The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
In the middle of the Cold War, on 3 July 1973, representatives of 15 NATO member states, 7 states of the Warsaw Pact and 13 neutral states congregated at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The negotiations lasted for almost two years. The result was a document that would prove ground-breaking for the European security architecture: the CSCE Helsinki Final Act. After the end of the confrontation between the two power blocs, the “Conference” became an “Organisation”, the CSCE became the OSCE – with 57 participating states today, from A for Albania to U for Uzbekistan.
The most important goals of the OSCE thus include establishing comprehensive and indivisible security, conflict prevention and conflict management in all phases of conflicts and crisis in the OSCE region, protection of human rights, democratic and rule-of-law standards as a contribution to security and stability, disarmament, confidence building measures and fighting terrorism.
The OSCE’s decision-making bodies are the Summits of Heads of State and Government (most recently in 2010), the Ministerial Council which meets once a year, the Permanent Council in Vienna composed of participating States’ Permanent Representatives to the OSCE, which meets at least once a week, and the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC), which meets once a week and has its own decision-making competence on politico-military issues.
Organs, institutions and instruments
OSCE missions are an important instrument of multilateral diplomacy in the areas of conflict prevention and crisis management.
About 2,500 OSCE associates are currently working in 18 missions (called "missions", "offices" or "project offices") in 16 countries of South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
OSCE Missions and Field Operations
The Helsinki Final Act (1975), the Charter of Paris (1990), the Charter for European Security adopted in Istanbul in 1999 and the Astana Declaration “Towards a Security Community” (2010) are the OSCE’s key documents, defining a steadily evolving and maturing set of political commitments based on a broad understanding of security.
Conferences and Documents