous and incoming Chairman-in-Office; the three of them together constitute the Troika. The origin of the institution lies with the Charter of Paris for a New Europe (1990), the Helsinki Document 1992 formally institutionalized this function.

Politico-Military Dimension (First Dimension)

The OSCE takes a comprehensive approach to the politico-military dimension of security, which includes a number of commitments by participating States and mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution. The Organization also seeks to enhance military security by promoting greater openness, transparency and co-operation.

  • Arms control

The end of the Cold War resulted in a huge amount of surplus weapons becoming available in what is known as the international grey market for weapons. The OSCE helps to stop the - often illegal - spread of such weapons and offers assistance with their destruction.

  • Border management

The actions taken by the OSCE in border monitoring range from conflict prevention to post-conflict management, capacity building and institutional support.

  • Combating terrorism

With its expertise in conflict prevention, crisis management and early warning, the OSCE contributes to world-wide efforts in combating terrorism.

  • Conflict prevention

The OSCE works to prevent conflicts from arising and to facilitate lasting comprehensive political settlements for existing conflicts. It also helps with the process of rehabilitation in post-conflict areas.

  • Military reform

The OSCE's Forum for Security Co-operation provides a framework for political dialogue on military reform, while practical activities are conducted by field operations, as well as the Conflict Prevention Centre.

  • Policing

OSCE police operations are an integral part of the Organization's efforts in conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation.

The OSCE was a rather small organization until selection by the international community to provide electoral organization to post war Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 1996. Ambassador Frowick was the first OSCE representative to initiate national election in September of 1996, human rights issues and rule of law specifically designed to provide a foundation for judicial organization within Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The OSCE had regional offices and field offices, to include the office in Brcko in northeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina which remained in limbo until the Brcko Arbitration Agreement could be decided, finalized and implemented.

Brcko become a "special district" and remains so today.

The OSCE essentially took the place of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina in part because the Bosnian leadership felt deep contempt for the UN efforts to stop the war which began in 1991 and ended in 1995. During the time the United Nations were attempting a political solution, thousands of UN troops were posted in and around Bosnia and Herzegovina with special emphasis on Sarajevo. Between the inclusive dates of 1991 through 1995, over 200,000 Bosnians (now termed "Bosniacs") were killed and over one million displaced and another million as refugees.

The OSCE continues to have a presence and a number of initiatives to bring a sustained peace to the region.

Economic and Environmental Dimension (Second Dimension)

Activities in the economic and environmental dimension include the monitoring of developments related to economic and environmental security in OSCE participating States, with the aim of alerting them to any threat of conflict; assisting States in the creation of economic and environmental policies, legislation and institutions to promote security in the OSCE region.

  • Economic activities

Among the economic activities of the OSCE feature initiatives aimed at promoting good governance, combating corruption, money laundering, human trafficking and terrorist financing, as well as activities related to migration management, transport and energy security in its participating States. All activities are implemented in close co-operation with partner organisations, such as UN agencies, the Council of Europe, the World Bank and the OECD.

  • Environmental activities

The OSCE has developed a range of activities in the environmental sphere aimed at addressing ecologic threats to security in its participating States. Among the activities feature the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC,, in close co-operation with UNDP, UNEP, UNECE, NATO and others. Other activities deal with hazardous waste, water management and access to information under the Aarhus Convention.

Human Dimension (Third Dimension)

The commitments made by OSCE participating States in the human dimension aim to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; to abide by the rule of law; to promote the principles of democracy by building, strengthening and protecting democratic institutions; and to promote tolerance throughout the OSCE region.

  • Anti-trafficking

In recent years, the fight against all forms of trafficking, whether of human beings, weapons or drugs, has been a top priority for the OSCE.

  • Democratization

The OSCE promotes democracy and assists the participating States in building democratic institutions.

  • Education

Education programmes are an integral part of the Organization's efforts in conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation.

  • Elections

As part of its democratization activities, the OSCE carries out election assistance projects in the run-up to, during, and following elections.

  • Gender equality

The equality of men and women is an integral part of sustainable democracy. The OSCE aims to provide equal opportunities for men and women and to integrate gender equality in policies and practices

  • Human rights

The OSCE's human rights activities focus on such priorities as freedom of movement and religion, preventing torture and trafficking in persons.

  • Media freedom

The OSCE observes relevant media developments in its participating States with a view to addressing and providing early warning on violations of freedom of expression.

