Who we are and what we do...
(© Micky Kröll/OSCE)
Ambassador Eberhard Pohl heads up the Permanent Mission and represents Germany in the OSCE Permanent Council, which generally meets in the Vienna Hofburg each Thursday. The Ambassador is supported by Deputy Permanent Representatives Christine Weil and Sabine Stöhr as Deputy Heads of Mission. Colonel Carsten Rogat, General Staff, is the Military Adviser to the mission.
The politico-military dimension: Forum for Security Co-operation
The Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC), which meets on Wednesdays, is one of the centrepieces of the OSCE alongside the Permanent Council. General security policy issues such as arms control and confidence-building measures are discussed in the forum. The FSC also promotes the exchange of information relating to military matters among the OSCE participating States. Germany’s efforts in the FSC domain are overseen by a diplomat seconded from the Federal Foreign Office, as well as by an officer seconded from the Bundeswehr.
The structured dialogue on current and future challenges and risks to security in the OSCE area has been a particularly important part of this field for us since the OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg in December 2016. In February 2017, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, appointed Germany’s OSCE Ambassador Eberhard Pohl as Chair of the Informal Working Group that is promoting this dialogue.
The politico-military dimension: transnational threats
The OSCE has launched a considerable range of activities in recent years as part of its response to what are known as transnational threats and challenges. Policy areas that enjoy a particularly high level of visibility include counter-terrorism, police-related activities and matters concerning border management and security. These three topics have been addressed in dedicated units of the OSCE Secretariat for some time and have been part of the Transnational Threats Department’s (TNTD) remit since 2012. Cyber security is becoming increasingly important in addition.
Germany has a keen interest in strengthening the OSCE’s ability to act in these areas. We are paying particular attention to the link between the OSCE’s strategic policy documents and operative project work. With its multidimensional security concept and field missions in 15 OSCE participating States and considering the fact that Central Asian OSCE participating States share borders with Afghanistan, the OSCE plays an important role in efforts to get to grips with transnational threats and challenges. A key platform for dialogue in this area is the Security Committee, which meets in Vienna on a regular basis.
The politico-military dimension: Open Skies and CFE
CFE and Open Skies also fall within the remit of the politico-military dimension.
In the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (the CFE Treaty), the currently 29 active States Parties have pledged to keep specific categories of major military equipment within national ceilings and to accept mutual inspections. The Joint Consultative Group, which meets in the Hofburg, coordinates the implementation of the CFE Treaty.
The Treaty on Open Skies establishes the framework for aerial observation conducted by a security alliance “from Vancouver to Vladivostok”. Thirty-four states currently meet on a regular basis in a Consultative Commission and in working groups in order to translate this treaty into reality.
The economy and the environment
The second dimension of the OSCE focuses on policy issues in the fields of the economy and the environment. A broad range of topics is addressed in this dimension. In the area of economic affairs, this ranges from trade facilitation and transport to the fight against corruption. Thanks to the decision reached by the 57 participating States at the Ministerial Council in Hamburg in 2016 to strengthen good governance and promote connectivity, the OSCE was able to inject fresh and strong momentum into this field.
Topics such as water management, disaster risk reduction, waste management and climate change are core focuses in the area of the environment. This is in addition to issues relating to energy security as a cross-cutting topic in which the OSCE focuses on the protection of critical infrastructures in particular. The most important conferences in the annual cycle are the Economic and Environmental Forum and its two preparatory meetings, as well as the Implementation Meeting regarding the obligations in the second dimension. In addition, the participating States engage in dialogue on current issues and challenges in the area of the economy and the environment at regular meetings of the Second Committee. Close dialogue with representatives from the private economy has been promoted especially since Germany’s OSCE Chairmanship in 2016.
Human rights and fundamental freedoms
The third dimension of the OSCE, the human dimension, is a core component of the OSCE’s comprehensive security concept and focuses on respect for and the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This dimension takes in the full spectrum of political and civil, as well as economic, social and cultural human rights, from the freedom of opinion and the freedom of assembly to the freedom of belief and religion, and from protection against torture to gender equality issues, which are discussed in the OSCE, against the backdrop of tolerance and non-discrimination.
The participating States discuss the extent to which human rights obligations are being complied with in different countries as well as common challenges currently faced and possible common solutions and obligations that are required at regular committee meetings, in-depth conferences and the annual two-week-long Human Dimension Implementation Meeting.
Links with other dimensions of the OSCE emerge particularly with respect to overarching issues. Moreover, current country-specific developments are often discussed in the Permanent Council.
A noteworthy characteristic in comparison to other OSCE areas is the intensive exchange with representatives from civil society that is promoted at the conferences. Likewise worthy of mention is the work of the three autonomous OSCE institutions: the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR), the Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM) and the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM). Germany regularly supports their work above and beyond its general contributions to the OSCE. In so doing, Germany sets priorities that further its political agenda to promote human rights in the world.
The regional team has a particular focus on conflicts in the OSCE area in which the organisation plays an important role as a mediator and/or observer. Key areas here include the crisis in and around Ukraine, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the crisis in Georgia, as well as the process to resolve the Transdniestria issue in the 5+2 format. At the same time, the team is supporting the work of the 17 OSCE field missions in the Western Balkans, the Southern Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Budget and personnel issues
This team at the Permanent Mission deals with all aspects of OSCE management and administration, including personnel matters, as well as – crucially – budgetary issues (the entire OSCE budget and the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine). A further focus are the extrabudgetary projects with which Germany is supporting the OSCE’s work. General legal issues and matters relating to the OSCE’s legal personality are likewise part of the team’s remit.
Protocol and public relations
The protocol/press team is responsible for our mission’s various public relations instruments and the team leader is also the mission’s spokesperson. Important channels include direct contact with journalists, as well as the mission’s website and our Twitter channel @OSCE_GER.
Preparing and hosting events by our mission in Vienna, protocol for high-ranking visitors from the Federal Government and other German governmental authorities, e.g. for attending OSCE conferences in Vienna, as well as looking after visitor groups, are further fields of work.