According to electronicsencyclopedia, the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) is an international organization. Please note: The status of the OSCE under international law is unclear or controversial. The OSCE therefore consciously speaks of “participating states” and not of member states.
Contribution to easing the tension between East and West, primarily through confidence and security-building measures (VSBM)
Today’s objectives of security, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation as well as the further development of a system of political obligations on the basis of a comprehensive security concept.
The 57 participating countries are shown in blue in the graphic and the 11 partner countries in yellow. You will find a tabular overview of the participating countries at the bottom of the page.
From the CSCE to the OSCE
In the early 1970s, as part of the east-west detente, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was convened to serve as a multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiations between East and West. After two years of negotiations, the “Helsinki Final Act” was signed in 1975 (see left part of the graphic).
This document contained a number of obligations (in the so-called “3 baskets”) in the areas of political and military activities, economic and environmental policy measures and human rights. The Final Act also laid down 10 fundamental principles for the conduct of states or governments in dealing with their citizens and with one another.
Up until the beginning of the 1990s, the CSCE was primarily a series of meetings and conferences aimed at reviewing compliance with the commitments made.
Paris Charter (1990)
After the end of the Cold War, an attempt was made in 1990 with the “Charter of Paris for a New Europe” to accompany the historical change, to shape it and to react to the new challenges of the time after the Cold War. Among other things, this required the development of permanent institutions and operational capabilities. As part of this institutionalization process, the CSCE was consequently renamed the OSCE with effect from January 1, 1995 (see right part of the graphic).
(1) Mongolia was admitted to the OSCE as the 57th participating State on November 21, 2012.
(2) On December 6, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland, it was decided to develop a strategic roadmap for the future viability of the OSCE by 2015. Working title: “OSCE + 40” – that is to say, a new strategy for the OSCE on the occasion of its 40th birthday in 2015. In view of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the smoldering Ukraine crisis, a futile labor of love…
In 1999 the “European Security Charter of Istanbul” postulated for all participating states that they owe each other an account of their relationships with one another and for their dealings with their own citizens.
Since the early 1990s, the OSCE – like NATO and the EU – has been conducting a dialogue with its partners in cooperation. The exchange of views on the subject of “cooperative security” is to be promoted through meetings at expert level and seminars.
Cooperation partner (11)
- 6 Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan
- 5 Asia-Pacific countries: Afghanistan (since 2003), Australia (since 2009), Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
Organs, institutions and instruments
All participating States enjoy the same status. Decisions are made by consensus. They are politically but not legally binding.
Decision-making bodies of the OSCE are
- the meeting of heads of state and government (most recently in 2010 after an eleven-year break!)
- the Council of Ministers (annual meeting)
- the Permanent Council of the Permanent Representatives of the participating States to the OSCE in Vienna, which meets at least once a week
- the weekly forum for security cooperation with its own decision-making authority on politico-military issues.
The Chairperson-in-Office has overall responsibility for executive measures. Support is provided by the previous and the following Chairmanship, which together with the Chairperson-in-Office form the so-called Troika.
SPOTLIGHT: On January 1, 2016, Germany assumed the chairmanship of the OSCE for one year, for the second time since 1991. The German Foreign Minister led the organization as “acting chairman”. Together with the previous Chairmanship (Serbia) and subsequent Chairmanship (Austria), he formed the OSCE Troika.
The Secretary General assists the Chairman-in-Office and heads the OSCE Secretariat. The secretariat has around 200 international employees. The OSCE employs around 450 people in its various institutions and around 3,000 people in field operations. The OSCE budget for 2006 is around 170 million euros.
The OSCE’s institutions are the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw, the Hague-based High Commissioner on National Minorities and the Commissioner for Freedom of the Media.
With 57 participants, the OSCE is the only security organization in which all European countries, the successor states of the Soviet Union, the USA and Canada are represented.
The OSCE is in dire need of reform. The fact that a summit meeting took place in 2010 after an eleven year hiatus speaks volumes.
In addition to the traditional function of the CSCE as a political framework for negotiation and consultation, new tasks in the areas of early warning, conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation have emerged in the last ten years as a result of numerous domestic and inter-ethnic conflicts.
The OSCE is a “regional arrangement” within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations. At the Helsinki Summit in 1992 it gave itself a basic mandate for peacekeeping measures, and at the Istanbul Summit it reaffirmed that the OSCE can carry out peacekeeping measures.
Such an OSCE measure has not yet taken place. Cough once if you don’t have a throat…
participating States of the OSCE (57)