Human dimension mechanisms
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:
- By the 12 states of the European Community and the United States on the issue of reports of atrocities and attacks on unarmed civilians in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992)
- By Estonia to study Estonian legislation and to compare it and its implementation with universally accepted human-rights norms (1992)
- By Moldova to investigate current legislation, interethnic relations and the implementation of minorities' rights on the territory of Moldova (1993)
- In June 1993, by the CSCE Committee of Senior Officials vis-a-vis Serbia-Montenegro, to investigate reports of human rights violations (this mission was unable to fulfil its task because of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's lack of co-operation)
- On 23 April 1999, the Vienna/Moscow Mechanism was activated by the Russian Federation in relation to NATO’s military operation in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
- By 10 OSCE participating States (Germany, the United States, Austria, Canada, the United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden), in relation to Turkmenistan, to examine concerns arising out of investigations resulting from the reported attack on 25 November 2002 on President Niyazov, and to investigate all matters relating to the conduct of the investigation (December 2002 - March 2003).
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.