Objectives and institutions of the OSCE

The OSCE deals with issues that concern common regional security. The OSCE's remit also includes economic and environmental issues and human rights.

Regional security for the OSCE covers conventional arms control and cross-border threats, such as terrorism, organised crime, cybercrime as well as trafficking in drugs, weapons and human beings. The OSCE is however also concerned with economic progress, environmental issues, good governance, energy security, democratisation, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In addition to conventional arms control and combating transnational threats such as terrorism, organized crime, cybercrime, and trafficking in drugs, arms, or human beings, such issues also include economic development, environmental concerns, good governance, energy security, democracy-building, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.

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 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.

Political Bodies and Permanent Institutions of the OSCE

The OSCE maintains the following bodies and institutions:

Summit of Heads of State or Government

Ministerial Council

Permanent Council

Forum for Security Co-operation

The Secretariat

Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw

High Commissioner on National Minoritiesin in The Hague

Representative on Freedom of the Media in Vienna

Parliamentary Assembly in Copenhagen

In addition, the OSCE has 17 field missions, established in specific participating States at their explicit request. The tasks of the field missions can include early warning and conflict prevention as well as post-conflict confidence building.

Concrete projects

These field operations implement concrete projects to support governments and authorities in their transformation processes, i.e., projects to reform legislation, to consolidate democratic and constitutional structures, or conduct elections.

The OSCE, however, also supports the creation of networks and is engaged in the training of specialized personnel. One such example is the OSCE Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe. In this domain, it is the central contact point for knowledge transfer.

A second example would be the OSCE Academy in Bishkek which offers scholarships to the best students from Central Asia and Afghanistan to prepare them for careers in public service by offering Master’s programmes and professional training courses.

The history of the OSCE

The OSCE was founded in 1975 as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). In 1992, it was recognized as a Regional Arrangement under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. It was renamed the OSCE in 1994. All of the participating States are equal and decisions are reached by consensus.