Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe - OSCE
The 1970s recession process in the relations between NATO and the Warsaw Pact led to the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 and, thus, to the creation of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The political climate that prevailed in international relations, following the collapse of Eastern European regimes and the creation of the new independent states coming from the dissolution of the then Soviet Union, led to the transformation of the Conference into the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe – OSCE, one of the most significant regional security organizations that operates in the spirit of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, with the aim to establishm cooperative security among its members. The OSCE consists of 57 participating States, covering the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok and based in Vienna. Ιt is a forum for political dialogue on issues related to three dimensions of international security (http://www.osce.org/what-we-do):
Τhe OSCE has developed a wide network of 14 missions and offices in Western Balkans, Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (http://www.osce.org/where-we-are). Through its autonomous institutions (http://www.osce.org/institutions-and-structures), the Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the High Commissioner for National Minorities (HCNM) based in The Hague, and the Representative for Freedom of the Media (RFoM) in Vienna, the OSCE supports national authorities, inter alia, on issues of democratization, the rule of law, and the promotion of regional cooperation, in order to address common security challenges and threats. Also, there is the Court of Reconciliation and Arbitration, based in Geneva. In addition, since the beginning of the 1990s, the OSCE maintains special relations with the Mediterranean (Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia) and the Asian (Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Korea, Thailand) Partners (http://www.osce.org/partners-for-cooperation).
The Parliaments of the OSCE participating States are represented in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly is Ms Christine Muttonen (Austria) and the Secretary General, since 1.1.2016, is Mr. Roberto Montella (Italy).
The Chairmanship of the Council of Ministers of the Organization is of annual duration. The 57 participating States decide unanimously on the basis of the expression of interest, three years in advance, without following any specific order. Greece held the Chairmanship of the Organization in 2009. The Greek Chairmanship was succeeded by the Chairmanships of Kazakhstan (2010), Lithuania (2011), Ireland (2012), Ukraine (2013), Switzerland (2014), Serbia (2015) and Germany (2016). Austria is the current Chair in Office and will be succeeded by Italy (2018) and Slovakia (2019) (http://www.osce.org/chairmanship).
The core issue of the OSCE is the shaping of the modern European security architecture. The Organization is known for promoting dialogue and collective action on the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts, participating -directly or indirectly- in the negotiation process, for the political settlement, inter alia, of the conflicts in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Nagorno-Karabakh. The crisis in Ukraine has been on the OSCE's agenda for the last three years. The OSCE is the main dialogue forum between the parties involved. Its role is mainly to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire through the Special Observation Mission in Ukraine (SMM), as well as a small observer mission (OM) at two Russian frontier stations Gukovo and Donetsk, at the Russian-Ukrainian border. The OSCE also participates in the Tripartite Contact Group dealing with the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE for Ukraine is the Austrian Ambassador Martin Sajdik (since June 2015). The Organization supports activities aiming at restoring political stability in Ukraine. It has created a Disarmament Fund to raise funds to be used, when the time comes, for the disarmament of illegal armed groups. The OSCE also operates a Coordinator Office in Ukraine, implementing programs supporting the Ukrainian authorities to promote reforms.
Within the Politico-military Dimension, one of the OSCE's key successes was the promotion of a wider regulatory framework for military Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSMBs) to enhance transparency and predictability. The pillars of this framework are the CFE Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty and the Vienna Document.
Of increasing importance within the OSCE is the co-operation to address Transnational Threats, such as terrorism, cyber-security, human trafficking, arm trafficking and drug trafficking.
The OSCE is also interested in promoting dialogue and finding ways to face the current crisis caused by the increased refugee and migratory flows to Europe.
Within the Economic and Environmental Dimension, the OSCE focuses on preventing and combating corruption, enhancing good governance, promoting dialogue on environmental and energy security.
In the context of Human Dimension, the OSCE focuses on tackling racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism, and promoting gender equality, freedom of expression and the right to assembly and peaceful assembly. In addition, electoral observation constitutes one of the priority activities of the Human Dimension, with ODIHR being the main implementation institution.
For more information on the OSCE, you may visit the official website of the Organization: