In the early 1970s, as tensions lessened between the two sides in the Cold War, contacts slowly increased and a number of understandings were reached, prominent among which was the signing by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty at the SALT-1 talks in May 1972.
The time was ripe for a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, or CSCE. Finland offered to host the informal preparatory talks, which began in Dipoli on the outskirts of Helsinki in November 1972 and concluded in June the following year with a set of final recommendations, also known as the 'Blue Book'.
It is this 'Blue Book' which contains the seeds of the three OSCE 'dimensions'. It proposed that the conference agenda would be divided into three 'baskets':
These three 'baskets' formed the core of the Helsinki Final Act, which was signed by the 35 CSCE Heads of State or Government on 1 August 1975. Today, these 'baskets' are usually referred to as the OSCE's three 'dimensions', which are as follows:
The OSCE takes a comprehensive approach to the politico-military dimension of security, which includes a number of commitments by participating States and mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution. The Organization also seeks to enhance military security by promoting greater openness, transparency and co-operation.
Activities in the economic and environmental dimension include the monitoring of developments in this area among participating States, with the aim of alerting them to any threat of conflict; and assisting in the creation of economic and environmental policies and related initiatives to promote security in the OSCE region.
The commitments made by OSCE participating States in the human dimension aim to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; to abide by the rule of law; to promote the principles of democracy by building, strengthening and protecting democratic institutions; and to promote tolerance throughout the OSCE area.