  • Minority rights

Ethnic conflict is one of the main sources of large-scale violence in Europe today. The OSCE's approach is to identify and to seek early resolution of ethnic tensions, and to set standards for the rights of persons belonging to minority groups.


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Following an unprecedented period of activity in the 1990s and early 2000s, the OSCE has in the past few years faced accusations from the CIS states (primarily Russia) of being a tool for the Western states to advance their own interests. For instance, the events in Ukraine in 2004 (the "Orange Revolution") led to allegations by Russia of OSCE involvement on behalf of the pro-Western Victor Yushchenko. At the 2007 Munich Conference on Security Policy, Vladimir Putin made this position very clear:

“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. Decision-making procedures and the involvement of so-called non-governmental organizations are tailored for this task. These organizations are formally independent but they are purposefully financed and therefore under control." [3][4][5][6][7]

Russia and its allies are advancing the concept of a comprehensive OSCE reform, which would make the Secretariat, institutions and field presences more centralized and accountable to collective consensus-based bodies and focus the work of the Organization on topical security issues (terrorism, non-proliferation, arms control, etc.), at the expense of the "Human Dimension", or human rights issues. The move to reduce the autonomy of the theoretically independent OSCE institutions, such as ODIHR, would effectively grant a Russian veto over any OSCE activity. Western participating States are opposing this process, which they see as an attempt to prevent the OSCE from carrying out its democratization agenda in post-Soviet countries.


The Organization has its roots in the 1973 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). Talks had been mooted about a European security grouping since the 1950s but the Cold War prevented any substantial progress until the talks at Dipoli in Helsinki began in November 1972. These talks were held at the suggestion of the Soviet Union which wished to use the talks to maintain its control over the communist countries in Eastern Europe. Western Europe, however, saw these talks as a way to reduce the tension in the region, furthering economic cooperation and obtaining humanitarian improvements for the populations of the Communist bloc.

The recommendations of the talks, "The Blue Book", gave the practical foundations for a three-stage conference, the Helsinki process. The CSCE opened in Helsinki on July 3, 1973 with 35 states sending representatives. Stage I only took five days to agree to follow the Blue Book. Stage II was the main working phase and was conducted in Geneva from September 18, 1973 until July 21, 1975. The result of Stage II was the Helsinki Final Act which was signed by the 35 participating States during Stage III, which took place in Finlandia Hall from July 30 to August 1, 1975. It was opened by Holy Sees diplomat Agostino Cardinal Casaroli who was chairman of the conference.

The concepts of improving relations and implementing the Act were developed over a series of follow-up meeting, with major gatherings in Belgrade (October 4, 1977 - March 8, 1978), Madrid (November 11, 1980 - September 9, 1983), and Vienna (November 4, 1986 - January 19, 1989).

The collapse of Communism required a change of role for the CSCE. The Charter of Paris for a New Europe which was signed on November 21, 1990 marked the beginning of this change. With the changes capped by the re-naming of the CSCE to the OSCE on January 1, 1995, accordingly to the results of the conference held in Budapest, in 1994. The OSCE now had a formal Secretariat, Senior Council, Parliamentary Assembly, Conflict Prevention Centre, and Office for Free Elections (later becoming the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights).

In December 1996, the "Lisbon Declaration on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-First Century" affirmed the universal and indivisible nature of security on the European continent.

In Istanbul on November 19, 1999, the OSCE ended a two-day summit by calling for a political settlement in Chechnya and adopting a Charter for European Security. According to then Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov, this summit marked a turning point in Russian perception of the OSCE, from an organization that expressed Europe's collective will, to an organization that serves as a Western tool for "forced democratization."[1]

After a group of thirteen Democratic United States senators petitioned Secretary of State Colin Powell to have foreign election monitors oversee the 2004 presidential election, the State Department acquiesced, and President George W. Bush invited the OSCE to do so.[2][3]

Structural history

The Chairman-in-Office position is held by the minister of foreign affairs of the country holding the chairmanship. The table below lists the Chairman-in-Office and his or her country of origin by year, since 1991:

