Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe explained

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Linking Name:the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Symbol Type:Logo
Symbol Width:200px
Membership:56 participating States
12 Partners for Co-operation
Admin Center Type:Secretariat
Admin Center:Vienna, Austria
Leader Title1:Secretary General
Leader Name1: Lamberto Zannier
Leader Title2:Chairperson-in-Office
Leader Name2: Eamon Gilmore
Leader Title3:Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Leader Name3:
 
Leader Title4:Representative on Freedom of the Media
Leader Name4:
 
Leader Title5:High Commissioner on National Minorities
Leader Name5:
 
Established Event1:as the CSCE
Established Date1:July 1973
Established Event2:Helsinki Accords
Established Date2:30 July – 1 August 1975
Established Event3:Paris Charter
Established Date3:21 November 1990
Established Event4:renamed as the OSCE
Established Date4:1 January 1995
Area Km2:50119801
Population Estimate:1,229,503,230
Population Estimate Year:2010
Population Estimate Rank:2nd
Population Density Km2:24.53
Official Website:www.osce.org
Footnote1:Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control and the promotion of human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections. It has 550 headquarters staff and about 2300 field staff.[1]

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 located in Europe, the former Soviet Union 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 Astana (Kazakhstan), the 1st and 2 December 2010. 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 Chairperson-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 2009 to 31 December 2009 the Chairperson-in-Office is Greece's Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Papandreou. Bakoyannis succeeded Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb.

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 Vienna Document of 1999.

The OSCE's Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria. The current Secretary General is Lamberto Zannier of Italy, who took over from Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France.[2] The Organization also has offices in Copenhagen, Geneva, The Hague, Prague and Warsaw.

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

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe passes resolutions on matters such as political and security affairs, economic and environmental issues, and democracy and human rights. Representing the collective voice of OSCE parliamentarians, these resolutions and recommendations are meant to ensure that all participating States live up to their OSCE commitments. The OSCE PA also engages in parliamentary diplomacy, and has an extensive election observation program.

The oldest OSCE institution is the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), established in 1991 following a decision made at the 1990 Summit of Paris. 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, rule of law, and Roma and Sinti issues. The ODIHR has observed over 150 elections and referendums since 1995, sending some 35,000 observers. It has operated outside its own area twice, sending a team that offered technical support to the 9 October 2004 presidential elections in Afghanistan, an OSCE Partner for Co-operation, and an election support team to assist with parliamentary and provincial council elections on 18 September 2005. ODIHR is headed by Janez Lenarčič.

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. As of 2011, the current Representative is expert in media law from Bosnia and Herzegovina Dunja Mijatovic.[3]

Chairmanship

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

The Chairmanship rotates annually, and the post of the Chairperson-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 Chairperson-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.

The 2012 Troika consists of the current CiO, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore; the former CiO, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis; and the incoming CiO, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko.

United Nations

The OSCE considers itself a regional organization in the sense of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter[4] and is an observer in the United Nations General Assembly. The Chairperson-in-Office gives routine briefings to the United Nations Security Council.

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 worldwide 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.

Implementation

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 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 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 activities related to migration management, transport and energy security. Most activities are implemented in co-operation with partner organizations.

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 projects in the area of 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.

Combating trafficking in human beings

Since 2003 the OSCE[5] has had an established mechanism for combating trafficking in human beings, as defined by Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol,[6] which is aimed at raising public awareness of the problem and building the political will within participating states to tackle it effectively.

The OSCE actions against trafficking in human beings are coordinated by the Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.[7] Maria Grazia Giammarinaro,[8] a judge in the Criminal Court of Rome, took Office as the Special Representative in March 2010. From 2006 to 2009 this Office was held by Eva Biaudet, a former Finnish Minister of Health and Social Services. Ms Biaudet currently serves as Finnish Ombudsman for Minorities. Her predecessor was former Austrian Minister Dr Helga Conrad, who served as the first OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.

The activities around Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in the OSCE Region[9] of the Office of the Special Representative include

Democratization

The OSCE claims to promote democracy and assist the participating States in building democratic institutions. In practice, however, few states have more power in decision-making than others (see Criticisms).

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. However, the effectiveness of such assistance is arguable- Kazakhstan, for example, despite being the current chair of the OSCE, is considered by many to be one of the least democratic countries in the world. Moreover, the recent democratic advances made in other Central Asian republics, notably Kyrgystan, have led to rumours of Soviet-style disruption of the Kyrgyz democratic process by, in particular, Kazakhstan and Russia. This may be in large part due to fears over the long-term stability of these countries' own quasi-dictatorships.

