A comprehensive set of confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) developed by the OSCE since 1975 forms the basis for the Forum’s work. These include exchanges of military information; verification of compliance with agreed commitments (for example, notification of prior military activities) as well as different forms of military co-operation. They aim to reduce the risk of conflict, increase trust among the OSCE participating States, and contribute to greater openness and transparency in the field of military planning and military activities.
This co-operative approach among States helps to avoid misunderstandings and contributes to stability and security. The CSBMs also serve as early warning indicators of potential conflict situations.
The Vienna Document, which requires participating States to share information on their military forces, equipment and defence planning, is one of the main CSBMs developed by the OSCE participating States. In addition to information-sharing obligations, the Document provides for inspections and evaluation visits that can be conducted on the territory of any participating State that has armed forces. On average, participating States undertake 90 inspections and 45 evaluation visits each year. The Vienna Document also contains mechanisms to prevent or decrease tensions and to reduce the risk of unusual military situations that could cause tensions. The Document also encourages sub-regional and bilateral measures to build trust.
To facilitate the implementation of the Vienna Document, the participating States have established a “Communications Network” to provide for a reliable and secure means of transferring military information. The Network is maintained by the OSCE Secretariat’s FSC Support Section.