Within a vast area that reaches from Vladivostok to Vancouver, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) offers a unique political forum to its 57 participating states.
About the OSCE
The OSCE originates from the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) which was founded in 1975 with the signing of the Helsinki Final Act. The CSCE was created to serve as a multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiation between East and West during the Cold War. With the end of the Cold War, an institutionalization process was started and in 1994 the name was changed to the OSCE. Since then the OSCE, as the world’s largest regional security organization, has shown that it maintained its relevance in the ever changing security dynamics of Europe.
The OSCE has a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses the fields of politics, economy, environment, and human rights. This means the organization covers a wide range of security related topics which are divided in the three ‘Dimensions’; the politico-military Dimension, the Economic and Environmental Dimension and the Human Dimension. Every week the participating states come together in Vienna in the Permanent Council, main regular decision making body, to discuss current developments in the OSCE area and to make decisions. Military aspects of security are discussed in the Forum of Security Co-operation, which is also held in Vienna on a weekly basis. Once a year the Ministerial Council is convened. This high-level decision-making body of the organization the foreign ministers of the participating states come together to review the OSCE’s activities and to make appropriate decisions.
To help to implement its mandate, the OSCE is supported by its three main institutions: the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM) and the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM). The Netherlands has always been a strong supporter for the work of these institutions.