With 56 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) aims to bring security to a vast region that stretches from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Recognised as an organisation created under a regional agreement as per Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, the OSCE is a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its geographical area. As suggested by its name, the OSCE aims to strengthen security through cooperation. The OSCE takes a comprehensive approach to its mission, dealing simultaneously with three dimensions of security:
- Politico-military dimension: the activities included in the first dimension concern policing strategies, arms control, border management, counter-terrorism, conflict prevention and military reform.
- Economic and environmental dimension: economic prosperity being one of the cornerstones of stability, the OSCE has a special focus on promoting a healthy economic environment in its participating States, working in areas such as combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism, promoting good governance, supporting transport development and security, assisting migration management, promoting the integrated management of water resources, helping to ensure the safe disposal of hazardous waste, implementing the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC), and promoting and supporting dialogue on energy security.
- The human dimension: the commitments made by the OSCE participating States in the human dimension aim to foster democratic processes, establish the rule of law, ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, promote freedom of the media and education, and combat various forms of trafficking. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is the main body responsible for promoting human rights and democracy in the OSCE area. In order to encourage democratisation, the OSCE-ODIHR carries out election observation missions internationally and implements projects to support the proper conduct of elections, including preparative and monitoring tasks. The OSCE’s activities in the area of human rights focus on certain priorities: ensuring freedom of movement, strengthening the guarantees against torture, ensuring freedom of worship, and helping to combat trafficking in persons. The fight against trafficking – in human beings, in small arms and light weapons and in drugs – has in fact been a top priority for the OSCE in recent years.
- Field operations: some 3,000 people work for the OSCE in its 19 missions or field operations in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. OSCE personnel are deployed on the ground to facilitate political processes, prevent or resolve conflicts, and strengthen civil society and the rule of law.
- Election observation missions: in accordance with the OSCE’s commitments, participating States have an obligation to invite the Organisation to observe their elections. Universality, equality, fairness, secrecy, freedom, transparency and accountability are the fundamental principles which the 56 participating States have pledged to respect. The mission of the OSCE field experts is to observe the electoral process as a whole, including its administrative organisation, political campaigning, media coverage and human rights issues.
Belgium’s participation in the OSCE
- Permanent representation: The Permanent Mission of Belgium to the OSCE is based at the organisation’s headquarters in Vienna. The Permanent Representative to the OSCE relies on a team of diplomats working in the various internal bodies of the Organisation: The Permanent Council, the Preparatory Committee, the Subcommittee for Economic and Environmental Activities, etc.
- Secondments: The OSCE recruits personnel for its 19 field missions on a secondment basis (six-month renewable contracts). Before the selection procedure is started at the OSCE headquarters in Vienna, each participating State is requested to submit nominations for the vacant positions.
- Financial assistance for projects submitted by field missions or by the Institutions.
For more information: www.osce.org