The OSCE has established a number of tools to monitor the implementation of commitments that participating States have undertaken in the field of human rights and democracy (the human dimension).
One of these tools, the so-called Human Dimension Mechanism, can be invoked on an ad hoc basis by any individual participating State or group of states.
It is composed of two instruments: the Vienna Mechanism (established in the Vienna Concluding Document of 1989) and the Moscow Mechanism (established at the last meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension in Moscow in 1991), the latter partly constituting a further elaboration of the Vienna Mechanism.
The Vienna Mechanism allows participating States, through an established set of procedures, to raise questions relating to the human dimension situation in other OSCE States.
The Moscow Mechanism builds on this and provides for the additional possibility for participating States to establish ad hoc missions of independent experts to assist in the resolution of a specific human dimension problem - either on their own territory or in other OSCE participating States.
ODIHR is designated to provide support for the implementation of the Moscow Mechanism, and it maintains a list of experts appointed by some of the participating States who are available to carry out such investigations.
To date, the Moscow Mechanism has been used seven times:
On 6 April 2011, by 14 participating States of the OSCE (Germany, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic) to investigate the situation in Belarus after the presidential election of 19 December 2010.