The 3rd Ministerial Council in Stockholm in 1992 adopted the Convention on Conciliation and Arbitration. What is the purpose of it and what is its role within the OSCE framework?
The purpose of the 1992 Convention is to equip Europe with an efficient dispute settlement mechanism comprising adjudication and conciliation, i.e., judicial as well as diplomatic means. The Convention is thus intended to occupy a central function in the framework of the OSCE, one of whose principal aims is the maintenance of peace in Europe.
How can this process of conciliation between participating States be initiated and how is it conducted?
In the event of a dispute between participating States, each of them may unilaterally initiate the settlement process by approaching the Bureau of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration established by the Stockholm Convention. After consulting the countries in dispute, the Court's Bureau will set up a conciliation panel. That panel will, in due time, hand in a report with a settlement proposal which, to become final and binding, must have been accepted by all parties to the dispute. If the States parties to a dispute agree, the Bureau may also constitute an arbitration panel, which will make a binding award based on the rules of international law. Both procedures are conducted under the panel president's direction and in accordance with pre-established rules or procedure.
What expertise and experts does the Court offer to the participating States?
The Court keeps a list of conciliators and one of arbitrators. These lists comprise some of the best and most experienced European minds in the area of inter-State dispute settlement by diplomatic and adjudicatory methods: former members of European governments and parliaments, seasoned diplomats, high-ranking government officials, judges and academics. These experts can be solicited by States to settle their disputes by conciliation or arbitration. They can also be asked by participating States to provide advice in international matters.
This year, the OSCE celebrates its 30th anniversary. In your opinion, what have been its most significant achievements?
Both in terms of achievements and forthcoming challenges, the following items can be singled out: the maintenance of peace on the European continent; the enhancement of democratic values and structures within the participating States, which includes the supervision of elections; and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.