OSCE Structure

The structure

The highest decision-making level within the OSCE is the summits of heads of state or government. Here the guidelines for the organization’s work are drawn up and here it is decided what to prioritize. The first summit took place in Helsinki in 1975, the second only in 1990 in Paris. According to AbbreviationFinder, OSCE stands for Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.

The most recent summit was held in 2010 in Kazakhstan. It was then the first in eleven years.

Next to the summits, the Council of Ministers is the highest decision-making body. The Council of Ministers meets once a year and consists of the Foreign Ministers of the Member States.

Between meetings of the Council of Ministers, the Permanent Council of Vienna is the central body for ongoing consultations on efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts. Issues relating to respect for human rights are also addressed. The Permanent Council meets once a week and consists of OSCE Permanent Representatives in Vienna. Most participating states, like Sweden, have permanent OSCE delegations in Vienna. The representative of the OSCE Presidency chairs the work of the Permanent Council.

Another fixed institution in Vienna’s Security Forum (the Forum for Security Co-operation). It also meets once a week and is responsible for the organization’s disarmament negotiations and checks that states comply with their military commitments.

The ” OSCE Executive Chairman ” has an important function. The chairman, ie the foreign minister of the presidency country, is the organisation’s highest executive body. It is with the Chair that all the threads from the OSCE’s changing activities converge. For the OSCE’s efforts to prevent conflicts and monitor crises, the chair plays an important role, and in the event of an acute conflict, the chair leads, among other things, negotiations between the parties.

The member countries take turns holding the presidency one year at a time. In 2015, Serbia will hold the chairmanship. To assist him, the presidency has previous and future presidencies. The three together form an executive executive committee at all OSCE decision – making levels, the so-called troika (2015 consisting of Switzerland, Serbia and Germany).

The OSCE Secretariat in Vienna consists of two departments. The task of the Conflict Prevention Center is to support the negotiation and application of trust-building measures as well as efforts to prevent or resolve conflicts and crises, including the extensive field activities. The second department is in charge of administration and budget.

A department in Prague deals with archiving and conference services. The Secretary-General, since 2011 the Italian Lamberto Zannier, leads the work of the Secretariat and in some contexts represents the OSCE externally.

In Warsaw, there is a special Secretariat for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), which will, among other things, disseminate knowledge about democratic working methods and the rule of law, help organize and monitor elections and examine respect for human beings. the rights.

The OSCE has a special High Commissioner for National Minorities (HCNM) whose main task is to detect and try to resolve conflicts affecting minorities at an early stage.

The OSCE also has a special representative who will safeguard the freedom of the mass media and monitor the working conditions of journalists, (RFoM).

The OSCE’s permanent staff amounts to about 450 people, including interpreters, translators and secretaries, most of whom are at the Vienna Secretariat. In addition, around 3,000 people, loaned by member states and local staff, work for the OSCE on various missions “out in the field”. Since 1992, the OSCE has set up “field missions” with offices in a wide range of countries to try to prevent and mediate in conflicts and to assist in building a democratic society governed by the rule of law.

The OSCE has a parliamentary assembly with an office in Copenhagen. The Assembly meets once a year and makes recommendations to the OSCE bodies and discusses their work.

Decision making

Decisions are taken within the OSCE on the basis of the principle of consensus – the explicit or at least tacit consent of all states. Voting does not take place. There is strong pressure on the participating states not to oppose a proposal that has the support of the other participants, unless very important values ​​are at stake.

The strength of the consensus rule is that decisions have a strong foothold and are thus difficult to deviate from. The rule has thus become very important for cohesion within the OSCE.

A disadvantage is that it is often time-consuming to reach a consensus and that the result is often a watered-down compromise. A weakness is also that some states, especially the smaller ones and the completely newly formed ones, only sporadically participate actively and thus do not make full use of their right to co-determination.

When the organization decided in 1992 to suspend Yugoslavia from participating in the co – operation, the Member States had agreed to pull the consensus requirement in exceptional cases. “Consensus minus one” created the possibility of imposing sanctions on a failing Member State.

Another exception concerns situations where two Member States are in dispute with each other. The Council of Ministers can then order the two disputing countries to seek conciliation, even if they themselves do not agree to it. This is called “consensus minus two”.

The agreements reached within the OSCE are politically but not legally binding. This means that the agreements do not have to be approved in the parliaments and take the form of a law, but they still have great weight, as they have been decided at the highest political level.

The budget

Compared to many other international organizations, the OSCE is a small association. The organization’s regular budget in 2015 amounts to EUR 141 million, just over SEK 1,300 million.

To this sum, however, must be added large resources that the member states contribute in the form of staff and voluntary contributions.

Sweden contributes both to the budget itself and also pays the costs for Swedes at OSCE field missions as well as election observers and staff at OSCE institutions.

The scarce resources available to the OSCE sometimes make it difficult to implement decisions taken. Without the voluntary additions of money and staff, the OSCE would not have been able to make the efforts that have now nevertheless been able to materialize.

The regular budget is financed by mandatory fees from the Member States on a scale ranging from 0.12 to 9%. Large countries such as France, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States each account for about 9 percent, while small or poor countries such as the Baltic states and some Central Asian countries account for 0.20 percent or less. Small states such as Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Malta pay the least.

OSCE Structure