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 understanding of security includes the so-called “three dimensions” of the OSCE:
- the politico-military dimension,
- the economic and environmental dimension, and
- the human dimension.
In the 2010 Astana declaration, the OSCE participating states also made it clear that human rights and democracy are “matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating states and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the state concerned.”
All 57 OSCE participating States enjoy equal status. Decisions are taken by consensus and are politically, but not legally binding. The OSCE is especially well-known to the general public for its independent election observation missions by the ODIHR, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Documents and other up-to-date information can be accessed on the OSCE website. The Centre for OSCE Research (CORE) of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, which is supported by the Federal Foreign Office, can provide more comprehensive information on the OSCE.