Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

The OSCE is a regional security organization that works on early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in the European and Eurasian region.

Flags of the Participating States at the 12th OSCE Economic Forum in Prague, May 2004
Source: OSCE/Mikhail Evstafiev

Spanning a vast geographic area from Vancouver to Vladivostok, the OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization under the Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.

Headquartered in Vienna, the OSCE includes 57 Member States, and 11 Partners for Cooperation. The forum serves as a bridge for building security cooperation between North America, Europe, Russia and Eurasia. The OSCE plays a central role in maintaining an unprecedented level of stability to the wider European region.

Participating States have equal status, as the decision-making that guides the work of the OSCE is done on the basis of consensus. Working on the basic premise that security is indivisible and needs to be addressed in a holistic fashion, the OSCE conducts activities in three dimensions of security: politico-military, economic and environmental, and the human dimension. From this perspective, the OSCE is involved in a broad range of activities, such as arms control, combating terrorism and border management, human rights, electoral observation and combating corruption.

Building confidence and security through co-operation is one key strength of the OSCE. This role is reinforced through the OSCE’s 17 field operations in such regions as Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. This network of field operations also allows for rapid and flexible measures by the OSCE when faced with crises, or in conflict prevention and early warning measures. The OSCE’s Conflict Prevention Centre(in Vienna) oversees the work of the field operations.