What is the OSCE? OSCE Composition, Missions and Observers

What is the OSCE? OSCE Composition, Missions and Observers
What is the OSCE? OSCE Composition, Missions and Observers

What is the OSCE? This is the history of this organization. In 1973, an international meeting was held at which issues of cooperation and security in Europe (CSCE) were discussed. 33 states took part. It ended with the signing of an act by the heads of countries and governments in Helsinki, which became a long-term program of action for building a united, peaceful, democratic and prosperous Europe. The organization is key to the European Community. It has broad powers to resolve various conflicts, monitor the observance of human rights in individual countries, control environmental safety.

What is the OSCE

Evolution of the organization

What is the OSCE? According to the Helsinki Final Agreements, the main areas of the organization's activities include the following issues related to European security: cooperation in the fields of science, economy, technology, environment, humanitarian and other fields (human rights, information, culture, education). This is the mission of the OSCE. Important milestones in the development of the Helsinki process were the meetings of the participating states in Belgrade (1977-1978), Madrid (1980-1983),Vienna (1986-1989).

Composition of the OSCE

The summit meetings of the OSCE participating States in Paris (1990), Helsinki (1992), Budapest (1994), Lisbon (1996) and Istanbul (1999) have gained great importance). As a result of gradual institutionalization and the adoption of decisions on the creation of the post of Secretary General (1993) and the Permanent Council, the CSCE acquired the features of an international regional organization. In accordance with the decision of the Budapest Summit in 1995, the CSCE changed its name to the OSCE. Abbreviation: Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In 1996, at the Lisbon meeting of the heads of the participating countries, very important decisions and documents were adopted. First, the concept of European security in the 21st century was defined. It spoke about the need to build a new Europe without borders and dividing lines. In fact, this document was the basis for the creation of the European Union. Secondly, the CFE (Conventional Arms Treaty) was updated.

What is the OSCE? Today, 56 countries are members of the organization, including all European, post-Soviet countries, Canada, the USA and Mongolia. This composition of the OSCE allows the organization to resolve many issues at the global level. Its mandate covers a huge list of issues in the military-political, environmental, economic and scientific fields. The objectives of the organization are: countering terrorism, arms control, environmental and economic security, protection of democracy and human rights, and many others. The countries that are members of the OSCE have an equalstatus. Decisions are made on the basis of consensus. There are various OSCE institutions. What is it, we will understand below.

OSCE member countries


The organization primarily focuses its efforts on preventing various regional conflicts, settling disputes and crises, eliminating the consequences of wars, etc. The main means of maintaining security and achieving the main goals of the organization are three categories of tools. The first includes:

  • arms proliferation control;
  • activities to build trust and promote security;
  • measures for the diplomatic prevention of various conflicts.

The second category includes security in the field of economy and ecology. The third category includes everything related to human rights, freedom of conscience and so on. This is:

  • activities to protect human rights;
  • monitoring elections in various countries;
  • promote the development of democratic institutions.
OSCE what is it

It should be understood that OSCE decisions are advisory and not binding. However, they are of great political importance. The organization has 370 people in leadership positions and another 3.5 thousand work in field missions.


Summits are called meetings of representatives of participating countries at the highest level. They are representative forums with the participation of heads of state andgovernments, which are held, as a rule, once every two or three years to discuss the state of affairs in the field of ensuring security and stability in the OSCE region, make appropriate decisions, and determine the main directions of the organization's activities in the short and long term.

Organization OSCE

Council of Ministers and Permanent Council

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the states that are part of the organization take part in the meetings of the Council of Ministers. It is the central decision-making and governing body of the OSCE. The Permanent Council is an active body within which political consultations are held at the level of permanent representatives of the participating States, decisions are made on all issues of the current activities of the OSCE. PC plenary meetings are held every Thursday in Vienna.

Parliamentary Assembly

The OSCE has its own Parliamentary Assembly. Plenary meetings are held twice a year with the support of the PA Secretariat based in Copenhagen. The OSCE Chairman maintains contact with the PA on an ongoing basis, informing its participants about the work of the organization. The PA President is elected for a one-year term.


The OSCE Secretariat, headed by the Secretary General, manages the work of the missions and centers of the organization deployed in the participating States, services the activities of other governing bodies, ensures the holding of various conferences, deals with administrative and budgetary issues, personnel policy, is responsible for communication withinternational organizations, the press, etc. The Secretariat is located in Vienna (Austria), with a subsidiary office in Prague (Czech Republic). To improve the efficiency of the work of the Secretariat and other institutions of the organization in the economic and environmental planes, since January 1998, the position of the Coordinator of the OSCE's activities in the fields of economy and the environment has been introduced.

OSCE observers


What is the OSCE? The face of this organization and the main political figure is the Chairman-in-Office. It is responsible for coordinating and advising on current political activities. In his work, the Chairman-in-Office relies on the help of:

  • Predecessor and successor, who act together with him in the form of a trio.
  • Special groups, which he appoints.
  • Personal representatives, who are also appointed by the Chairman-in-Office, with a specific mandate and a list of tasks in the various fields of competence of the OSCE.

Bureau for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR for short)

This structure contributes to the holding of democratic elections in the participating states (including the dispatch of observation missions), and also provides practical assistance in establishing democratic institutions and human rights, strengthening the foundations of civil society and the rule of law. The ODIHR office is located in Warsaw.

High Commissioner on Minority Issues (HCNM)

This official is responsible forearly warning of conflicts related to the problems of national minorities. The secretariat of the HCNM is located in The Hague.

OSCE Mission

Representative on Freedom of the Media

This official promotes the fulfillment by participating countries of their obligations in the field of media. The position of media representative is critical to the smooth functioning of an open democratic society, as well as a system of accountability of governments to their citizens. This OSCE institution was established at the end of 1997.

OSCE missions

Missions function as a kind of "field" structure of the OSCE. In South-East Europe they are present in Albania: the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo (Serbia). In Eastern Europe: office in Minsk, mission in Moldova, project coordinator in Ukraine. In the South Caucasus: OSCE Mission to Georgia, offices in Yerevan and Baku, Representative of the Chairman-in-Office on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In Central Asia: mission in Tajikistan, OSCE centers in Almaty, Ashgabat, Bishkek, Tashkent. These institutions are important tools in conflict prevention and crisis management on the ground. OSCE observers are performing their functions in many hot spots and conflict regions.

Economic and Environmental Forum

These are annual events that are held to give impetus to the economies of the member states. They also include proposals for practical measures aimed atdevelopment of economic cooperation between countries.

Forum for Security Cooperation

This body carries out its work on a permanent basis in Vienna. It consists of representatives of the delegations of the OSCE participating States, discusses issues of arms control, disarmament, confidence-building and security measures.

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