OSCE and European security

Fecha de publicación:
Mark Sigler

For those who may not be entirely familiar with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, let me briefly describe the OSCE. It was created in the early 1970’s as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Starting in Helsinki, the Conference continued in a number of capitals, including Madrid in the early 1980’s. It currently has 54 participating States, stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Andorra recently joined. All States of the former Soviet Union are participants. Both the U.S. and Canada are in. OSCE decisions are taken on the basis of consensus. A Chairman-in-Office – the Foreign Minister of one of the States – serves a one-year term, and has responsibility for executive action. The CiO is assisted by the “Troika” which includes the previous year’s CiO and the next year’s Chairman. A Secretary General, who is the chief administrative officer, heads a secretariat of slightly over 100 people. There is a Documentation Office in Prague, the High Commissioner on National Minorities hangs his hat in the Hague, and the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights is headquartered in Warsaw. Ten OSCE missions are deployed from the Baltics to the Balkans and east to Tajikistan. More on those in a minute.