About the OSCE

General Background

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is a pan-European structure comprising 56 participating states. It was established under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter as the primary instrument for early warning and prevention of crisis situations, resolution of existing conflicts, and post-conflict rehabilitation in Europe.

A wide range of issues falls under the Organization’s purview, including arms control, preventive diplomacy, strengthening of confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, observation of elections, and also economic and environmental security.

The OSCE regards security as an integrated concept and operates in three “dimensions”: politico-military, economic and environmental, and human.

History of the OSCE

In the early 1970s, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) was functioning as a multilateral forum to promote a dialogue between the East and the West. The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 established the basic principles for the behavior of the participating states of the CSCE toward their own citizens and also among themselves.

Until 1990, the CSCE functioned as a series of meetings and conferences, at which norms and obligations were reviewed and information on their implementation was reported periodically.

The turning point in the forum’s activities was the Paris Summit of 1990. The Charter of Paris for a New Europe called upon the CSCE to play its part in the management of the process of historic changes in Europe and to respond to the new challenges arising after the end of the Cold War. For the purpose of dealing with these tasks, the meetings were placed on a regular footing and the work of the Conference was given a systematic character.

In November 1990, an important agreement—the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty)—was reached during negotiations as part of the CSCE process.

At the Budapest Summit in 1994, it was decided to rename the CSCE the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). This gave a fresh political impetus to the Organization’s work and, at the same time, was an indication of the course of its institutional development.

The Lisbon Summit of 1996 adopted the Declaration on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-First Century, and approved a framework for arms control and the development of the agenda of the Forum for Security Co-operation. It was then that the idea of the OSCE’s key role in strengthening security and stability in all the dimensions underwent further development. The Summit resulted in the adoption in 1999 in Istanbul of the Charter for European Security, which envisages enhancement of the Organization’s operational capabilities. At the same time, 30 participating states of the OSCE adopted the Istanbul Declaration and signed the Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

OSCE Participating States

The OSCE has 56 participating states, which include all the European countries, the USA, Canada, and the States of Central Asia and the Caucasus. The following is the complete list of the OSCE participating states:

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan.

There are 11 countries that have the status of “Partners for Co-operation”:

Mediterranean partners – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia;

Asian partners—Australia, Afghanistan, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, and Thailand.