Year Chairman-in-Office Successor Country 1991Hans-Dietrich Genschernone  Germany1992Jiří Dienstbier Jozef Moravčík Czechoslovakia1993Margaretha af Ugglasnone  Sweden1994Beniamino AndreattaAntonio Martino Italy1995Laszlo Kovacsnone  Hungary1996Flavio Cottinone  Switzerland1997Niels Helveg Petersennone  Denmark1998Bronislaw Geremeknone  Poland1999Knut Vollebaeknone  Norway2000Wolfgang SchüsselBenita Ferrero-Waldner Austria2001Mircea Geoanănone  Romania2002Jaime GamaAntonio Martins da Cruz  Portugal2003Jaap de Hoop SchefferBernard Bot Netherlands2004Solomon Passynone  Bulgaria2005Dimitrij Rupelnone  Slovenia2006Karel De Guchtnone  Belgium2007Miguel Ángel Moratinosnone  Spain2008Ilkka KanervaAlexander Stubb Finland2009Theodora Bakoyannis Greece2010Marat Tazhin Kazakhstan2011 Lithuania

Fiscal history

Since 1993, the OSCE's budget by year (in millions of euros, not adjusted for inflation) has been:

  • 2007   €186.2 million
  • 2006   €186.2 million
  • 2005   €186.6 million
  • 2004   €180.8 million
  • 2003   €165.5 million
  • 2002   €167.5 million
  • 2001   €194.5 million
  • 2000   €202.7 million
  • 1999   €146.1 million
  • 1998   €118.7 million
  • 1997   €43.3 million
  • 1996   €34.9 million
  • 1995   €18.9 million
  • 1994   €21 million
  • 1993   €12 million

Participating states

OSCE signatories as of 2006.      signed Helsinki Final Act and Paris Charter      signed Helsinki Final Act only      non-signatory      partner for cooperation State Admission Signed the
Helsinki Final ActSigned the
Charter of Paris Albania1991 19 June1991 16 September1991 17 September Andorra1996 25 April1999 10 November1998 17 February Armenia1992 30 January1992 8 July1992 17 April Austria1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Azerbaijan1992 30 January1992 8 July1993 20 December Belarus1992 30 January1992 26 February1993 8 April Belgium1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Bosnia and Herz.1992 30 April1992 8 July   Bulgaria1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Canada1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Croatia1992 24 March1992 8 July   Cyprus1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Czech Republic1993 1 January     Denmark1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Estonia1991 10 September1992 14 October1991 6 December Finland1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November France1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Georgia1992 24 March1992 8 July1994 21 January Germany1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Greece1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Vatican City1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Hungary1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Iceland1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Ireland1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Italy1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Kazakhstan1992 30 January1992 8 July1992 23 September Kyrgyzstan1992 30 January1992 8 July1994 3 June Latvia1991 10 September1991 14 October1991 6 December Liechtenstein1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Lithuania1991 10 September1991 14 October1991 6 December Luxembourg1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1995 12 October     Malta1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Moldova1992 30 January1992 26 February1993 29 January Monaco1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Montenegro2006 22 June2006 1 September   Netherlands1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Norway1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Poland1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Portugal1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Romania1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Russia1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November San Marino1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Serbia1973 25 June     Slovakia1993 1 January     Slovenia1992 24 March1992 8 July1993 8 March Spain1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Sweden1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Switzerland1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Tajikistan1992 30 January1992 26 February   Turkey1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Turkmenistan1992 30 January1992 8 July   Ukraine1992 30 January1992 26 February1992 16 June United Kingdom1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November United States1973 25 June1975 1 August1990 21 November Uzbekistan1992 30 January1992 26 February1993 27 October

Partners for Co-operation




  1. ^ Ivanov, Igor S. The New Russian Diplomacy. Nixon Center and Brookings Institution Press: Washington, DC, 2002. pp. 97-98.
  2. ^ U.S. invites international observers to Nov. election USA Today
  3. ^ International Monitoring of US Election Called 'Frightening' Cybercast News Service

See also

External links

v • d • eOrganization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Members Albania · Andorra · Armenia · Austria · Azerbaijan · Belarus · Belgium · Bosnia and Herzegovina · Bulgaria · Canada · Croatia · Cyprus · Czech Republic · Denmark · Estonia · Finland · France · Georgia · Germany · Greece · Holy See · Hungary · Iceland · Ireland · Italy · Kazakhstan · Kyrgyzstan · Latvia · Liechtenstein · Lithuania · Luxembourg · Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia · Malta · Moldova · Monaco · Montenegro · Netherlands · Norway · Poland · Portugal · Romania · Russia · San Marino · Serbia · Slovakia · Slovenia · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland · Tajikistan · Turkey · Turkmenistan · Ukraine · United Kingdom · United States · UzbekistanPartners for
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