The OSCE is the only regional security organisation that brings East and West together. It includes Russia and the United States on an equal footing and is therefore uniquely positioned as a forum for dialogue and confidence-building.

The OSCE was founded in 1975 as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). In 1992 it was recognised as a regional arrangement within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter; since 1994 it has been known as the OSCE. All participating states have equal rights and decisions are taken by consensus.

As a forum for dialogue and a platform for action, the OSCE aims to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law, to overcome differences between states and to build trust through close cooperation. Its focus is on preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention and crisis management, as well as post-conflict reconstruction and the strengthening of democratic social structures.

Dimensions of security

More than simply military security, the OSCE understands "security" as encompassing three dimensions:

  • The politico-military dimension
  • The economic and environmental dimension
  • The human dimension

In the politico-military dimension of security, the OSCE strives to increase military security through greater openness, transparency and cooperation. Economic prosperity, good governance and environmental issues, which are crucial to stability and security, are the cornerstones of the economic and environmental dimension. Meanwhile, the priorities in the human dimension are human rights and a commitment to building and promoting democratic structures.

Field missions and specific projects

The OSCE has a total of 13 field missions, most of which are located in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. A field mission is organised at the invitation of the participating state in which the mission will work, and must be agreed by consensus by all participating states.

The respective mandates of the field missions are adapted to the needs of the host countries. The tasks of the field missions can include early warning and conflict prevention as well as post-conflict confidence building.

With specific projects, the field missions support governments and authorities in transformation processes, for example with legislative reforms and the establishment of democratic and constitutional structures or the organisation of elections.

The OSCE also supports the establishment of networks and is involved in the training of specialised personnel. For example, it runs the Border Management College in Dushanbe. It is the central point of contact for knowledge transfer in this area.

A further example is the OSCE academy in Bishkek, which offers scholarships to the best students from Central Asia and Afghanistan and prepares them for a career in public service with a master's degree and specialised courses.

In addition to the 13 field missions, a Support Programme for Ukraine (SPU) was launched on 1 November 2022, which is financed as an extra-budgetary project by voluntary contributions from the OSCE participating states. The SPU provides for the implementation of projects aimed at supporting the civilian population affected by the war and strengthening Ukraine's institutions.

Last update 28.11.2023


Eurasia Division

Council of Europe and OSCE Section

Federal Palace West
3003 Bern


+41 58 464 69 48

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