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.

National and international NGOs

OSCE could grant Consultative Status to NGOs and INGOs in the form of "Researcher-in-residence programme" (run by the Prague Office of the OSCE Secretariat): accredited representatives of national and international NGOs are granted access to all records and to numerous topical compilations related to OSCE field activities.

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.

Criticism

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 Viktor 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." [10] [11]

Notes and References

  1. http://www.osce.org/who/86 Funding and Budget (official OSCE website)
  2. Web site: Secretary General. 2011-07-06. 2011-06-20.
  3. http://www.osce.org/fom/43206 Representative on Freedom of the Media
  4. Web site: Secretariat - External Cooperation. OSCE.
  5. https://www.osce.org/cthb OSCE
  6. http://untreaty.un.org/English/TreatyEvent2003/Texts/treaty2E.pdf Palermo Protocol
  7. https://www.osce.org/cthb Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
  8. http://www.osce.org/cthb/43180 Dr. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro
  9. http://www.osce.org/publications/cthb/2007/10/27431_971_en.pdf Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in the OSCE Region
  10. http://www.kommersant.com/p741749/r_527/Munich_Speech_Vladimir_Putin/ The Munich Speech - Kommersant Moscow
  11. http://www.brama.com/news/press/2004/07/040729csce.html Criticism of OSCE by Nine CIS Countries Draws the Response
  12. http://www.aspr.ac.at/osce_report06.pdf ASPR.ac.at
  13. http://www.basicint.org/pubs/Notes/2004OSCETurningPoint.htm BASIC Note
  14. http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=-13534 OSCE, ODIHR Showed Double Standard at U.S. Election, Russia’s Lawmaker Said
  15. http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2005/03/13658_en.pdf OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission Final Report
  16. Ivanov, Igor S. The New Russian Diplomacy. Nixon Center and Brookings Institution Press: Washington, DC, 2002. pp. 97-98.
  17. http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-08-10-osce-observers_x.htm U.S. invites international observers to Nov election
  18. http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPolitics.asp?Page=%5CPolitics%5Carchive%5C200408%5CPOL20040809c.html International Monitoring of US Election Called 'Frightening'
  19. http://www.osce.org/item/41439.html OSCE Magazine, issue number 4/2009
  20. http://www.osce.org/about/13131.html#M Referred to by the OSCE as the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"
  21. http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/04/d7ca7f94-db49-4c08-9091-877484741f26.html [OSCE: Election Experts Debate Russian Criticism&#93; - [Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2008&#93;<!-- Bot generated title -->][11] [12] [13]

    Also, following the Belorussian Presidential election of 2001, the OSCE denounced the election, claiming it to be neither 'free nor fair'; however, the OSCE had actually refused to observe the vote, and still made the aforementioned claim, despite Gerard Stoudmann of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE acknowledging that there was "no evidence of manipulation or fraud of the results".

    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 (human trafficking, 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.

    Following the 2008 U.S. presidential election, OSCE's ODIHR was accused of double standards by Russia's lawmaker Slutsky. The point was made that while numerous violations of the voting process were registered, its criticism came only from within the U.S. (media, human rights organizations, McCain's election staff), while the OSCE known for its bashing criticism of elections on the post-Soviet space remained silent.[14] [15]

    History

    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 See’s diplomat Cardinal Agostino 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).

    A unique aspect of the OSCE is the non-binding status of its provisions. Rather than being a formal treaty, the OSCE Final Act represents a political commitment by all signatories to build security and cooperation in Europe on the basis of its provisions. This allows the OSCE to remain a flexible process for the evolution of improved cooperation which avoids disputes and/or sanctions over implementation. By agreeing these commitments, signatories for the first time accepted that treatment of citizens within their borders was also a matter of legitimate international concern. This open process of the OSCE is often given credit for helping build democracy in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, thus leading to the end of the Cold War.

    The collapse of the Soviet Union 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."[16]

    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.[17] [18]

    Chairmanship history

    Chairmanship of the OSCE is held by a member state on a calendar-year basis, with the minister for foreign affairs of that state performing the function of Chairperson-in-Office. The table below shows the holders since 1991.[19]

    Fiscal history

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

    • 2010 €150.7 million
    • 2009 €158.6 million
    • 2008 €164.1 million
    • 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

    Partners for co-operation

    External links